Ottawa County

What to do in October? 8 ways to enjoy fall along the lakeshore

Editor’s note: This is a monthly feature to highlight what Ottawa and Allegan Counties have to offer residents and visitors alike.

October is a prime time to get outdoors and enjoy the Lakeshore’s breathtaking fall foliage. This is a great month to explore the county’s parks and other special spots. This list includes options for everyone, regardless of age, ability, or interest. 

The Post Family Farm is an 80-acre farm in Hudsonville open for visits during the fall.

Fall fun on the farm
Post Family Farm, 5081 Bauer Road, Hudsonville. Fun Farm Days are noon-7 p.m. Monday - Thursday; noon-6 p.m. Friday. Fall Festival Days are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.
Looking for a good old-fashioned farm setting to celebrate fall with your family? Then the Post Family Farm is just the place for you. This 80-acre family farm is overflowing with pumpkins, squash, and gourds. You can pick your own pumpkin, go on a hayride, warm up at a bonfire (bonfire reservations must be made in advance), or find your way through a corn maze, all while munching on homemade pumpkin doughnuts.

Take a historical walk
Zeeland historical walk, downtown Zeeland
Get your exercise and learn some history at the same time. The Zeeland Historical Society has put together an amazing historic walking tour that includes not only homes, but businesses, churches, and the “Chick Center” Historical Marker. The history behind the 40 structures is filled with “fun facts.” For example, besides being the home of Zeeland Hardware for many years, the Zeeland Artists Working Gallery, at 122 E. Main Ave., has been a post office, a place that manufactured VitaKelp pills, the Orange Store, a Sears & Roebuck catalog sales office, and a pinball arcade. Print out the walking tour map by following the link above, learn some incredible small-town history, and then enjoy the shops and ambiance of charming downtown Zeeland. (Masks and social distancing required.)

The Holland Museum's exhibit, Election Reflections, runs Oct. 2 through Feb. 22, (George Washington's birthday), and showcases artifacts from past national and state elections.
A Trip Down Memory Lane
Holland Museum, 31 W. 10th St., Holland. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Friday, and Saturday. 
What could be more fun during this election year than taking a trip down memory lane and exploring election memorabilia from years gone by? The Holland Museum’s exhibit, Election Reflections, runs Oct. 2 through Feb. 22, (George Washington’s birthday), and showcases artifacts from past national and state elections. From an “I Like Ike” button to a pack of presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson’s cigarettes, the exhibit looks not only at the political campaigns, but the memorabilia and means used by candidates to promote themselves and their platforms.
Cost is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors, and $4 for students. Holland Museum members and children ages 5 and younger are free. Museums for All admission is available for all EBT or WIC cardholder, $1/person, up to 4 people per card. The museum also offers “FREE Second Mondays” from 4-7 p.m each month. (Masks are required.)
 
Explore Grand Haven’s past
Grand Haven historical walk, downtown Grand Haven
When we think of Grand Haven, we think of Lake Michigan, a quaint downtown, and the Musical Fountain. But there is so much more to the town than that. Print off the Historic Walking Tour Map from the website above, and let the adventure begin. You’ll pass the site of the disastrous fire of 1889, learn about the Grand Haven Peoples Bank Robbery of 1933, and as you walk through Central Park, you’ll be at the site of the former municipal cemetery. Stop at the Brass River and Sundial, where you can track the Grand River — and its tributaries — to its point of origin, almost 260 miles away, near Jackson. In fact, the Grand River is the longest river in Michigan. And don’t forget to check out the great shops and eateries along the way.

