Visiting Petoskey Michigan this fall? Here is a fun-packed guide for the 21 BEST things to do in Petoskey in the fall.
We’ve been heading to Petoskey Michigan for over a dozen years, and so I’ve gathered my favorite fall ideas for you in one handy guide. From sipping local wines to Halloween haunts and everything in between, Petoskey is the place to be when the leaves start turning those glorious shades of red and gold.
Grab your favorite cozy sweater, and a pumpkin spice latte, and let’s make this fall in Northern Michigan absolutely unforgettable!
Fun Things to Do in Petoskey MI in the Fall
1. Shop the Historic Gaslight district
Although the historic gaslight district in downtown Petoskey looks like it belongs in a Hallmark movie in the winter, shopping it in the fall is actually more enjoyable! After all, you don’t have to worry about heavy winter coats and snow boots.
There is a wide variety of unique boutiques in downtown Petoskey, and it’s easy to spend an entire afternoon checking them out. Even though we’ve been shopping in the historic district for years, I always seem to discover something new – and I always come home with fantastic treasures!
2. Look for Petoskey stones at Petoskey State Park
Petoskey State Park is amazing in the summer – it’s the BEST time to play in the water. However, the park is lovely in all the seasons and the fall foliage really comes alive in the fall.
One of the best things to do in Petoskey State Park in the fall is to hunt for Petoskey stones. We love to walk along the shoreline and search for them. They aren’t easy to find, but your best shot is to get them wet so you can determine if you’ve found one.
We use the basic method of just picking up a handful of rocks from the water and sorting through them, but when we are searching it’s fun to see all the different ways people look for the stone. My favorite on our last trip was a cool little gadget called a sand sifter. We saw several people with these and I think they would also be perfect for sea shells at the ocean.
3. Go for a ride on the Little Traverse Wheelway
I love bike riding in the fall – the weather is a bit cooler so you don’t get hot, and the scenery is beautiful! One of my favorite spots for biking in Petoskey is on the Little Traverse Wheelway.
This 26-mile trail connects Petoskey to Charlevoix and Harbor Springs, so you can bike just a portion of it, or really go all out and end up in an entirely different town – just remember you have to bike back!
4. Get spooked at Petoskey’s Halloween events
One of my favorite holidays is Halloween. I love the costumes, the spooky events and of course, the decorations. Something I LOVE about Petoskey, MI is how the town goes all out for every holiday – Halloween included. This means that there are plenty of things to do in Petoskey Michigan in October.
There’s downtown trick-or-treating, perfect for letting your kiddos show off their costumes. They even have a Jack-O-Lantern Walk where residents bring their decorated pumpkins, enter them in a contest, and then everyone can admire them in Pennsylvania Park where they are lit in the evening.
5. Raise a glass at a local winery or distillery
One of my favorite fall activities in Petoskey MI is visiting a winery or distillery, so definitely plan on spending some time checking out a few of the wineries along the Petoskey Wine Trail. There is nothing more relaxing than enjoying a glass of wine on a crisp fall day with a gorgeous view!
Mackinaw Trail Winery & Brewery is one of the oldest and most established wineries along the Petoskey Wine Trail. With delicious wines, hand-crafted beers, small plates, and a beautiful new tasting room, this winery would be a wonderful start to your day of wine tasting!
We tried Resort Pike Cidery & Winery on our last trip to Petoskey and it was a fun change of pace from a traditional wineries. Yes, they do have wine, but where they really shine is their ciders. We split a flight so we could try 5 different ones, and enjoyed a few (Hot Girl & Coca Mocha) enough to purchase a few Howlers to enjoy at home.
Petoskey Farms Vineyard & Winery is a lovely place to enjoy delicious wine, small bites, and COFFEE! Yes, they have a coffeehouse on site, so if you have your kids with you they can enjoy a decadent hot chocolate while you sip on a glass of wine. Pretty unique, and I love it!
What a FUN find on our last visit to Petoskey. Gypsy Distillery is located in the old Bay Harbor Equestrian Center with outstanding views of Bay Harbor, a gorgeous tasting room, a busy bar, several onsite food options, and a huge indoor arena with games like cornhole and a small stage for live music.
This place has everything and it was hopping when we visited. Of course, the cocktails were fabulous too – made with vodka, gin, and rum from High Five spirits. I know we’ll visit this place often on future visits to Petoskey and when we ski in the winter at Boyne Mountain.
Burnt Marshmallow is a fun combination of winery, brewery, cidery, and distillery. They make it all! I love the laid-back atmosphere (there are pigs on site!), plentiful outdoor seating, and frequent live music. It’s very family-friendly, with bocce ball and horseshoes and plenty of room for kids to run. We enjoyed their Lemoncello enough to bring a bottle home.
6. Visit Coveyou farm market
Fall is the ultimate time to visit a farm market, and Coveyou Scenic Farm Market in Petoskey is the perfect one to visit as you can enjoy the fall foliage while you shop! It really is scenic – the back patio has an outstanding view.
