The year’s spookiest holiday is becoming more and more popular. Each year, new ideas, décor, and attractions arise. However, these uniquely Michigan Halloween traditions have been around for decades. We’ve been cooped up too long so get out and embrace some old favorites or try something new.
Pick Pumpkins from a Patch
Whether you’re decorating the whole house for harvest season or just carving a couple with the kids, pumpkins are a staple of fall décor. They can be found at nearly any big box store, but this is a season to head to a pumpkin patch instead. Pick out your own, and while you’re there, you may just find a corn maze, cider and donuts, hay mountains, bonfires, and other family fun. Plus, you’ll be supporting local farmers.
Here are a few fantastic options to check out: Three Cedars in Northville, Long’s in Commerce, Blake’s in Armada, Johnson’s Giant Pumpkin Farm in Saginaw, Moelker’s in Grand Rapids, or Ed Dunneback and Girls in Grand Rapids. Further north, check out Pahl’s Pumpkin Patch in Buckley, Pond Hill Farm in Harbor Springs, or Royal Farms in Ellsworth. Upper Peninsula destinations include Getzloff Corn Maze in Wilson and Hayes Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch in Rock.
Stock Up on Witches Brew
Once you’ve picked out all of your pumpkins for the little kiddies, there’s a Michigan must for the big kiddos (I’m referring to those over 21 of course). It’s time to stock up on Witches Brew from Leelanau Cellars. The original red is mulled with autumn spices. Sip it at room temp, or heat it up for those cold fall, and later winter, days and nights. There’s also a newer spiced apple version. This white wine combines sweet, crisp apples with cinnamon and brown sugar. This one is best cold, or heated.
Alternatively, St. Julian also offers a pair called Head Games. One is a spiced red, while the other is an apple wine with seasonal spice. All of these pair well with a bonfire, a tailgate party, or handing out candy.
Trick or Treat on Tillson Street
Plenty of people deck out their homes in wacky and scary garb this time of year, but there’s one neighborhood in Romeo that has earned national recognition for how it embraces the holiday. What started out decades ago as a couple of homeowners putting forth extra effort to decorate for Halloween, has truly become a sight to behold. Now known as Terror on Tillson, every Halloween lover should visit at least once. Trick-or-Treating is on October 31 from 6:00-8:00pm. However, most of the décor is up, except for finishing touches, about a week in advance. Pop by, take a walk, and perhaps a selfie or two.
Stroll Greenfield Village
With a charm on par with its Christmas experience, Greenfield Village roars back to life for 16 evenings each October. From harvest markets and fall themes to costumed storybook characters and ghostly performances, this one-of-a-kind Halloween tradition has been a Michigan staple for over four decades. Showcased within the bewitching setting of after-hours Greenfield Village, guests are invited to stroll through and choose their own festive or frightful experiences. One of the most popular of which, is a ghoulish and surprising journey on the Hallowe’en Express.
Hop on Board a Train
Railroads played a big part in our state’s history and a few now magically spring to life at this time of year. The Coopersville & Marne Railway hosts the annual Pumpkin Train. This 1950s-era locomotive traverses a route that dates back to 1858 for a 90-minute adventure. The journey is led by the Grand Pumpkin and his friends, Scarecrow and Little Crow. Each child’s ticket also includes a free, locally-grown pumpkin to be plucked from the patch at the end of the ride.
There’s also the famous Huckleberry Ghost Train Express with its 40-minute ride through the autumn countryside. Pair the trip with time spent at Huckleberry Village for long-lasting Halloween memories. Discover the magic show at the Colwell Opera House, a straw maze and 20 treat stops throughout the village. It’s a ghoulishly good time. For a scarier express, try the Hesston Ghost Train near New Buffalo. Ride through the haunted woods aboard a real steam train. Ghoulish creatures will pop by unexpectedly as you search for the Mad Lumberjack.
Storm a Fort
It’s not every day you can experience a centuries old fort, let alone one that is bedecked with eerie surprises around every corner. During Fort Fright, lanterns light your way through the Michilimackinac fort and fur trading village, which has been overrun by werewolves, witches, goblins and ghouls. Storytellers weave spooky folktales near bonfires. Treats such as hot mulled cider, cookies and candy can be found throughout the site. Most stops are suitable for all ages, but a haunted house, demon walk, and werewolf walk give thrills and chills to adults and children like.
Hike a Haunted Trail
Hiking is a mainstay of outdoor pleasures in this state, but a walk through the woods at night takes on a spookier feel any time of year. Come October, even some trails you may think you know, take on an entirely different demeanor. Check out the Glenlore Trails Haunted Forest. It is an immersive night walk located in Commerce Michigan. Every Thursday to Sunday evening the forest comes to life in a dazzling display of light, sound, wonder, and a ghost or two. This one is fun for wee ones too.
Meanwhile, Ghostly Grove in Pinckney is home to a haunted woods that features some of the underworld’s most disgusting abominations. They prey on you as you descend into the wilderness. You can’t see them, but they never stop watching you.
Step Aboard a Ghost Ship
You can find haunted houses all over the country, but here in the Great Lakes State, we encourage brave souls to let their imaginations set sail on the Ghost Ship in Manistee. This chilling experience takes place on the historic car ferry, the S.S. City of Milwaukee. Bring your scare stamina, as the thrills begin from the moment you enter. It’s a long way through the demonic bowels of a ship. In fact, it’s five decks of frights and fun, and not for the faint of heart.
Escape from Erebus
Few haunted attractions in any state have garnered the reputation of Erebus in Pontiac. Since opening its doors in 2000, this legendary Halloween destination has gained national recognition as being one of the top haunts in the country. The four-story tower of terror serves up blood-curdling thrills, unforgettable moments of laughter, and shrill screams. There are state-of-the-art Hollywood special effects, and good old fashioned costumed characters. You never know when something will try to bite you, grab you, and otherwise attack you. Gather your courage to endure over a half-mile walk inside one of the world’s largest spooky sites.
Go on a Ghost Walk
Truth is stranger than fiction. If you prefer your Halloween adventures to focus on real stories, rather than fantasy, then many ghostly options await. Paranormal Michigan offers ghostly tours of Kalamazoo or Grand Rapids. Preservation Detroit guides historic cemetery tours around the city. Haunted Traverse offers ghost tours and even a spirit hunting experience in Traverse City. If you’re a lighthouse fan, then pick up a copy of Dianna Stampfler’s Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses or Death and Lighthouses on the Great Lakes and do a self-guided tour of these often-haunted locales.
In addition to these uniquely Michigan Halloween traditions, you can find haunted houses, corn mazes, cider mills, farmers markets, and trunk-or-treating experiences all around the state this month. Check out our 12 things to do in October for other specific ideas for fall fun.
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