Things to Do in Michigan Fall 2017 – Travel the Mitten’s A to Z Guide
Michigan is a great state to live in or travel to in any of the four seasons. We’re particularly fond of Fall, as Michigan is one of the greatest places to witness the changing color of leaves around us. The state also boasts a number of breweries and cideries that create fall themed offerings. Add in the return of some of the state’s best sports teams and the opening of a new iconic sports stadium, and you can see why Fall 2017 is shaping up to be spectacular.
While Fall doesn’t officially begin until September 22nd, we offer our take on Fall events taking place during the months of September, October, and November. In unique TraveltheMitten fashion, we offer things to do in Michigan for each of the 26 letters of the alphabet. We hope you enjoy this list and we see you stick around for more recommendations of places to go and things to do in Michigan.
Artprize – The popular cultural phenomenon Artprize returns to Grand Rapids for its ninth year. The world’s largest art competition attracts huge crowds to venues scattered throughout downtown and the surrounding regions. Don’t miss this one of a kind event that runs from September 20th through October 8th. We’ve covered this event in the past with photo galleries to show off the great work of the artists from around the world. Be sure to check out our photo gallery from the 2016 event and past coverage as well.
Big Sable Point Lighthouse – On November 1st, 1867, a lighthouse in Ludington was operational for the first time. The popular white and black striped 110 foot tall lighthouse is one of the most popular in the state. A nearly two mile walk is necessary to view this lighthouse, except during certain times during the summer where bus transportation is available for a small fee. The Big Sable Lighthouse was the recent host to the Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival. Big Sable has also been featured on cans of Labatt Blue and Vernors as part of Pure Michigan campaigns. Celebrate the 150th anniversary of this iconic lighthouse by taking a fall trip to Ludington. (Related: 4 Michigan Lighthouses Turning 150 in 2017)
Comic Cons – Motor City Comic Con, the largest in the state, takes place in a different season, but this fall gives fans of comic books, superhero movies, and cosplay several opportunities to enjoy their fandom. The Grand Rapids Comic Con takes place October 20th through 22nd and features guests like Billy Dee Williams, Julian Glover, and Kevin Sorbo. The Great Lakes Comic Con will host its “Half Way to Comic Con” September 8th and 9th. The Monroe Comic Con, held September 16th, prides itself in being one of the most affordable pop-culture events around, with admission prices under $10. This year’s Monroe Comic Con features actors from “Power Rangers”, “Arrow”, and “Land of the Dead”.
Detroit Fall Beer Festival – The 9th annual Detroit Fall Beer Festival is one of several events put on across the state throughout the year by the Michigan Brewer’s Guild. This event will be held October 27th (5pm to 9pm) and October 28th (1pm to 6pm) at Eastern Market. Like the other Michigan Brewer’s Guild events, attendees will be able to drink sample beers from more than 80 breweries.
Erie Orchards and Cider Mill Apple Festival – September 9th and 10th will see this orchard in Michigan’s southeast corner host a festival celebrating the kickoff of apple season. Pony and hay rides will be offered as well as inflatable toys, crafts, animals, and chicken bbq dinner on Sunday. Other fall events include a Harvest Festival the weekend of September 23rd, a Pumpkin Festival the weekend of September 30, and a Cider Making Weekend October 21st and 22nd. More information at http://www.erieorchards.com/.
Founder’s 20th Anniversary – On October 14th, Michigan’s second largest craft brewer will celebrate it’s 20th anniversary. The brewery does not have specific plans set for that day yet, but encourages fans to “Save the Date”. The brewery has already teased the limited release of “Tank Bender,” an Eisbock aged in bourbon barrels. Founder’s is also allowing beer fans a deeper look into its history through its “20 Years Over Beers” series, featuring videos of co-founders Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers. We’re blessed to live in a state that has great craft brewers like Founder’s. Celebrate the company’s 20th anniversary by enjoying your favorite Founder’s beers all fall long.
Grand Rapids Griffins – The defending American Hockey League champions return to action this fall (promotional schedule). On October 6th, the Griffins will raise the Calder Cup Championship banner to the rafters at Van Andel Arena, a cool moment for sports fans. On November 5th, the Griffins will also give away replica championship banners to fans attending the game.
Hockeytown 5K – Last year’s inaugural race through downtown Detroit ended registration early after meeting its cap for runners. Don’t miss your chance to participate in this cool race event on September 10th. The 2017 course will take runners through Joe Louis Arena to outside the soon to be opened Little Caesars Arena, the new home of the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Pistons. Runners in the race receive a finisher’s medal, a t-shirt and have the option to upgrade their ticket to include a Red Wings preseason game. Don’t miss this unique chance to see Joe Louis Arena one more time before it’s tore down.