In addition to delicious farm-fresh food, the market has a wide selection of Michigan-made food products like lavender, honey, jams, etc. Speaking from experience, in addition to some fresh fruit, I picked up a box of Rosemary-Olive Oil crackers and unique cheeses to enjoy later on our visit with a bottle of Michigan wine, so it’s also an ideal place to pick up picnic supplies.
7. Play miniature golf at Pirate’s Cove
How many times have we driven by Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf in Petoskey and it’s either been winter or we were on our way somewhere else? Too many times to count. So, on our last fall trip, we made a point to stop and enjoy a round of miniature golf.
The course was a lot of fun for the whole family (teenagers included) and we enjoyed spending a beautiful Michigan evening competing against each other! Prices were reasonable for the location and the fact that it was a pretty “fancy” course. Plus, we had recently played at Popstroke in Arizona which was MUCH more expensive so it seemed really affordable.
8. Have a picnic at Bayfront Park
Remember those goodies you picked up at Coveyou Scenic Farm Market? Why not load them up in your cooler and enjoy a picnic at Bayfront Park? We’ve stopped here in the winter during COVID and enjoyed take-out from the car, but it’s even better in the fall.
Bayfront Park overlooks Little Traverse Bay and is the ideal place to enjoy a sunset. It’s quite close to downtown and has plenty of grassy areas with beautiful views of the water, the Petoskey bayfront lighthouse, and the town.
9. Learn at the Little Traverse History Museum
While you are at Bayfront Park, check out the Little Traverse History Museum. Housed in a charming old railway depot by the waterfront, this gem offers a deep dive into the area’s rich past, from its Native American roots to its logging days, and even some info on when Ernest Hemingway spent time in Petoskey.
With rotating exhibits and interactive fun for the kiddos, it’s a must-visit for families looking to add a sprinkle of education to their trip. Trust me, the small admission fee is a small price to pay for this enriching experience.
10. Crooked Tree Arts Center
The Crooked Tree Arts Center is a place we stop in every once in a while when we visit Petoskey. It’s a lovely fall activity if you are looking for a little art appreciation with your downtown Petoskey shopping.
There are always some interesting collections housed in the art center, and the building itself is a beautiful old church. The stained glass windows are especially lovely if it’s a sunny day. There is also a nice gift shop with plenty of unique items made by local artisans.
11. Gamble at Odawa Casino
We always visit Odawa Casino when we head up to Boyne in the winter, but it’s also a terrific fall activity. The casino is just as nice as a Vegas casino and a lot less busy! Plus, on our last visit we discovered that aside from one room in the back, it is now smoke-free!
Unlike Vegas casinos, there aren’t free drinks while gambling, but there are soda and coffee stations around the casino floor where you can grab a drink yourself. In addition to gambling, we’ve often enjoyed the free concerts in the lounge. It’s a lot of fun to grab a drink and listen to some live music on a Friday or Saturday night.
13. Attend a fall festival
Fall in Petoskey is a season-long celebration you won’t want to miss. Kick things off with the Harvest Showcase, where local farmers and artisans bring the best of Michigan’s bounty to your fingertips—think fresh produce, homemade goodies, and artisan crafts.
For a dose of wonder, check out Balloons over Bay Harbor, where hot air balloons paint the sky in a spectacle of colors, all set against the stunning backdrop of Little Traverse Bay.
And don’t forget Petoskey’s Fall Festival, a family favorite featuring pumpkin carving, hayrides, and mouthwatering fall treats. The Fall Festival is one of the best kid friendly things to do in Petoskey in the fall. There’s something for everyone, making fall in Petoskey the ultimate festive escape!
14. Take a day trip to a nearby town
One of my favorite things about visiting Petoskey is that thanks to its location, you’ll never run out of things to do! Even after our dozens of trips, we still manage to do something new on each visit, because there are tons of fun day trips from Petoskey.
In the fall, the countryside is stunning, so taking a day trip to one of the nearby towns (Charlevoix, Boyne City, Boyne Falls, Harbor Springs, or even Mackinaw City) is a fabulous way to spend your time. You’ll get to enjoy the drive as well as the fun of discovering new things to do! And if you are like us, new favorites and traditions.
15. Indulge at Kilwins
We ALWAYS tell people heading to the Petoskey area to stop at the Kilwin’s Headquarters. Although they don’t do the chocolate tours anymore (that discovery was quite sad for us), you can still try the tasty fudge, ice cream, and chocolate goodies. And if you travel at all, you’ve probably discovered a Kilwins on your trips, so now you can see where all the goodies are made.
Plan to stock up on gifts and treats for later – if it’s a warm day bring along a cooler to pack up your goodies. I especially love their caramels so always buy those, but everyone in our family has their personal Kilwin’s favorites.
16. Play a round of golf at Crooked Tree Golf Club
There are plenty of challenging and inspiring golf courses in Northern Michigan, but one of the best choices in Petoskey is Crooked Tree Golf Club. The 18-hole course is well maintained and has a number of short (3 par) holes and a driving range.
