Five Fun Ways to Celebrate “Fall-o-ween” in Pure Michigan

Today, our guest blogger Lyndsay Israel from The Awesome Mitten shares some seasonally-inspired ways to celebrate “Fall-o-ween” in Pure Michigan.

You may have noticed that we have hit the calendar jackpot for 2014!  Halloween on a Friday?  Does it get any better than that?  This year, plan your fall weekend celebrations right, including those leading up to the 31st- do, or see something new, take your kids somewhere fun, or win the prize at the Halloween party!  Check out these five ‘Fall-o-ween’ fun plans as you plot out the rest of your autumn months.

Fall Camping

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Photo by Lyndsay Israel

Yes, it’s already chilly, but you always sleep better when it’s cold out, right?  A lot of local campgrounds have adopted Halloween weekend events for their campers; these can include anything from a campsite decorating contest to a costume parade for the little campers!  Because the cold is unpredictable, many have moved this tradition to September, but call your favorite place and check.  I can at least point people to Harbor RV Resort in Monroe County, who celebrate Halloween weekly for all of October.  Head that way until the weekend of the 26th to check out their traditions.

Dress Locally

I always think of cool costumes at the most irrelevant times of the year.  If you share that curse, you forget your great ideas by the time you get your costume party invite.  What about going as a Michigan native?  Tim the Toolman Taylor (or Al, if you’re hairier), Kid Rock, Lucille Ball or Madonna all hail from the mitten state…and make for a fun costume.

Take a Drive

Photo by Lyndsay Israel

Photo by Lyndsay Israel

Peak color is happening any minute now but since it started so fast I anticipate a slow disappearance of the leaves…I am not an autumn expert but this is my opinion.  Check out the beautiful Tunnel of Trees from Harbor Springs to Cross Village (on M-119) if you’re close enough, or just find a park near you to appreciate the foliage before it’s replaced by frost.

Get Scared!

Tis the season to get lost in a corn maze or chased by a man with a chainsaw.  If getting scared is your cup of tea, check out The Haunt in Grand Rapids or ride the Junction Valley Spook Train in Saginaw County!  Take a Twilight Walking Tour in Sault St. Marie or take a Marshall Carriage Co. Ghost tour through local cemeteries.  There are no shortage of creepy options in Michigan, and for more ghastly ghosts, check out parts one, two and three of haunted places in Michigan from The Awesome Mitten.

Decorate

Photo by Lyndsay Israel

Photo by Lyndsay Israel

Decorating for Halloween can be a lot of work, but consider it a dry run for the winter holidays yet to come.  Even if you don’t transform your lawn into a spooky cemetery, pumpkins of all shapes and sizes can be transformed to showcase what your house holds dear.  For me, this means a giant football, but with a can of gold spray paint or black lacy tights, pumpkins can lend some class to your front porch.  Good old fashioned jack-o-lantern carving complete with a big candle to last the month is fun for the family, or decorate enough lanterns to line your driveway.  Use the neglected sand box to weigh down your paper bag lanterns, or send the kiddos on a scavenger hunt for rock weights.

For a comprehensive break down of fall fun in Michigan, check out michigan.org for a great list of even more Fall-o-ween to-dos. How are you celebrating “Fall-o-ween” in Pure Michigan this year?

Untitled1Lyndsay Israel is a life long Michigander currently in Traverse City. She has big ole soft spot for Grand Rapids, where she’s been the better part of the last decade.  Passions include writing about Michigan and Michigan craft beer. Future goals include making it through this Northern Michigan this winter, finishing her masters in secondary education at Grand Valley, owning a large dog, and reading as many books as she can.

 

 

 

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.

Seven Spots in Michigan to Sip and Savor Mother Nature

Today, guest blogger Joanna Dueweke from The Awesome Mitten shares some of her favorite places around the state to drink Pure Michigan wine or craft beer and enjoy her scenic surroundings. 

