Four Characteristics of a Pure Michigan Fall

Today, guest blogger Shannon Saksewski from The Awesome Mitten shares a few key ingredients of fall in Pure Michigan.

15reasonstolovefall1Seasons.  A stark difference between four distinct seasons.  This is one of the several reasons why, despite opportunities, I haven’t felt truly compelled to move to another state.  It’s always been difficult for me to imagine living in a place where I couldn’t, in a broad sense, measure time by looking at the leaves.

Fall’s my favorite.  Fall is a favorite for a lot of people.  You’ve likely noticed by now that large retailers agree, especially if you’ve ever walked through their aisles in August—and sometimes July—when they start offering Halloween goodies and autumn decor.  Let’s set the retail goods aside for now, though, and focus on what makes Michigan truly special in the fall.

Colors
Oh, the glorious colors!  People from around the country flock to the Mitten in the fall to witness the flaming reds, oranges, yellows, and even burgundies.  Peak color varies throughout the state, but generally falls between mid-September through the end of October.  As a general rule, the farther north one travels, the earlier colors will peak.

Color tours are a popular fall activity for many Michigan residents and visitors.  Residents need not travel far in order to experience the sights, sounds, and smells of Michigan’s technicolor forests.  Over half of the state is forested—that’s over 19 million acres—and most of that consists of northern hardwoods (the color-changers, like maples).  Want to get on the road to see what all the fuss is about?  Here’s a list of color driving tours.  Prefer to get out of the car and see the sights up close?  Try these hiking and biking tours.

Bangor apple festApples
With 9.2 million apple trees, Michigan is the second-largest apple producing state in the US—and we have serious love for our orchards!  It seems like almost everyone, especially people who grew up here, has a favorite orchard.  My personal favorite is Wasem’s in Milan, very near where I grew up.  I love that place for its crisp Michigan apples, sure.  If you talk to someone about their favorite orchard long enough, though, you’ll likely realize that they’re not in it for the apples alone.  Orchards offer a range of goods and experiences.  For example, I contend that Wasem’s has the best donuts, cider, and apple butter in the universe.  (That’s a strong statement, and I’d love to debate the point—and taste-test—with any of you!)

Orchards offer much more than edible goods.  In addition, they are often home to Halloween-themed activities like haunted houses, haunted hay rides, and nighttime corn mazes.  For those less inclined to be purposefully terrified, check out the decorative goods, historical surrounds, demonstrations, and much more.  A visit to the orchard could be a brief stop, or an all-day affair.  Check out an old favorite, or search for a future favorite.  Regardless, enjoy!

FordfieldFestivals
Clearly, there’s a lot to celebrate about fall in Michigan.  Colors! Apples! Pumpkins! Alpacas!  Oh, and beer.  Check out this calendar of Michigan’s fall festivals.  At least a few of these are on my must-see list.  Which will you visit?

Football
We tend to take football pretty seriously in Michigan—to the point where some of us use “fall” and “football season” interchangeably.  Whether you’re a die-hard fan of Michigan’s own Detroit Lions or a  particular university, or are just in it for tailgating fun (or both), it’s possible that you closely associate football and fall.  Not too interested in football?  That’s OK.  There are plenty of orchards to visit instead of tailgating, cramming into a stadium, and/or yelling at the television.

What do you think?  What other festivals, places, or traditions are characteristic of fall in Michigan?

shannon-293x300Shannon Saksewski is a life-long resident of Michigan. Professionally, she is a healthcare strategist focusing on consumer experience and marketing.  She was trained, and has experience in, psychology, social work, and business at the University of Michigan.  Outside of work, she enjoys cooking, traveling, writing, and experimenting with local beer and craft cocktails.  Connect with Shannon on Twitter (@ssaksews), or LinkedIn.

