The Ultimate Fall Bucket List for West Michiganders (w/ the West Michigan Tourist Association)
Autumn is finally upon us, so pick out your pumpkins and bring out those cozy sweaters. To get into the spirit of the season, the Chamber teamed up with Karen Breckon, Partnership Director for the West Michigan Tourist Association (WMTA), to put together the ultimate guide for the best fall ever.
The WMTA is a non-profit membership association with a mission to market the whole of West Michigan and its member destinations to travelers around the world – and they’ve been doing a great job at it since 1917. Their membership base consists of more than 800 attractions, lodging, events and activities all across the west side of Michigan. Some events you may have heard of include the National Cherry Festival, the Battle Creek Balloon Festival, and of course Grand Rapids very own ArtPrize!
“When people say they haven’t heard of us, I’m glad to hear it,” Breckon told us. “We’re not in the business of talking about ourselves. We’re in the business of promoting our partners!” WMTA’s marketing efforts include but are not limited to their publication entitled, “The West Michigan Carefree Travel Guide,” press release distribution, as well as TV and radio interviews. “Our goal is to continue to put our partners’ information out there. There are plenty of people that live here and don’t know what’s going on in the town over, a half hour away or even the street over!” said Breckon. When it comes to knowing the fun things to do around town, we’re pretty sure these guys know what they’re talking about.
Be sure to cross off one or two of the activities on this bucket list, and you’re guaranteed to make this fall and winter one for the books.
Now open through October 31
Witches, assemble! The popular Halloween attraction in West Michigan now has a new location, a new owner, and all new scares. After being situated in Walker for 18 years, they’ve transferred to a new larger location on 28th Street in Wyoming. They promise it will be bigger, better, and more insane than ever.
The new owners report that they now have 50,000 square feet at their disposal and that the new Haunt will have 144 rooms, nearly 100 actors and over 60 animatronics. “The detail that goes into it is insane. Even for props like drinking glasses, they damage it to make it look old,” said Breckon. “They gave me a sneak peek through it once – and thank God I did it during the day because it’s really creepy!”
October 20 – 21, 2018
Traveling through Michigan’s southwest corner has never been prettier… or tastier! Once a year, Michigan’s Arts & Eats annual fall event brings together the art, food, and farms of the region. Taking place throughout Allegan and Barry counties, this backroads tour will bring you face-to-face with some of the area’s most talented local artists and most laborious farmers. Attendees can enjoy art right in the studios they were designed, shop for local ingredients on the farm to take back home or walk the rows of nearby apple orchards. Should hunger strike, stop by one of their local gems that serve food made with ingredients from area farms and producers! This year’s destinations include Virtue Cider, McIntosh Winery & Orchards, Four Roses Cafe, Walldorff’s Brewpub & Bistro, and Barden’s Farm Market to name a few.
November 15 – 17, 2018
As much as Grand Rapids loves to be known as Beer City, USA, it is always refreshing to be reminded that we have a rich wine and foodie culture too! The International Wine, Beer, and Food Festival is a celebration of all three.
Now in its 11th year, the festival has established itself as Michigan’s premier tasting event, measured by 1,500 wines, beers, ciders and spirits from around the world, along with creations from the area’s most excellent restaurants. This festival will satisfy both the connoisseur that lives and breathes the finer things in life and the novice looking for an introduction to the world of food and spirits.
They call Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail “the Napa Valley of the Midwest.” Who can say no to that? Gifted winemakers have clustered 21 wineries and tasting rooms within a short drive of each other, each offering a unique experience. You can choose to have a casual self-guided exploration or an expert-led tour. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway, expert advice on selecting the right wine, dinner overlooking the vineyards, or just a grape-stompingly good time, you’re guaranteed a getaway like no other!