Intergalactic Prom – I came across this event recently and had to share it. The Kalamazoo Air Zoo will host the Intergalactic Prom, where it encourages guests to “dress to the nines from whatever planet you call home”. There are sure to be some superhero and Star Wars costumes present at this adults only event. The event runs 7:30 to 10:30 pm on September 9th and features dancing, food, a cash bar, and costume contest.
Jampot and Jacobs Falls – One of the best kept secrets of the Upper Peninsula is Jampot, a store run by monks. The store is located just south of Eagle Harbor. Featured inside are coffee, fruitcakes, baked good, confections, and famous jams and jellies. Anyone who has ever been here will tell you about the long lines being well worth it after trying the product. The monks come from the Holy Transfiguration Skete Society of St. John and the store is one of their primary sources of income. The Jampot opens for the season in April and this year, it’s last day open will be October 14th, so fall is the last chance to get goods in person for quite some time (items can be shipped year round). The Jampot is open Monday through Saturday 10am to 5pm. We offer a double J here as Jacobs Falls is located extremely close to The Jampot and can be viewed from your car or a short walk.
Kal Haven Trail State Park – One of the best Michigan activities in fall is taking in the gorgeous changing of colors of leaves on trees. A great spot to witness this is the Kal Haven Trail State Park. We highlighted this trail in one of our Michigan Trail Tuesday segments. Photos from Kal Haven last fall (2016) were also included in a fall color Lower Peninsula photo gallery. The trail stretches for 33 miles with various splits. The majority is made up of the former route of the Kalamazoo and South Haven railroads. A highlight also includes the Donald F. Nichols covered bridge.
Little Caesars Arena – The new home of the Detroit Pistons and Detroit Red Wings opens in September. The highly anticipated Little Caesars Arena will host a couple kickoff and preview events before officially having its premiere event, a Kid Rock concert. Kid Rock is one of several high profile musicians that will hold concerts at Little Caesars Arena this fall. That list includes Ed Sheeran, Paul McCartney, Imagine Dragons, The Eagles, Fall Out Boy, Janet Jackson, Guns N’ Roses, Lady Gaga, and Jay-Z. The Red Wings will kick off their 2017-2018 NHL season with a home game Thursday October 5th vs. the Minnesota Wild that will be nationally televised on NBCSN. The Red Wings have five home games in October and eight in November. The Detroit Pistons start their regular season in Little Caesars Arena on October 18th. The team has ten home games during the months of October and November, including a matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers on November 20th.
Mackinac Bridge – One of Michigan’s most well-known landmarks is a staple to the fall season. The Mackinac Bridge hosted its annual walk on Labor Day, an event that it has hosted every year since it was first constructed. The Mackinac Bridge makes our fall event list for a reason other than Labor Day. On November 1st, we will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Mackinac Bridge. The bridge is easily enjoyable by viewing it from several places and taking photographs, driving over it, or taking a boat under it. If you haven’t already taken in the Mighty Mac this year, make a visit one of the things to do in Michigan this fall to celebrate the anniversary.
Northport’s Leelanau UnCaged Street Festival – On September 30, Northport will close its downtown streets for the day and host “dozens of musical performers, dancers, artists and food.” This free admission event promises family fun. More info: https://www.leelanauuncaged.com.
Oktoberfest in Frankenmuth – While Michigan is home to many Oktoberfest celebrations, the one in Frankenmuth is one of the biggest and best and it also has the blessing of the original Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. “The event features authentic entertainment, dancing, Oktoberfest
souvenirs, various food selections, and authentic Hofbrauhaus Oktoberfest beer.” Other festival offerings include live music, wiener dog races, food and more. Find out more about this great event that runs September 14-17 at https://www.frankenmuthfestivals.com/oktoberfest.html. Also be sure to vote for Frankenmuth Oktoberfest, which is currently in the running for the best in nation at 10Best.com.
Paul Bunyan Days – Head to Michigan’s Sunrise Side on the weekend of September 22nd for the annual Paul Bunyan Days celebration. This family friendly event features chainsaw carvers, craft vendors, an amusement carnival, classic car show, pie eating contest and more. Make sure to check out the Paul Bunyan statue downtown as well as the one in Ossineke.
