With cooler weather, fall colors peaking, and Halloween spirit in the air, October is one of the best times to visit Michigan.
From apple orchards and pumpkin patches to corn mazes and haunted attractions, there are so many family-friendly ways to enjoy the state this month. Here are my favorite activities and destinations to check out in Michigan this October:
1. Harvest Apples at an Orchard
VerHage Fruit Farms and Cider Mill offers pick-your-own apples, a scenic trails, and a cozy cider mill. Stroll through the apple orchard and select ripe apples right from the trees. Varieties like Gala, Honeycrisp, Fuji, Jonathan, and Golden Delicious are available.
After filling your bag with fresh-picked apples, head to the cider mill to sample apple pie, cider, donuts and other goodies.
Kids will enjoy the corn maze, pumpkin patch, barnyard animals and hayrides. With generations of family farming history, VerHage’s is the perfect place to welcome autumn.
Other excellent orchards for apple picking include Blake’s Orchard, Long Family Orchards, and Gull Meadow Farms. Don’t forget to call ahead to confirm apple availability and hours!
2. Get Lost in a Corn Maze
What’s more iconic for fall than wandering through a corn maze? These tricky mazes cut into corn fields challenge you to find the exit. Here are some top corn mazes:
- Mike’s Maze: With over 5 miles of paths, this intricate corn maze takes 1-2 hours to complete. They also have pumpkin picking, hayrides, games, and snacks.
- Cherry Crest Adventure Farm: In addition to their massive corn maze, Cherry Crest has pedal carts, pig races, hayrides, farm animals, and u-pick apples.
- Greenfield Village Corn Maze: The maze at Greenfield Village features an educational twist focused on the history of Michigan’s logging industry.
For an extra dose of fall fun, visit a maze at night when they’re lit up with festive lights and more challenging. Wear good walking shoes, bring a flashlight, and enjoy getting lost amongst the cobs.
3. Haunt a Halloween Attraction
If you’re a thrill seeker looking to get spooked, Michigan has tons of haunted houses, trails, corn mazes, and more to get your dose of Halloween horror. Here are some spine-tingling options:
- Erebus Haunted House: This four-story haunted attraction features elaborate sets and intense scares spread across a half mile. Enter if you dare!
- Halloween Forest: The one mile wooded trail at the Howell Nature Center takes 30-45 minutes to complete, filled with lurking creatures, spooky sounds, and terrifying props.
- Wiard’s Night Terrors: In addition to the haunted house, Wiard’s offers a spooky corn maze, Alien Encounter, and CarnEvil Midway.
- Fear Factory: This intense haunted house uses disturbing illusions, tight squeezes, and extreme characters to crank up the fear.
Halloween is huge in Michigan. From interactive haunted barns to zombie paintball, there are scary thrills for all levels of fright. These attractions often sell out, so book your tickets early if visiting a popular one!
4. Tailgate at a Football Game
Michigan takes football tailgating very seriously. Before the big game, fans fire up their grills, break out snacks and drinks, and get pumped up with fellow supporters.
MSU fans tailgate in style in the vast parking lots around Spartan Stadium. Try some authentic East Lansing cuisine like a Crunchy’s burger. Go Green!
The camaraderie, food, and anticipation make tailgating an essential part of Michigan football culture. Bundle up and get ready for rowdy fun!
5. Explore a Michigan Fall Festival
Throughout October, cities across Michigan celebrate fall with festivals featuring food, entertainment, crafts, carnival rides and more.
Pumpkinfest in downtown Holly hosts this annual festival with live music, a pumpkin parade, craft show, hayrides, food trucks and contests like pumpkin carving.
Frankenmuth puts on Michigan’s biggest Oktoberfest celebration with special events and activities throughout the month like German feasts, polka, keg bowling, and stein holding competitions. Prost!
Fall festivals capture the sights, sounds, smells and tastes that make autumn so special. Plus, who doesn’t love caramel apples and pumpkins?
6. Pick the Perfect Pumpkin
Halloween isn’t complete without a big, plump pumpkin ready for carving. Search for that perfect pumpkin among more than 50 varieties in the massive patch, then ride a trolley back to the barn for tasty treats.
In addition to pumpkins, you can pick gourds, Indian corn, apples, and even flowers here. There’s also a corn maze, hayrides, and farm animals to visit.
The pumpkin haven offers tractor rides into the patch, barrel trains, farm animals, corn maze, and kid’s activities like archery.
For an extra fun outing, visit a pumpkin patch with more activities like hayrides, corn mazes, and petting farms. The kaleidoscope of orange pumpkins in every size make for Insta-worthy photos!
7. Tour a Haunted Michigan Lighthouse
What could be spookier than a late night visit to a haunted lighthouse? Here are a few rumored to have ghostly activity:
- White River Light Station: The keeper’s wife has reportedly been seen wandering the grounds after her husband drowned. Tours available in October.
- Point Iroquois Light Station: Visitors have experienced flickering lights, moving objects and sudden temperature drops here. It offers overnight ghost hunting stays.
- Seul Choix Point Lighthouse: A former lighthouse keeper named Captain Joseph “Dogface Willie” Townshend is said to haunt this spot on Lake Michigan. Tours available.
Learn about the haunted history and folklore behind these Michigan lighthouses. Just be prepared for things to potentially go bump in the night!
8. Sip and Sample at a Michigan Winery
Fall is harvest season for Michigan’s wineries. It’s a beautiful time to tour the vineyards, often ablaze in fall colors, or cozy up in a tasting room. Some top wineries include:
- Black Star Farms: Its tasting room sits on a horse farm with picturesque vineyards and trails, along with great pinot noir and riesling.
- Mari Vineyards: Mari’s modern hilltop tasting room has panoramic views along with award-winning cool-climate wines.
- Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery: Overlooking Grand Traverse Bay, Brys Estate makes exceptional wines like pinot blanc and gewurztraminer.
Michigan’s wine regions also host special events in October like the Harvest Stomp Fest at 45 North, or Fright Night at Domaine Berrien Cellars. Visit a few wineries for an autumn treat!
9. Hike through Fall Splendor
Michigan’s forests come alive with rich autumn hues, making October a fantastic time to hit the trails. Some beautiful hikes include:
- McCormick’s Creek State Park: Located just over the state border, the trails here wind past waterfalls and over gorges displaying incredible fall foliage.
- Tahquamenon Falls: Take the North Country Trail between the mighty Upper and Lower Falls and admire one of nature’s best shows with trees in peak color.
- Riverside Park: Walk along the Boardman River and through the changing forests on this peaceful trail right in downtown Traverse City.
Don’t forget your camera! Bring water, snacks, and comfy shoes too. You’ll want to take your time on these scenic trails.
10. Immerse Yourself in Fall Colors
One of my favorite parts of autumn in Michigan is admiring the gorgeous fall foliage. Here are some top spots for leaf peeping:
- Tunnel of Trees: Drive along scenic M-119 where the canopy of vibrant trees creates a tunnel effect over the road. Stop at overlooks along Little Traverse Bay for stunning vistas.
- Leelanau Peninsula: Sample wineries, shops and restaurants in charming towns like Leland, Suttons Bay, and Northport as you make your way up the peninsula, soaking in the fall scenery.
- Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive: This 7 mile loop through Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore offers spectacular overlooks of Lake Michigan and the autumn foliage.
For the best color, time your visit around mid-October. Pack a picnic, camera, and go for a peaceful autumn drive!
With colorful foliage, apple orchards, pumpkin patches, wineries, football games and Halloween haunts, October is a magnificent time to explore Michigan’s fall beauty. What will make the top of your autumn must-do list?