Kids are heading back to school. Cider mills are opening for the season. The lush greens of summer are just beginning to make way for fall color. This month is filled with fun activities that embrace one season or the other. Here are our 12 things to do in Michigan in September 2023.
September 8-10 Arts & Apples Festival – Rochester
It’s hard to believe, but Rochester has been welcoming incredible artists and a bevy of art lovers for this fest since 1965! Consistently ranked as one of the top fine arts festivals in the country, this event is an excellent place to look for new pieces for your home, cottage, or office. It also happens to be an ideal place to enjoy another star of the season, seriously scrumptious apple pie. It also features food vendors, art demos, a kids art zone, and a full lineup of musical entertainment. Admission is free, though a $5 donation is appreciated to support the work of the Paint Creek Center for the Arts.
September 8-10 Wine and Harvest Festival – Paw Paw
The tiny town of Paw Paw is best known for its wine, so it only makes sense that it should celebrate the harvest in fine style. You may want to earn your wine first by participating in a 5k run, kayak race, or pickleball tournament. Alternatively, try getting a hole in one on a floating raft or take a stab at axe-throwing. Gather friends and jump in a vat to stomp some grapes, or take the kids to Stompyland for arts and crafts. The kids will also love the duck and turtle races, and of course the carnival midway and fireworks. Meanwhile, adults can enjoy special events at St, Julian, Warner Vineyards, and Paw Paw Brewing Company.
September 9 Michigan Brewer’s Guild U.P. Fall Beer Festival – Marquette
From the infamous Iron Ore Dock to the Ore Dock Brewing Company, there are so many awesome reasons to visit Marquette. For craft brew lovers, there’s no better time than the U.P. Fall Beer Fest. The air is crisp, the beer is cold, and the views from Mattson Lower Harbor Park are spectacular. The festivities run 1pm-6pm. VIP access is available to Enthusiast Members at noon. Attendees can choose from hundreds of locally-crafted beers. Tickets are $50 in advance, or $60 for same day purchases, if available. Your ticket includes admission to the festival and 15 tokens for beer samples.
September 9-10 Old Car Festival – Dearborn
You don’t have to be a car lover to love this event. First, September is a wonderful time of year to visit Greenfield Village. The temps are typically more conducive to walking around, while the lines for frozen custard are shorter. Second, there are so many stunningly cool cars at this event, representing different eras. At varying times throughout the weekend, vehicles from specific years will drive around. Even more than usual, it feels like you’ve stepped back in time. Plus, for true motorheads, it is a rare opportunity to see the hoods open for a glimpse of the engines of yesteryear.
September 13-24 North American International Auto Show – Detroit
Now we move from truly old cars, to the newest of the new. Since the auto show has moved to a warmer time of year, it has taken on a totally new vibe that embraces far more than just the convention center. Guests can enjoy over 20 attractions, events, and shows all about vehicles and the ever-growing technology behind them. Plus, it gives us all the opportunity to explore the ever-changing landscape of the city.
September 13-16 Michigan Blues Fest – Lansing
In a town that typically favors green, blues will take center stage instead this month. The stellar lineup this year includes Sharrie Williams, Nicky T & The Snake Charmers, Mike Espy Group, Tom Duffield, Jan James, The Dedfoot DUO, Kathleen & the Bridge St. Band, James Reeser & the Backseat Drivers, Gina Garner, Tomas Esparza Blues Band, and more across four stages. One of the elements that really makes this year’s event cool is that each artist has agreed to premiere a song, composition or an arrangement that they’ve never performed publicly before. Take a break from the blues and get some refreshment at nearby Lansing Brewing Company, while in Old Town.
September 14-October 1 ArtPrize – Grand Rapids
It’s baaaa-acck! Grand Rapids’ most beloved event is returning, under new leadership. The new team is headed by Catlin Whitington, who helped grow the incredibly popular South by Southwest event in Austin Texas. In keeping with tradition, venues will range from large like DeVos Place Convention Center, to small, like Gita Pita restaurant. Wander all over Downtown Grand Rapids and you are sure to find plenty of creative works to ponder or admire. A total of $400,000 is given out to artists in prize money and grants. Your votes can help determine the talented recipients.
September 16 Frankenfest – Detroit
It’s not quite Halloween season yet, although retailers started celebrating in June. However, if you love the spooky and inexplicable, then this is an event for you. Set in the already somewhat ghostly Historic Fort Wayne, the celebration brings abnormal art and monstrous creations to life. Expect to find mad, magical and mystical artwork from the area’s most intriguing vendors stitched together with a showcase of literary guests, haunt aficionados and paranormal experts. You’re sure to start getting in the Halloween spirit.
September 22-23 Balloons Over Bay Harbor – Bay Harbor
With kids back in school and fall colors not yet peaking, September is an excellent time to visit some of Northern Michigan’s most popular tourist destinations like the Little Traverse Bay area. Combine lighter traffic with a sky filled with color, and we are all in. For the fourth time, Bay Harbor will be hosting some world-class hot air balloon pilots and creating some spectacular sights. Get up close as the pilots inflate their balloons right before your eyes on the Marina Lawns and/or drop by in the evening for night glows, when the grounded balloons are lit and stunning. While in the area, check out the Petoskey Wine Trail, hit the links, or shop ‘til you drop in Harbor Springs or Petsokey.
September 24 Apple Cider Century – Three Oaks
The Apple Cider Century s an annual one-day 15, 25, 50, 75, or 100-mile bicycle tour of the orchards, forests, and wine country in and around Three Oaks, Michigan. Since 1974, it has become one of the Midwest’s largest one-day century events with over 4,500 cyclists participating last year. While in Three Oaks, check out the Bicycle Museum housed at the Dewey Cannon Trading Company, and stop into Journeyman Distillery. Even if you haven’t worked up a cocktail thirst, the building itself is worth seeing, and you can always buy a bottle or two to take home.
September 22-24 Funky Ferndale Art Festival – Ferndale
We call the town Funky Ferndale for a reason. It’s a tad eclectic, and so is the art at this annual fest, which consistently ranks as one of the nation’s best. Over 140 juried artists and authors will be on site at 9 Mile and Woodward. The Funky Ferndale Art Fair is west of Woodward. Meanwhile, it’s counterpart, the DIY Street Fair is on the east side of the boulevard. There you will find artists, crafters, brewers, and live music. While on the east side, be sure to pop into Rust Belt Market, a communal retail space for Michigan small businesses.
September 28 TEDx Detroit – Detroit
The venue and speakers may change from year to year, and yet TEDX Detroit is consistently one of the most inspirational ways to spend a day. This year’s venue is Sound Board inside Motor City Casino. There, a carefully curated group of presenters will each use their short block of time to blow your mind with thought-provoking and inspirational ideas worth spreading. The event also features TEDxLabs and TEDxMarketplace, which showcase homegrown tech, art, and small businesses right outside the theatre. Tickets for general admission are $100.
Join us on social media for ongoing discussions about cool events, and Michigan travel destinations. We’d especially love to know which of our 12 things to do in Michigan in September 2023 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.