From Family Fun to Extreme Terror – Halloween Events in Pure Michigan

Halloween is nearly here. Whether you are looking for more family-friendly events or houses of horror that test even the bravest souls, there is plenty of Halloween fun happening around Michigan. Here are some of the events taking place around Michigan that are sure to get you into the spirit of the season.

FAMILY-FRIENDLY BOOS

Halloween Spook Train
Spook TrainTake a ride on this spooktacular two-mile train ride. This Michigan Halloween happening is great fun for the entire family with 20 minutes of pure thrills and chills as you ride over bridges, trestles and even a 100-foot tunnel. Plus, there will be plenty of scares and laughs from the live spooks who are dying to entertain you.

Halloween Ghosts & Goodies
Your favorite spooky friends await you at Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad throughout the month of October. Blinking pumpkin lights will lead you to 20 delicious candy stops around the village in addition to tasty cider and donuts for everyone. You’ll love the enchanted forest, magic show in the Horton-Colwell Opera House and the straw maze. Top off your trick-or-treat tour with a ride through the autumn country side on the famous Huckleberry Ghost Train Express.

Glow in the Park
Glow in the Park is a family-friendly kick-off party for the Halloween weekend. There will be music, food and drink along with plenty of fun glow-in-the-dark activities for the kids. Come in full glowing costume or get your glow on when you get there with UV face painting, glow balloons, black light areas and a merchandise booth selling glow merchandise and official Pumpkin King T-shirts. Proceeds from this event go to the City of Douglas Halloween Fund to pay for the big parade and other Halloween activities around town.

SPOOKTACULAR FUN

Halloween Beer Bus Tour
Get in the Halloween mood with this spooky bus tour featuring a haunted brewery and great-tasting fall beers. Be prepared for a night of frights, flights and fun. The tour will begin at Shakespeare’s Pub in downtown Kalamazoo where autumn favorites will be on tap. The group will then make the jaunt west to Paw Paw Brewing Company where the crew will get you in the spirit of the season with fall ales and perhaps a few scary surprises. From there, we’ll make way to Psycho Ward & Nightmares, one of Kalamazoo’s best haunted attractions. The tour concludes with a quick ride north to Plainwell’s Old Mill Brewpub & Grill  for samples and a tour of the more than 100-year-old building known to be inhabited by a few ghosts.

Skeletons Alive in Northville
Looking for a spooky downtown experience? Downtown Northville has been transformed with 100 life-size skeletons. The annual outdoor public display of boney friends takes place each October and features skeletons decked out in an array of costumes.

ErebusEXTREME TERROR

Haunted Ghost Tour at the Henderson Castle
Bring the whole family to Haunted Halloween at Henderson Castle from 5-10 p.m.  Saturday, Oct. 31. Explore a living-statue garden, shoot paintballs at gruesome zombies, find a petting zoo at the end of the maze, get a tarot-card reading and tour the castle.

Erebus Haunted Attraction
Erebus, the four-story Haunted House located in Pontiac, was entered into the Guinness World Records as the World’s Largest Walk-through Haunted Attraction from Aug. 2005 – Sept. 2009. Victims go through four stories of terrifying paths with fearsome ghouls, ghosts and monsters at every turn.

For more Halloween-related events happening in Michigan, visit michigan.org. What are your favorite Halloween attractions? Share with us below.

Eight Reasons to Vote Kalamazoo as Beer City USA 2013

We’re thrilled to see three Michigan cities in the running for Beer City USA 2013 – Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo. Last week, we heard what makes Grand Rapids a great pick, and today Greg of Discover Kalamazoo makes the case for his city. Read his thoughts below and look out for a post from Ann Arbor later this week!

As you likely know, the annual competition to be named “Beer City USA” is underway.  Voting continues until 1:59 a.m. on Saturday, May 11, 2013. 

While there are many worthy destinations being considered for this annual recognition (including our friends in Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids), let me share with you eight reasons why Kalamazoo deserves your consideration (and vote) to be named Beer City USA 2013:

