Fall in Ludington: A Visitor’s Guide

Pack your bags and experience the fall in Ludington, one of the best seasons to visit Michigan’s most charming harbor towns. You’ll discover the ever-changing fall hues as vibrant as the murals decorating our downtown. The serene shoreline along Lake Michigan will enchant you with views of our famous lighthouses. And there are plenty of events for the apple lovers and nature enthusiasts in all of us!

Experience Ludington with a stay in our vacation home rentals and bring home fall memories that will last a lifetime.

Fall Weather in Ludington

Let’s be honest — the fall weather in Michigan is unpredictable. Generally, if you’re visiting earlier in the season, it will be warmer, with colder temperatures arriving in mid-November. You can expect an average of mid-60s to low 70s in September, the 50s in October, and a chilling 40°F average in November. The good news is that the sun usually shines above the crisp air below!

Things to Do During Fall in Ludington

See Fall Colors

Photo Credit: Bill Vriesema via Flickr CC 2.0

One of the pleasures of traveling to Ludington is witnessing the vast colors of Fall all around you. The changing season is the best time to visit West Michigan, with mid to late October being the most colorful. Go on a Fall Color Tour or take a self-guided trip to some of the best spots in the Ludington area.

The Ludington State Park has tons of deciduous and conifers, dawning fiery fall hues. Or go for a leaf-peeping drive along Lakeshore Drive, circling Hamlin Lake, exposing the colorful lakefront foliage. Set out on foot on the one-mile loop trail around Cartier Park, where tunnels of reds, yellows, and orange leaves shade the paved path.

Explore Downtown Ludington

Photo Credit: Michigan Municipal League via Flickr CC 2.0

Downtown Ludington is always full of fall spirit. Stray leaves blow across the sidewalks as you make your way to some of the local dining hotspots, teasing your senses with the season.

Craft beer fans can wander inside the local breweries to taste Pumpkin Cream Ale at Ludington Bay Brewing Company or Pumpkin Wheat beer at Jamesport Brewing Company. Bring the scent of autumn into our vacation rentals with candles from Mariellen’s Hallmark Shop.

Set the mood with live music shows at The Sandbar and The Mitten Bar. Afterward, you can thumb through the Cedar Chest Consignment Shoppe racks for the finishing touches on your Halloween costume.

Get Outdoors

Photo Credit: Huron-Manistee National Forests via Flickr CC 2.0

Fall is your last chance to enjoy decent weather before Michigan’s seemingly never-ending winters.

Breathe in the crisp autumn air when pedaling along the mountain biking trails of the Ludington School Forest or trek the hiking trails through the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area, with approximately 10 miles of trails winding through the Manistee National Forest and dunes.

Go kayaking or paddling along the Pere Marquette River for some water fun. Or simply relax on the shores of Lake Michigan, where, if you’re lucky, have the beach all to yourself.

Trek Local Cultural Trails

Photo Credit: Michigan Municipal League via Flickr CC 2.0

Local trails lead you to far more than just your typical scenic nature sights. Mason County organizers have created several self-guided routes to witness the area from an entirely new perspective.

Learn about the history and significance of the port town via the Maritime Heritage Trail. Take selfies in front of our most famous statues on the Sculpture Trail, extending from Ludington’s Waterfront Park to Scottville to Fountain. The Lumber Heritage Trail explores the history of one of the country’s most important industries.

Tour the Historic White Pine Village

Photo Credit: Jimmy Emerson, DVM via Flickr CC 2.0

With the summertime visitors returning home, now’s the perfect chance to explore the Historic White Pine Village. This 13-acre site reimages Mason County from the 19th to 20th centuries with 30+ historic buildings.

Immerse yourself in living history by exploring places like the original Pere Marquette Town Hall, the first Mason County Courthouse, the Trapper’s Cabin (which became the first official post office), the White Pine Chapel, a General Store stocked with period goods, and several trade shops reflecting the various industries contributing to the county’s economy.

Scout Nearby Lighthouses

Photo Credit: John McCormick

Fall in Ludington looks straight out of a painting. The fall foliage only makes our famous lighthouses perched high above and overlooking Lake Michigan appear even more enchanting.

Take the 1.8-mile hike through Ludington State Park to be rewarded with views of the 112-foot Big Sable Point Lighthouse. Visitors can enter the lighthouse through October with 130 stairs leading to the top for panoramic shoreline views. When the waters are calm, tightrope walk the breakwater to the foot of the Ludington North Break Water Light. Time your visit to witness the lighthouse’s mesmerizing sight against the golden sunset’s backdrop.

Play Sports

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons via Google Images CCL

Our spacious rentals are perfect for hosting large groups and families. Add a bit of competition to your stay with falltime sports!

Did you know that Ludington ranks as the 2nd best destination in Michigan for disc golf? We have six disc golf courses, including Ludington School Forest Course and Mason County Park.

You don’t have to go far for outdoor gaming. Some of our Waters Edge properties feature putt-putt golf, a heated pool to splash around with Marco Polo, or playgrounds right in their neighborhoods.

Ride the S.S. Badger Carferry

Photo Credit: Aaron of L.A. Photography

Views of the S.S. Badger Carferry dominate our lakefront. This historic vessel—declared a national historic landmark—is used to transport passengers across Lake Michigan from Ludington, MI, to Manitowoc, WI, in a 4-hour journey. It’s the last remaining evidence of our port heritage that’s still active.

Although it runs between May and October, as of August 2023, it’s currently out of service due to ramp damage. However, if you follow Waters Edge on social media, we’ll update you as soon as it’s back!

Events Happening Around Town This Season

Between our fun activities, Fall in Ludington brings several local events you’ll love, including on your itinerary. Clear your calendar because these are worth checking out during your stay.


Photo Credit: LightField Studios

Cheers! Octoberfest returns for another exciting year in Downtown. Join locals and visitors in this one-day celebration of the Fall. Vendors take over our Legacy Plaza with beer, wine, cider, and non-alcoholic beverages. There will be plenty of food to go around, games for all ages, and live music.

Fall Festival at the Ludington State Park

Photo Credit: George Sheldon

Kick-off Fall the right way at Ludington State Park! Our Fall Festival is for all ages, with live music, horse-drawn wagon rides, cider and donuts, and a bonfire right on the beach. The best part? This event is totally free!

Haunted Village

Got a sweet tooth? Dress up and head to the Historic White Pine Village to see what it was like to trick-or-treat in 19th-century Mason County.

Downtown Ludington Trick-or-Treat

Craving even more candy? Dress up for an evening of trick-or-treating fun. Ludington Avenue gets closed off for pedestrian-only traffic, where you’ll fill your bag with candy from participating local businesses and keep your eye out for the best costumes!

Packing for Your Trip

Here are a few tips on things to pack to ensure you’re prepared for the weather and can make the most of the exciting activities during Fall in Ludington:

  • Warm clothing
  • Medium to heavyweight jacket
  • Swimming gear—our rentals have heated pools
  • Halloween Costume
  • Walking shoes—Ludington is a very walkable city!

We provide our guests with fully stocked kitchens, linens, cleaning supplies, and other amenities, so you’ll have everything you need to make the space your own right upon arrival.

Book Your Fall Getaway with Waters Edge

Experience Fall in Ludington with our comfortable vacation rentals located right on the coast of Lake Michigan. You’ll make the most of your fall getaway with lake views throughout the property and walking distance to our town’s best attractions!

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