The shorter course makes it a nice option for beginners, but advanced players will still enjoy it. The last nine holes have beautiful views of the bay, so that’s an added bonus! And, in the fall the weather is typically perfect for being outside at the golf course for the day.
17. Relax at a local coffee shop
There are several terrific coffee shops in downtown Petoskey, but my suggestion for a fall visit (or really any time of the year as it’s our favorite), is Roast & Toast Coffee Shop. Located right downtown, Roast & Toast has a wonderful selection of fun and unique lattes’, hot chocolates, and frozen drinks and they make an amazing (and super affordable ) Americano.
What sets Roast & Toast apart from the rest for a fall visit is their back patio with a gorgeous view of Traverse Bay. We love to stop in and grab a few drinks (Zen and the Shot in the Dark are a few favorites), head outside, and just relax and enjoy the view. It’s the perfect start to a fall day in Petoskey or a lovely afternoon break!
Where to Eat in Petoskey
18. Johan’s Pastry Shop
Those in the know start their day with a bagel or donut from Johan’s Pastry Shop. It’s a small building so the line can get pretty long, but that just gives you more time to figure out what you want to order.
Often on our first day of a weekend trip, we’ll run over to Johann’s and buy a dozen donuts and some delicious bagels. This has us set for the weekend for breakfast! We’ve converted everyone we’ve brought with us to Johann’s for an easy and delicious treat.
Insider tip: Johann’s sells day-old bagels at a great price, so if they have any available snatch them up so you can pop them in your freezer at home to enjoy later!
Nestled right in the heart of downtown, this trendy gastropub serves up comfort food with a gourmet twist. Imagine sinking your teeth into a juicy, locally sourced burger topped with all the fixings while sipping on a craft beer from their impressive selection.
The vibe is laid-back yet buzzing, and if the weather is nice you can sit at the open window or out on the patio making it the perfect spot to unwind after a day of exploring. And don’t even get me started on their wings — seriously, they’re life-changing! One of our favorite spots to take our kids, TAP30 offers a dining experience that captures the essence of Petoskey’s cool, casual charm.
20. Mim’s Mediterranean Grill
Mim’s is a favorite standby for our family – we’ve been going there for years. The gyros are delicious, the hummus and pita are fresh and we love (and this will sound odd) their fried clam strips.
They’ve been around since 2005 which was probably about when we started going to Petoskey regularly, and I’ve never been disappointed. Mim’s is located in a small yellow house, so inside seating is somewhat limited, but if the weather is nice, the back patio can be an option. The food also holds up well if you order it to go.
21. The Backlot
We LOVE The Backlot! It is always one of the first places we recommend if you are looking for a fun place to eat in downtown Petoskey. And with the gorgeous fall weather of Northern Michigan, it’s a great time of the year to enjoy it.
There are half a dozen food trucks available surrounding a bunch of picnic tables, and your options include fan-favorites of the region like Happy’s Taco Shop (the BEST) and The Reel Deal Fish & Chips. Then, you have your choice of plenty of local craft beer & ciders (as well as other fun drinks) at the bar.
The Back Lot has a fun and lively atmosphere with occasional live music and everyone from couples to families enjoying a meal together. We’ve found it’s perfect when our kids have friends traveling with them as everyone can find something they like to eat!
🚗 Downtown Petoskey is walkable, but you’ll need a car to get to any of the other attractions. DiscoverCars is a terrific option if you need a car rental.
Map of Petoskey
Where to Stay in Petoskey
FAQs: Petoskey in the Fall
Where can I see fall colors in Petoskey?
Tunnel of Trees, driving along US 131 or US 31
Is Petoskey Michigan worth visiting?
Absolutely! There is so much to do and see in Petoskey. You won’t regret a visit.
What is Petoskey Michigan known for?
Beautiful views, sunsets, historic Gaslight District, and Petoskey Stones.
Can you remove Petoskey Stones from the beach?
You can take home 25 pounds of Petoskey stones a year.
Where is the best beach to find Petoskey Stones?
Petoskey State Park and Magus City Park Beach are great choices.
Conclusion: Petoskey in the Fall
From sipping on warm lattes with a view of Traverse Bay at Roast & Toast Coffee Shop to unearthing the elusive Petoskey stones at Petoskey State Park, there’s no shortage of autumnal adventures to be had in this Michigan gem. Whether you’re a fan of food, festivals, or just some good old-fashioned family fun, Petoskey has something to offer for everyone.
Don’t let the season pass you by without experiencing the spectacular fall foliage, the vibrant local culture, and the delicious flavors of this quaint but bustling community. The town truly comes alive in the fall, offering a cozy, yet lively backdrop for a season of unforgettable memories.
Petoskey in the fall isn’t just a destination; it’s an experience that warms your soul like a mug of hot apple cider on a crisp day. Trust me, you’ll be planning your next fall visit before the first snowflake even hits the ground – I know every time we leave, we are already marking the calendar for our next visit!