With its cooler temps and abundant color, fall is great time for getting out and about with your family. The outdoors beckons with nature walks and corn mazes, while there are great indoor activities for those not-so-temperate days. So to help plan a fabulous fall, the family fun experts here at FYI are sharing some of our favorite autumn adventures:
Kellogg Bird Sanctuary, 12685 East C Ave, Augusta
Take a nighttime walk at the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary and listen to the sounds of the woods and call for owls. Will they call back? At the start of the program, there will be a visit from one of the sanctuary’s ambassador owls. Dress for the outdoors and prepare for wildlife magic.
Binder Park Zoo, 7400 Division Drive, Battle Creek
Binder Park’s annual event has trick-or-treating, a train, hayrides, carnival games with prizes and black-light mini-golf. You can also visit Haunted Africa and walk through a straw maze.
Kalamazoo Nature Center, 7000 N Westnedge Ave, Kalamazoo
Visit the KNC any Wednesday in October with your little one to learn about a different Michigan animal friend. Hear a story, color a picture and meet a live animal! Animals will be handled by trained naturalists and animal care staff. Geared for children 5 and under with an adult.
Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, 314 S Park St, Kalamazoo
Promising an “unplugged” experience, the KIA has revamped this gallery providing hands-on opportunities for children ages 2 and older. Unveiled in August, the redesigned gallery features a larger-than-life drawing wall, a glow-in-the-dark nook, a magnetic wall, robot art and a draw-it-yourself station. The space has been designated as a tech-free zone so visitors can enjoy a screen-free creative experience.
Downtown Grand Rapids
It’s an art exhibition like no other. For 19 days, art from around the world is showcased all over downtown Grand Rapids — in museums, restaurants, hotels, public parks, lobbies, walls, bridges — anywhere you look you’ll see art. This family-friendly, stroller-friendly art show is also a competition, with each of the more than 1,400 entries at nearly 200 venues contending for cash awards. There are even educational and family activities to keep the little ones entertained.
Sound overwhelming? Determine where to go and what to see before hand by browsing venues on the ArtPrize website or download the free mobile app.
Downtown Kalamazoo and beyond
A little closer to home, but just as engaging, is Kalamazoo’s monthly Art Hop on the first Friday of each month. Art Hop has expanded beyond the streets and stores of the downtown mall to other neighborhoods, including the Arcadia, River’s Edge, Edison/Washington Square, and Vine districts. You’ll find art from live performances of music, dance and comedy to paintings, photography, sculpture and more. If it’s art, it’s there.
Ramona Park, 8600 S Sprinkle Road, Portage
Whether your family fishes or just wants to take in autumn’s beauty by canoe or kayak, Ramona Park is an excellent location for a fall cruise around Long Lake. For families that don’t own boats, a canoe and kayak can be rented at Lee’s Adventure Sports, 269.381.7700.
Atwater Loop Trail, 6310 Texas Drive, Kalamazoo
Load up the mountain bikes and head to the northeastern end of Texas Township for a mountain biking adventure. The 3.8-mile forested loop offers tree-lined canopies bursting with color and beginner-level challenges, so it is perfect for all ages and experience levels.
Old Douglas Road, Kalamazoo
Old Douglas Road north of Kalamazoo toward Cooper offers a traditional — and quick — color tour. The road, in its one-mile entirety, is lined with trees that create a magical tunnel. Along the twists and turns, peek through the foliage and see farms, woods and fields. On Saturday mornings, you can catch live music and a quaint diner experience at Cooper Cafe’s Bluegrass Breakfasts from 9:30 am–noon.
Harvest Moon Acres Corn Maze & Fun Park, 18725 M-40 Highway, Gobles
It’s not just a corn maze, it’s a quest. With twisting pathways, questions and answers, and picture rubbings, this maze is a game. Your family will spend time together getting lost in the maze and working together to find your way out. When you do, there’s other fun to be had, including indoor barn activities, zip lines and the Cattle Castle: a 40-foot slide flanked by hay bales.
8544 Gull Road, Richland
With a different, unique pattern every year, Gull Meadow’s corn maze offers six acres of meandering trails through the corn stalks. There’s an amazing array of activities outside the maze to participate in as well, including pumpkin checkers, pig and duck races, an animated chicken show, a tube slide, jumping pillows and a zip cord. For a new adventure, try the nighttime flashlight maze.
4516 24th St, Dorr
Fun and family-friendly during the daytime, this venue features a corn maze and activities including farm animals, a pumpkin patch, a hayride, a paintball shooting gallery and a pumpkin cannon.
Nighttime is better for teens and older with its Haunted Corn Maze, Witch’s Woods and the Zombie Death Wagon that offer enough scary adventures to fill the night air with plenty of screams.
They say what’s good for the goose is good for, well, families. Inspired by Fennville’s location along Canadian geese migration routes, this annual festival has live music, a parade, unique food and carnival rides in addition to the Wild Goose Chase 5K and Gosling Run, arts and crafts and a petting zoo.
