With fall officially here, families may be itching to take a road trip to see the colors and enjoy the comfortable weather. A trip to the Lake Michigan resort town of Ludington fits the bill with autumn events like a modified Octoberfest and Happy Hour History Hunt plus new attractions like an Armistice Day Anniversary exhibit at the Port of Ludington Maritime Museum and two exhibits at Historic White Pine Village.
“Autumn has always been a popular time to visit Ludington, and even more so now as families seek activities and events that provide safe social distancing,” said Brandy Miller, executive director of the Ludington Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We’ve put some fun twists on past events plus added new events and attractions for plenty of options, in addition to Mason County’s stunning natural resources to get off the grid.”
Ludington is hosting a series of smaller, modified events that are mostly outdoors to allow safe social distancing. (Locations are in Ludington unless noted.)
- MODIFIED – Octoberfest, Downtown, Sept. 20-Oct. 4. While this event looks different this year without a large group gathering, downtown merchants are offering fun, self-guided events and activities over a two-week period. Octoberfest features a passport with coupons from downtown restaurants and retailers, plus a number of events throughout the two weeks, including a Scarecrow Walk, Soup Challenge, stein-building workshop, live music, Michigan apple fundraiser, and other events. Check the event website for the full schedule. See highlights below:
- Scarecrow Walk – Find scarecrows in front of participating businesses located on the map. Participants can vote for their favorite by donating non-perishable items for the Lakeshore Food Club at the respective business until Oct. 4. Post photos on social media with #DowntownLudington to be entered to win prizes.
- Crock-Toberfest Soup Challenge – Purchase a cup of soup from participating restaurants until Oct. 4 and support local establishments. Vote for your favorite and share photos to be entered to win prizes.
- Beers for Peers – This fundraiser supporting the Lakeshore Food Club features downtown establishments offering promotions to raise money. Participants include Ludington Bay (percentage of sales from Sept. 25-27), Blu Moon Bistro (percentage of sales from Sept. 25-27) and Jamesport Brewing (dates TBD).
- Rocktober Hunt, Oct. 1. Hosted by Sandcastles Children’s Museum, volunteers will be outside the museum Oct. 1 to provide kits for finding numbered painted rocks throughout downtown. With masks and distancing, receive a rock-painting kit with three rocks, paint and a brush.
- Courtyard Concerts, Ludington Area Center for the Arts, Tuesdays 7 & 8 p.m. Sept. 22-Oct. 27. This intimate fall series features live, local music in the courtyard. Each artist performs two ticketed 40-minute concerts a night, limited to 20 spectators at each. Tickets are $5 and must be purchased in advance at the LACA gift Shop, at 231-845-2787, or online. Check the website for the artist lineup.
- NEW – 23rd Annual MANHATTAN SHORT Film Festival, Ludington Area Center for the Arts, Sept. 24-Oct. 30.Ludington’s art center is a viewing site for MANHATTAN SHORT 2020, a worldwide event across six continents. Nine films screen simultaneously across the world during a one-month period, with the Best Film and Best Actor determined by ballots cast by the audience. Screenings are limited to 10 per showing. Tickets are $10 each and must be purchased in advance online or at 231-845-2787. The films use drama, comedy and animation to address a range of themes by diverse directorial voices.
- Fall Fun Weekends, Lewis Adventure Farm & Petting Zoo, New Era, Sept. 26, 2020-Nov. 1. Pick a pumpkin, get lost in the maze, and make other fall memories. Pumpkin Special: Guests with paid admission may receive any orange carving pumpkin of any size for $5.
- NEW – Happy Hour History Hunt, Historic White Pine Village, Oct. 10, 3:30-6:30 p.m. Solve riddles to find collection pieces throughout the buildings in this first-time event and fundraiser for Mason County Historical Society. Need help tracking down an artifact? Purchase a clue from a clue captain. Participants can create a team of up to 4 people. Admission is $25 per person and includes hors d’oeuvres, cash bar by Jamesport Brewing Company, and apple dumplings. Live music by Third Coast Swing.
- Camp Sauble Cages of Carnage Haunted Attraction, Camp Sauble, Freesoil, Oct. 10-24, 7:30-11:30 p.m. Tour the Camp Sauble haunted prison if you dare! Five nights: Oct. 10, 16, 17, 23, 24. $10 admission, with proceeds supporting the Free Soil/Meade and Grant Township Fire Departments. NOTE: May not be suitable for children.
- Run For Your Lives 5K/10K, Start/Finish – James Street Plaza, Oct. 31, 9-11 a.m. Presented by Safe Harbor Credit Union, this course takes runners through Cartier Park. Runners can dress in costume. Participants get $1 off soda or draft beer at Ludington Pub after the race and $10 off running shoes at Snyder’s. $25 registration includes a cotton/poly race tee and a custom die-cast finisher’s medal. Proceeds benefit the Downtown Ludington Board, which funds downtown events and projects. Strollers and dogs welcome. Register online in advance or on race day at Ludington Pub, 7:30-8:45 a.m.
