The Ultimate Fall Bucket List 2018


It’s that time of year again! Long, hot days and warm, evening breezes are giving way to early, pink-sky sunsets and crisp, cool air. Fall in Michigan is upon us, one of the most beautiful and bountiful times of the year. Even the most seasoned and devoted summer lovers would be hard-pressed to deny the fact that a Detroit fall is pretty spectacular.

Mother Nature is on complete display, showcasing her beauty: the changing leaves are colorful and diverse; the corn, pumpkins, squash, and apples are ripe and plentiful; the hardy mums, goldenrod, and chrysanthemum are popping with color. Let’s take advantage of all that this wonderful season has to offer! Grab a mug of warm cider, get cozy under a soft blanket, and read on to discover oodles of things to do, see, make, eat and enjoy in + around Detroit this glorious season! 

Head to the Detroit Zoo for the following events:

  • Zoo Boo: come and walk the zoo while trick-or-treating with your wee ones
  • Grab a hot chocolate and kick off the winter holidays with Wild Lights

 Take a trip to Greenfield Village/The Henry Ford:

Experience Halloween Ghosts & Goodies at Crossroads Village & Huckleberry Railroad, featuring trick-or-treating, magic shows, & a ride on the famous Huckleberry Ghost Train Express!

Have you been to Upland Hills Farm? It’s a DMB favorite! Check out the Farm’s awesome fall events:

Real Life Farm is a another favorite.  If you are looking for something fun to do with a group of friends, check out their Autumn hayrides.

Why not check out the events at your local metro park?  They have so many fun, fall-related activities to choose from!  Some of them include:

Check out local, community events like:

Visit your local area Cider Mill or Apple Orchard! Some great spots to visit include:

Host a family-friendly party to watch the annual Michigan State v. Michigan game on October 20

Take a weekend trip west to Crane Orchards‘ 20-acre corn maze; kids 5 and under are free!

Participate in a time-honored Detroit Tradition: America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Check out your Community’s guide for more, local family fun!

Of course, there’s the infamous, Starbucks PSL {Pumpkin Spice Latte, in case you haven’t been initiated!})…but how about supporting your local coffee shop & checking out what the barista is brewing up this season?

Host an Adult-Only Halloween Euchre Party– costumes required!– and serve Leelanau Cellar’s Witches Brew or local area apple cider {add a little something extra if you’d like!}; invite guests to bring a fall-themed dish to share, like Spider Web Bean Dip. Yum!

Bake Pumpkin Brownie Muffins with your kids. This yummy & surprisingly healthy treat is super easy & such fun to whip up with your little ones!

Make Pumpkin Stew. Serve in a pumpkin that you & your kiddos pick out together at a local pumpkin patch.

Looking for some gluten-free treats? Why not try these pumpkin pie cakes or these gluten free cider donuts?

S’mores aren’t just a summer food! Cooler fall evenings are prime for campfires! Play a game of Marshmallow Fling while you’re at it.

Make a pot full of White Chicken Chili

Make Cathy’s Hot Cider Drink– not only will it taste yummy, but your home will smell amazing!

(4 cups apple cider, 2 cups cranberry juice, 32 oz. apricot nectar, 1 cup OJ, 3/4 cup sugar, 2, 3″ cinnamon sticks, 1 peeled orange; mix liquids & sugar in crock pot on “low” until dissolved, add the remaining ingredients, cook on “low” for 4-6 hours, stirring occasionally)

Whip up a batch of Spiced Pecans

Eat candy corn

Bake some yummy apple crisp with those apples you picked from the orchard

Bake this easy and elegant Pressed-Crust Pear Tart, always a show stopper!

It’s squash season! Try a tasty recipe like Acorn Squash with Kale & Sausage!

Roast the pumpkin seeds from your jack-o-lanterns.

Bake a pumpkin or sweet potato pie with your kids. You could even try making the pumpkin puree from scratch!  It’s really not too hard!

Switch it up and make a tasty pumpkin cheesecake

Have a fast and easy dinner before heading out to trick-or-treat with these festive mummy dogs

Make snack time spooky with tangerine pumpkins and banana ghosts

Make homemade apple sauce from your local area harvest

Enjoy a pumpkin, apple, or any other flavor of pie from Achatz Handmade Pies, a metro-Detroit staple!

SISTER PIE! Have you been? You must go. Their Instagram feed alone makes our mouths water!

We all know that cider mill donuts are amazing. But did you know you can make your own baked ones at home? They actually taste pretty close to the real-deal.

Sip on this amazing Pumpkin Smoothie or make a loaf of warm, Pumpkin Bread

Have you heard of Amish Friendship Bread? Why not make a batch and share it with your neighbors? It’s a fun way to spread some cheer! 

Make your own stuffing, and stuff your Thanksgiving bird together

Check out a new, local restaurant or venture out and find a food truck

See Elf Live at The Fox Theater

Buy your tickets for the annual “A Christmas Carol” production at Meadowbrook Theatre.

Check out Halloween Science at Cranbrook Institute of Science.

Head to the DIA for Drawing in the Galleries, for ages 6 and older.

Create a Fall Sensory Bin to encourage exploration of the senses with your preschooler!

Learn about holidays other than Thanksgiving and Halloween that are celebrated during Autumn, like Diwali or Day of the Dead. 

Turn the great outdoors into a classroom by going on a nature scavenger hunt. This activity can be adapted for all ages! See if you can identify different tree leaves.

