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Michigan's Best Halloween Destinations

by Lisa Diggs

Halloween has become a $9 billion industry in recent years, providing clear evidence that Americans are in love with the holiday. Whether you seek thrills and chills or giggles and treats, there are lots of activities in which to partake around our state. We have pumpkin patches, corn mazes, and haunted houses along nearly every stretch of road, but here are some fiendishly fun opportunities that might even merit a road trip.

 

Screams in Hell
It would seem ridiculous to talk about a holiday lovingly built around demons, ghouls, and vampires and not suggest a trip to Hell. For you social media enthusiasts, there’s a lot of fun to be had just “checking in” there. Visit the Creamatory at Screams for some scrumptious ice cream. Rumor has it if you can polish off their Gravedigger Sundae, the folks at Screams will happily sign, seal, and singe your Death Certificate. This is an excellent hamlet to hit well in advance of Halloween to stock up on devilish décor. If you’re old enough to indulge, Hell Saloon awaits you for some wicked fun.

 

Skeletons Are Alive in Northville
For another family-friendly excursion that is available throughout the month, make your way to the Victorian town of Northville as it gets taken over by skeletons. What started out with 45 of the emaciated guests 8 years back, has grown into an extravaganza of over 125 this year, each with its own unique personality and interests. Visitors may spot a rock star, construction worker, weightlifter, starlet, fisherman and perhaps even a boney gent on bended knee proposing to his sweetheart. It’s a selfie paradise that gets kicked off with a party in Town Square from 6pm-9pm on Oct. 4. Costumes are welcome for the free event that features live music, food trucks, kids’ activities and a special visit from Ypsilanti Ghostbusters. If you can’t make the party, pop in any time throughout the month and create your own magical moments.

 
Terror on Tillson in Romeo
The rest of the year, Romeo is a quaint, sleepy little village comprised of many historic homes from the 1850s. As Halloween grows near, though, one neighborhood transforms itself into a devilish destination that produces angelic results. Once upon a time, a couple of homeowners on Tillson Street went the extra mile when decorating and before long the entire community banded together to create a safe, silly and somewhat scary celebration that has become so well-known that it draws thousands of little pumpkins begging for treats each year. Amazingly, the homeowners still fund the event themselves. To show appreciation if you make a visit, purchase some hot chocolate, a cookbook, or t-shirts, as the proceeds support local scholarships and the Wounded Warrior Project. Final touches are happening right up until the end of the month so its best to drop by the last week to see most of the décor. Trick or treating is free and open to the public from 6pm-8pm on Oct. 31.
 
Greenfield Village in Dearborn
When it’s charm you seek then bring your little goblins to Greenfield Village. If you asked a witch to conjure up an eve from Halloweens past, this is probably what you would get. Children and adults alike will encounter delights while strolling a path lit by 1,000 hand-carved jack-o-lanterns. Storybook characters, dancing skeletons, singing pumpkins, and even the Wicked Witch can be found in nearly every nook and cranny. Warm cider and doughnuts are prevalent, along with refreshing craft beers. Costumes are welcome and make for great photo ops alongside pirates, mad scientists, and sights ranging from spooky to quirky to historically quaint.
 
Haunted Zipline in Milford
Not sure if this experience will really be marked by haunted encounters, but if you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, undoubtedly screams will be heard on this adventure. Camp Dearborn in Milford is home to the state’s longest continuous zipline, and now it’s opening it up for one night of terror. Guests who are brave enough to take the plunge will be launched from a 6-story tower down to the beach through the dark of night. The ride takes less than a minute to travel more than a quarter of a mile. All riders must be at least 8 years of age. Costumes are encouraged and reservations are required. The eye-popping opportunity is open from 7:30pm-9:30pm on Oct. 19.
 
Haunted Hayride in Marquette
What happens when you’re stuck on a cart and don’t have your own trusty feet as a means of escaping a terrifying scene? I guess you’ll find out if you dare to jump aboard a haunted hayride. Well over a dozen different community groups provide the scare tactics. A maze of different frights is scattered throughout the Marquette County Fairgrounds so you never know exactly when, what, or where something in the night is about to give you a fright. Speaking of giving, 100% of donations made during the event go to support the community groups that provide the thrills.
 
