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12 Things to Do in Michigan in October

by Lisa Diggs

October is one of the absolute best months in Michigan. Cider mills, pumpkin patches, and football games are just a few of the many ways to enjoy this glorious time of year. Here are a dozen other great ways.

Oct 2-4 Pumpkinfest – Zeeland

2014 marks the thirtieth year for Zeeland’s Pumpkinfest so naturally this year’s theme is "Pumpkinfest Pride...Celebrating 30 Years." The three-day event features pumpkin coloring contests, chalk art, a pumpkin hunt, pumpkin rolling and bowling, and nearly every conceivable way to celebrate Charlie and Snoopy’s favorite squash.

Oct 3-4 Made-in-Michigan Film Festival – Frankenmuth

The motion picture industry continues to grow within our state, and supporting local filmmakers through events like this can go a long way to continue the growth of the industry. Located in the heart of Michigan’s Bay Region, Frankenmuth has welcomed the Made-in-Michigan Film Festival with open arms. The town provides a state-of-the-art, 500-seat theater within the Bronner Performing Arts Center as well as other quality screening venues throughout the city.

Oct 3-5 Haunted Weekend – Mackinac Island

Fall is an absolutely spectacular time to visit the island. Surrounded by the majestic Mighty Mac, pristine waters, and foliage that is ablaze, the quiet retreat takes on an entirely different feel from the summer frenzy. It’s a perfect time to get lost in historic haunted tours and ghastly endeavors. Ghost hunt at Mission Point Resort's haunted theater, the most haunted room (located at the Straights Lodge), plus day time investigations that will take you to some of the island's backroads and cemeteries. This year, for the first time ever, there will be an investigation at Old Fort Mackinac.

Oct 10-11 Fiber Festival – Leland

Whether you are a knitting enthusiast yourself, or just enjoy quality hand-crafted products, head to Leland for the Fiber Fest. Artists who work with knits, yarns, and fibers of all kinds will showcase their woven masterpieces including clothing, tapestries, handbags, quilts, yarns and fiber sculpture. The event is held in The Old Art Building at the Leelanau Community Cultural Center and admission is free.


Oct 10-12 Color Cruise and Island Festival – Grand Ledge

This three day festival is always the second full weekend in October at the Island Park in downtown Grand Ledge (just off South Bridge Street on River Street). Whatever way you want to take in the colorful spectacle that is fall in Michigan, you can do it here. You can leaf-peep by riverboat, canoe, horse & wagon, bicycle, or air. This event is filled with fun for the whole family including nods to simpler times with cider pressing, blacksmithing, fur traders, pioneer crafts, candle dipping, pumpkin painting, music, food, and a petting zoo.


Oct 11 Petoskey to Fife Lakes Fall Color Train Tour – Petoskey

Another way to see the blaze of fiery color on display is by train. While onboard you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenery. Then you’ll arrive in a quaint town setting where you can spend the afternoon leisurely browsing boutiques and sightseeing. The train re-boards in late afternoon to round off the excursion just as a golden glow starts to descend across the landscape. The locomotive departs at 10am from Petoskey, just across the road from the Perry Hotel. Tickets are $84 general admission. For an additional $20, you may add a Fife Lake one-hour side trip which departs from downtown Fife Lake at 2pm.

Oct 18 Zip of Terror – Boyne Falls

Featured on the Travel Channel's Halloween Craziest, this is a truly unique seasonal adventure that is not for the faint of heart. You'll be suited up with a zipline harness and helmet and sent on your way to navigate through the darkness, illuminated only by a faint glow to mark the path. Costumed guides will hook you into each of the ten lines of terror and send you flying through the night and dropping over 50 stories from start to finish.  Be wary, as you are not alone in these woods. Fright lurks around every corner.  Reservations are required and departures are offered every 30 minutes from 7pm to 11pm. This haunting experience is an hour to an hour and a half long. Note that to ride the ziplines, event-goers must weigh between 60 pounds and 275 pounds.


Oct 18-19 Land of Falling Waters Traditional Pow Wow – Jackson

Long before European settlers made their way to the land of the great lakes, Native American tribes roamed freely, living off of the land. Their culture is steeped in traditions many of us know little about, and here is an excellent opportunity to learn more. Come see Native American Indians, Anishinabek, and watch their traditions in person. Feel the drums, watch traditional and contemporary dances, and listen to the storytellers share tales from the past. Traders will be there to sell arts and crafts and you can taste the foods of the Anishinabe peoples.

Oct 18-19 Giant Pumpkins – Grand Rapids

The Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park is one of the state’s true artistic gems, and worth a visit any time of year. It takes on extra special beauty and décor during the fall season though. Admire the many permanent and exhibited works of art on site and then check out the giant pumpkins on display at Michigan’s Farm Garden. Weighing in at hundreds of pounds, these pumpkins will amaze kids and adults alike. You can learn interesting facts about giant pumpkins as you search the farm for answers.


Oct 24-26 The Hunt for the Reds of October – Suttons Bay

One of the most common questions we get about Michigan wine, is are there any great reds? Leelanau Peninsula has become well known for its Riesling and other crisp, cool-climate whites. What is often overlooked, however, is the high quality red wines being grown in the region. To help go beneath the surface, enjoy this free and fun event to discover the red wines of the Leelanau Peninsula. For the entire weekend, 23 participating wineries are offering free tastings of a diverse selection of red wines: big and bold Cabernet Francs, aromatic and spicy Pinot Noirs, and many more. The event is free to all who know the secret launch code: “The hunt is on!" In addition to the fun, a portion of weekend wine sales will go to benefit the American Red Cross of Northern Michigan.

Oct 25 Zombie Run – Traverse City

From “Zom Coms” to The Walking Dead, zombies appear to be the new vampires, or at least their funnier cousin. What’s funnier than zombies trying to run? The Zombie Run in Traverse City is well on its way to becoming a Halloween tradition, and with Right Brain Brewery as the host, the celebratory beer is bound to be spooktacular. You never know what kind of zombie you might sight. There have been Elvis zombies, beauty pageant zombies, and even Village People zombies. Go for the run, stay for the beer.

Oct 25 Legend of Sleepy Howell – Howell
With a name like Howell, how can a community not capitalize on this classic Halloween legend? Kids can trick or treat at candy stations throughout downtown. The event also includes giveaways, games, costume contests, live music, hayrides, creept campfires, s'mores, inflatables, a maze, and a free outdoor showing of The Adventures of Ichabod & Mr. Toad. Runners are encouraged to partake in the Headless Horseman 5K/10K as well.


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