Things to Do in Manistee: Fall Festivals, Scenic Tours, Discounts & More

While thousands of visitors annually vacation in Manistee County during the summer, those who venture to this Lake Michigan resort region in the fall will find the same beautiful sights coupled with stunning fall colors, themed events and seasonal attractions. Visitors also will enjoy value pricing at area lodging, golf courses and on a direct flight from Chicago. Check out these things to do in Manistee this fall.

Photo by Visit Manistee County

Manistee Fall Events and Festivals

Manistee County offers a number of signature fall events that cater to adults and families alike.

Little Manistee River Weir – Fall Egg Harvest | Manistee, Oct. 2–3 and 9–10

This unique phenomenon occurs once a year when the Michigan DNR Fisheries Division harvests chinook salmon eggs from the fishing weir. The weir is used to block fish on the Little Manistee River, and chinook salmon eggs are taken in the fall and sent to state fish hatcheries to be reared and stocked all over Michigan as well as other states. During the fall egg take, visitors can take self-guided tours of the operation, plus access an ADA-accessible platform to view salmon below the weir. Group tours are available by appointment (call 231.775.9727, ext. 6072 to check activity status and fish readiness). 

Onekama Fall Festival | Onekama, Oct. 13

This annual tradition features live entertainment, arts and crafts, scarecrow and pumpkin decorating contests, pet parade, hay rides, food wagon and other family-friendly activities.

Boos, Brews & Brats | Manistee, Oct. 27

This festival in downtown Manistee features craft beer and food, plus costume contests, face painting, live music and more.

Photo by Visit Manistee County

Manistee Fall Attractions

Manistee County is home to distinctive attractions in the fall. Highlights include:

Manistee Ghost Ship

On weekends in October, the historic 1931 S.S. City of Milwaukee car ferry transforms into the Manistee Ghost Ship, where visitors explore five decks of thrills, scares and ghostly beings. Tickets cost $9–$10. (Read about our overnight-stay on the S.S. City of Milwaukee, which is also a bed and breakfast.)

Scenic Airplane Tours

Enjoy a bird’s-eye view of Michigan’s fall colors on a scenic flight over Lake Michigan. Orchard Beach Aviation conducts scenic flights on October weekends along the shoreline for $30 per person (two person minimum) departing from Manistee County Blacker Airport.

Self-Guided Driving Tours

Fourteen themed, self-guided tours of hundreds of sites can be downloaded at visitmanisteecounty.com/tours. Many of which make a perfect fall route, including the Inland Fall ColorCoastal Fall ColorU-Pick Orchards and Farmers MarketsM-22 Scenic DriveBridges and DamsNatural Wonders, and Brew and Spirits tours.

M22 roadside stand | Photo by Andrew Allen/Visit Manistee County

Fall Performances at The Ramsdell

Fall kicks off a new season at the Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts in Manistee. Top performances include:

“A Man and his Prostate” with Ed Asner | Sept. 21

Ed Asner takes the stage during prostate cancer awareness week with this hilarious comedy written by Emmy award-winning Ed Weinberger based on a true-life experience. A near tragedy is masterfully transformed into a one-man comedy in his visit to the hospital for surgery.

Shoreline Music Society Chamber Music Concert | Oct. 12

The Ramsdell formed a partnership with Shoreline Music Society, a new nonprofit launching a chamber music series in Manistee. Attendees experience classical music in a new way as the society transforms a concert experience into a conversation, including opportunities to talk with performers plus Artistic Director Robert Nordling. This concert features Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 5 and Richard Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll. Tickets include complimentary hors d’oeuvres in a pre-event reception with the performers. Future concerts are listed at shorelinemusicsociety.com.

“As you Like It,” | Oct. 18–20

Michigan’s only year-round touring professional Shakespeare company, Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company, comes to the Ramsdell for the first time to perform this Shakespeare comedy. Pigeon Creek makes Shakespeare engaging for modern audiences with a lively, interactive performance style.

Billy Strings | Nov. 21

Billy Strings is one of the most beloved young bluegrass guitarists today within the bluegrass community, and he performs as part of West Shore Community College Performing Arts Series.

The view from Arcadia Overlook | Photo by 22North Photography

Manistee Fall Lodging Deals

Manistee County offers a variety of lodging options, including hotels, motels, cabins and cottages, historic bed-and-breakfasts, campgrounds and private vacation rentals. Check visitmanisteecounty.com/deals for fall discounts. Highlights include:

Bear Lake Bed & Breakfast, Bear Lake – Fall rates & Girlfriend Getaway deal

Reduced fall rates start the week of Sept. 10. Also, girlfriends who stay one night get half off the second night.

Dempsey Manor B & B, Manistee – Fall discounts (Oct. 1–31)

Eligible parties receive 10 percent off their rooms, including returning guests, veterans, seniors over the age of 60, corporate travelers, parties booking 60 days in advance and parties booking three rooms. All discounts require a two-night stay.

Inn at the Alpine, Bear Lake – Stay and Lake Cruise Package (Sept. 1–Oct. 31)

Enjoy a one-night stay with an evening/sunset cruise on Bear Lake to take in the fall colors for $295 (weekdays) and $325 (weekends). Or stay two nights and earn a third night free. Breakfast is included. Mention you heard the deal from Visit Manistee County.

Insta Launch Campground & Marina, Manistee – Stay two or more nights and receive third night free

Reserve a campsite or rental trailer in advance for two or more nights and receive the third night free. Advance reservation is required, and visitors must mention the discount when making a reservation. Offer runs Oct. 15–Nov. 30.

Downtown Manistee | Photo by Taylor Brown

Manistee Fall Golf Specials

Manistee County is home to nine golf courses, 144 holes and two golf resorts, including Arcadia Bluffs Golf Club, a world-class links golf course boasting 36 holes of golf open to the public through mid-November. While tee-time is at peak pricing in the summer, fall features golf discounts, including:

Arcadia Bluffs Golf Club

Twilight golf rate starting at 3 p.m., golf fall special deal Oct. 8–9 (limited holes available) and fall rates Oct. 10–Nov. 12.

Manistee Golf and Country Club

Established in 1901, this is one of Michigan’s oldest courses, and it features breathtaking views of Lake Michigan. Late season golf pricing runs Sept. 17–Oct. 15.

Manistee National Golf & Resort

Shoulder season discounts run Sept. 10–30 and Oct. 5–7 for weekday, weekend and twilight. Late season offers the best discounts Oct. 1–4 and 8 to close for weekdays and weekends.

September Jet Service Deal from Chicago Midway

Manistee County Blacker Airport (MBL) recently announced a new, year-round jet service to and from Chicago Midway Airport (MDW) via North Country Sky on a 30-seat Dornier 328 jet, with 45-minute direct flights between destinations. While flights usually range from $65 to $150 each way, a special promotion through Sept. 20 locks in flights at $64.50 each way (use promo code ILOVEMBL). The promotion is valid on all flights flown through Sept. 30, 2018. Travelers on North Country Sky can take one free checked bag up to 30 pounds, plus one free carry-on and one personal item. Parking is free at the Manistee terminal. Flights can be purchased at FLYManistee.comnorthcountrysky.com or online travel websites, as well as at 877.359.7595. Check the flight schedule.

Press release provided by Blue Blaze Public Relations, LLC for the Manistee County Visitors Bureau.

Click the cover to read the Benzie and Manistee Vacation Guide.


Fall Travel Ideas in Northern Michigan