Fall starts with just one or two golden spots on an otherwise green tree. Then, a light wind starts to bring down a few crispy leaves with each gust and you hear that familiar crunch under your shoes as you walk.
These are the first signs that fall is near, and they’re upon us right now! In just a few weeks, the trees will hit their peak, and then they’ll be bare.
Fortunately, there are a few select weeks coming up where you’ll be able to take full advantage of the beautiful foliage that fall brings to the White Lake Area. We’ve even got the route set up for you.
To experience fall here at its best, the Pure Michigan White Lake Fall Color Tour takes you along all of the best landscapes and lookouts in West Michigan and offers stops at the area’s top landmarks.
When planning your color tour, you’ll need a place to stay while you’re in town as well, and you’ll find no better lodging than at The Weathervane Inn. The Color Tour passes right by our door, making it a great starting and stopping point.
To highlight what you’ll be seeing along your tour, let’s start in White Lake and explore each of the stops. You’ll definitely want to bring your camera!
The 2015 Pure Michigan Fall Color Tour
You read that right! Start your color tour by simply walking across the street from our lakeside inn to the world’s largest weathervane. Be sure to get your picture taken in front of this beautifully crafted, 48-foot tall masterpiece as you begin your tour!
This fourth generation, family-owned farm bottles their own milk, makes their own cheese and ice cream, and has a quaint little tourist store and restaurant to boot. Stop for a bit of lunch if it’s that time of day. Their menu includes tasty Panini sandwiches, homemade soups, and a selection of artisan pizzas made to order. For dessert, choose from 32 flavors of ice cream!
No West Michigan tour is complete without a stop at Lake Michigan, and this tour has several of those. The first is the Little Sable Point Lighthouse. This structure was built in 1874 and has been continually updated in order to maintain its original beauty and craftsmanship. If you’re here from 10am to 5pm, you can go up inside the structure for a small fee.
The dunes of West Michigan are another must-see on your tour. This is a landmark that brings thousands of visitors to our area each summer. The Silver Lake Sand Dunes and forest cover about 3,000 acres—all lined up against the Lake Michigan shoreline. Seeing the fall foliage against the backdrop of the dunes is a unique site you can’t miss!
Another must-see locale is Pentwater and the Charles Mears State Park. Charles Mears was a lumber tycoon from Chicago who created a lumber channel and community that became the town of Pentwater in 1867. Today, the area is known as a quaint vacation village on Lake Michigan, and the sandy shores of Charles Mears State Park are perfect for beach-going in the summer. In the fall, fewer visitors are present, and the calming waves of the big lake will likely be for your eyes only.
At the White Cloud Alpaca family-run farm, there are 14 alpacas, 1 goat, 1 llama, 3 Newfoundland dogs, and a number of chickens and cats! Visiting in fall may enable you to see some adorable crias (baby alpacas) as well, which children will love. There are also items for sale that are made of the alpacas’ wool, including gloves, socks, and other warm clothing.
Picking apples is a fall right of passage in West Michigan, and Steffens Orchard Market has the most beautiful U-pick specimens you’ll find. In addition, the orchard always has pumpkins, squash, jellies, jams, cider, and pie available.
As you make your way along the tour, you may find yourself in the mood for a little walk to stretch your legs. There’s nowhere better to do this than on the Musketawa Trail. The picturesque trail is accessible by foot, bike, horse, and rollerblade, and it’s also wheelchair accessible.
Here’s another place to stop and enjoy Lake Michigan. P.J. Hoffmaster State Park offers a beautiful shoreline for enjoying coastal views or a beach walk on the big lake.
Naval enthusiasts will love the USS Silversides Submarine Museum. The USS Silversides is a WWII era submarine, and the USCGC McLane W-146 is a Prohibition-Era Coast Guard Cutter. Tours of the vessels are available year-round, and you’ll also want to visit the museum and gift shop while you’re there.
Muskegon State Park features another extraordinary panorama of the Lake Michigan shoreline. Walk along the beach or visit the historic Muskegon blockhouse. This replica of Fort Dearborn was built by CCC and CWA workers during the Great Depression in 1934. Today, it’s an historic depiction of frontier life as well as a unique lookout station for observing the beauty of the surrounding area.
Lighthouses are West Michigan’s specialty, and the White River Light Station is one of the finest lighthouses on the lakeshore. The structure was built in 1875 and has been beautifully preserved in order to provide a glimpse into the past. Check out the museum 6 days a week (closed Mondays) through October 31st from 10am to 5pm.
Looking for Another Fall Color Tour?
If you’ve got time on your hands, there’s another fall color tour that’s just as beautiful but takes a different route through the area. It’s the Depot to Depot Fall Color Tour:
- 3 Saturdays: October 3, 10 & 17th
- 10am – 4pm
Aside from being a lovely tour for the whole family, this tour comes with prizes as well.
First, just for participating in the completely free event, you’ll get discounts and coupons for businesses and museums in the area as well as free fall refreshments and a pumpkin for kids at either the Muskegon or Whitehall Depots. For more information on the event, visit the Whitelake Chamber of Commerce.
In addition, if you stop at ten of the designated sites—and get your map stamped at each one—you’ll be entered into a drawing to win one of two great prizes:
- Two tickets to Michigan’s Adventure Amusement and Water Park in Muskegon (2016 season)
- Two round-trip tickets on the Lake Express High Speed Ferry across Lake Michigan (Muskegon to Milwaukee)