13988 CR 215, Grand Junction
From s’mores and caramel apples to live music and bowling with pumpkins, Stokes Homestead knows how to have a harvest festival. This two-day event is family-friendly to the extreme with activities including trick-or-treating, a pedal kart track, wagon rides, tractor-pulled cow train rides, gem mining, pumpkin painting, u-pick apples and an arts and crafts fair.
Fetzer Center, Western Michigan University
Get to know a little more about Russian culture at the Kalamazoo Russian Festival. This is the 21st year for this annual festival offering a vibrant display of Russian music, dance, poetry and art with the goal of promoting an understanding and appreciation of Russian culture. With Russian food, musical performances, dancers, programs for children, educational speakers and vendors selling Russian wares, the festival is a local favorite.
Gull Lake View Golf Club & Resort, 7417 N 38th St, Augusta
Get your young ones out on the golf green with an exciting new twist — Halloween costumes! Whether you decide to participate in the shamble competition or just do a bit of driving practice, your kids will love the experience of seeing costumed characters everywhere on the golf course.
Pierce Cedar Creek Institute, 701 W Cloverdale Road, Hastings
Experience the magic of Michigan woods at night when you hike forest and tallgrass prairie trails by candlelight. Listen for owls and other nocturnal creatures while enjoying the changing seasons. After the hike, listen to a lecture on the local ecology next to a warm fire with coffee and hot chocolate to sip on.
Miller Auditorium, Western Michigan University
Get moving! Get dancing! Get singing! with Peppa Pig. Peppa Pig’s Big Splash is an action-packed live show featuring your child’s favorite characters as life-size puppets and costume characters. Audience members are encouraged to participate throughout the show with moving, dancing and singing.
Kalamazoo Valley Museum, 230 N Rose St, Kalamazoo
Get crafty with your little ones and create a variety of items you would find in a haunted house, from cobwebs to dishes, brooms and lanterns. Design ghosts, assemble bats, create tombstones and more! Every 30 minutes from 12:30–3:30 pm, the museum will recruit a brave and daring crew to help retrieve an abandoned spooky spacecraft.
Beery Field, downtown Douglas
At the center of this quaint lakeside town just south of Saugatuck, the park will be all aglow. Glow in the Park is a family-friendly event with live music, local cuisine, face painting, Halloween games and so many glow sticks and lights! Families and kids are encouraged to come in a glow-themed, family-friendly costume.
VerHages Fruit Farm & Cider Mill, 8619 West ML Ave, Kalamazoo
Folks that live in rural areas know trick-or-treating can involve a lot of driving from house to far-flung house. VerHages has a solution: its annual Trunk or Treat, where folks gather in one place to give out candy and let their little ones trick-or-treat. Decorate your car’s trunk and hand out candy as your kids go trunk-to-trunk trick-or-treating.
Western Michigan University
This scenic run through WMU’s main campus is open to all ages. The 5K Run is timed, but the 5K Walk and kids’ 1K Fun Run are not. Parents can run with children at the 1K event for free.
For the 5K, there are 17 age divisions from 7 and younger up to 80 and older, and the top finishers in each division receive a Gazelle Sports gift certificate. Kids’ 1K participants age 14 and under receive a participant’s medal.
South Westnedge Park, Portage
A run that promises mud, dirt, pumpkins and a chance to wear a costume? Sounds like a kid’s dream.
The Kalamazoo Area Runners (KAR) Jack-O’-Lantern 5K and 10K Trail Run does just that, winding through terrain that showcases Portage’s Bishop’s Bog Preserve and Eliason Nature Reserve. In addition to the 5K and 10K Trail Run, there will be a Kids’ Pumpkin Patch Trick-or-Treat 0.5 mile and 1 mile Fun Run for children 12 and under. The Kids’ Fun Run includes a costume contest for children 12 and under.
Western Michigan University
If you missed your chance to run through WMU’s campus in October, or liked it so much you and your family want to do it again, the WMU Turkey Trot 5K is for you.
The oldest running race in southwest Michigan, the Turkey Trot has been burning calories since 1952. There are competitive age groups for 13 and under up to 70 and older.
Kalamazoo River, from Mayors’ Riverfront Park to Arcadia Brewing
Behold a strange and environmentally friendly race! Cheer on teams of everyday engineers who will float boats they’ve constructed from recycled, eco-friendly materials down the Kalamazoo River. This race will be a hoot to watch and inspiring for young eco-engineers out there.
Kalamazoo Valley Museum, 230 N Rose St, Kalamazoo
Area chemists come together to explore and solve mysteries through chemistry. Your family can join them for an afternoon of experiments, demonstrations, hands-on activities and the chemistry of fibers and forensics. Activities have been developed for all ages, but children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
Kalamazoo Public Library-Oshtemo, 7265 W Main St, Kalamazoo
Kalamazoo Public Library-Central, 315 S Rose St, Kalamazoo
It’s never too early to introduce your preschooler to the wonders of science. KPL will host morning sessions for children ages 3–6 and their caregivers, where excited little scientists can explore a different STEM theme every week — including everything from earth science to aviation to computers.