Pumpkins are filling patches, apples are filling trees, so it’s time for our 12 things to do in Michigan in October. This month is a treasure trove of fall splendor.
Oct 1-31 (weekdays only) The Hunt for Reds of October – Leelanau Peninsula
What a wonderful time of year it is to soak up yellow, orange, and of course, reds, on the glorious Leelanau Peninsula. Thankfully, this fantastic opportunity to discover many of Michigan’s best red wines is back. For only $35 a person, participants can enjoy a pour of red wine hand-selected by the wine makers themselves, along with $10 in cork cash, which can be used at any of the participating wineries. The Hunt is on, on weekdays throughout October. Brighten up a Mopey Monday, delight your palate on Tasty Tuesday, or relax on Wine Down Wednesday. Perhaps you’ll want to welcome the weekend early on Thirsty Thursday, or wait and celebrate that TGIF feeling. There’s never a bad day to discover a Michigan red.
October 6-31 Skeletons Are Alive – Northville
This has become one of Metro Detroit’s favorite fall traditions. It kicks off with a special celebration on Friday October 6, featuring a skeleton stilt walker, balloon twisters, face painting, a photo booth, and live pumpkin carving. Ghostbusters will be on site to thwart any scary spirits, while Social Bones rocks Town Square. Costumes are welcome, and even encouraged. The streets will be filled with 120 life-sized skeletons with various themes. Don’t worry if you can’t make the Launch Party, those skelly selfie opps abound until the end of the month. The kids will have a blast discovering them, and adults can scare up a little fun of their own in the town’s social district.
October 6-8 & 13-15 Fall Color Sail – Bay City
Perhaps you’ve tried a chairlift or train ride in October, but have you ever considered setting sail to take in some fall foliage? Step aboard the Appledore IV this month and cruise on the Saginaw. Each 2-hour voyage will take passengers upriver and back for a unique opportunity to enjoy autumn splendor and perhaps even spot some wildlife. Tickets are $45 each for adults and $35 each for children 18 and under. Though the sails may not be raised, this is still a rare chance to sail on one of these magnificent vessels, while also taking in the magnificence of nature that comes with fall in Michigan.
October 7 Red Flannel Day – Cedar Springs
One of the quirkiest and also oldest festivals in Michigan, this event got it’s start to ride a wave of local publicity. Back in a very wintery 1936, a New York feature writer complained that there were no red flannels to buy. The Cedar Springs Clipper, owned and edited by Nina Babcock and Grace Hamilton answered the writer with an editorial stating, “Just because Sak’s Fifth Avenue does not carry red flannels, it doesn’t follow that no one in the country does. CEDAR SPRINGS’ merchants have red flannels!” Orders came flying in. In 1939, the small town decided to capitalize on its new-found fame by creating a fun event called Red Flannel Day. The tradition has continued ever since. Don some red, or flannel (preferably both) and join in on the flapjack breakfast, children’s parade, tractor pull, car show, carnival, grand parade, and more.
October 13 Eastern Market Harvest Gala – Detroit
In 1891, the first sheds were built on the current Eastern Market site, and it has been a Detroit institution event since. It’s all about food, fun, and promoting the best of our local flavors. Eastern Market’s Gala is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month with premier Detroit chef Sarah Welch of Marrow providing the cuisine. Enjoy an exquisite farm-to-fork dinner, wine, cocktails, live music, and dancing in Shed 3. This benefit is one of the city’s best nights out of the year.
October 13-14 Fall on the Island Festival – Drummond Island
For a real autumn treat, hop on a car ferry for a short 10-15 minute trip across the St. Mary’s River to Drummond Island. Soak in all of the autumn splendor along the way. Once there, music, food, drinks, and family entertainment, await. This annual event includes some wonderful traditions like pasty-eating and pumpkin-carving competitions, as well as a pie-baking battle and chili cook-off. You can start the weekend off in a 9-hole golf tournament. Then participate in cornhole and pong tournaments, shop for crafts, or take in a dueling piano show, among other live entertainment.
