Pure Michigan: Fall, Food and Fun - WNEM TV 5

Pure Michigan: Fall, Food and Fun

 LANSING, MI — It's time to start planning a fall getaway to see the glorious free color show throughout Michigan and enjoy the autumn harvest. Apples are Michigan's largest and most valuable crop covering 37,000 acres on nearly 1,000 family-run farms. Michigan ranks third of the 35 apple-producing states with 16 varieties to choose from that are great for eating, cooking and baking. Popular among the 16 varieties most grown in Michigan are Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Gala, and Honey Crisp apples. Apples come in a variety of forms at most cider mills, which often sell the new crop of fruit plain for munching in hand as well as on a stick, dipped in caramel or shiny red candy. Follow the aroma to find apple pies, strudel and other treats to go with cider by the cup or jug, and indulge in a Pure Michigan tradition.

More than 100 cider mills are ready to welcome visitors across the Lower Peninsula, with most of them concentrated in the orchard-dotted countryside in the very southern part of the state. Visitors can also gather a bushel of their favorite apples along with pears, pumpkins, squash, sweet corn and more at roadside stands and U-pick farms. For a full listing of U-pick farms go to Michigan Farm Market & Agricultural Tourism Directory.

There are also plenty of fun activities at many of the farms including wagon and train rides, farm animals, and a selection of puzzling corn mazes.  At Papa's Pumpkin Patch in Mount Pleasant the kids can ride the Pumpkin Train and the whole family will enjoy the corn maze and Michigan's Field of Dreams baseball field.  

Plan a weekend visit to one of Michigan's harvest festivals that run from September through October. Michigan also celebrates its 80 wineries and vineyards, apple and peach orchards, pumpkins and beer industry. Get a taste of the brews and good German food at the annual Frankenmuth Oktoberfest, September 15-18 -- the only Oktoberfest outside of Germany officially sanctioned by the city of Munich.


The Detroit Metro area is surrounded by several cider mills, including the water-powered Yates Cider Mill in Rochester Hills, which was recognized as one of the best cider mills in the U.S. by Forbes Traveler. Paint Creek Cider Mill in Rochester entices with fresh baked donuts and pies along with jellies, apples, mums and pumpkins. There's often live music and activities for kids, too. Close to the Michigan-Ohio border, the Erie Orchards and Cider Mill harvests about 15,000 bushels of apples, and bushels more of family fun at themed weekend special events.

Completed in 1837, the rustic red Franklin Cider Mill proudly uses only Michigan apples at the historic mill. For a special taste sensation, ask for Honey Crisp cider. Take home an apple pie or a bag full of the signature cider donut. 

The oldest continuously operating cider mill in the state, the historic Dexter Cider Mill, continues to blend three to five varieties of locally grown apples using its more than a century old oak rack press. Alber Orchard & Cider Mill in Manchester has been open since 1890. Taste the fresh cider from the antique press, take a horse-drawn hayride, pick-a-pumpkin, and enjoy the fun of a day in the country at this historic setting.

The apple orchard and cider mill George Wiard started in 1853 has evolved into a multi-dimensional agri-celebration. Head out to Wiard's Orchards & Country Fair in Ypsilanti for daytime family fun and "Night Terrors" seasonal scary experience.  Blake Farms in Armada is a family farm that's a favorite for family outings, with an animal farm, pony rides, a hayride and one of the first U-pick orchards in Michigan. The dizzying array of activities includes weekend Fall Festivals, a Haunted Hayride and corn maze.

The 1869 Historic Parshallville Grist Mill in Fenton still relies on the waterpower of North Ore Creek to make its cider. Enjoy spiced donuts, homemade pie, and caramel apples, too. Also in Fenton, you can shop for fresh baked goods to go with your tasty beverage from Spicer Orchards and Cider Mill in Fenton. Take a hayride to pick fruit, find your special pumpkin, or get lost in a corn maze at this family-fun destination.


The 1843 Hills Bros. Orchards and Cider Mill, northwest of Grand Rapids, makes  award-winning apple cider, private label preserves, jellies, butters and more. Enjoy fresh cider and homemade pies from fruit grown on the U-pick farm at Husted Farm Market & Cider Mill in Kalamazoo. Uncle John's Cider Mill in St. Johns has a little bit of everything for all ages. Inhale the sweet scent of cider and fresh donuts, and explore the corn maze, hop aboard a wagon ride, play mini-golf, and take a walk on the nature trail. The Hahnenberg Farm Market & Cider Mill in Lake Leelanau is one of the northernmost cider mills in Michigan and is known for its quality produce.

Just 90 miles from Chicago with easy access off I-94, Jollay's Orchards and Grandpa's Cider Mill are popular spots for family fun and seasonal treats. Sip fresh cider, find The Great Pumpkin, prowl the corn maze and munch apples from the land the Jollay family has farmed since 1857.


It's all about apples at Rochester's Art & Apples Festival September 9-11, where homemade pies rival the juried art fair with more than 280 artists at this festive fall celebration in a park setting.

Paw Paw uncorks "A Grape Time for Everyone" with the Grape Stomp competition, winery tours and tastings, teen and kiddie activities, entertainment, parade, fireworks and much more at the Paw Paw Wine & Harvest Festival September 9-11. Sample the Leelanau Peninsula wines at the annual Traverse City Harvest Stompede September 10-11 and run or walk a 7-mile/5K route through the vineyards. Don't miss the culinary event of the year September 8-11 when the Epicurean Classic welcomes all foodies to Traverse City for dinners, tastings and classes taught by top-level chefs from across the country.

Munch your choice of more than 30 types of locally grown apples as well as apple cider, apple   butter, pumpkins, squash, jam and honey at the Charlevoix Apple Festival & Craft Show October 14-16. Enjoy the sweetness of the Lansing Apple Butter Festival October 15-16 and also see pioneer craft demonstrations like quilting, lace and soap making, and hike the trails at the Fenner Nature Center. 

Pumpkins are the kings of many harvest festivals including the Tuscola County Pumpkin Festival (October 5-9); the Zeeland PumpkinFest (October 6-8) and the Davison Pumpkin Festival (October 7-8).

Check out nearly a dozen Michigan foodie tours plus more fall festivals, cooking classes and events at www.michigan.org.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development is leading the Michigan Culinary Tourism Alliance, an initiative to raise awareness about the economic benefits of promoting Michigan as a culinary destination.  Key partners in the Alliance include Travel Michigan, the Michigan Restaurant Association, the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council and the International Culinary Tourism Association. Funding for the project was provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. More information about the Alliance is available at www.michiganwines.com/CulinaryTourism

Travel Michigan, a division of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, is the State of Michigan's official agency for the promotion of tourism. Travel Michigan markets the state's tourism industry and provides valuable visitor information services. For Michigan travel news and updates, go to michigan.org.

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