Take A Drive On This Lakeside Midwest Road Trip Route For A Picture-Perfect Fall Trip

There's something special about driving and coming across awe-inspiring sights. For a brief moment, your thoughts quiet as you split your focus between the road and your surroundings. Needless to say, the quality of a route's scenery is often an important consideration when planning a road trip. 

For some of us, this feeling is especially heightened in the fall as the leaves turn. If you can't get enough of nature's palette this time of year, consider planning a road trip that'll immerse you fully into autumn's grandeur. On Michigan's M-119, there's a 21-mile route known as the Tunnel of Trees. You can drive or bike under the canopy of leave-changing trees while also enjoying gorgeous views of Lake Michigan. While it's about an hour to drive, depending on traffic, you can also make a day of the road trip by visiting some of the best towns around the Great Lakes.

Experience Midwestern charm

M-119 connects the lakeside towns of Harbor Springs and Cross Village. It takes you underneath towering trees as you navigate over 100 curves, including the Devil's Elbow curve, where people have claimed to hear spirits at night. The local myth surrounding the spot is that the Devil scooped out the land after the Odawa tribe experienced a horrendous plague. It's said to be their cries that echo into the night.

Some other fascinating stops near and along the route include the Good Hart and Soul Tea Room located inside Primitive Images in Harbor Springs. The locally owned tea shop offers a wide range of tea and Midwestern charm. Other small-town delights along the way include the Good Hart General Store, which is known for its fresh preserves and whitefish pâté , and Tom's Mom's Cookies, which, as you can imagine, is a popular spot for cookies.

Once you get to Cross Village, you can stop by the Three Pines Studio and Art Gallery, where you can admire local art in various mediums by Michigan artists and even participate in a workshop if you're feeling creative.

Take a hike around Lake Michigan

If you want to spend some time exploring your natural surroundings, don't hesitate to get out of the car at Petoskey State Park to walk one of its many trails. You can also hunt for the famous Petoskey stone, which is Michigan's state rock and a uniquely patterned stone found exclusively in the Great Lakes. Stone or no stone, you'll still get to walk the shoreline of Lake Michigan, one of the most beautiful lakes in the Midwest. Or, if you're looking for fall festivities, visit Pond Hill Farm to wander around a pumpkin patch with a fresh cup of hot cider.

Visiting the Tunnel of Trees makes for a pretty awesome day trip or weekend excursion. There's plenty to do in the nearby towns and parks, as well as plenty to see as you drive along its winding roads. Although the scenic roadway can attract traffic during the fall months, you'll find the route less congested during the week.