Editor’s Note: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, time and dates of events listed may change and some events have not yet been confirmed. Always call ahead to check current hours and attendance policies before making the trip.
With cooler temperatures and fall leaves creating breathtaking views, autumn is the perfect time to explore Michigan’s trails, rivers, scenic drives and other sites. Take in all the stunning views whether you prefer to enjoy the fall color show inside the comfort of your car or by getting outside in the middle of the action. One thing is for sure, there is plenty of fall fun to be had at these upcoming events:
• Harvest Days 2021 takes place Sunday-Friday from Sept. 1-30. The event provides ticket holders the opportunity to experience what it’s like to be a club member at each of the more than 20 participating wineries along the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail. Each winery will have a slightly different and unique experience, as they are all geared towards their respective member program. The ticket holder will have access to all these benefits during one visit to each winery throughout September. Information: lpwines.com/harvest-days.
• The Boyne City Kiwanis Labor Day Weekend Car Show is Sept. 3-4 in Veteran’s Memorial Park, Boyne City. The event includes a Friday Night Preview from 6-9 p.m. Sept. 3 and continues with a Saturday Car Show from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Sept. 4. Details: petoskeyarea.com/event-detail/boyne-city-kiwanis-labor-day-weekend-car-show.
• An Evening Kayak Tour is 5-6:30 p.m. Sept. 5 at Lake St. Clair Metropark in Harrison Township. Kayakers will enjoy a guided tour, through a cattail marsh habitat. Observe animals that are active during the later hours of the day, including many different bird species and see just why these habitats are so important. Previous kayak experience is recommended; kayaks available to rent or bring your own. Kayaks are an additional $15 to rent and must be done by calling the Nature Center after registering for the program. Please note, a limited number of kayaks are available. This program is suitable for ages 10 and older. Pre-register by calling (586) 463-4332.
• The 14th annual Labor Day Virtual Bridge and Run will start at the Rochester Municipal Park Kiwanis Pavilion on Sept. 6. Participants can choose between either a one-mile walk or a 5K run on the Paint Creek Trail. Onsite registration starts at 8 a.m. and the event begins at 9 a.m. This is a free community event, with a suggested donation of $5. Online registration opened in mid-August. All attendees will receive a purple coneflower seed packet or Paint Creek Trail logo sticker while supplies last. Details: paintcreektrail.org/wordpress/events/labor-day-bridge-walk.
• Frankenmuth’s Annual Food Truck Festival at Frankenmuth River Place Shops is set from 2-9 p.m. Sept. 9. The event will feature around 20 trucks from across Michigan with a variety of cuisine and desserts, live music, craft beer and non-alcoholic beverage sales, designated handicap parking area, and additional activities for families. Details: frankenmuth.org/events/funtown-chowdown-food-truck-festival.
• The 38th Annual Frankenmuth Auto Fest is a three-day event full of food, fun, music and cars Sept. 10-12 in Frankenmuth’s Heritage Park. Friday night is the Big Block Party on Main Street. Enjoy show cars parked up and down Main Street. There will also be live bands playing different types of music all night long. Saturday nearly 2,500 cars register each year. Sunday ends with another car show, an award ceremony and a tribute to veterans. Cost is $10 for one day pass, $20 for three day pass. Information: frankenmuth.org/events/frankenmuth-auto-fest.
• The Mexican Heritage Association Fiesta Mexicana will be held Sept. 10-12 at Calder Plaza in Grand Rapids. Information: facebook.com/mexicanheritageassociation.
• See stunning fall colors and views of the Big Sable Point Lighthouse in Ludington during the Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers Association’s Bus Day Sept. 11. Buses will run from noon-5 p.m. and there will be music at the lighthouse from 1-3 p.m. featuring Joe Irlan. Information: splka.org.
• A Hummingbird Hike is 10-11:30 a.m. Sept. 11 at Lake St. Clair Metropark in Harrison Township. Celebrate the fall migration of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. Find out how far these tiny travelers migrate and how they prepare for the long journey south. Hike through a unique wetland habitat and discover why Lake St. Clair Metropark is known as an important “stop-over point” for birds during migration. If conditions are right, a federally licensed bird bander will be working to band and record data for songbirds. Cost is $3/child, $5/adult. This program is suitable for ages 7 and older. Pre-register by calling (586) 463-4332.
