Make The Homestead your basecamp for a sophisticated and relaxing fall getaway in Northern Michigan.
Fall in Northern Michigan is irresistible. From September’s still-warm days and lakes to October’s brilliant color tours and November’s cozy vibes … well, it’s downright dreamy. For a fall vacation filled with gorgeous vistas, outdoor adventure and a relax-to-the-max attitude, book a room at The Homestead, a four-season resort located in Glen Arbor on the iconic M-22. “The slower pace of fall is all about spending time with family and friends, and allows us a more personal connection with our guests traveling to the area,” says Tony Farragh, The Homestead’s director of sales.
While The Homestead offers many lodging options, the Brook Hill Cottages are especially perfect for fall. The six custom cottages sit high atop a ridgeline with forest-framed vistas of Lake Michigan and the Crystal River valley (fabulous fall color and sunset views!). Highlights include a deck, modern kitchen and dining and gathering areas for families. The location is private but still central to all of The Homestead’s many activities, some a short walk away. Here, we give a peek at the possibilities:
Your Fall Bucket List: 6 Autumn Activities at The Homestead
Enjoy Fall Views, from the Trail and the Salon
The Bay View Trail, with its hardwood forests awash in fiery colors, historic farms and Lake Michigan vistas, is one of the prettiest hikes in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Bonus: You can access it directly from The Homestead. Grab a map from the kiosk near Whiskers Bar and Grill. The eight-mile trail is divided into several loops, so plot your route in advance (you’ll start your trek on Moosewood Trail, a short spur that connects The Homestead to Bay View). After your hike, walk yourself over to The Homestead’s salon, Lillyjade, for a well-earned mani-pedi. Treat yourself to the express, classic or signature services while you bask in the glow of the salon’s cozy fireplace, luxurious furnishings and expansive chair-side views.
Related Read: Hike Sleeping Bear Dunes Right from The Homestead
Bike the National Lakeshore
Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, the only bike trail within the National Lakeshore, runs for nearly 22 miles, passing right by The Homestead. Bike rentals are available in both Glen Arbor (The Cyclery) and Empire (Empire Outdoors, Sleeping Bear Surf & Kayak). Tackle the whole thing or a section, like the approximately 2.5 miles (each way) from The Homestead to historic Port Oneida. For an adrenaline rush, epic mountain biking is just a few miles away. Palmer Woods Forest Reserve (a 10-minute drive from The Homestead) has 14 miles of professionally developed trails for all riding abilities, as well as hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
Picnic on the Beach
The Homestead sits on one mile of pristine, and private, Lake Michigan beach. The sandy shore faces due west (hello, sunsets!) with views of both North and South Manitou islands. In between your fall color hikes and drives, make time for a picnic here. Pick up a bottle of wine and pizza, or coffee and pastries if you’re an early riser, from Cavanaugh’s Grocerant, located at The Homestead. (Cavanaugh’s actually sits directly across from Moosewood Trail, so it’s a great spot to grab hiking snacks and water, too.)
Photo by The Homestead
Paddle with Salmon
Not only does The Homestead have Lake Michigan frontage, but the sweet, slow-mo Crystal River also winds through the property, complete with a wooden bridge. Paddling the river is especially fun in the fall when salmon are running upstream to lay their eggs, an event that typically starts in September. Paddling inches away from these massive, beautiful fish is an unforgettable experience. Crystal River Outfitters, a four-minute drive from The Homestead, will set you up with kayaks. You can also view the salmon right at The Homestead, as they head up the mouth of the river.
Hit the Lake, Then the Links
Start your day on the water, and end it on the links. The Homestead loves to recommend Captain Bob of the Mariah in nearby Leland for charter fishing. Coho salmon are often caught from September through November and steelhead start in late October. Or, bring your own fishing pole and try your line in the Crystal River and along the Lake Michigan shoreline. Once you’re back on dry land, a short drive north on M-22 (about 12 minutes) puts you at an Arnold Palmer Signature course, the Manitou Passage Golf Club. Guests of The Homestead receive 10 percent off.
Take a Drive Before Dinner
The Homestead is home to several restaurants, including Nonna’s Italian Restaurant and Whiskers Bar and Grill. Nonna’s is a must for classic Italian cuisine and Whiskers is the spot for a relaxed game of cornhole with your burger and beer. But first, take a scenic drive along M-22, making several pitstops along the way. You can choose to go north or south, as The Homestead sits nearly smack dab in the middle of the state highway, which stretches from Traverse City to Manistee. It’s a lot to tackle in a day, so try these shorter stretches instead. North of The Homestead: A 40-minute drive (each way) winds through the sweet towns of Leland and Northport. The must-stops here are Fishtown and Clay Cliffs Natural Area. South of The Homestead: An hour drive (each way) will take you through Empire, Frankfort and Arcadia. Must-stops include Point Betsie Lighthouse and the Arcadia Overlook.
Photo by Sleeping Bear Dunes Visitors Bureau