The following post is sponsored by the Ludington Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The hectic start of the back to school season no doubt has you dreaming about a tranquil escape. How can summer vacation have passed so quickly? We hear you!
The good news, you don’t have to wait until next summer to plan your next getaway or to experience fantastic Michigan weather. Enjoy bright sunlight and mild temperatures throughout the fall in Ludington while taking in as much nature as your heart desires. The best part, you won’t have to fight the crowds for the best views. Instead, you can enjoy the serenity of the slower season.
“Ludington is a special place to visit in the fall,” said Brandy Henderson, executive director of the Ludington Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Our usually bustling town slows down a bit, giving visitors a more intimate ‘up north’ experience with less crowds, stunning fall colors, and festive seasonal attractions.”
Rejuvenate by spending your days hiking, biking and paddling along several scenic trails and waterways. With 28 miles of shoreline, 40 inland lakes, 2,000 miles of streams, plus 5,300-acres of natural area in Ludington State Park, nature lovers’ biggest dilemma will be choosing between all the outdoor recreation options.
For the paddler, enjoy the four-mile Hamlin Lake Canoe Trail, Pere Marquette River, Big Sable River and more. Ludington School Forest offers more than five miles of urban biking and hiking trails, and it’s a great spot to take in the autumn sights and sounds. Cartier Park is another popular in-town trail system in a 68-acre natural area with a paved, one-mile walking/cycling loop, plus a new four-mile singletrack mountain biking loop.
Spindrift Cyclesports and Trailhead Bike Shop rent bikes if you don’t want to bring your own.
If you are heading out later in the season, take in the splendor of fall by enjoying one of several fall color tours. Spend an afternoon following one of these suggested routes to see the brightest hues and enjoy some fun stops along the way. Visit in mid-October for the most vibrant colors (call the Ludington Area Convention & Visitors Bureau at 800-542-4600 or check the Facebook page for real-time fall color updates). Don’t forget to stop at one of several orchards that call Ludington home for apple picking and to stock up on maple syrup and other fall treats.
Visit Christofferson Farms, where you’ll find a variety of cherries, peaches and other tree-ripened fruits available for “u-pick” and to purchase. Another fun stop is Fox Barn Market & Winery, featuring many locally produced food items, fresh produce, wine tasting, wine-themed gifts and other trinkets.
Orchard Market, off US Highway 31, is a roadside market full of u-pick produce, bakery items, homemade jams and salsa, and fall-themed items like cider, pumpkins, squash and other fall produce. The larger market in Free Soil features a sit-down deli and fudge shop–and during weekends starting in late September, visitors can also enjoy the u-pick pumpkin patch, corn maze, apple-shooting cannons, wagon rides and more. Another fun stop is Jam Farm, where the “Jam Lady” sells more than 30 varieties of jams made from fresh fruit grown on her farm.
Relax at the end of the day at one of the many unique lodging options available nearby—from Victorian bed and breakfasts to mom-and-pop motels. For those who enjoy more rustic surroundings, but still want a touch of luxury, try Blue Lake Resort for a knotty-pine cottage (complete with fireplace) on Blue Lake where you can also rent a pontoon boat.
Two popular vintage resorts on Hamlin Lake include recently renovated Hobby Crest Resort featuring seven charming cottages in distinctive themes, and Sauble Resort offering cozy cottages with gas fireplaces on a bluff. For a more remote yet beautiful stay, head to Barothy Lodge, a year-round wilderness retreat of 15 private lodges along the Pere Marquette River. You can also camp at one of Ludington State Park’s 352 sites or rent one of three mini-cabins.
Don’t forget to ask about fall deals. Several of the area’s accommodations offer 50 percent off a second-night stay during September and October.
We can’t blame you if you’re looking for an adults-only escape, but if you are bringing the whole family, book a long weekend at Holiday Inn Express & Suites Ludington, Best Western Lakewinds or Comfort Inn (all with indoor swimming pools) and take the kids to the Lewis Farm Market & Petting Farm, where they’ll enjoy fresh fruit and seasonal attractions like the corn maze and petting farm. Or head to Historic White Pine Village for a glimpse back in time while enjoying fall events like Lumber Day or Spooky Trick-or-Treat.
For a unique fall experience, take a wagon ride through Amber Elk Ranch, offering 130 acres of beautiful pastureland to see cows, calves, and bull elk up close. Open weekends through mid-October.
Before you head back to the hustle and bustle of Grand Rapids, pick up a fun, custom-printed Ludington shirt from Gordy’s Skate Company and stop in at Todd & Brad Reed Photography or Art by Mary Case for local Ludington art.
*Photos courtesy of Ludington Convention & Visitors Bureau