• The Harbor Springs Cycling Classic begins at 8 a.m. Sept. 11 at the Birchwood Inn in Harbor Springs. Cost is $30/adults; $20/children ages 6-12; and free for those age five and under. This classic ride is a favorite of cyclists from all over the state. There are three distance routes to choose from, refreshment stops and a lunch at the finish. The leisurely bike ride includes some of the most scenic roads of northern Michigan, such as M-119, locally known as Lake Shore Drive, better known as the “Tunnel of Trees.” Information: petoskeyarea.com/event-detail/harbor-springs-cycling-classic-1.
• Frankenmuth Oktoberfest, a German festival with a large wooden dance floor, food, drinks and souvenirs, will be held Sept. 16-19 in the Harvey Kern Pavilion in Heritage Park. Information: frankenmuth.org/events/frankenmuth-oktoberfest.
Sept. 16-Oct. 3
• More than 1,000 artists from around the world will display their newly created works all over downtown Grand Rapids for visitors to see, absolutely free, in the hopes of earning cash prizes during ArtPrize Sept. 16-Oct. 3. Details: experiencegr.com/events/annual-events/artprize.
• Balloons Over Bay Harbor will take place from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 17 and 18 at 4160 Main St., Bay Harbor. Bay Harbor will host some of the best pilots in the nation, who will compete in national festivals across the country and overseas. There will be flight activity throughout the weekend and the “night glows” taking place on the marina lawn panel scheduled for both Friday and Saturday evenings. Information: BayHarbor.com.
• PLEIN AIR will feature artists creating urban landscapes as well as street musicians located throughout the downtown Grand Rapids area with a performance stage and artisan village on Calder Plaza Sept. 17-19. Details: facebook.com/FestivalGR.
• The 26th Annual Taste of Harbor Springs will be held from noon-3 p.m. Sept. 18 along the Harbor Springs Waterfront. Details: HarborSpringsChamber.com.
• The MSU Gran Fondo will be held from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 18. This is a fun, non-competitive cycling event to support Michigan State University College of Human Medicine’s skin cancer awareness, prevention and research. Cyclists of all skill levels can join as individuals or teams and ride along scenic 8-10, 25, 40 or 80-mile routes from downtown Grand Rapids to Lake Michigan. Riders enjoy gourmet food stops along the route and celebrate at the Finish Line Festival with live music, craft brews and food trucks. Information: experiencegr.com/event/msu-gran-fondo/70998.
• Confluence is a three-day multi-sensory festival that explores what’s possible when art, music, science and technology converge. Located throughout Calder Plaza in downtown Grand Rapids, the event welcomes innovators, scientists, musicians and entrepreneurs to share their work via conversations, art takeovers and music showcases. The goal is to bring world-class thinkers and doers to Grand Rapids and to introduce the public to the remarkable high-tech innovation currently underway throughout the region. Details: confluencefest.com.
• The Final Friday Experience events take place on the last Friday of the month in downtown Ludington. The event features a late farmers market, food, live music and activities in the plaza. For details, visit downtownludington.org/Friday.
• The Inaugural Grand Rapids Bourbon Fest will be held from 5-11 p.m. Sept. 24 at Studio D2D, 401 Hall St. SW in Grand Rapids. The festival will feature 100+ whiskeys, 30+store picks and a high-end bottle section. The majority of the list is bourbon but there will be a few non-bourbon options such as Rye whiskey, Tennessee whiskey and Japanese whiskey. In addition to the great whiskey selection, there will be a food truck, live music, vendors and more. Information: experiencegr.com/event/inaugural-grand-rapids-bourbon-fest/70866.
• Octoberfest is Sept. 24-25 in downtown Ludington. Activities include a Chili Walk, entertainment tent, live music, lawn games, pub crawl games, pony rides, Baby Badger train rides and more. Details: downtownludington.org/octoberfest.
• Oktoberfest Grand Rapids is Sept. 24-25 in Riverside Park, 2001 Monroe Avenue NW. The event will include live music, beer, food and more. Details: oktoberfestgr.com/events.
• The Boyne City Harvest Festival is scheduled from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Sept. 25 in downtown Boyne City. Enjoy the expanded Farmers and Crafters Market and shop at vendors and unique downtown shops. Stop for a bite to eat in one of the many restaurants. Listen to live music and enjoy attractions for kids of all ages. Details: boynecitymainstreet.com/main-street-events.