The Ludington area has recently opened or plans to open the following new exhibits, which will be open through the fall (in some cases, weather permitting):
- Beyond the Game, Historic White Pine Village – Opened in September. This interactive exhibit helps visitors appreciate the value of sports and its impact both locally and nationally, featuring the history of many popular sports and exploring important lessons that sports can teach, using both inductees in the Mason County Hall of Fame plus professional athletes as examples. It also features memorabilia from Detroit Tigers such as Alan Trammell’s uniform and a signed baseball from Armando Galarraga.
NOTE: A ribbon-cutting ceremony for this exhibit is at 4 p.m. Sat., Oct. 10. Media are welcome to attend; please RSVP to email@example.com.
- Travelling in Time, Historic White Pine Village – Opened in September. Seven historic and iconic vehicles from 1917 to 1967 are on display, providing a visual timeline of how personal travel has changed over seven decades, including a Detroit Electric Opera Coupe owned by Ludington lumber baron Warren Antoine Cartier. Only 13,000 cars were made, and this is one of only a handful on display. Part of the exhibit includes images of special vehicles awarded to Detroit Tigers – a common practice for outstanding baseball players since early in the twentieth century.
- Armistice Day Exhibit, Port of Ludington Maritime Museum – Opening in mid-October (check the website or Facebook for details). This major permanent addition to the museum commemorates the Armistice Day Storm Nov. 11, 1940 that killed 154 people (including 64 sailors) on Lake Michigan. This exhibit takes visitors back to experience the storm that converged over Lake Michigan, causing disastrous effects such as swallowing fishing tugs, damaging steamships, and causing its worst destruction between Little and Big Sable Points – sinking three freighters. Visitors can explore the sunken freighters, see the storm’s power and learn how the National Weather Service assured that Americans would never be caught as unprepared again.* NOTE: An 80th Anniversary event of the Armistice Day Storm is Nov. 11. Check ludingtonmaritimemuseum.org/events-and-tour-info for updates.
- Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) Inside|Out program, downtown locations, through November. Ludington is one of six northern Michigan communities participating in this program placing DIA art reproductions in outdoor venues. The DIA partnered with the Ludington Area Center for the Arts to bring to Ludington for the first time. Eight pieces and their venues are listed on a walking map on the LACA’s website. Locations include parks, marinas, the art center, library and the S.S. Badger – the first traveling piece from the program and the first to travel outside of Michigan.
- NEW – Big Sable Point Lighthouse Virtual Escape Room, online. A new virtual escape room allows elementary school children to solve riddles to escape Big Sable Point lighthouse. An adult version will be coming out soon.
Mason County also offers plenty of outdoor recreation ideal for fall:
- Waterways – In addition to Ludington’s 28 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, Mason County has 2,000 miles of streams, three rivers and more than 40 inland lakes perfect for fall paddling or fishing (the Pere Marquette River is especially popular for its salmon runs in October).
- Trails – Ludington has more than 40 miles of trails, from Cartier Pathway, to 25+ miles in Ludington State Park, to Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area. Cyclists have 10 miles of single track in the city limits.
- Golf/disc golf – Ludington features three golf courses in the city and more in the surrounding area: Hemlock Golf Club, Lakeside Links and Lincoln Hills Golf Club, a semi-private country club on Lake Michigan. Mason County also boasts six disc golf courses: Mason County Park with three courses, Ludington School Forest with two, Scottville Riverside Park with The Edge, and WSCC’s Labyrinth.
- Mason County Cultural Trails – Six self-guided cultural trails offer audio narration about Mason County’s history along scenic drives. A popular fall tour is the Agriculture tour with 17 stops, including Orchard Market, five-generation Kistlercrest Farms, Christofferson Farms and The Jam Farm.
- Fall Color Tours – Ludington offers a variety of fall color tours, whether you explore on foot, by car or bicycle. Here is one driving/biking tour from downtown Ludington out into the country byways.
Fall Lodging Specials
Visitors who book a stay at Mason County participating lodging properties through Oct. 31 can get a second night at 50 percent off Sundays through Thursdays. Visitors must mention the deal at the time of booking. Lodging options include hotels and bed & breakfasts.
Traveling in Michigan and COVID-19
Per Michigan’s Executive Order 2020-147, a mask or face covering is legally required for entry and/or service at all indoor public spaces, and when outdoors and unable to consistently maintain a distance of six feet or more from individuals not of the same household. More information is at pureludington.com/COVID-19.
Located on the shores of Lake Michigan with miles of beachfront and water access, Ludington offers a quintessential “Up North” experience close by. Ludington and Mason County deliver the perfect combination of unspoiled natural resources and unrivaled outdoor recreation with quaint, small-town charm – all within easy reach located at the intersection of U.S. 31 and U.S. 10. For information on the Ludington area including lodging, events, and other tools to help plan a Ludington getaway, visit PureLudington.com, facebook.com/ PureLudington, @PureLudington on Instagram and @Pure_Ludington on Twitter; or call 800-542-4600.