Autumn is an enchanting time in Michigan’s beautiful Grand Traverse Bay region – the perfect time to visit the Sleeping Bear Dunes (voted “Most Beautiful Place in America” by viewers of Good Morning America), or enjoy the cuisine in one of the country’s top “foodie” towns. It’s a wonderful season for a shopping adventure, a round of championship golf, or a tour of the beautiful wine country of the Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas.
It’s also the perfect time to save money and receive great value on a vacation getaway. From Sept. 7 through Dec. 20, the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau will offer its “Fab Fall” getaway special, available at over 20 participating resorts and hotels. In addition to low Fab Fall rates, the packages include extras like discount offers on shopping, dining, wine purchases, movies, spa services and more.
The specials must be directly booked through participating hotels. (Just make sure to ask for the Fab Fall special.) For a list of details, including participating hotels, check out the Bureau’s web site at www.traversecity.com/fab-fall-package-485/
Check out the fall and holiday events and festivals in Traverse City:
Sept. 29 – Nov. 3 Brys Estate Harvest Celebration
Every Saturday through Nov. 3 the Brys Estate winery on Old Mission Peninsula celebrates the 2012 harvest. For $5 per person, guests are given a large souvenir wine glass to use as they visit four different wine and food pairing stations throughout the tasting room. www.brysestate.com/
Oct. 5-6 Fiber Festival
The 12th Annual Fiber Festival features artists with original fiber art: paper, wearable art, tapestry & woven handbags, weaving, quilts, knits, yarns, piecework and fiber sculpture at the Old Art Building in the village of Leland. www.oldartbuilding.com
Oct. 6 Chateau Chantal’s Early Harvest & Festival
The Northern Michigan wine grape harvest has begun early this year, and the Chateau Chantal winery will hold their 13th annual Harvest Day a little earlier, too. There’ll be lots of free tastings, lessons, and activities (including grape stomping), as well as 20% case discounts. www.chateauchantal.com
Oct. 6 Elk Rapids Art Beat/Color Tour
Elk Rapids kicks off the peak of fall color with this open house gallery walk featuring four of the village’s award winning galleries. Guest artists will demonstrate their disciplines, there’ll be mimosas, wine, hors d’oeuvres, and other tasty treats as well as drawings for prizes.
Oct. 6 Fall Festival Sale & Happy Apple Days
Downtown Traverse City’s annual Fall Festival! Participating shops feature live mannequin displays, store specials, children’s activities, storytelling and other entertainment. The streets are decked with cornstalks and festive mums, and merchants will have bushels of apples to share. www.downtowntc.com.
Oct. 7 6th Annual Harvest Festivus
Traverse City’s Left Foot Charley Winery hosts this harvest festival at the Grand Traverse Commons, with kids’ activities, winemakers in lederhosen, German oom-pah music, fresh cider, federweisser, wine and free horse-drawn carriage rides.
Oct. 7 Sleeping Bear Marathon
This inaugural marathon starts and finishes at Empire’s Johnson Park, and will take athletes by the Sleeping Bear Dune Climb, past Little Glen Lake, and through the village of Glen Arbor, with breathtaking views of the Manitou Islands and Sleeping Bear Dunes along the way. www.enduranceevolution.com/
Oct. 12 GT Commons October Festival
This foodie festival features a “food truck rally,” beer, wine, cider, and bluegrass music from Greensky Bluegrass and guests, plus a silent disco and glow in the dark LED disc golf, bonfires & heated tents. Free shuttle. www.porterhouseproductions.com
Oct. 20-21 Haunted Grand Traverse Lighthouse
Chills and thrills at the Grand Traverse Lighthouse, in the Leelanau State Park near Northport, with kids’ games, a bike giveaway, and the Haunted Basement. Vehicles will also be charged an entry fee by the state park unless they already have a state park pass.
Oct. 26 Downtown Halloween Walk
October closes with a parade of little ghosts and goblins as downtown hosts costume clad children and their parents to trick or treat at participating stores throughout the downtown area. www.downtowntc.com
Oct. 27 Zombie Run
The Zombie Run has become a T.C. favorite since its creation in 2009 and is well on its way to becoming a Halloween tradition. What’s not to like? Zombies and beer have always been a winning combination. The race begins and ends at Right Brain Brewery’s new location on 16th Street. Costumes are encouraged but never required.
Nov. 3 Iceman Cometh Challenge
A grueling 27-mile off-road bicycle race through the Pere Marquette State Forest between Traverse City and Kalkaska. Rain, sunshine, sleet, snow or ice – nothing stops this race, which attracts 3,700 cyclists and 4,000 spectators from across the U.S. and Canada. www.iceman.com
Nov. 22 Traverse City Turkey Trot
The Fifth Annual Downtown Turkey Trot combines families, fun and fitness, with 5K and 5M courses through downtown Traverse City. Donations of canned goods are accepted for local food pantries. All proceeds go to local charities. www.trot.evugo.com
Nov. 24 Great Macaroni & Cheese Bake-Off
The Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula host local restaurants who have turned the classic comfort food, Mac &Cheese, into culinary marvels! This rich and creamy fare is paired with wines from Old Mission – Rieslings, Pinot Grigios, Chardonnays and more. www.wineriesofoldmission.com
Nov. 30 Santa’s Arrival, Tree Lighting, Holiday Open House
Spend the evening with Santa and shop throughout downtown Traverse City. At 5 pm, shoppers are serenaded with holiday music and a community singalong of favorite carols with the Sweet Adelines. The excitement continues with Santa’s arrival in bright red antique fire engine! Tree lighting at 6 pm. www.downtowntc.com
Dec. 1 Merry Marketplace
Christmas arts and crafts show in the village of Leland featuring local artisans with holiday gift packages, fresh & dried holiday wreaths, jewelry, specialty foods, pottery, ornaments, cards and hand knit items. www.oldartbuilding.com
Dec. 2 Christmas at the Lighthouse
The Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum is decorated for a typical Christmas as it was celebrated by the McCormick family in the 1920s and 1930s. Climb the tower, tour the lighthouse, enjoy holiday music and refreshments. www.grandtraverselighthouse.com
Dec 2 A Leahy Family Christmas
A Canadian powerhouse of eight musical brothers and sisters who entrance audiences whenever they play. Their music combines the influence of their Irish and Scottish roots with their inherent desire to widely travel the musical map. www.cityoperahouse.org
Dec. 5 The Empire Brass: Sound of Christmas
The Empire Brass, known for its brilliant virtuosity and the unparalleled diversity of its repertoire, will be joined by the granddaughter of legendary Maria von Trapp. The evening’s highlight will be a medley from “The Sound of Music” in which the guitar solo Edelweiss flows into an extraordinary rendition of Stille Nacht. www.cityoperahouse.org
Dec. 6 Ladies Night in Downtown Traverse City
Downtown Traverse City will be hosting ladies night. This night is a salute to the ladies; enjoy food, refreshments, and specials for your shopping needs as well. www.downtowntc.com
Dec. 13 Men’s Night in Downtown Traverse City
Gentlemen, the evening is yours for gifting and gabbing! Enjoy hors d’oeuvres and drink specials at Downtown eateries to begin the evening. Downtown merchants will have in-store specials, gift wrapping, refreshments and prize drawings. www.downtowntc.com
Dec. 15-Jan 1 Festival of Trains
Delightful and imaginative working model train layouts fill several rooms at the History Center of Traverse City at 322 6th St. www.gtheritagecenter.org
For information about other activities and attractions in Michigan’s scenic Traverse City area, and assistance with lodging, dining and other activities, contact the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau at www.traversecity.com or 1-800-TRAVERSE.