October in Michigan is about more than cider and corn mazes, when we embrace fear in its many forms. From the abundance of scary movies on TV to the costume shops in every other strip mall, to the haunted houses that seem to pop up in most towns…it is obvious that Halloween is right around the corner. If you want to jump in on the fun, or in some cases jump with fright, here are some of the state’s most exhilarating destinations.
Halloween Nights at Greenfield Village
Less about the scare, and more about enchantment, a visit to Greenfield Village in Dearborn is one of the state’s greatest Halloween treats. Children and adults alike will be delighted, strolling along a path lit by 1,000 hand-carved jack-o-lanterns. Your little pumpkins will be greeted by storybook characters, dancing skeletons, singing pumpkins, and even the Headless Horseman. Warm cider and doughnuts are prevalent, along with refreshing craft beers. This year’s event includes a thrilling magic lantern show demonstrating special effects of the 19th century, as well as an opportunity to wander through a chilling dreamscape in Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park laboratory. Tickets are $14.50 for members and $17.50 for nonmembers. Children under two are admitted for free. Halloween Nights takes place from 6:30-10pm October 12-14, 18-21, and 25-28.
Zoo Boo at Binder Park
Which is cuter, kids in costumes or furry little creatures? You won’t have to decide between the two if you head to Battle Creek’s Binder Park Zoo October 18-21 or 25-28. Costumes are encouraged for this family-friendly annual tradition. Tickets are $12 for members and $14 for nonmembers, and include unlimited carousel and hayrides, access to the CDC Science “Spooktacular Stations”, five tickets per person to play the games at the carnival, as well as one token per person for the candy Trick-or-Treat Trail. You’ll also find stage shows each evening with magic acts, puppet shows, and/or DJ dance parties. Best of all, there are animals galore to explore.
Terror on Tillson
Romeo is a quaint, sleepy little village comprised of many historic homes from the 1850s, that is of course, except for late October. What started out as a couple of homeowners putting forth extra effort to decorate for the holiday has become a site to behold. The entire community bands together to create a safe and fun celebration of the Halloween, as well as raise some dollars for worthy causes. Amazingly, the homeowners themselves fund the event, including providing candy to what has grown to be thousands of trick-or-treaters. One of the highlights is a special day of trick-or-treating in cooperation with Kids Kicking Cancer to give some families who would otherwise need to pass on the holiday, a chance to bring their kids out for the experience. It’s worth the drive the week before Halloween to soak up the unique atmosphere.
The extravaganza is free to the public, though consider buying a t-shirt or cup of hot cocoa to support their charity fundraising efforts. A tip of our witch’s hat to the residents of Tillson Street for their generosity in creating an exceptional community experience, and being so welcoming to visitors.
Ghosts of Kalamazoo Tour
What would October be without chasing a few spirits? Kalamazoo is among the towns offering up ghostly tours. Each walk lasts about 45-60 minutes and is designed more to entertain than to frighten. It provides a fun way to embrace the season and learn some local history simultaneously. Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door and benefit the work of the Kalamazoo Jaycees. Tours are available the last three weekends of October at Mountain Home Cemetery…as one might expect.
Metro Detroit also offers spirit-chasing opportunities with Haunted Detroit Tours. The 2.5-hour excursion places much more emphasis on the paranormal, including the use of technological tools to find evidence of ghostly activity. Their tour season begins October 12 and tickets run $30-35.
Marquette’s Haunted Hayride
Fall in Michigan wouldn’t be complete without corn mazes and hayrides, but every once in a while they can turn terrifying. Such is the case in Marquette when the ride goes through a frightening maze of scary scenes put on by local community groups. They might pop up at any moment. It’s sure to be a hayride like no other. TV6 will also be on hand doing a Canathon. Guests are asked to bring non-perishable food items to Fill the Wagon for neighbors in need. If you’ve got little ones who might be a little too scared of the ride, they’ve thought of that too. Free babysitting is available from the Eastwood Church Youth group in the 4H Building. In the “scare care” area they can play games, create spooky crafts, and watch a movie, while older members of their family go on a ride. Tickets range from $5-$25 and proceeds support participating local groups. These haunting hayrides hit the trail Oct 18-20.
Traverse City Zombie Run
On October 27, the streets of TC will come alive, or rather dead, with zombies beginning at 9AM. The annual Halloween tradition is made possible, appropriately enough, by Right Brain Brewery. It’s one of several zombie walks and runs around the state, but also features outstanding craft beer, and raises funds to support local trails. Fake blood, eerie makeup, and a dead look in your eye, is all you need to take part in this adventure…well that and a desire to run, walk, or crawl for 5k. If you’re looking for something downstate, and slightly less athletic, turn out for Flint’s Zombie Walk on October 6. Participants are asked to make a donation. Organizers are teaming up with Boxed Water to provide safe, clean drinking water to Flint residents who are still in need.
Haunted Houses are of course an annual tradition all over the state. While you can almost always find one somewhere near you, the king of them all is Erebus in Pontiac. Erebus opened its doors in 2000 and has since earned national recognition as one of the scariest Halloween destinations. It’s a 4-story tower of terror where things may bite you, grab you, and you may even get buried alive. This one is definitely not for the faint of heart, nor is it recommended for children under 13. Tickets range from $19-28 and the attraction is open most days throughout October.