Photo courtesy of Cortney Casey - MichiganByTheBottle.com

Photo courtesy of Cortney Casey – MichiganByTheBottle.com

Increasingly, Michigan is home to more and more brilliant breweries and vibrant vineyards with views of rolling hills, gentle waves, and urban streets. The libations are as varied as the locations; not only do you have ample opportunity to explore the tasty treats being concocted at each locale, but each has something different to offer up as far as gazing is concerned. One of the things we celebrate most as Michiganders is how absolutely beautiful our surroundings are (even when it means glistening snow resting on pine tree branches) all year round. To really celebrate this grandeur, a glass of riesling or a succulent saison helps to take in the views at these establishments around the state with a smile:

Jamesport Brewing Company – Ludington, West Michigan

Nestled on the shores of Lake Michigan, this Ludington gem is a great way to take in views of the harbor while satiating the need for delicious food paired with a craft beer. People rave about the food and the relaxed atmosphere as much as they talk about this lesser known brewery’s beer. Who can complain about a breeze off Lake Michigan with the West Michigan sun on a lazy afternoon with a beer in hand?

Hawthorne Vineyards – Traverse City, Northwest Michigan (East and West Bay)

Northwest Michigan is often praised for its many wineries (and increasing number of breweries) and their views of the Grand Traverse Bays, Lake Leelanau, and Lake Michigan. When you take a seat at Hawthorne Vineyards, you’re surrounded by all the majesty that is the rolling hills of vineyards and views of both East and West Grand Traverse Bay. Since we can’t have those “perfectly warm with a touch of a cool breeze” summer nights all the time in Northern Michigan, their porch comes suited with a fieldstone fireplace to warm the mood.

Brewery Vivant – Grand Rapids, West Michigan

Although water is beautiful and it is one of the biggest allures of living in Michigan, the urban areas around the state have just as much to offer. Brewery Vivant is the first LEED Certified brewery in the United States and is located inside an old church; sitting in their tasting room is truly a religious experience for folks that are fans of Belgian-style beers. When you venture outside, Cherry Street in Grand Rapids offers people watching and excitement that only a city street can offer.

Sandhill Crane Vineyards – Jackson, Mid Michigan

Cortney Casey Michigan by the bottle

Photo courtesy of Cortney Casey – MichiganByTheBottle.com

With a bountiful wine menu using only fruits grown in Michigan, folks are hard pressed to find something to complain about at Sandhill Crane Vineyards. It often takes some convincing to explain what an amazing experience the Pioneer Wine Trail can be in and around Jackson. That’s fine because when you’re seated outside the winery on the wraparound porch that overlooks the countryside, you’re most likely hooked. You never know, maybe you’ll glimpse a crane out in the vineyards.

Frankenmuth Brewery – Frankenmuth, East Michigan

As one of Michigan’s oldest brewing operations, Frankenmuth Brewery offers a host of award-winning brews.  For those looking to linger a while, the brewery boasts expansive outdoor space, and walls of windows, from which folks can enjoy views of the calm Cass River, the river walk, and the town’s famous covered bridge in the distance.  As the proprietors say, “Come for the food, stay for the beer, and find out why Frankenmuth Brewery is a favorite Michigan tradition.”

Round Barn Winery, Distillery and Brewery – Baroda, Southwest Michigan

Photo courtesy of Rebecca Calkins

Photo courtesy of Rebecca Calkins

Winery, distillery and brewery in a giant white, round barn? Of course! Round Barn is snuggled the middle of fields and forest in Southwest Michigan. The space is conducive to all sorts of revelry with vast porches and constant planned activities. Community is a real focus here and the folks at Round Barn try to make sure the people coming up that side of the state know what kind of hospitality to expect in the rest of Michigan.

Keweenaw Brewing Company – Houghton, Upper Peninsula

Everything about the Upper Peninsula screams beautiful views, but put a beer in your hand, and that screaming just won’t be silenced. Sitting at the Keweenaw Brewing Company with a Widow Maker in hand (that’s a beer, promise) is pure perfection with a look at the Portage Canal. In true UP fashion, the beer is affordable, the atmosphere is overwhelmingly comfortable, and the people are friendly.

This list is no where near exhaustive because there are breweries and wineries all over with amazing views of Michigan, but choices had to be made. Where are your favorite places around Michigan to sip something delightful and savor all the beauty Michigan has to offer?

JoDuewekeJoanna Dueweke writes for The Awesome Mitten and is the Interactive Marketing Coordinator for the Detroit Regional Chamber. Born and raised in Traverse City, she is enjoying new adventures in the Detroit area, but also values her roots in Northern Michigan. Exploring the outdoors, sailing, travel, and enjoying the Mitten’s beer industry consume her time when she is not pursuing her Master’s in Library and Information Science at Wayne State University.