October is one of the absolute best months of the year 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 special ways to make the most of the month.
Arguably the most exciting time of the year in Grand Rapids, ArtPrize is an annual art competition that has attracted global attention. Visitors to the city will find art installations around nearly every corner, and it’s all free. In addition to a juried competition, what makes this event so unique is that the public also votes on their favorite pieces and a total of $500,000 in prizes are awarded. www.artprize.org
Too often we hear that Michigan makes only fruity white wines, but that is far from the truth, especially in recent years. If you love reds, here’s your chance to discover some of the state’s best. Head to Leelanau Peninsula any weekday (Mon-Fri) in October. Your $10 ticket buys you a signature glass and a complimentary pour of the featured red at each winery. PLUS $5 goes to support the local American Red Cross chapter. Pick up tickets and glasses 9am-3pm on any weekday at the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail Office. Get your red on and support a great cause. www.lpwines.com
Who knows if the Tawas Point Lighthouse is actually haunted, though having been around since 1876, anything is possible. What we do know is that this particular weekend affords maritime buffs the rare opportunity to climb the tower and see the light at night. By day, festivities also include a chance to visit the lighthouse for $2 per person, as well as enjoying games, hay rides, and crafts. Evening events also include trick or treating in the campground and a Monster Bash dance at the pavilion. www.michigan.gov/mhc/0,,7-282--212662--evt,00.html
There’s never a bad time to visit this quaint northern town, but certainly autumn brings extra special delights. Amidst the fall foliage and beautiful waterfront setting, you’ll find a thirst-quenching fest. Over 25 Michigan breweries will be on hand serving up over 100 craft beers and hard ciders. Local food purveyors will also be on site. Ages 21 and older are invited to partake in this relatively new annual tradition that includes live entertainment featuring local favorite, the Jelly Roll Blues Band. www.harborspringschamber.com
This celebration of one of the state’s most beloved crops is chalk full of family fun. More than 30 different types of apples will be available from local orchards as well as other items from the fall harvest and delicious baked goods. Kids will enjoy an apple pond, face-painting, balloon art, and a petting zoo. There’s even an area with interactive miniature trains, some which can be ridden, and others on play tables. Adults will enjoy exploring the art and craft show and participating in Saturday afternoon’s swing dance concert. www.charlevoix.org
If you're tired of bars that feel like a zoo, why not try tipping back a few in an actual zoo? Sample some delicious local brews amidst the cheetahs, wolves, and snow leopards of Binder Park Zoo, while enjoying live music, tasty specialty dishes, and animal presentations. This event is 21 and up event and tickets are limited. www.binderparkzoo.org
Enjoy the great outdoors while doing something really worthwhile. Japanese barberry is commonly planted as a landscape ornamental, but has escaped and is spreading in our forests and dunes. Volunteer stewards have already removed an amazing amount of this nasty invader and are well on the way to removing all of it from Muskegon State Park, but they can use more help. No experience is necessary. Volunteers will be removing plants along the Lost Lake trail from the Snug Harbor trailhead. Meet in the Snug Harbor parking area to volunteer your services. www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,,7-153--392968--evt,00.html
There’s hardly ever been a better reason to don a fake coif and go out on the town than the annual Wine & Wig event at the Grand Rapids Art Museum. The unique event not only supports finding a cure during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it also brings together several local charities working to support local women with research, diagnostics, treatment, and emotional support. In addition to wine, the evening includes a strolling dinner, dancing, and auctions. www.westmichiganwoman.com/wineandwig
How can you not take advantage of this legend when your town is named Howell? More sweetness than scary, this evening is filled with activities including hay rides, costume contests, giveaways, candy collecting, and all around family fun. Come in costume if you don’t want to stand out in a crowd, and don’t miss the Headless Horseman 5k/10k Race. www.sleepyhowell.com
Head to the Jackson County Fairgrounds for some early holiday shopping and loads of fall fun. Kids can play games, paint gourds, pet some furry friends, take a pony ride, and even meet Roary, the Detroit Lions Mascot, all for free courtesy of American 1 Credit Union. An orchard and food trucks will be on hand for tasty sustenance, while you explore the main attraction—plenty of vendors selling Michigan-made products. www.buymichigannowfest.com/jackson
This glowing eve is an excellent way to kick off the Halloween weekend. The event includes music, food, and drink, along with plenty of fun glow-in the-dark activities for the kids. Come in full glowing costume or get your glow on when you get there with face painting, black light areas and a merchandise booth selling glow sticks, necklaces, bracelets and tees. www.douglashalloween.com
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 has quickly become a Northern Michigan Halloween tradition. 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. Something tells us there may be a zombie Trump or Hillary in sight this year. Go for the run, stay for the beer. www.tczombierun.com
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