25 fall-tastic things to do in Grand Rapids this month

donuts in display case
Photo by Lauren Cypher

Even just saying the word “fall” conjures up the smell of fresh doughnuts, the sound of stepping on crunchy leaves, the feel of the crisp north wind and, of course, the taste of all things pumpkin spice.

With (dare we say the word) winter making its unyielding approach, take full advantage of the majestic fall that West Michigan has to offer. To help make the most of the season, we’ve pulled together a sizeable list of all the things you could do, from pumpkin picking to ghost tours.

1. Get to know the ghosts of Grand Rapids

History meets spooky during Paranormal Michigan’s ghost-themed city tours. Learn about the dark history of the Pantlind Hotel, hear the story of the spooky Ashton Building and more on these two-hour, one-mile walking tours.

2. Indulge in a caramel apple

Don’t just ogle Kilwins’ display of gooey, luxe caramel apples — you deserve one! And, if you’re by the lakeshore, Green Acres Farm Market always has some in stock, as well.

3. Make your own fall-scented candle

Get lit this season with a custom candle at Wax Poetic. Choose from more than 100 clean-burning fragrance oils to craft your personal blend during this half-hour experience. Short on time? Choose from one of their pre-made candles, either single scent (like pumpkin spice, mulled cider or autumn air) or a blended scent (like the smoky, woodsy Cabin in the Woods).

4. Chill at Vander Mill

Celebrate the season at Vander Mill Grand Rapids. Cozy up around the outdoor fire pits while munching on the popular ham and doughnuts and sipping your favorite cider.

5. Expand your leaf collection

Find the perfect crunchy leaves for your fall leaf collection at Fallasburg Park in Lowell, featuring the Fallasburg Covered Bridge.

6. Go apple picking

Pick your favorite varieties of apples for all your fall baking. Many of the local farms in the area like Schwallier’s Country Basket (Sparta) and Crane Orchards (Fennville) offer U-pick options.

7. Dig into cider and doughnuts

Tell your taste buds it’s fall with a pumpkin spice doughnut and a cup of fresh-pressed apple cider at Robinette’s Apple Haus & Winery. Trust us, their apple-y, pumpkin-y provisions are worth the wait in line.

8. Pick the perfect pumpkin

Find the perfect jack-o’-lantern pumpkin at Morse Brothers Farm in Comstock Park. Don’t forget to save the seeds and roast them for a tasty treat.

9. Take the scenic route

Enjoy Michigan’s colorful splendor by taking a drive through the Huron-Manistee National Forests on M-37 from Grand Rapids to Traverse City. It’s one of the best color tours that the Lower Peninsula has to offer.

10. Take a Halloween cocktail class

Turn up your Halloween party this year by taking this boozy cooking class at the Grand Rapids Downtown Market. Learn to brew up cocktails like the “witch’s cauldron” and the “black lagoon.” 7 p.m. Oct. 25, $60-$100.

11. Get lost in a corn maze

Get lost in Ed Dunneback and Girls Farm Market’s 8-acre corn maze — it features a big, new design each year. Or, if you’re into the haunted variety, check out Abandoned Acres Farm for some spooky fun.

12. Stock up on fall produce

Swing by the Fulton Street Farmers Market to pick up pumpkins, squash, apples and nuts for all your seasonal culinary needs. The main season market runs through Oct. 26, but the second season market opens on Nov. 2.

13. Go fall wine tasting

For $5, you can taste five of Robinette’s 20-plus wines and hard ciders. Keep the tasting glass, and you’ll be welcomed back for a free tasting next time. It’s in the large barn next to the Apple Haus building.

14. Alger Heights Halloween 5K/10K

Don your best costume and lace up your running shoes for Alger Heights’ annual Halloween 5K/10K. It’s not just fall fun; proceeds are donated to a community charity partner. Saturday, Oct. 26.

15. Brats and bonfires

Head to Ada for the town’s annual Brats and Bonfires. Cozy up to fire heaters
while dining on tasty brats served up by the firemen and firewomen at the
Ada Fire House. 6-9 p.m. Oct. 17 at the Ada Fire Department.

16. Curl up with a Michigan true crime book or haunted lore book

Learn more about Michigan’s most famous criminals by reading through “True Crime: Michigan: The State’s Most Notorious Criminal Cases.” It’s full of names and places you know and their dark history. It’s a great read for blustery, fall days.

17. Go for a hike

Hike through Bass River Recreational Area and Riverside Park (east of Grand Haven). The park follows the banks of the Grand River, and it’s a great spot to peep fall foliage.

18. Cheer on your football team

Cheer on your favorite football team! There are weekly high school games to attend. Or, if you want to go bigger, buy tickets to a Grand Valley State University Lakers game; the team generally dominates its conference, so if you go, you usually can expect a win.

19. Take a hayride

A variety of orchards and pumpkin patches offer hayrides for the whole family. Head to Olin Farm, Robinette’s or Koetsier’s to get in on the fun.

20. Win a chili cook-off

Compete for first place at the Apartment Lounge’s seventh annual chili cook-off. Hang with your fellow cooks while jamming to chill beats, playing yard games and drinking beer. 2-8 p.m. Oct. 13 at the Apartment Lounge.

21. Get scared at a haunted house

The Haunt wasn’t voted one of America’s top haunted attractions for nothing; it’s seriously scary. Check out The Haunt’s new location (1256 28th St. SW) for some freaky fun.

22. Harvest Festival

Blandford Nature Center’s Harvest Festival is fun for the whole family. From scarecrow making to candle dipping, wagon rides to face painting — it’s a fall-tastic celebration for everyone. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 12; $5 members, $8 nonmembers.

23. Stock up on fall essentials

Spice up your home décor with some unusual items from Reservoir on Wealthy Street. With its curated selection of high-end home décor, you’re sure to find a gem.

24. Wizards and Wands Bar Crawl

This isn’t just any bar crawl. It’s a magical, boozy night that’s not officially affiliated with Harry Potter — but basically, it’s a Harry Potter night. $18 general admission tickets include a knit scarf and a Wizards and Wands cup for your adult potions. 5 p.m.-1 a.m. Oct. 12.

25. Halloween décor

In need of unique pieces for your Halloween costume? Or want to pick up some cool seasonal décor? Rebel Reclaimed in Eastown has everything you need — and then some.

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