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Things To Do in Traverse City this Fall (2017 Update)

Updated on August 11, 2017
Kierstin Gunsberg profile image

Kierstin is a cherry pie loving, freshwater obsessed Traverse City local who is the first to point out the changing leaves in like, August.

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Ask anyone from anywhere who has ever visited or lived in Traverse City, Michigan and they will tell you two things - first, it is somehow the most exciting and relaxing place to live and two, autumn here is some kind of divine.

Whether you're looking for free fun around town or splurging on a night out, here's a ton of ideas for enjoying Traverse City this fall.

Oh Brother Big Sister at Bonobo Winery

Start off fall right with a live performance by the aptly named brother/sister musical duo Oh Brother Big Sister at Bonobo Winery on Old Mission Peninsula. They'll be playing through their set on September 1st from 6:00-8:00 PM while you sip wine from the vineyards and enjoy small plates curated by chef Mario Batali.

Downtown Traverse City Art Walk

Grab a friend and a cardigan and hit the Downtown Traverse City Art Walk on September 8th from 5:00-9:00 PM. Peek the local arts culture in every medium from oils to sculptures and more as you sip wine and take in live music. When you get hungry stop into Mama Lu's at 149 E. Front Street for too-good-to-eat-just-one carnitas then grab a bag of popcorn next door from Pop-Kies Gourmet Popcorn (flavors include everything from Cheddar or Pizza to Dark Chocolate Explosion) on 147 E. Front Street to munch while you stroll in the last warm days of fall.

Audition for a Play

Test out your acting chops and audition for one of Old Town Playhouse's fall/winter performances. Auditions for Annie will be held from September 16-19 and this year they're also looking for a dog to play Sandy along with an experienced trainer/owner.

Visit oldtownplayhouse.com for more information and audition locations.

Pick a Pumpkin!

Fall wouldn't be fall without a romp through the pumpkin patch. Hunt for your perfect pumpkin at Groleau's Farm Market (2100 E Hammond Road) or Gallagher's Farm Market (7237 M72 West) and get a pie while you're at it.

And some donuts.

And some cider.

Oh and some popcorn.

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Go on a Little Free Library Book Binge

Low on funds or just want to enjoy this beautiful fall weather on a budget? Check out the Little Free Library map at littlefreelibrary.org to find the many Little Free Libraries scattered around Traverse City. Each of these miniature delights house a couple dozen or so books to share with the community. You can take a book, return a book or just browse each destination until you find your perfect evening read.

Take in The View

For an undeniably Instagrammable view take a little trip up Wayne Street, stopping at the peak to take in the breathtaking view of Traverse City lit up in orange and red leaves against the bright blue bays.

Jacob's Corn Maze at Jacob's Farm

Get lost in Jacob's Corn Maze, located in Jacob's Farm at 7100 East Traverse Hwy. Here you'll explore your way out of this year's U.S. Coast Guard themed maze while snacking on fresh popcorn and donuts. The hours are 10:00 AM- 6:00 PM Monday through Thursday with hours extended to 9:00 PM Friday and Saturday.


Admission is $10 for 12 and up, $8 for ages 5 to 11, and 4 and under is free. Special large group rates are available. Visit jacobscornmaze.com for more info and to check out their berry U-Pick hours.

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Take a Class

Stretch your creative muscles at Blackbird Arts or pick up a new skill at Northwestern Michigan College in one of their many extended-education classes which can be found at nmc.edu

Need to move those cold bones? Ballet Etc. offers dance classes for all ages from ballroom to ballet, a perfect way to keep warm on crisp autumn evenings.

Grab a Donut

For some amazing reason, donuts have become less and less scarce 'round these parts. Check out one of our yummy donut shops for a sweet fall treat.

  • Harvey's Donut and Deli, 1779 S Garfield Ave.
  • Dunkin' Donuts, located in The Great Wolf Lodge, U.S. 31
  • Potter's Bakery, 908 E Eighth St.
  • Potter's Bakery and Cafe, 130 Hall St.
  • Peace Love and Little Donuts of Traverse City, 441 E Front Street

Treat Yo Self

Stop into one of The Grand Traverse Pie Company's locations on Front Street for the absolute best slice of pie in town.
Stop into one of The Grand Traverse Pie Company's locations on Front Street for the absolute best slice of pie in town. | Source

TC Zombie Run/Walk

Walk, run, skip or shuffle through a 3.1 mile course that begins and ends at Right Brain Brewery just on the outskirts of Traverse City's downtown district. Dress in the most post-mortem digs you have hanging around and compete to win best costume along with medals for best time in each age category.