From Our Fans: 18 Favorite Fall Traditions in Pure Michigan

Happy first day of fall! Brisk autumn air and vibrant fall foliage have arrived in Pure Michigan. The changing of the seasons holds a special meaning to everyone, and many Michiganders have created unique traditions to help them welcome and celebrate fall. We asked our fans on Facebook and Twitter to share theirs.

Here’s a roundup of just some the fantastic fall traditions our fans hold near and dear. 

Making apple butter, eating hot foods like chili, stew, soup again, wearing hoodies, decorating inside and outside with autumn things, smelling and feeling the crisp fall air. - Cathleen Lechowicz
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Picking fresh Michigan apples, taking one last camping trip and eating hot soup. - Donna M. Tardiff

Going to the cider mill to get cinnamon doughnuts. Yummy! - Deborah Buoncompagno

A trip to the farmers market, a stay on Mackinac Island, bonfires with marshmallows and fall color drives on the back roads. - Kerri Tang

Cider and donuts, pumpkins, fall color tours, trips up north, bonfires, hikes, farm days at Greenfield Village, first pot of chili, apple pie with apples from the orchard. - Shelly Bahr

My husband and I go camping with our son, daughter in law and two grandsons. The whole family goes to the cider mill together. Cider, doughnuts, hiking. It’s great. I love fall! - Lori Sikora

Pumpkin and apple pies, orange pumpkins and yellow mums on the porch, soups, stews, flannel shirts, down vests, boots, jeans and the smell of fallen leaves in the cool dusky evenings. - Lisa Hadden

Opening duck season with family. - Kyle Ransom

Photo by Dine Clark near Verona Township

Photo by Dine Clark near Verona Township

Crunching leaves on the trails.  Thanksgiving with my family – When the turkey is finished, we all watch the Lions vs. Packers game. - CaSondra Maass

Going to Treetops in Gaylord and taking in almost 360 degree view of Autumns splendor. - Kathy Brisbin Wagner

Canoeing down the river and fishing while the leaves float by! - Phillip Olt

I can’t forget Historic Bowens Mills for caramel apples, hot apple dumplings, and other treats. A great place to relax and enjoy a peaceful afternoon. - Ken Blum

Taking a trip down the Dowagiac River to see the fall colors. - Steph Bliss

Apple picking at Crane Orchards with my grandchildren, then making applesauce for the freezer. - Cinde Heston

Photo courtesy of Johnson's Giant Pumpkin Farm

Photo courtesy of Johnson’s Giant Pumpkins

Bell’s Brewery’s Best Brown Ale, Johnson’s Giant Pumpkin Farm, and Southern Michigan Railroad’s Fall Color Tour! - Paul McKellip

Visiting BlakeFarms is a must. #Fall. – Twitter user @DonnaMargara84

Evening walks in the crisp fall air, bonfires, decorating for Halloween, Witches Brew wine from Leelanau cellars. – Twitter user @JaimieMae1222

Taking friends up to Tahquamenon Falls. Can’t wait to be up north! – Twitter user @JandiPrich

What are your favorite ways to celebrate the fall season in Pure Michigan? 

8 Ways to Celebrate Fall in Michigan

Today, guest blogger Hayley Serr of The Awesome Mitten gives us 8 ways to celebrate the fall season in Michigan. 

Photo by Instagram user @laurenweber84

As the temperature begins its steady decline and we pack away our swimsuits and beach towels for the year, Michigan embarks on its glorious transition into autumn. Our great state is, without question, the best place to enjoy the splendor of fall. From the beautiful colors of changing leaves to the delicious crisp crunch of Michigan apples to the spectacle of the Thanksgiving day parade, there are so many things to enjoy this fall in the mitten. Here are eight items that should definitely be included on your autumn to-do list.

Take a trip to a cider mill. Cider mill trips are such a staple of the season that it almost seems like this is a given. However, this wouldn’t be a fall to-do list without a mention of cider mills. Many offer much more than cider and donuts, too. Pack a basket and a blanket, pick up some traditional treats, and enjoy a picnic in the crisp fall air. Or head to a cider mill with an apple orchard to pick some some fresh apples for munching. Since many locations also boast hayrides, corn mazes, and more, a trip to the cider mill is much more than just an excuse to eat donuts.

