26 Things To Do In Michigan This Fall: Travel The Mitten’s A to Z Guide
Summer is coming to an end in Michigan, and our attention now turns to cooler temperatures, Halloween, and the changing colors of leaves throughout the state. The Pure Michigan campaign continues to draw attention to the amazing autumn colors in the state, but that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fall fun in the Mitten State. Scenic drives, apple orchards, harvest festivals, beer festivals and more are just a few of the things we’ll showcase here in our A to Z guide. For more ideas, check out our 10 Amazing Places for Fall Color in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula and 10 Amazing Places for Fall Color in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Snow will be here soon, so get out and enjoy everything Michigan has to offer before the temperature drops below freezing!
ArtPrize in Grand Rapids – From September 23 – October 11 more than 1,500 pieces of art will be on display in more than 160 venues around Grand Rapids. This open, public-vote art competition draws hundred of thousands of visitors to the area – for more information check out our list of 10 Venues To Visit or check out our photo galleries from ArtPrize 2009, ArtPrize 2010 and ArtPrize 2012.
Bridge Anniversaries – On November 1, the Mackinac Bridge celebrates 58 years of being open to traffic. November 11 marks 86 years of operation for the Ambassador Bridge connecting Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, Canada. On October 31st the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge will celebrate its 53rd year of operation. All three bridges carry roads that connect visitors to amazing fall color.
Comic Con Grand Rapids – October 16-18 will see the DeVos Place Convention Center in Grand Rapids transformed into a haven for comic and sci-fi fans of all ages as guests like Marina Sirtis (Star Trek: The Next Generation) and Walter Jones (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers) will be on hand to meet fans and numerous panels and exhibits will delight guests as well. The Grand Rapids Symphony will present Star Trek: Live in Concert on Oct. 17 at DeVos Place.
Detroit Red Wings Hockey – Training camp kicked off Sept. 18 for the Red Wings, as they headed up to Traverse City to begin work for the 2015-16 season. With only two seasons left at Joe Louis Arena, your chances to catch a game at one of hockey’s most historic venues are limited. This season the Wings will look to make the playoffs for a 24th consecutive season, under new leadership from first-year head coach Jeff Blashill. Other new arrivals include defenseman Mike Green and 2015 Stanley Cup winner Brad Richards, who will join the likes of Niklas Kronwall, Tomas Tatar, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg in donning the winged wheel beginning October 9th.
Edmund Fitzgerald 40th Anniversary – On November 10th there will be a 40th Anniversary memorial for the Edmund Fitzgerald at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point. The ceremony features the Call to the Last Watch, where the Fitzgerald‘s bell (now on display in the museum) will be rung 29 times to honor the crew lost and a 30th time to honor all mariners lost on the Great Lakes. Another fun event at Whitefish Point takes place on October 10 – the Run for the Light benefit race features a half marathon, 10K, 5K and fun run. More details at https://www.shipwreckmuseum.com/events-129/.
Football – Fall weekends are filled with football on every level here in Michigan. Sundays see Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and the Detroit Lions attempt to return to the playoffs for a second consecutive season, while Saturdays belong to the Michigan State Spartans and the Jim Harbaugh-led Michigan Wolverines. The weather may be chilly, but that wont stop hundreds of fans from tailgating this season. High school action brings local communities together on Fridays, and for all information on everything high school football related in Michigan, visit our friends at The D Zone (http://www.thedzone.net/).
Grand Rapids Griffins Hockey – Head coach Jeff Blashill has moved on to the Detroit Red Wings, but there’s still more than a handful of reasons to be excited about Griffins hockey this season. Their first game is October 9th, with the home opener taking place on October 16th when the San Antonio Rampage (Colorado Avalanche) visit Van Andel Arena. Top prospects Andreas Athanasiou, Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi should make things interesting on the ice, while promotions like Star Wars Night, Teemu Pulkkinen and Tom McCollum bobblehead giveaways, and the annual matinee game (Jan. 27) will be a big hit with fans of all ages. More information at http://griffinshockey.com/home/.
