The moment I moved to Michigan, fall became my favorite season. Why? Maybe it was that Michigan falls happen after we come down from our breakneck summer activities. Or maybe it was the contrast to our wintry and wet springs. I’m not quite sure why, but no matter who you are, it doesn’t take long to realize that there is just something about fall, especially fall in Jackson. To be totally honest, one of my favorite things about living in Jackson is the fall season. Over the last 10 years of living in the Jackson area, I've found some hidden amber-brown, orange, and yellow toned gems that really make living in and visiting Jackson quite an experience.
Today I'm going to share with you, what I like to call, my “Fall Crawl.” I'm going to take you on a journey of three of my favorite fall spots in Jackson County that represent a true fall experience. Truth be told, on their own, each of these spots is pretty wonderful, but when combined into a full autumn experience, they are guaranteed to blow you away.
Beyond the mid-state knuckles and the 45th parallel, the Mitten is basically an enchanted forest overrun with fudge and pasties. However, you don’t have to go Up-North to get a breathtaking view of some beautiful changing color. There are quite a few roads in South Central Michigan that I love driving on just to see the colors, but one of my favorites is definitely M-50 west between 127 and historic Tompkins Township. It's not a long drive, but this selection of M-50 is one of the most beautiful and breathtaking strips of road in all of Michigan, especially in the fall. Accentuated by the freshly harvested farms and golden fields of Tompkins TWP, we are provided an almost ethereal backdrop to the trees and their bright reds, oranges, and yellows. If you'd like, feel free to drive past Tompkins Township and make your way to Eaton Rapids or even further north; you’re sure to see many more miles of color along that route. For the sake of the Fall Crawl we're going to take a left on North Parma Road in Tompkins and head south to Spring Arbor, Michigan.
Spring Arbor, MI is a quaint little township in the western side of Jackson County. Autumn in Spring Arbor is pretty special on its own as the crisp air, crunchy leaves, and legendary family bonfires bring back memories of enjoying early evening sunsets with hot cocoa in hand. Home to Spring Arbor University, Ye Ole Carriage Shop, and one of my favorite local pizza joints, Slice of Spice, Spring Arbor has a lot to offer. Along with the peaceful pace and country vibe, we find stop number two of the Fall Crawl. Hearthstone Farms (3215 Chapel Rd) on Chapel Road right off of M60 is a pure Michigan, family-owned-and-operated, country farm that provides produce from July through October. Let’s be honest, how could you have a Fall Crawl without locally grown zucchini and squash alongside U-pick pumpkins? You'll also find an assortment of fall favorites like gourds, stalks of corn, and other items to eat and enjoy during the celebratory harvest season. Did I mention the pumpkin patch? Now I know there are some other farms and orchards in the Jackson area that get top billing most of the time, but none of them can hold a Jack-o-lanterns candle to the full fall experience of a visit to Hearthstone Farms.
Food and Drink
The last stop on our Fall Crawl, and one of the of the most popular spots in Jackson's booming downtown, is the Grand River Brewery. Grand River Brewery makes a perfect end to the Fall Crawl because 1. They serve beer and I don’t condone drinking and driving and 2. their attention to seasonal culinary excellence and potable supremacy makes it the best way to end a fall day. Menu items at Grand River are seasonal and sourced to be fresh and as local as possible. Fall food always reminds me of that warm feeling you get with family. Grand River consistently creates items that really celebrate these kinds of memories. Likewise, their adult beverage lineup is stacked with award winning beers, ciders, wines, and creative cocktails, most of them brewed in house and all of them made from Michigan fruits and grains. Part of a craft brewery’s charm is that your beverage is guaranteed to fit the season, and let me tell you, nothing drinks better than a nice malty, pumpkin ale after a long, crisp autumn day.
So, if you're looking to truly experience Jackson this fall, take a few hours with family and friends. Go for a drive, pick-up a pumpkin, share a meal, and enjoy the fruits of living in Jackson. Take the Fall Crawl, or if you feel inspired, create your own! If you do, I bet, hands down, fall will become one of your favorite season, too.
Del Belcher and his wife Stephanie Belcher are both proud residence of Jackson County, and regularly enjoy all the goodness Jackson has to offer! They currently reside in Spring Arbor, MI where they own and operate MichMarketing.com, a digital marketing company. See Del’s Michigan adventures on Instagram @Delbelcher