Fort Fright in Mackinaw City
Michilimackinac is about to go from the historic to the hysteric. Plenty of bravery has been conjured up at this site in the past, but rarely for conditions like this. On Oct. 4 and 5, lanterns will light the way through an 18th-century fort and fur trading village overrun by werewolves, witches, goblins and ghouls in this uniquely Michigan thrill-seekers experience. There will also be storytellers around bonfires, mulled cider, and other treats to offset the tricks. New this year is an attraction called The Frolic at the Commanding Officer’s House which is meant to be reminiscent of the lively parties hosted by merchants John and Archange Askin, or their good friend Captain Arent DePeyster and his wife Rebecca back in the 18th century. It includes snacks, drinks, music, and spooky stories authentic to that time period.
 
Houdini’s All Hallows Eve Ball in Detroit
If you seek an elegant and more adult experience, travel back in time to the Detroit of 1926 when legendary magician Harry Houdini met his demise in the Motor City on Halloween. Ever since, people have returned to the city on that day to hold seances in the hope of connecting with his departed soul. This year, the newly resurrected and historic 1883 Detroit Club is putting an elegant twist on the strange old tradition with a party Houdini himself would love. Guests will marvel as escape artists defy death, acrobats twist and turn, snake-charmers shock and fire-breathers amaze. Magicians will of course be roaming about astounding those they encounter as guests explore various rooms in the 22,000 sq. ft. 1891 club house. All of this excitement will be set to a live soundtrack emanating from a sensational 1920s jazz band in the Presidential Ballroom. Attendees can even explore other-worldly adventures by joining a séance to try to connect to the ghosts of the buildings storied past or by sitting across from a fortuneteller to see what their own future holds. Tickets are $100 and glamourous attire is required. That means tuxedos or dark suits for gents and evening gowns or flapper dresses for the dames.
 
Theatre Bizarre in Detroit
Glamourous, eccentric, decadent, and downright outrageous are just some of the ways to describe this masquerade spectacle. Since its illicit inception, this feast for the senses has grown immensely popular, and finally found a home worthy of its following. Anonymity is one of the more interesting aspects, as many elaborately-costumed Detroiters will move throughout the halls of the enormous Masonic Temple taking in one nearly indescribable performance after another. This year’s extravaganza will take place over the course of a couple of weekends. Two consecutive Fridays of Oct. 11th and 18th will feature an exclusive and more intimate Formal Gala Masquerade, while the Main Event will be held on the subsequent Saturdays of the 12th and the 19th. Grab your tickets soon as they move fast and note that costumes are mandatory for either. Bring your A-game as these attendees dress to impress, provoke, astound, and become part of the show.
 
Rotten Manor in Holly
For about eleven months of the year, Holly is the sweet epitome of friendly, small town living, but this month the dead take center stage. Rotten Manor is truly unique with the largest custom structures of any of Michigan’s haunted spectacles, and chilling performances around every bend, destined to make even the skeptics shiver or scream. Make note that there are two attractions here, the manor and a haunted forest. Each has its own $26 entry fee, or you can experience both with a combined $40 ticket.
 
Scream Park in Niles
There’s so much to do at this multi-attraction experience that you may just run out of time before your time runs out. You can purchase tickets to individual attractions that range from $9-$14 each, or get access to all with a $35 pass ($40 on Saturdays). The massive venue includes a haunted house complete with shaky bridges over dark ponds and foggy paths through trees. There’s also a N’Awlins Nightmare where guests explore dark streets and discover tales of Marie Laveau, the Queen of Voodoo. Field of Screams starts with a New Orleans-style cemetery and quickly becomes a terrifying maze. Deadwood is set in the gold rush era. Hop upon a tractor-led wagon for the Dark Terror-tory Haunted Hayride along a half-mile trail filled with more than 30 sets that are woven together. The most courageous of fright junkies can go for Hoodie, a blind-folded experience where the characters may touch you. The property also includes escape rooms, a midway, and concessions.
 
Erebus in Pontiac
Perhaps the best-known fright site in the state, Erebus has earned national recognition as one of the country’s scariest Halloween destinations. It’s not hard to believe given the fact that visitors make their way through a half-mile ordeal in a 4-story tower. This one is definitely not for the faint of heart, nor is it recommended for children under 13. The premise is based on Dr. Colber, a mad scientist who managed to make time travel possible. What he failed to imagine is that every time he got some of his subjects into another time period, that time period looked at them as a virus and wiped them out. Obsessed with solving this deadly glitch, he sent more and more of his employees into the machine until he ran out of time, money, and subjects. That led him to the ghastly, yet brilliant idea of disguising it as a haunted house. Now, he has end endless supply of human guinea pigs to use in his experiment. To discover what they go through, you will have to make a visit, but beware, you may just experience it for yourself.
 

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