Take an Alphabet, Number & Shape Hike

Go to your local library story-time

Sing “Five Little Pumpkins Sitting on a Gate” with your preschooler to encourage rhyming, counting & silly, singing fun!

Bird watch with this State of Michigan guide.

Spray paint plastic cauldrons from the dollar store for an instant, fall upgrade for your potted plants.

Make this adorable Terra Cotta Flower Pot Witch

Take the leaves from a nature walk and create these beautiful & budget-friendly luminaries

Create, fill, & send a Boo Box to celebrate the season with faraway family and friends

Make tissue paper pumpkins

Spray a bag of fall gourds with light, glittery spray paint. Place in a clear glass vase or bowl for an easy, inexpensive, & adorable table centerpiece that will last from Halloween through Thanksgiving

Carve a pumpkin as a family

Decorate mini pumpkins with glitter, paint, and googly eyes

Create your own budget-friendly & easy scare crow

Make Hand-Print Turkeys

Make footprint ghosts — perfect for celebrating baby’s first Halloween!

Gather some leaves and make leaf rubbings, a perfect use for all of those broken crayons!

Put up Halloween & Thanksgiving decorations with your kiddos

Whip up a batch of pumpkin spice playdough

Count your blessings with thankful turkeys

Make pine cone bird feeders

Travel Up North to see the Fall Colors in all of their glory; check out the Fall Colors Report for peak areas & times!

Shop your local school or church craft fair for unique and adorable fall & holiday decor!

Take your family to cheer on your local high school team!

Pack a picnic and head out to a local park before the colder weather arrives

Ride the train or carousel at the Detroit Zoo and Greenfield Village

Sneak away with your partner to Bay Harbor in Petoskey to enjoy the beautiful, October colors. Luxury with off-season prices! Or, take the kids along to enjoy Trick and Trunk or Treat in the Village.

Head to Ray’s Ice Cream or Cook’s Farm Dairy (a working dairy farm!) to sample the seasonal delights

Take in a comedy show at the historic (and as rumor has it, haunted!) Holly Hotel while noshing on the Hotel’s amazing eats.

Play a game of Turkey Chase with your little ones!

Put together a game of Witch Broom Soccer

Invite the neighborhood friends to join in a friendly game of Flag Football (for you sticklers, here are the official rules!)

Read the hilarious & irreverent “32 Rules of Thanksgiving Touch Football” article, and plan a game of your own with family or friends on Turkey Day!

Take a walk/jog at your favorite park or MetroPark. The leaves are just amazing!

Take your family to tailgate and cheer on the Lions, Spartans, Wolverines, Chippewas, Broncos, or Eagles. Most college campuses feature family-friendly/alcohol free tailgating zone.

Participate in an organized family or fun run in your area!

Create a maze with the leaves in your yard.

Earn an extra helping of stuffing by burning off calories running in the Turkey Trot!

Set up an outdoor obstacle course 

Organize a Mummy Wrap relay race

Go to the apple orchard and pick apples or the pumpkin patch to get your seasonal pumpkins.

Rake a big pile of leaves with your kiddos & make a game of jumping into them!

Get your girlfriends together & participate in the Run4Wine Run/Walk, benefiting the Old Newsboys of Flint, whose motto is “Let No Child Be Forgotten”

Go Ice Skating at Campus Martius Park on those cold days or nights.

Volunteer as a family for Blessings in a Backpack

Donate gently-used coats for those in need to a local area Coat Drive

Host a food drive with your mom group with proceeds going to a local area food bank

Bake seasonal treats for your neighbors

Consider local area farms when ordering your Thanksgiving Turkey

Invite friends, family, & neighbors over for Crock-pot & College Football Saturday

Gather friends & family to cheer on the Detroit Lions

Work with neighbors to arrange a Halloween block party

Celebrate “Friendsgiving” a week or two before Turkey Day; invite families to bring a side-dish of their choice, play games, and celebrate the holiday without all of the stress!

Volunteer at the soup kitchen providing Thanksgiving dinner for others

Take a batch of fall-themed cookies to your local fire station

Have kids go through toys and have a garage sale; use profits to buy toys for a holiday toy drive!

Host a Halloween play-date & make these adorable Apple Monsters

Pick out your Halloween costumes together…and if you’re super crafty, make your own costume!

Set up a pumpkin bowling alley

Have a family Pizza Relay Race; as an added bonus, you’ll make your dinner while playing!

“Boo” your neighbors: put a Halloween-themed treat bucket together (your local dollar store will have a ton of options for goodies!), place it on your neighbor’s porch, ring the doorbell, & run away! Include a note that says “You’ve Been Boo-ed! Pass it On!”

Have a camp-out right in your own backyard…or in your family room, depending on our unpredictable, Michigan weather! Make a sleeping bag obstacle course.

Make Halloween Popcorn Treats or your own version of a Halloween popcorn mix: think fresh popped corn topped with candycorn, M&Ms, and melted, drizzled chocolate…YUM!

Have a movie night at home! Bring out the sleeping bags and blankets, snacks, and make it a family-night-in with “It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” or “Hocus Pocus.”

Make a blanket fort with your little ones

Enjoy Thanksgiving morning at home, watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade in your PJs. Vote for your favorite float or performers!

Have a family game or puzzle night!

Read a classic Halloween book together like Five Little Pumpkins or The Berenstain Bears and the Great Pumpkin

Photo Credit {featured graphic} – Michelle Nelson {@myfriendmish}


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