October 13-15 Apple Festival – Charlevoix
Autumn means apples all around the state. Set against the stunning beauty of Charlevoix, this popular event has become an annual tradition. Aside from stocking up on fall’s favorite fruit, guests can hit the farmers market for local products like pumpkins, mums, squash, jam, maple syrup, pies, bagels, mustard, crepes, cider, honey, meats, eggs, soups, and a variety of baked goods. Bring a bag or two and your appetite because you’ll also find delicious soup and chili, hot dogs, kielbasa, apple flappens and Irish apple cake, available to eat on site. In addition to the food a plenty, you can get a jump on unique holiday gift shopping with the arts & crafts show in East Park and on Mason Street.
October 14 BeerFest at the Park – Lansing
Sure, you’ve probably had a beer at a ballpark before, but not like this. Running from 3pm-8pm, this outdoor beer, cider, hard seltzer, mead, spirits & wine festival is hosted in the heart of Downtown Lansing at Jackson Field. That’s the home of the Lansing Lugnuts. Tickets are available to purchase online or at the entrance to the festival (if not sold out). Attendees will have the opportunity to taste 100+ craft beers from 40+ Michigan breweries in addition to ciders, hard seltzers, meads, spirits & wine. Enjoy live music, good eats and great beer in a really cool setting.
October 14-15 Appleumpkin Festival – Tecumseh
Apples and pumpkins are the ultimate fruits of a fall harvest, so why not celebrate both equally? That’s what our friends in Tecumseh do, and it makes for an incredibly fun event. Catch a ride, via monster truck, helicopter, or a good old fashioned carnival midway. There are also lots of games, live performances, arts & crafts, dining, and shopping opportunities. If you’re feeling gutsy, you can even bungee jump. While in the area, take a short drive, or take the free shuttle, out to Kapnick Orchards and enjoy fresh apples, cider and donuts. Wagon rides, a petting zoo and over 80 craft booths add to the fall fun there.
October 19-22 Fresh Coast Film Festival – Marquette
When you live in Michigan, you develop a deep appreciation for fresh water, especially when spending time in the Yoop. That’s what makes Marquette the perfect host for this event. The feast of flicks features the best in environmental and cultural filmmaking from around the world. It’s also home to some of the most profound Great Lakes storytelling. Of course, you can’t go to Marquette only to watch movies inside, you have to get out there and soak it all in. That’s why attendees are able to spend their mornings exploring the pristine countryside on their own, or by joining one of several guided tours. Then, as the sun goes down, the screens light up.
October 21-January 15 Mandela: The Official Exhibition – Dearborn
There are few leaders in modern history that have left a more indelible impression than Nelson Mandela. This immersive experience features previously unseen film and photos of the South African freedom fighter. Plus, there are over 150 historical artifacts and personal effects on loan from the Mandela family, museums, and archives worldwide. Guests will be guided through his epic story through a series of experiential galleries. The journey begins with his rural childhood home, includes years of turbulent struggle against the apartheid regime, and leads to his triumphant vindication and final years as South Africa’s first democratically elected president.
October 28 Fall Beer Festival – Detroit
Detroit’s brewing scene has come a long way since the days when Goebel and Stroh’s were the staples. Now it’s a place where quality craft brews abound, and this is the premier tasting event for those who want to explore the beer scene. General Admission is 1pm-6pm, with the gates opening at Noon for a VIP hour for Enthusiast Members. Tickets are $55 per person in advance or $65 at the gate, if still available. Fifteen drink tokens are included with admission and each drink token is redeemable for a 3-oz. sample of beer. Food trucks will also be on site too, so you can soak up some suds with good grub.
Join us on social media for ongoing discussions about Michigan travel destinations. Tweet @BuyMichiganNow to tell us about your favorite places or questions you have. We’d especially love to know which of our 12 things to do in Michigan in October you get a chance to enjoy. For next month’s events, or to get ideas for your local bucket list, be sure to visit our Michigan Tourism page.