• The 2021 African American Arts & Music Festival will be held from noon-10 p.m. Sept. 25 in Studio Park, 123 Ionia Avenue SW in Grand Rapids. This event celebrates the contributions of African-American artists through the visual and performing arts, immersing the community in art, music, dance and food reflecting the many facets of the city’s diversity. Details: experiencegr.com/event/2021-african-american-arts-%26-music-festival/70924.
• Get Outside Family Fun is 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sept. 25 at Lake St. Clair Metropark in Harrison Township. Enjoy an afternoon of fun in the great outdoors. Participate in guided nature hikes, a straw-bale maze, lawn games and more. There will also be snacks, scavenger hunts and nature-themed crafts to take home. This program is suitable for all ages. Details: (586) 463-4332.
• Global Water Festival GR 2021 is 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Sept. 25 in Canal Street Park, 941 Monroe Avenue NW in Grand Rapids. This family-friendly event on the Grand River will feature Dragon Boat Races, free paddle boarding lessons, professional water jet demonstrations and a globally-themed variety of food vendors, artisan booths, live music and entertainment. A tent and social area for adult beverages will be available. Admission is free. Information: globalwaterfestgr.com.
• Fall Festival weekend is Sept. 25-26 at Lewis Adventure Farm & Zoo, 4180 West M-20 in New Era. Pick a pumpkin, get lost in a maze and make memories with friends and family. Information: visitlewisfarms.com or (231) 861-5730.
• Michigan’s Big Country Fest is Oct. 1-2 in the Harvey Kern Pavilion in Frankenmuth’s Heritage Park. Information: frankenmuth.org/events/michigans-big-country-fest.
• The Michigan Hemingway Society Fall Conference is Oct. 1-3 at Terrace Inn and 1911 Restaurant
in Bay View. The Michigan Hemingway Society hosts its annual in northern Michigan – a place that heavily influenced the author’s writing. The event is open to the public for the full weekend. Details: michiganhemingwaysociety.org.
• The Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail hosts The Hunt for the Reds of October weekdays throughout the month of October. The event allows consumers to explore the many red wines available on the Leelanau Peninsula. Details: lpwines.com/the-hunt-for-reds-of-october.
• Fall Festival weekend is Oct. 2-3 at Lewis Adventure Farm & Zoo, 4180 West M-20 in New Era. Pick a pumpkin, get lost in a maze and make memories with friends and family. Information: visitlewisfarms.com or (231) 861-5730.
• DeutscheMarques Oktoberfest, a fall color cruise-in and Oktoberfest festival for German vehicles, hosted by DeutscheMarques, will be held Oct. 9 at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners. All car years are welcome. Details: GilmoreCarMuseum.org.
• The Michigan Adventure Race, Ludington Edition is Oct. 9 at Ludington State Park. Participants will canoe, bike and trek on foot, navigating by map and compass during either a 5-hour beginner/intermediate race or 10-hour experienced race, including a post-race meal, awards and raffle. There will also be a family-friendly event. Information: miadventurerace.com.
• Fall Festival weekend is Oct. 9-10 at Lewis Adventure Farm & Zoo, 4180 West M-20 in New Era. Pick a pumpkin, get lost in a maze and make memories with friends and family. Information: visitlewisfarms.com or (231) 861-5730.
• Enjoy Grand Hotel’s Annual History Weekend with a unique look into the story behind the wood structure built in 1887. Learn about the history of Mackinac Island and Grand Hotel with Bob Tagatz, Grand Hotel’s resident historian. Then, take part in a special history presentation. Plus, enjoy a welcome reception and breakfast and dinner daily. Details: GrandHotel.com.
• Fall Festival weekend is Oct. 16-17 at Lewis Adventure Farm & Zoo, 4180 West M-20 in New Era. Pick a pumpkin, get lost in a maze and make memories with friends and family. Information: visitlewisfarms.com or (231) 861-5730.
• The Gilmore Fall Color Tour will be held Oct. 16 at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners. Enjoy one last drive through the beautiful Michigan countryside to enjoy the changing colors, ending with a Gilmore Cruise-In. Details: GilmoreCarMuseum.org.
