One of the best local fall foliage routes in Michigan starts along M-50 in the small town of Tecumseh just east of the Irish Hills. This route will take you from Tecumseh through Brooklyn along US-12 to Clinton and back to Tecumseh. The Irish Hills area is located just an hour’s drive west of Detroit, Michigan and about 45 minutes north of the Ohio state line. Irish Hills is home to the famous Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. Fall festivals abound in south central Michigan. Which festival you encounter depends on when you decide to take this year’s fall foliage tour in Michigan.
Tecumseh is home to the yearly Appleumpkin Festival and Kapnick Orchards Apple Festival. This year’s festivals will be held on the weekend of October 9-10, 2010. The Appleumpkin Festival is held all around the town, and there is no admission charge! There are family activities and entertainment – including a Make-It-Take-It Scarecrow Tent. Then, take Rogers Highway south out of Tecumseh to take in Kapnick Orchards Apple Festival. They will have great entertainment, fresh apple cider, and dozens of artisan booths with unique crafts and foods.
These two festivals could consume your whole day or you could just take a taste of them and continue your color tour through the Irish Hills of Southern Michigan by heading farther west along M-50. As you make your way toward Brooklyn, Michigan you pass Hidden Lake Gardens.
Hidden Lake Gardens (MSU) is a botanical gem nestled in the rolling Irish Hills and is open to the public year round. They boast many beautiful species of trees and shrubs as well as The Bonsai Courtyard. This collection of Bonsai is one of the largest collections available to visitors in the Midwest. Hidden Lake Gardens is particularly beautiful in the fall; don’t miss the magnificent sassafras trees.
As you pass through Cambridge Township, get off the beaten path onto Pentecost Highway and taken in the vistas of Sand Lake or Evans Lake. You’ll see cottages and year-round homes nestled among the autumn splendor. Other short, but beautiful detours are Springville Highway around Killarney and Kelly Lakes, or Twin Lake Drive between Washington and Marrs Lakes.
Continue on M-50 past MIS into the quaint town of Brooklyn – lunch at one of the many chain or locally owned restaurants. One of the local favorites is Poppa’s Place on Main Street. Their large servings are legendary. After lunch, stroll through the quaint downtown and browse the shops for local treasures.
Head east on M-50 (toward Monroe) then turn due east on US-12. This will take you through the heart of the beautiful Irish Hills. You will pass Wolf Lake, Allen Lake and Hayes State Park – featuring Wamplers Lake. As you may have noticed, the Irish Hills of Michigan is home to dozens of large and small lakes. Follow US-12 along its hills and curves. This is truly two lanes of beautiful scenery dressed in the vibrant reds and golds of early autumn.
When you reach the Village of Clinton, you will find the streets lined with quaint shops and inviting restaurants. If you are planning your fall foliage tour for late September, you may get there in time to take in the Clinton Fall Festival. This is one of the most anticipated fall festivals in this part of Michigan. With many events for adults and children, this festival is sure to be a must see if you will be in Clinton on the weekend of September 24-26, 2010. For the kids there will be face painting, sand art, a petting farm, camel rides and kiddie tractor pulls. Some events are free, some charge and admission. Check out this website for specific event information: Clinton Fall Festival.
At the main traffic light in town, Clinton Road, turn south to take the scenic drive back to your starting point in Tecumseh where you can stop in to the Russian Tea Room or the Evans Street Station for a light supper before beginning your journey home.
Michigan is ablaze with color from mid-September to late-October – this is just one of the many fall foliage tours you can take to enjoy the changing of summer to autumn. Whether you are a Michigan native or a visitor, this is the time of year Michigan explodes with the colors and tastes of fall. Enjoy!
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