Plan your fall color tour daycation

Fall foliage is coming! Week by week, billions of leaves will change color painting Northern Michigan's already spectacular scenery into something even more breathtaking. It happens every single year, but natural wonder never fails to please and draw crowds. Projected peak color for 2018 is Oct. 14-21. Let us help you plan the perfect trip. Here is the ultimate guide to taking in the fall colors without straying too far from home.

• Lake Charlevoix (32.2 miles from Gaylord): Typically, the best time to view the fall colors is during Charlevoix's Annual Apple Festival which takes place during the second full weekend in October. When you hit East Jordan, head north on Advance Road to Boyne City, then meander northwest back to U.S. 31 and into downtown Charlevoix.

Stop in Bentley Hill Bakehouse, Charlevoix's favorite. Try their Round Lake Rolls (cinnamon rolls) with a hot cup of locally roasted, exclusive blend coffee. Or head over to Downtown Boyne City to sample local favorites like Bloody Mary's from Cafe Sante or beer cheese pretzels from Stiggs Brewery & Kitchen. Take a detour along East Jordan-Boyne City Road, look for Wilson Road, a rural drive that meanders past ghost farms.

• Tunnel of Trees (38.3 miles away): From Petoskey, drive M-119 north all the way to Cross Village. This iconic, terrifyingly tight winding shoreline two-lane is one of the most scenic roads in the state.

Stop at Pond Hill Farm's Fall Fest Weekends between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday through Oct. 28. Come pick out the perfect pumpkin, enjoy cider and doughnuts, shoot the giants squash rocket, feed the farm animals, indulge in wine & beer tasting, savor a lunch in the garden cafe, smash a pumpkin, take a photo with some huge pumpkins, pumpkin bowl down the vineyard hill, feed the fish, shop the market full of local goodies, hayrides, playground and more. Stay in Harbor Springs for a stroll through this charming little town. If you get hungry we recommend heading over to Pierson's Grille & Spirits for the 5 Dragon sandwich or the Wild Mushroom Pizza.

• Cadillac (89.7 miles away): Take Exit 168 on U.S. 131 South and drive east on 20 Mile Road past forested valleys, swaths of autumn grass and silos standing guard. After your tour, head back to Cadillac and stop into the Clam Lake Beer Company or Timbers Restaurant for some good eats.

• Old Mission Peninsula (75.2 miles away): Take M-37 north for a drive up skinny, 22-mile Old Mission Peninsula. There are orchards and wineries almost everywhere you look. The drive also offers sweeping views of East and West Grand Traverse bays. Stop at any of Old Mission’s seven wineries ( for a time that will make the drive worth it.

• Tip of Leelanau (88.7 miles away): From Traverse City, follow M-22 north through Suttons Bay to Northport. Hop back on the highway towards Leland then cut back across to Suttons Bay. You will break for wineries and roadside farms. Stroll through Leland's Fishtown for charm you won't find anywhere else, and tour historic Grand Traverse Lighthouse for an unforgettable daycation.

Frances Eugenia