• Scarecrow Fest – Dog Weekend is Oct. 16-17 with activities from noon-6 p.m., including arts and crafts, pumpkin painting, pumpkin bowling, Grandpa Tiny’s Barrel Train Ride and the ever-popular pumpkin catapult, where participants can launch your own pumpkin high up in the air before it come smashing down on a huge dump truck target. Dogs Weekend features the Rock N Roll K-9 performance team putting on a total of six shows near the Cass River Bar and Grill, a pet parade and doggie costume contest. Some activities have a small fee; there is no entry fee for the Scarecrow Fest event. Information: frankenmuth.org/events/scarecrow-fest-dog-weekend/.
• Celebrate Halloween on Mackinac Island with the Great Turtle Trail Run, trick-or-treating for kids through downtown shops, and Halloween costume parties for adults throughout island establishments in the evening. Information: MackinacIsland.org.
• Join Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel in October for an interactive Murder Mystery Weekend presented by The Murder Mystery Company, founded in Michigan. The intrigue begins Friday night and the crime is solved Sunday morning. The 2021 Murder Mystery Weekend Theme is “What happened in 1887?” Details: GrandHotel.com.
• The 25th anniversary of the Great Turtle Half Marathon & 5.7 Run/Walk will be Oct. 23 on Mackinac Island. This is one of the most scenic trail events in the state with a capacity of 3,000 participants running and walking the inside trails of Mackinac Island. Participants will receive commemorative medals, unique Great Turtle swag, special Halloween events for adults and kids, end-of-season sales – plus the beauty of late fall on the Island. Details: runmackinac.com.
• Scarecrow Fest – Kids Weekend is Oct. 23-24 with activities from noon-6 p.m., including arts and crafts, pumpkin painting, pumpkin bowling, Grandpa Tiny’s Barrel Train Ride and the ever-popular pumpkin catapult, where participants can launch your own pumpkin high up in the air before it come smashing down on a huge dump truck target. River Place Shops will also host a Kids Costume Parade on Oct. 24 throughout the complex from 5:30- 6 p.m. starting at the Fest Platz. Kids who participate will receive a treat bag on a first-come, first-serve basis. Some activities have a small fee; there is no entry fee for the Scarecrow Fest event. Information: frankenmuth.org/events/scarecrow-fest-kids-weekend/.
• Fall Festival weekend is Oct. 23-24 at Lewis Adventure Farm & Zoo, 4180 West M-20 in New Era. Pick a pumpkin, get lost in a maze and make memories with friends and family. Information: visitlewisfarms.com or (231) 861-5730.
• Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel welcomes Legacy Five back to the Grand stage on Oct. 24. When the Legendary Cathedral Quartet retired in December of 1999, Scott Fowler and Roger Bennett decided to continue the rich musical tradition of Southern Gospel Quartet singing. Legacy Five was organized and had their official debut in January 2000 in Atlanta. Details: GrandHotel.com.
• The Gilmore Car Museum’s Spooktacular & Haunted Hunt will be held Oct. 28-30 at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners. Details: GilmoreCarMuseum.org.
• Somewhere in Time Weekend, one of the most popular and special events during the Grand Hotel season, is set for Oct. 29-31. It’s the perfect time for movie lovers who want to know the cinematic secrets of the timeless romantic classic, and a chance to visit with many people who played a role in the movie. The weekend includes a screening of the film, discussions of the movie’s production process and appearances by returning cast and crew. Guests are invited to make a cameo appearance in costume at the cocktail receptions and costume promenade. Breakfast and dinner are also included daily. Details: GrandHotel.com
• A Full Moon Dinner will be held on Oct. 30 at Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay. This multi-course culinary experience will feature seasonal ingredients paired with the winery’s award-winning wines. The evening begins with a welcoming reception featuring a specialty-themed craft cocktail. Then, the chef will share the inspiration behind the evening’s menu during service and a winery representative will talk about the wine pairings with updates on new releases and vintages. Tickets: blackstarfarms.com/arcturos-dining-series/.
• A Downtown Trick-or-Treat & Jack O’Lantern Walk begins at 10 a.m. Oct. 30 in downtown Petoskey. Trick or Treat in downtown Petoskey and bring your already carved pumpkin down to Pennsylvania Park throughout the day Saturday for the Annual Jack O’ Lantern Walk, where jack o’ lanterns will be lit at dusk for participants to walk through and enjoy. Information: petoskeydowntown.com/events.
• Fall Festival weekend is Oct. 30-31 at Lewis Adventure Farm & Zoo, 4180 West M-20 in New Era. Pick a pumpkin, get lost in a maze and make memories with friends and family. Information: visitlewisfarms.com or (231) 861-5730.