Socialized, leashed dogs are welcome (dress that pup up too!)

Ticket proceeds benefit the TART Trails where those who are living usually like to stroll. For tickets and registration go to tczombierun.com

Visit a Knit Shop

Get cozy on those especially crisp days at Knit Knorth (109 S. Union, St. #206) or Lost Art Yarn Shoppe (741 Woodmere Ave) where you can pick up all the supplies you need to knit yourself a blankie to live in until March.

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Explore The Industrial Side

Smack dab in the middle of what looks like a whole 'lotta industrial buildings and neighborhoods is a treasure trove of shops and restaurants to explore while soaking in the bright fall sunshine. Check out RPM Records, located at 1015 Hannah Avenue, where you can spend an afternoon flipping through the massive record collection.

Not too far down from there is the Society of St. Vincent de Paul resale shop (St. Vinny's, to locals, at 1207 Woodmere Avenue) and Up Your Attic Antiques (905 Woodmere Avenue) for the curiously dated.

Stop into Deering's Market and Deli (1142 Barlow Street) on Mondays and Fridays for some seriously legit Indian food or roll into The Kitchen (1249 Woodmere Avenue # B) for gyro-inspired wraps and the fantastically delicious local Northwoods Soda.

Black Star Farms Great Lakes Fish Boil

You're invited to layer up and glimpse the waning sun every Friday evening from 6:30-8:00 (ending October 27th) at Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay for a good ol' fashioned fish boil where you'll enjoy a complimentary glass of Black Star Farms wine alongside fresh caught Lake Michigan fish, local potatoes and veggies, sides and of course, dessert!

Kids 3 and under are free, tickets for kids under 12 are $15 or grab a sitter and couple of adult tickets at $30 each.

Call 231.944.1297 for more information on purchasing tickets and weather policies.

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Harvest Full Moon Guided Kayak Paddle

For $75 you can join a PaddleAway tour at Light House Park on the tip of Old Mission Peninsula for a kayak trip that will give you the opportunity to take in the harvest moon on September 6th. The tour starts at 7:45 and will end around 9:30 PM. All levels welcome.

Visit traversebaypaddler.com

Catch Jeff Daniels and the Ben Daniels Band

At 7:30 on Thursday, November 9th Jeff Daniels and son Ben Daniels will perform along with Ben's band at the City Opera House for a special evening of warm-hearted Americana rock. Tickets cost $45 and $32.50 and are available by calling the box office at 231.941.8082

What's Your Favorite Fall Festivity?

Comment below and let me know what's going on in Traverse City this fall!

© 2015 Kierstin Gunsberg

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    • Kierstin Gunsberg profile imageAUTHOR

      Kierstin Gunsberg 

      12 months ago from Traverse City, Michigan

      Hey Matthew! We are a year-round town and November is a really festive time to visit. The only things closed up for the season will be the stuff that's weather dependent (like say, the orchards or canoe rentals).

      My best advice is to get your hotel reservations in ASAP- unless you're staying with friends or family. There's tons of places to stay in town including the new Indigo which is right downtown.

      Some fun stuff to do near Thanksgiving are The Bijou or State Theaters and to get some cozy food downtown. There's also the Village at Grand Traverse Commons which is a really fun place to explore if it's too cold to be outside.

      If you're up for a little hike Sleeping Bear National Park has some beautiful trails that lead out to lookouts over Lake Michigan which I think is particularly beautiful when the weather is chilly (it makes the water look so stoney).

      I hope you have an awesome visit! Traverse City and the surrounding area is a special place to be.

    • profile image

      Matthew Kirby 

      12 months ago

      Kierstin-

      Great piece! Any advice for my wife and I traveling to the area (with our seven pound pup) the week before thanksgiving? Are most things still open/going? Thanks!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Claudia Mitchell 

      3 years ago

      We went to Traverse City a few summers ago and fell in love with that area. We did lots of day trips further north and keep talking about going back. Including the city, what I really loved was the peninsula...so incredibly beautiful and I had no idea before we went, how hilly it was up there. What an incredible place to visit and we found a few Petosky stones too!

    • Kierstin Gunsberg profile imageAUTHOR

      Kierstin Gunsberg 

      3 years ago from Traverse City, Michigan

      Thanks for reading!! Traverse City is the most beautiful and entertaining place in the world. Good thing I live here ;)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very cool place to be in the Fall. Nice guide!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      3 years ago from Central Florida

      Your town certainly celebrates fall with plenty to do for folks of all ages. I'd have a blast in the second hand stores and antique shops.

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