Quilt Barns in Mason County – Eleven barns in Mason County have quilt artwork on them, depicting themes like “Mariners Compass,” “The Windmill,” and “Michigan Beauty” (shown above at the Jam Farm). Find the address of all of these great barns at http://www.visitludington.com/stories/mason_county_barn_quilt_trail. This regional cultural enrichment project is similar to the popular Old Mission Peninsula Quilt Barn Trail north of Traverse City. Mason County also offers a Lumber Heritage Trail, Sculpture Trail and Agricultural Trail.
Rosie the Riveter World Record Attempt at EMU – On October 14, an attempt will be made to return the Guinness World Record for most Rosie the Riveters to Michigan. This event is being put on to raise funds for the Yankee Air Museum and the preservation of the Willow run Bomber Plant near Ypsilanti. Find out all the details at http://www.savethebomberplant.org/rosie-world-record/.
Smooth Sunset Weekend in South Haven – “Feel the rhythm of South Haven featuring the first annual South Haven Jazz Festival! Come for cool beats. Stay for Beach Olympics, harbor walks, interactive murals, breathtaking sunsets over Lake Michigan and more. You’ll love the buzz of art, music, and good times – on and off beach – all weekend long! Sunglasses optional. ” Find out more about this first-year event that takes place the weekend of September 15th at https://www.facebook.com/events/1530478076994334/.
Tunnel of Trees – Michigan’s M-119 highway, which runs from Harbor Springs to Cross Village, is considered one of the nation’s finest drives for fall color. The road twists and turns as it follows the Lake Michigan shoreline for 20 miles, with a tree canopy overhead providing a spectacular color show. Plenty of local stops for shopping and eating can be found in communities like Good Hart, Cross Village, and Harbor Springs. Check out a recap of the drive and a video at http://mynorth.com/2017/05/guide-to-a-scenic-michigan-getaway-m-119-tunnel-of-trees-in-harbor-springs/.
U.P. Fall Beer Festival – More than 80 Michigan breweries will be on hand September 9th as Marquette hosts their annual fall beer festival in beautiful Mattson Lower Harbor Park. Look for limited release specialty brews from Upper Peninsula breweries like Blackrocks, Upper Hand, Keweenaw Brewing and more. Find out details and get tickets for this Michigan Brewer’s Guild event at http://www.mibeer.com/up-fall-festival.
Van Riper State Park Harvest Festival – One of our favorite state parks in the Upper Peninsula is Van Riper State Park on Lake Michigamme west of Marquette. From September 8-10 the park will host the beginning of their Harvest Festival, featuring “a weekend of spooktacular good times during our first weekend of Harvest Festival… don’t forget we have two more weekends of frightful fun to go! Friday night make boo-bread with the campground hosts, then join us in our pavilion for a Monster Mash dance. On Saturday there will be face painting (fee involved), wagon ride, games and crafts, campsite decorating, and rounding out the evening will be trick or treating and our famous haunted hike. Don’t forget to join the hosts on Sunday morning to find out the winners of the site decorating contest.” A similar event will be held at Baraga State Park the weekend of September 15th.
Wicked – One of Broadway’s longest running and highest grossing musicals comes to Grand Rapids for a three week run. Wicked ranks second behind only The Lion King for highest grossing Broadway shows. The popular show is also the eighth longest running Broadway show, which has also seen several national and international tours. Lansing welcomed Wicked to The Wharton Center in 2008. Devos Performance Hall will host the musical as it kicks off the 2017-2018 Broadway Grand Rapids program. The musical will run at Devos from October 18th through November 5th.
XTERRA Lake Superior Shore Run – On September 16, Marquette will host the 23rd annual Lake Superior Shore Run, an annual fundraiser for the Superiorland Ski Club’s youth programs. This event offers “a 1/2 Marathon, 5K run, 5 Mile hike and 1K kids race on the beautiful trails surrounding Little Presque Isle along the Lake Superior shoreline.” Find out more at http://www.michigan.org/event/xterra-lake-superior-shore-run.
Yoga Out Yonder – Waterloo State Recreation will host this unique event on September 23 and October 7, offering “a guided trail hike interspersed with breaks for yoga postures, beginning and ending at the Gerald Eddy Discovery Center overlook deck.” Waterloo is located near Chelsea and is the largest state park in the Lower Peninsula. Find out more and register from http://www.michigan.org/event/yoga-out-yonder-3.
Zombie Dash – The 2017 version of the Grand Rapids Zombie Dash will offer runners the chance to participate in a themed 5K in which they not only run a race but must dodge an army of zombies at the same time. This will be the sixth annual running of the event that takes place at Sixth Street Park. Don’t fell like running? Volunteer to be a zombie for the event and take home some free swag. Don’t miss this event taking place October 21st. More details can be found at http://www.thezombiedash.com/race-information/general-event-information.