Feature

Autumn Adventures

Great activities and destinations for your family this fall!

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:

SEE ANIMALS

Owl Prowl

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.

  • When: 6–7:30 pm Nov 11
  • Cost: Adults $7, seniors or students $6, children ages 2–17 $5; members: adults $5, seniors or students $4, children ages 2–17 $3
  • Info: birdsanctuary.kbs.msu.edu, 269.671.2510

Zoo Boo

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.

  • When: Oct 19–30; 5-8 pm Wed—Fri, 1—8 pm Sat & Sun, closed Mon & Tue
  • Cost: Regular admission for trick-or-treating; see website for additional activity costs; bring a decorated pumpkin for $1 off admission
  • Info: binderparkzoo.org, 269.979.1351

Animals of the Mitten

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.

  • When: 10–11 am Weds in October
  • Cost: Regular admission plus a $2 program fee per child
  • Info: naturecenter.org, 269.381.1574

EXPERIENCE ART

Upjohn Mason Grandchildren Gallery

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.

  • When: 11 am–5 pm Tues, Wed & Sat; 11 am–8 pm Thurs & Fri, noon–5 pm Sun
  • Cost: Free for children through age 12 and KIA members; $5 non-members
  • Info: kiarts.org, 269.349.7775

ArtPrize

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.

  • When: Sept 21–Oct 9; 5–8 pm Mon–Thurs, noon–5 pm Fri & Sat, noon–6 pm Sun
  • Cost: Free
  • Info: artprize.org, 269.349.7775

Art Hop

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.

  • When: 5–8 pm, the first Friday of each month
  • Cost: Free
  • Info: kalamazooarts.org, 269.349.7775

TAKE A COLOR TOUR

By Boat

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.

  • When: 8 am–dusk; restrooms open until Oct 31
  • Cost: Free admission after Sept 5
  • Info: portagemi.gov

By Bike

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.

By Car

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.

EXPLORE A CORN MAZE

Harvest Moon Giant Maize Quest

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.

  • When: 10 am–10 pm Sat, 1–6 pm Sun, through Oct 30
  • Cost: $8, children under 2 free
  • Info: harvestmoonfun.com/, 269.628.5401

Gull Meadow Farms

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.

  • When: 4–7 pm Mon–Thurs, 4–8 pm Fri, 10 am–close Sat & Sun, through Oct. 30
  • Cost: Corn maze, $8; wristbands for all activities $8.50 weekdays, $9.50 weekends; season pass $24.50; free for children under 30”
  • Info: gullmeadowfarms.com/, 269.629.4214

The Witches of New Salem

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.

  • When: Daytime corn maze, 11 am–6 pm Sat & Sun, through Oct. 30; nighttime activities, dark until 11 pm, through Oct 31
  • Cost: Daytime: $7, free for children under age 3; Nighttime: $20 each for the Witch’s Woods trails, Haunted Corn Maze and Zombie Attack; combo rates are available for 2 or more of the attractions
  • Info: witchesofnewsalem.com/, 616.681.2342

FIND A FESTIVAL

Fennville Goose Festival

Downtown Fennville

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.

Stokes Homestead Fall Festival

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.

Kalamazoo Russian Festival

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.

  • When: 9 am–5 pm Nov 15
  • Cost: Adults $10, students $6, children ages 2–12 $3, family package $25
  • Info: kzoorca.org/, 269.679.4878

GET MOVING & GROOVING

Halloween Costume Shamble

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.

  • When: 8 am–5 pm Oct 29
  • Cost: Non-members: check website; members: $29
  • Info: Gulllakeview.com/, 269.731.5013

Candlelight Trails

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.

Peppa Pig Live!

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.

HAVE HALLOWEEN FUN

Haunted House Crafts & Spooky Spaceship Mission

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.

  • When: 11 am–4 pm Oct 29
  • Cost: Free
  • Info: Kvm.kvcc.edu, 269.373.7990

Douglas Glow in the Park

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.

Trunk or Treat

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.

RUN A RACE

Homecoming Campus Classic

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.

  • When: Oct 8, race day registration and packet pick-up, 7–9 am; Fun Run begins at 8:45 am; 5K and Walk begin at 9:15 am
  • Cost: Until Oct 6: Family $45 (limit 5 members), adults $20, students $15, children 14 and younger $10. Oct 7 & 8: Family $50, adults $25; students $20; children 14 and younger $15
  • Info: wmich.edu/campusclassic/, 269.387.8400

Jack-O’-Lantern Trail Run

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.

  • When: Oct 29, 5K Run 8:30 am; 10K Run 9:30 am; Kids’ Pumpkin Patch Trick-or-Treat Run 11 am
  • Cost: Free for the kids’ runs; $15 for either the 5K or 10K, $20 for both; late registration is $20 for 5K or 10K or $25 for both
  • Info: kalamazooarearunners.org/

Turkey Trot 5K

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.

SEEK OUT SCIENCE

The Eco Raft Race

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.

Annual Chemistry Day

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.

Little Scientists
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.

  • When: 10:30–11:30 am every Friday in October, KPL-Oshtemo; 10:30-11:30 am Oct 10 & Nov 14, KPL-Central
  • Cost: Free
  • Info: Kpl.gov/ , 269.553.7804 to register
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