Haunted Houses – Those who like their Halloween fun on the scary side are in luck here in Michigan, as two of the state’s top haunted houses – The Haunt in Grand Rapids and Erebus in Pontiac – are also considered among the top in the Midwest and even the entire country. MLive’s John Gonzalez ranked the Top 10 back in 2012, check out his list for more photos and links to hours of operation and pricing.
I Prevail – Detroit-based post-hardcore band I Prevail, fresh off a summer headlining tour, is back on the road and supporting Crown the Empire and Hollywood Undead. Their debut EP “Heart vs. Mind” reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 200, and their video for a cover of “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift has more than 15 million views on YouTube. You can catch them at The Fillmore in Detroit on October 2nd and at The Intersection in Grand Rapids on October 16th. Tickets and more details at http://iprevailband.com/tour.
Jolly Pumpkin Brewery – What better time of year than fall to celebrate one of Michigan’s award-winning breweries? Jolly Pumpkin is known throughout the Midwest as one of the finer producers of handcrafted artisan ales. It’s pretty easy to find Bam Biere or Calabaza Blanca at stores across the state, and be sure to check out their seasonal pumpkin ale La Parcela. Jolly Pumpkin has four locations: Ann Arbor (cafe and brewery), Dexter (tap room), Detroit (pizzeria and brewery) and Traverse City (restaurant, brewery, distillery). Visit http://www.jollypumpkin.com/ for more details.
Keweenaw Peninsula Fall Color – You can’t go much farther north in Michigan than Brockway Mountain between Copper Harbor and Eagle Harbor in the Keweenaw Peninsula, which makes it an ideal place to catch the fall color show starting in October. Attractions like the Quincy Mine, Fort Wilkins, Estivant Pines, Eagle Harbor Lighthouse and Hungarian Falls become even more impressive with a backdrop of red, orange and yellow.
Lighthouse Festival in Alpena – The 20th Annual Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival takes place October 9th and 10th in Alpena, as vendors, authors, exhibits, auctions, entertainment, guest speakers and more will be at The Sanctuary Inn and Conference Center (1000 US-23 North). Area lighthouses will be open during the weekend (most with extended hours) with boat tours to Middle Island and Thunder Bay Island possible if weather allows. Find out more at http://lighthousefestival.org/, admission is FREE.
M-22 Fall Color – This scenic 116-mile stretch of highway recently garnered the attention of USA Today and 10best.com, who named it a finalist for “Best Scenic Autumn Drive.” Lighthouses, beaches, historic towns and the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore are just a few of the things you’ll find on M-22, where peak fall color should hit around the 2nd or 3rd week in October.
New Salem Corn Maze in Dorr – There’s fun for the whole family at this fun fall attraction, as the corn maze is family-friendly during the day but becomes a haunted one at night. The weekend of September 25-27 is the Wurst Festival Ever, featuring music, food, beer and kids activities. Easily accessed just minutes from US-131 and open Saturdays and Sundays from September 26-Halloween, this is the perfect place to pick out a pumpkin, tackle a corn maze or fend off zombies and ghouls at night in the haunted woods or haunted maze. More details at http://witchesofnewsalem.com/index.php.
Oktoberfest Celebrations – While some have already passed, there are still a few more Oktoberfest celebrations taking place. Pentwater has events taking place on October 9th and 10th and Lansing’s Old Town Oktoberfest takes place the same weekend. More events can be found at http://www.funtober.com/oktoberfest/michigan/.
Pumpkin Fest in Caseville – This small town in the Thumb region will host a Pumpkin Festival on October 3rd and 4th that includes a giant pumpkin contest, pumpkin roll, scarecrow building, music, food, wagon rides and more. Head over to http://casevillechamber.net/Pages/Events/2015/Pumpkin/pumpkin.php for a schedule of events.