If you fancy something stronger than cider, pick up some seasonal craft beer. Or better yet, host a tasting party! Michigan’s craft beer industry is booming, so there is no shortage of delicious autumn brews. Pick up an Arbor Brewing Company Oktoberfest, a New Holland Ichabod Pumpkin Ale, a Short’s Funkin’ Punkin, a Detroit Beer Company Oktoberfest, or any of the other great seasonal picks from your favorite Michigan breweries and invite some friends over to try them out. Offer assorted cheese options and pads of paper to take notes if you want to make it a more traditional tasting party, or just put out some munchies and enjoy some good conversation and great beer with friends. (For you non-beer-drinkers, remember that it’s harvest time for Michigan wine so you don’t have to miss out on the fun!)

Get into the Halloween spirit with some happy hauntings. With October 31st fast approaching, there are plenty of events to get you in the mood for the holiday. For those in the Southeast Michigan area (especially with little ones), the Zoo Boo is a perennial favorite. Throw on a costume and head to the Detroit Zoo for entertainment, games, and general trick-or-treating merriment amongst the animals. Also in the metro-Detroit area is the Greenfield Village Hallowe’en event; patrons will be surrounded by Greenfield Village spirits, treat stations, colorful characters, and thousands of jack-o-laterns for a 20th century Hallowe’en experience. (Watch out for the Headless Horseman!)

Or for those looking for a little more trick than treat, get psyched for Halloween with a zombie hunt. Taking the interactive experience to a whole new level, locations such as Blake Farms in Armada, Darksyde Acres in Jonesville, the Haunted Farm of Terror in Lenox Township, and TC Paintball in Lansing offer patrons the ability to test their preparation for the zombie apocalypse by taking down the undead. Gear up and take aim with these live action zombie hunts if you dare.

Visit a fall-themed festival. Whether you have a hankering for film, an appetite for chili, or are clamouring for good music, there is a Michigan festival for you. From the Mackinac Island Halloween Weekend celebration, to the Frankfort Film Festival, to the Blues & Brews Festival in Adrian, to the Peak2Peak Mountain Festival at Crystal Mountain there is an event for every taste this season.

Tailgate! Whether you’re a Wolverine or a Spartan, November 2nd is THE gameday for college football fans in the state of Michigan. East Lansing will host the inner state rivals for what is bound to be one of the greatest games of the year. If college sports aren’t your thing, autumn is still chock full of great sporting events. Head to Detroit to tailgate for a Lion’s game, hit a Wings game the Joe, or cheer the Tigers on to ALCS (and hopefully World Series) victory.

Head to Detroit for the Thanksgiving Day Parade. As the theme of this year’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is “Downtown Our Town,” the celebration will not only be of Thanksgiving, but also of the great city of Detroit and of Michigan. Be one of the hundreds of thousands of people who gather to celebrate together and watch one of the nation’s oldest Thanksgiving traditions. For those who’d rather enjoy the spectacle from the comfort of home, tune into the live broadcast on Thanksgiving morning at 9 a.m.

Take a fall foliage tour. Our great state is, without a doubt, one of the most picturesque, beautiful places in the nation. This is especially true when it comes to witnessing the changing of the seasons. Whether you’re heading to the coastline, cruising down I-75, walking the trail, or paddling down one of Michigan’s rivers, the spectacle of colors that autumn brings is best enjoyed from anywhere right here in the mitten.

What will you be doing to celebrate the season this year?

 

 

 Hayley SerrHayley Serr writes for The Awesome Mitten and works for Hour Detroit magazine. Born and raised in metro-Detroit, this Spartan alumna relishes any opportunity to explore and share all of the wonderful things there are to do in Michigan. Aside from exploring the mitten, Hayley loves spending time with her family, cooking, and curling up on the couch with a good book.