Located in northwestern Allegan County, New Richmond Bridge Park is a century-old, fully restored swing bridge, spanning 400 feet across the Kalamazoo River.
Two historic bridges in one park
New Richmond Park, 3160 Old Allegan Road, Fennville
Located in northwestern Allegan County, New Richmond Bridge Park is a century-old bridge-builder’s dream. A fully restored swing bridge, spanning 400 feet across the Kalamazoo River, is the park’s centerpiece. Thanks to the Allegan County Road Commission, the vehicular bridge, built in 1879, was restored and reopened to pedestrian traffic in 2004, and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. As you walk across the bridge, you can’t help but imagine Native American canoes, fur traders, and steamboats filled with tourists from Chicago on the river below. The park also boasts a railroad bridge, built in 1907 by the American Bridge Co. The railroad bridge was also a swing bridge, but is no longer used by the 30 to 40 trains that used to cross daily, as the mechanisms have been removed. Besides the historic bridges, New Richmond Park has everything you need for a full day of fun, including five fishing piers, a half-mile of riverfront boardwalk trails, interpretive signs and kiosks explaining the area’s history (including the impact of the railroad), modern restrooms, a small picnic area, and a completely redeveloped watercraft/boat launch, including a handicapped-accessible dock.


Perfect spot to catch a sunset
West Side Park, 2152 Lakeshore Drive, Fennville 
What better time than autumn to take off and explore one of Allegan County’s waterfront parks? Pack a picnic and head to Fennville’s West Side Park. There are plenty of picnic tables, a fenced-in playground for the kids, restrooms, and a beautiful Lake Michigan beach. You’ll have the perfect spot to kick back, relax, and catch the sunset. If hiking is more your style, there are 11 acres of amazing parkland to explore. And be sure to gather your companions in the gazebo overlooking the lake for that perfect Lake Michigan photo.

Looking to reconnect with nature this fall? Check out Sanctuary Woods, just minutes from downtown Holland in beautiful Allegan County.

Dog-friendly sanctuary 
Sanctuary Woods Preserve, 66th Street between 147th Avenue and 32nd Street, Holland
Looking to reconnect with nature this fall? Check out Sanctuary Woods, just minutes from downtown Holland in beautiful Allegan County. The woods span 40 acres and are filled with loose stone trails or you can climb 171 steps to the top of this heavily wooded duneland, where you will have amazing views of Lake Macatawa and Lake Michigan. You may want to pack your binoculars for bird-watching and wildlife viewing. There are picnic tables (so pack a snack), and even better, your furry four-legged friends can explore right along with you, as long as they remain on-leash. So if you’re looking to combine a feeling of serenity with vibrant fall colors, Sanctuary Woods is the place to be.

Mount Baldhead's 302 wooden steps take you to the top of a wooded dune, where you will look out over Saugatuck, Douglas, the Kalamazoo River and Lake Michigan. (Photo by Craig Watson)
A 302-step workout
Mount Baldhead, 769 Park St., Saugatuck
Want to get up close and personal with a Cold War-era radar tower? Look no further than a climb to the top of Mount Baldhead (Mount Baldy to locals). The 302 wooden steps take you to the top of this wooded dune, where you will look out over Saugatuck, Douglas, the Kalamazoo River, and Lake Michigan. The climb is not necessarily an easy one, but once you reach the top, you can reward yourself by running down the other side of the sandy dune to the water’s edge, and then stroll along the shore to Saugatuck’s Oval Beach. Afterward, head into Saugatuck to enjoy the charming shops and galleries that line the city’s streets. (Masks and social distancing required.)

Need suggestions for specific destinations or activities, check out these tourism resources for details:
Holland Area Visitors Bureau 
Grand Haven CVB
Ottawa County Parks & Recreation
Saugatuck CVB
Allegan County Parks & Recreation

Sally Laukitis, Chair of the Michigan Travel Commission, recently retired as Executive Director of the Holland Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. A longtime Holland resident, she can often be found exploring the county’s many dog-friendly parks and attractions with Tulip, her faithful Boston Terrier puppy. If you have an idea of something to do, email her at [email protected] 

Read more:

What to do in September? 9 fun ways to explore the Lakeshore

What to do in August? 8 ways to explore your Lakeshore backyard
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