Quilt Barns on Mission Peninsula – 10 barns on the Mission Peninsula north of Traverse City featured decorative quilt-style paintings that bring visitors to the area year-round. Fall color provides a stunning backdrop for these historic barns, and there are plenty of wineries along this route that make for great stops as well. Find the brochure at http://www.barnsofoldmission.com/images/QuiltBro.pdf.
River Road Scenic Byway – This 23-mile stretch follows the Au Sable River from Oscoda to the west through the Huron National Forest. This area is full of lumber history, and there are many scenic lookouts along the way – including the Lumberman’s Monument. Fall color here is amazing, and should be at its peak mid-October.
Shrine of the Pines in Baldwin – This tourist spot near the Pere Marquette River features a wooden lodge, trails, and hundreds of items handcrafted from white pine by Raymond W. Overholzer. Open until October 15th, this is an especially beautiful place to stop during the fall season. Visit https://www.facebook.com/ShrineOfThePines for more information, photo from Wikimedia Commons.
Tunnel of Trees – M-119 is flooded with vibrant color from Cross Village heading south to Harbor Springs, as it follows a bluff along the shore of Lake Michigan. Check out the numerous small businesses along the way for food and souvenirs, and enjoy the views as the canopy of trees allows bits of sunlight through its orange, yellow and red leaves.
Uncle John’s Cider Mill – One of Michigan’s best-known places for apples and cider, Uncle John’s has a full calendar of events planned this fall (http://www.ujcidermill.com/calendar/). You can now find their hard cider in most retail outlets across the state, and they also offer wine, baked goods, donuts and seasonal fruit at their location north of St. John’s just off of US-127.
Victorian Halloween at Walker Tavern -On October 10th you can experience 19th century Halloween traditions at this historic Michigan landmark. This free of charge event will features hands-on crafts, pumpkin bowling and more. Details at: http://www.michigan.org/events/walker-tavern-historic-site—a-victorian-halloween/. Walker Tavern is located at 13220 M-50 in Brooklyn.
Wine Country in Grand Traverse County – Fall is the perfect time to head out to Traverse City, where TWO peninsulas offer wine trails that feature some of the state’s best wines. The backdrop of color makes for great scenic driving, and this is also a good time of year to see grapes being pressed. Wine tours are popular and run out of several locations in Traverse City, and the “Hunt for the Reds of October” takes place October 23-25. With more than 40 options to choose from, there’s certain to be a winery in the area with something for everyone.
X (RR): Crossing Northern Michigan by Rail – Visit https://www.michigansteamtrain.com/ for details on a few fall color trips in Northern Michigan that explore Petoskey, Boyne City, Fife Lake, Cadillac and more by railroad. Ride vintage passenger coaches through the countryside, with chances to see some of Michigan’s best small towns along the way.
Yankee Springs Harvest Festival – On October 10th, head over to Gun Lake for harvest festival activities like a scavenger hunt, trick-or-treat bag making, mountain biking, and other fun games. There will also be special activities in the campground area for campers, everything else takes place in the day use area.
Zoo Boo at Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek – A longstanding tradition for families is the Great Zoo Boo at Binder Park Zoo, which takes place Wednesdays through Sundays, October 13th through 30th this year. The trick-or-treat trail, animal presentations, hay rides, train rides, straw maze, games and more. Check out “Haunted Africa,” new this year and open Friday and Saturday 6pm to 8pm. More information available at http://www.binderparkzoo.org/boo/.
Photo credits: Yankee Springs – Jeff Hesterly, Zoo Boo – Pamela Hesterly, Shrine of the Pines – Wikimedia Commons/Donald Harrison, M-22 – 10best.com, Walker Tavern – Wikimedia Commons/Dwight Burdette, Wine Country – Russell Katje, Oktoberfest/Fall Color Train Tour/The Haunt/New Salem Corn Maze/Uncle John’s each from their respective websites.