    • Kalamazoo is home to Bell’s – the oldest craft brewery east of Colorado. It’s the largest brewery in Michigan, the 7th largest craft brewery (and 14th largest brewery) in the nation, and home to three of the top 18 beers in the world for 2013 (ratebeer.com).
    • Kalamazoo was ranked No. 4 in the Top 10 Beer Cities (livability.com), one of the Top 10 Best Vacation Cities for Beer Lovers (The Street) and has one of the largest, and quite possibly the largest (in terms of number of events), Beer Week Celebrations in Michigan.
    • Imperial Beverage was named the 2010 Craft Beer Distributor of the Year by the National Wholesalers Association and the Brewers Association, and was the creator of Kalamazoo Beer Week (the 3rd annual event, held in January 2013, had 147 events over an eight-day period)
    • Kalamazoo Beer Exchange was ranked as the No. 1 Bar in Michigan (ratebeer.com).
    • Craft-Beer Centric locations such as Central City Tap House, the Kalamazoo Beer Exchange, Old Burdick’s and Shakespeare’s Pub offer a significant number of craft beers at their establishments (with the Centre City Tap House opening later this year).
    • Restaurants producing their own craft beer include Bell’s Eccentric Café, Bilbo’s Pizza, Bravo! Restaurant and Olde Peninsula Brewpub and Restaurant.
    • Alamo Drafthouse has chosen Kalamazoo as the location for its first Michigan theatre. Alamo Drafthouse Kalamazoo will open in 2013 and offer 10 theatres, where you can enjoy food and craft beer while watching a mix of the latest releases and all-time favorites. “Kalamazoo reminds me a lot of our hometown of Austin with its strong economy, large university, great beer scene and solid arts community,” Alamo Drafthouse CEO Tim League said.  We are very excited about this opportunity and to become a part of the neighborhood.”
    • By the end of 2013, five new craft brewers will be opening in Kalamazoo (including Arcadia Brewing, Boatyard Brewing, Gonzo’s BiggDogg Brewing, Latitude 42 and Rupert’s Brew House).

    While all of these facts, figures, rankings and acknowledgments are great to have received and earned, it is really the culture of the craft beer scene in Kalamazoo which gives us tremendous community pride.

Please share with everyone you know one very simple domain: www.VoteKalamazoo.com.  If you decide to leave comments while you are voting, please keep them positive about why Kalamazoo should be selected as Beer City USA 2013.  One vote per IP address is permitted.  We invite you to like us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/beer4kzoo), follow us on Twitter (www.twitter.com/beer4kzoo) and join us in raising a #Beer4Kzoo!

Greg Ayers is the President/CEO of Discover Kalamazoo, the official destination marketing organization representing Kalamazoo County.  More information about Discover Kalamazoo is available at www.discoverkalamazoo.com.

Who’s getting your vote for Beer City USA 2013? Read from Grand Rapids here and look out for a post from Ann Arbor in the coming days!

Family Fun at the Kalamazoo Nature Center

Discover plants, birds, barn animals and more at the Kalamazoo Nature Center, a fun, informative environment for the entire family. The editors of Michigan Travel Ideas share this springtime find, as well as other kid-friendly stops in Kalamazoo.

Interpretive Center: Young children love to push display buttons to release animal odors and bird calls. They can see fish live in area waters in the aquarium. Before heading out walk the trails, learn plant names in the domed greenhouse.

Barn: In May, the timber-framed barn opens for weekends. See baby farm animals: ponies, chicks, sheep and goats.

Trails: More than a dozen gravel footpaths wind through pine and hardwood forest and alongside ponds and marshes. Though trails range in difficulty, most are less than a mile long. A few highlights:

    • Beach Maple Trail: Take this .7-mile trail to see spring wildflowers in all their blooming beauty.
    • Habitat Haven Trail: Just over a half a mile, this winding woodland path loops around a pond where marshy plants like Joe Pye weed harbor frogs and turtles.
    • Bluebird Trail: A bit longer (2.7 miles each way) and more challenging, this trail goes through a variety of habitats, including a 144-acre tallgrass prairie. You’ll see lots of daisies, purple coneflower and big bluestem grasses.

Events: There are events planned for almost every day of the week and many on weekends. Kid-friendly activities include Small Wonders (stop at interactive stations geared to the under-5 set), Creature Features (where the animals come out from behind glass), Groovy Growing (kids under the age of 5 can visit the Learning Garden to see what’s growing in the sustainable farm project) and story times.

More to explore: Want to make a weekend of your trip?

  • Kalamazoo Valley Museum: This three-story museum blends history and science, with tons of hands-on activities (free!). At the “Science in Motion” exhibit, build a race car using supplied parts and race it around a track (kids love this, but we saw plenty of dads having fun, too). In the nature exhibits, kids can create a miniature tornado or tidal wave.
  • Food Dance: Funky Food Dance restaurant specializes in local food. The kids’ menu includes polka-dot cakes for breakfast and a pint-size burger for lunch and dinner.
  • Radisson Hotel: The 5,000-gallon saltwater aquarium on the lower level will entertain.
  • Air Zoo: Kalamazoo’s signature attraction features airplanes from the earliest fliers to advanced military craft and eight amusement park-style rides, including a 3-D space shuttle ride.