Explore the Historic and Spooky in Flint & Genesee

No matter what your family likes to do to celebrate fall, there are so many choices in Flint & Genesee. Grab your family and get ready to celebrate the season!

The days are getting shorter and cooler, favorite sweaters are coming out of summer storage, and the leaves are just beginning their annual show. It’s fall in Michigan, the perfect time to get out and about in Flint and Genesee County, where plenty of fun, family-oriented seasonal activities await.

“Autumn in Michigan is truly spectacular, and it’s particularly my favorite season here in Flint and Genesee County,” says Kristin Longley, Director of Communications for the Ruth Mott Foundation, which runs the popular Applewood Estate — the grand, historic estate of auto pioneer Charles Stewart Mott and family. “From the cultural center institutions and the nature centers to the wide variety of orchards and my favorite festival here at Applewood, there is something for everyone when you visit in the fall.”

Here are a few seasonal ideas to check out this fall in Flint and Genesee.

Applewood Estate Fall Harvest Festival

It wouldn’t be a proper fall without a visit to Applewood. The “gentleman’s farm” incudes an apple orchard, luscious gardens, a barn and more.

The popular Fall Harvest Festival returns on October 1 for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic. “We hope folks are feeling really good about coming out and enjoying the beauty of the season. Everything is free and family-friendly,” says Longley. “The festival really celebrates everything that makes Applewood special.”

Fall Harvest Festival at Applewood Estate. Photo credit: Applewood Estate

That includes cider and apples, farm animals, hands-on demonstrations, harvest activities, live demonstrations and a sampling of fresh goodies made with ingredients grown right on-site.

If you can’t make it to the October 1 Fall Harvest Festival, don’t worry. There’s more fun to come. Each following Saturday in October at Applewood includes handy live demonstrations on topics like harvest techniques, managing yards and gardens, protecting floors from salt and snow, and winterizing your home.

Ghosts & Goodies at Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad

Kids love trains and kids love Halloween. Crossroads Village is the place where it all comes together. With its vintage amusement rides and the Huckleberry Ghost Train Express (a historic Baldwin steam locomotive), Crossroads Village is a family favorite in any season. They really pull out all the stops for Halloween Ghosts & Goodies, a month-long festival that includes 20 treat stops, a magic show, a straw maze, ciders and donuts, and much more. It’s open every weekend and some weekdays in October, and there are also several drive-through-only nights.

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Halloween Ghosts & Goodies at Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad. Photo credit: Genesee County Parks and Recreation

More must-dos this spooky season

Don your costumes and head for the Flint Institute of Arts on October 29 for Halloween Happenings. Festivities include a spooky scavenger hunt, trick-and-treating in the galleries and more. Your whole family will love this art-inspired experience.

Flint’s network of roadways was built for more than 200,000 residents, but the city now has less than half that amount, points out Flint City Bike Tours. That means excellent opportunities for biking. The company’s customizable tours take groups of 10 or less all over the area for a true insider’s look at the city. Among their offerings is the season-appropriate “Vehicle Cities of the Dead,” during which UM-Flint History Professor Thomas Henthorn shares tales of Flint’s six historic cemeteries.

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Miles of biking and hiking trails cover Flint and Genesee. Photo credit: Explore Flint & Genesee

Speaking of cemeteries, what better way to celebrate the haunting season than a leisurely stroll through a scenic cemetery? The area has a number of old ones, including Glenwood Cemetery and Certified Arboretum at 2500 W. Court Street in Flint. Dating to 1857, it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Take a self-guided or docent-led tour to explore its 47 acres of impressive funerary art and architecture and nearly 1,000 trees representing 57 species. On October 16, Glenwood holds an All Family Halloween Extravaganza (costumes encouraged, so go all out!) and on October 30, there will be an ecumenical service and short tours in honor of All Saints Day.

Celebrate fall’s beauty in Flint & Genesee

Fall beauty is a gift from nature after a long, hot summer! There are so many places to simply enjoy nature and soak up the beauty of the season in Genesee County, which boasts more than 11,000 acres of parks and nature areas. We’ve gathered some highlights.

You can hike, bike or push a stroller along the Flint River Trail, a 27-mile network of paved, nonmotorized pedestrian paths beginning at UM-Flint.

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For-Mar’s beautiful barrier-free treehouse. Photo credit: Explore Flint & Genesee

Also try the 4 ½-mile Genesee Valley Trail, which is built on an abandoned railway connecting Genesee Valley Center on Linden Road to Chevy Commons near downtown Flint.

One special spot to experience nature’s splendor is the For-Mar Nature Preserve and Arboretum in Burton. The former dairy farm sprawls over 383 acres that include wetlands, fields and forests, a 116-acre arboretum, a nature center and the crown jewel, a see-it-to-believe-it barrier-free treehouse perched 30 feet off the ground.

Choose your own Flint & Genesee adventure

Finally, you can map out your own adventure with the help of some seasonally appropriate books that star Flint and Genesee by local authors.

These include Ghosts and Legends of Genesee & Lapeer Counties and Haunted Flint, both part of the Haunted America Series; and The Ghostly Tales of Flint from Spooky America. Check for these titles and more at the area’s two fine independent bookstores: Totem Books (620 W. Court Street in Flint) or Fenton’s Open Book (105 W. Shiawassee in Fenton).

There’s so much more to do this fall and all year round in Flint & Genesee. Visit Explore Flint & Genesee at exploreflintandgenesee.org.

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