St. Joseph: One of Michigan’s Best Places to Visit in the Fall

Makers Trail Flight

For fall colors and activities, Michigan tops the charts in the United States. But for the best fall vacation destinations near major Midwest cities such as Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit and Grand Rapids, Michigan, St. Joseph is Number One! This Lake Michigan beach town loves celebrating sweater-weather days and nights with you!

Be wowed by St. Joseph’s jewel-toned foliage

Luckily for you, this city loves deciduous trees — sugar maples, oaks, beech, Eastern cottonwood, chestnut and shagbark hickory. They line the Victorian-era streets, fill nearby woods, shade winding trails and grow on dunes and stand as sentinels along river banks. The leaves drench our city and landscape in scarlet, amber, orange, brown and deep purple from late September to early November. You can begin all of Southwest Michigan’s fall color tours in St. Joseph, then follow the lakeshore or go deep into our countryside to discover more beautiful vistas around every curve in the road.

Fall Color Guide

 Enjoy peak fall harvest colors and flavors 

The same Lake Michigan that makes St. Joseph one of the best beach towns, tempers the climate so it is a premier fruit, vegetable and flower-growing region in the country. Gather up shiny red, gold and Granny Smith green apples, plump orange and white pumpkins, purple, white and golden cauliflower, sweet corn, cabbages, tomatoes, beets, beans, kale, squashes, onions, decorative Indian corn and gourds, and a rainbow array of mums. Pick your favorites at the St. Joseph Farmers Market open on Saturdays until the first weekend of October or drive out to local farms for hayrides, corn mazes and a cornucopia of food choices. 

 Farms & Harvest Guide

Shop for fall fashions and enjoy oh-so-delicious comfort foods

St. Joseph has a very walkable downtown, its streets and shop windows burst with festive fall decorations. Sip hot caramel cider or lick creamy pumpkin ice cream cones. Find stylish clothing and household items that national box stores never carry. Bring home one-of-a-kind artwork and jewelry from galleries and artist cooperatives. Then find soothing comfort foods and soups, many made from locally harvested ingredients, in our cafes and restaurants. Stay awhile, it’s so refreshing. 

 Fall shopping and dining

Double your fall color tour fun: Makers Trail + Nature
Most places in Michigan focus their fall color experiences on the dramatic changes in leaf colors. But in St. Joseph, you can also see and taste an autumn color experience on our Makers Trail — glasses filled with amber, russet, garnet, deep purple, straw yellow and rosé wines, beers, ciders and cocktails.
To help you have twice the fun on your autumn travels, you can pair several of our more colorful nature trails with nearby Makers Trail destinations. Bring your Flight Crew Passport into each Makers Trail stop so you can earn three levels of rewards, a bonus prize and the chance to win a grand prize, too!

 Double your fall color tour fun

Paddle our gorgeous waters

Arguably, this is the prime time to kayak, canoe or paddleboard and catch views you wouldn’t see any other time of year! Some of the most colorful fall foliage is along the banks of our rivers, nearby inland lakes and Lake Michigan — the reflections of the leaves in the rippling water double your enjoyment! It is also the season to spy wildlife, fall wildflowers and migrating birds.To follow our fall color water trails, launch your craft or rent from the Third Coast Paddling site. 

The weather in this Michigan beach town is tailor made for fall golf
What better weather to play golf than a crisp, cool morning that eases into a warm, sunny afternoon? Add in a swath of fall color and many golfers say this is their favorite time of year to get out on the links in Southwest Michigan. Average September and October high temperatures range in the mid-70s to low-60s. 

You will find a range of golf courses to match your skills so the game stays fun for you and your companions whether you are just learning the game or finessing your championship drives. When you reserve your tee time, ask about fall discount rates, too.

 Top-picks for scenic courses

Another favorite fall color hunt — collect beach glass

As the colder waves kick up on Lake Michigan, so do the treasures along its sandy shore. With fewer people on the beaches, this is a relaxing time to hunt for colorful beach glass. These smoothed shards of broken glass from bottles and jars glisten among the multi-colored stones. The most common colors you will find in and around St. Joseph are shades of white, brown and light blue. Once in a while you can spot green, dark blue, purple and, very rarely, red or orange glass, too. 

Stay for a sunset … then the night; more fall joys await tomorrow

A signature reason to come to St. Joseph is the sunset as you gaze at Lake Michigan’s horizon or across the nearby vineyards, crimson blueberry fields or orchards. Each evening is a new array of colors, sometimes brilliant, others muted and always calming.  

Stay long enough to watch the twinkling stars pierce the blackness and the moonlight dance across the water or fields. Then settle in for the night at one of our local hotels — several in St. Joseph offer views of the water. Tomorrow, you will find more fall beauty to color your world. 

 Book your fall stay