Best time to travel to Ann Arbor, MI

Ann Arbor Fall Colors 2024

"Tree Town" witnesses a smooth transition from summer to winter with stunning fall colors

Best time: early to mid-October

Ann Arbor Fall Colors
Ann Arbor Fall Colors
University of Michigan Women's and Children's Hospital overlooking the Huron River
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Michigan is renowned for its magnificent fall foliage, mostly in the Upper Peninsula. However, you can find a kaleidoscope of colors along the shores of lakes and rivers, on rolling hillsides, and in tree-filled cities of the Lower Peninsula, where Ann Arbor belongs.

Ann Arbor is nicknamed Tree Town for a reason: here you can find over 150 parks and tree-lined streets to view stunning fall colors. You can meander the sidewalks and parks or the University of Michigan campus. If you happen to have more time, hit up the regional parks and recreation areas outside the city.

Best time to see fall colors in Ann Arbor

Michigan comes alive in fall with shorter yet sunny days. Crisp air, vibrant colors, and the tastes of fall harvest all merge into one fascinating season. Local fall festivals and apple orchards with cider mills make the time from early September to mid-November truly magical.

Northern regions of Michigan typically see the fall foliage peak in late September or early October. The earlier color change is brought by lower temperatures in those areas. As the season unfolds, temperatures begin to drop in the southern parts of Michigan, including the Ann Arbor area. The trees in the Lower Peninsula expose their vivid reds and yellows in early and mid-October. Thus, being in Ann Arbor roughly from October, 10th to 20th, promises a high chance of excellent leaf-peeping adventure. The exact dates cannot be accurately predicted as they depend on local weather patterns.

Best places to see fall colors in Ann Arbor and beyond

The University of Michigan's Nichols Arboretum

You can start your fall color hunt at the University of Michigan's Nichols Arboretum. Miles of trails and collections of native and exotic trees and shrubs showcase some of the most stunning colors in Southeast Michigan, ranging from golds to reds and even dark purples.

Matthaei Botanical Gardens

Eleven outdoor gardens, indoor conservatory, trails, and natural areas will immerse visitors of the Matthaei Botanical Gardens in the magnetic fall color atmosphere. The bonsai, native and medicinal plants, perennials, tropical plants from near the equator, and trails will provide you with astonishing fall landscapes. Matthaei Botanical Gardens is open daily from sunrise to sunset.

Bird Hills Nature Area

Bird Hills Nature Area is the largest park in Ann Arbor. In the fall, walks on the unpaved trails through hills and ravines will provide wonderful landscapes covered with beech, sugar maple, dogwood, and oaks. It is possible to spend hours hiking through beautiful forested areas or just a few minutes admiring nature on a network of trails. Bird Hills Nature Area operates daily from 6 am to 10 pm.

Waterloo State Recreation Area

The 20,000-acre (8,093 ha) Waterloo Recreation Area has 11 inland lakes and many trails that offer the best fall experience possible. Excellent fishing and hunting opportunities await those who enjoy a variety of recreational activities. The Recreation Area is open for visitors daily from 8 am to 10 pm.

Rolling Hills County Park

The 439-acre (177 ha) Rolling Hills County Park is not only a place where you can enjoy the beauty of fall by walking the trails, but also relax on the fishing pond and organize a picnic under the oak trees. Children can have fun on the playground, while adult visitors can play 18 holes of disc golf. During the fall, the park is open from 8 am to dusk.

Other parks to visit

For a more immersive fall experience, rent a canoe at Gallup Park or Argo Park and cruise down the Huron River while gazing at the beauty of the fall foliage. Gallup Park also lures with walkways, which traverse small islands, as well as several miles of paved trails excellent for biking, rollerblading, and running amidst the trees exposing fall colors.

Huron River Drive

One of the most popular seasonal getaways is Huron River Drive, from Ann Arbor's downtown to Dexter, a quaint city west of Ann Arbor. The views alongside the Huron River are simply stunning. This area is also popular with bicyclists, so you might go for a ride too; if you prefer driving, do not rush on the road as there are lots of curves and blind spots.

Practical info

What is the most suitable timing for fall foliage viewing in Ann Arbor?

Fall foliage in Ann Arbor can be best viewed from early to mid-October, as the trees in the Lower Peninsula reveal their fantastic colors during this time. This brings about a dizzying kaleidoscope of colors across the city's rolling hillsides, on the shores of rivers and lakes, and in tree-filled urban areas. The actual dates when this occurs are subject to change depending on the weather, which cannot be reliably predicted. Show more

What are some of the locations to enjoy the beautiful fall colors in Ann Arbor?

Ann Arbor, which has a wealth of parks and tree-lined streets, is known as 'Tree Town'. The University of Michigan's Nichols Arboretum is one of the city's most popular spots for viewing the fall foliage, with its trails and collections of trees and shrubs showcasing some remarkable hues, ranging from gold to red and even dark purples. Other places to explore include Gallup Park, Argon Park, and Huron River Drive, which runs from downtown Ann Arbor to Dexter. Show more

Can visitors view the fall foliage on the University of Michigan campus?

University of Michigan's Nichols Arboretum is one of the popular places in Ann Arbor to capture the fall foliage. Nichols is over 100 years old, with miles of winding trails and collections of native and exotic trees and shrubs presenting some of the most striking colors in southeastern Michigan. In the park, visitors can have amazing views of nature, a tranquil atmosphere to walk or relax and benches to relax and chill. Show more

What are some of the fun activities to do in Ann Arbor during the fall season?

Ann Arbor presents many activities to delight in during the fall, including hiking, walking, or running. Visitors can rent a canoe at Gallup Park, paddle down the Huron River and admire the beautiful fall foliage. The location is popular among bikers, so renting a bike can be a fantastic alternative way to experience the stunning colors of fall. Another way to enjoy the fall scenery is by taking a peaceful and picturesque drive along the Huron River Drive, which runs from downtown Ann Arbor to Dexter. Show more

Does Ann Arbor have any special events or festivals to enjoy in the fall season?

There are several events and festivals visitors can enjoy during the fall season in Ann Arbor. The Ann Arbor farmer's market continues throughout the year, where visitors can purchase fresh produce. The Ann Arbor Fall Festival and the Common Ground Music Festival are also held during the fall seasons, with live music, drinks, and food. Apple enthusiasts should also visit Dexter's Cider Mill, which is Michigan's oldest continuously operating cider mill. Visitors there can relish exciting fall traditions such as pumpkin carving or wagon rides. Show more

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