Posted on October 10, 2017 by Indiana's Cool North
Fall is a perfect time for fun family activities in Indiana’s Cool North. The air is crisp, the leaves are changing into new, bold colors, and this exciting season—like its shorter days—won’t last for long. So get out and make the most of them with family and friends before winter arrives.
From prowling the pumpkin patch, to cider sipping and hay rides, here are some of the best autumn activities in Indiana’s Cool North.
There are few places more fun to take the family this fall than Amish Acres in Nappanee, southwest of Goshen, Elkhart County. From September 15 through October 31, explore 80 acres of Amish farmstead at this heritage resort, which is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Browse eight unique courtyard shops featuring family fall favorites like pumpkin fudge, homemade caramel apples, sodas and ice cream from stores like The Log Cabin Fudgery and Soda Fountain.
Each weekend during the festival, follow the aroma of fresh apples boiling in an iron kettle over open fire to savor freshly-pressed cider from Kuhns Cider Grist Mill. An experience at Amish Acres will bring you back to a simpler, traditional time with guided tours, buggy and wagon rides, homemade meals in the century-old barn restaurant, handcrafts, and musicals at The Round Barn Theater. If you’re looking for more than a day visit, you can stay at the Nappanee Inn or the Inn at Amish Acres.
Fall’s pinnacle event for the young (and young at heart) will be in full swing at two zoos in Indiana’s Cool North. What could be more fun for the family than Halloween at the zoo?
Pumpkins, lights, and spooky decorations transform the Potawatomi Zoo into a safe trick-or-treating experience that’s fun for the whole family. From October 20-22, kids can tour the grounds in costume and trick-or-treat at stations set up around the zoo, hop on the haunted train ride, and enjoy a spin on the enchanted carousel. Little Zoo Boo (Sunday, October 22) is geared toward younger children and events take place only in daylight hours.
The Washington Park Zoo in Michigan City hosts its annual Boo at the Zoo Saturday, October 21. It’s a safe and exciting way for young ghouls and goblins to trick-or-treat and view the animal exhibits, as Michigan City businesses sponsor booths along decorated zoo paths and hand out candy. There are two two-hour trick-or-treat sessions (starting at 11:30am and 3:30pm).
Exploring pumpkin patches, getting fresh produce at u-picks, and navigating—or getting lost in—some massive corn mazes are three of the most classic fall activities, and Indiana’s Cool North has several great destinations where your family can do all three.
In Elkhart County, be sure to check out the fifth generation family-owned u-pick apple orchard and pumpkin patch at Kercher’s Sunrise Orchard, which specializes in homegrown produce and homemade products like October Gold Cider (fresh pressed on site), gourds, free hayrides, a corn maze and much more outdoor fun. Thistleberry Farm in South Bend has a great u-pick pumpkin patch, hay rides around the farm, a corn cannon, and four—yes, four—different corn mazes.
For one of the best corn mazes in Indiana’s Cool North, head to the Shipeshewana Corn Maze in LaGrange County, which features 15 acres of corn, over seven miles of trails, and three corn mazes (two for adults, one for the kids). Other great fall family fun activities on site include hay rides, a petting zoo, pony rides, and blasting cobs from the popular corn cannon.
At Garwood U-Pick & Farm Market in LaPorte, you’ll find over 400 acres of apples (with 11 varieties), blackberries, cherries, pumpkins, raspberries, strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and a cider mill (with fresh cider made on site). You’ll also find pre-picked produce, a gift shop, live music, horse-drawn wagons (last run leaves at 5pm!), and much more.
Guse Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch in Wanatah, LaPorte County, has a terrific corn maze to navigate (with a kiddie train and special path for young children), a giant checker board, hayrides through the woods and to the pumpkin patch, and bonfire sites if you’d like to have a family cook out and tell some spooky ghost stories.
The inaugural Indiana Dunes Outdoor Adventure Festival runs from October 6-8, and plans to showcase and celebrate the region’s natural and cultural significance with a wide variety of exciting outdoor physical and educational activities.
Hiking, paddling, horseback riding, biking, yoga, geo-caching, photography, and birding are just a few of the dozens of planned events. The festival includes activities for the entire family (including paddles and hikes), and offers a wide variety of events for new and experienced explorers and those with limited mobility. The only requirements are a desire for outdoor adventures and to have some fall fun.
The festival is centered at the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center and while admission is free, many of the events and sessions have limited space, so be sure to pre-register.
On October 14 in Syracuse, Koskiusko County, the Fall Harvest Festival will be in full swing. It features a huge selection of fun family events. You’ll find everything from face painting, games, live music, and pumpkin decorating, to a petting zoo, hay and pony rides, and an antique tractor show.
This seasonal celebration in Lakeside Park also takes place on the final day of the Syracuse Arts & Farmers Market, so in addition to all the fall fun, you’ll find lots of vendors with food, baked goods, crafts, flowers, and produce surrounding the park.
Now that you’re familiar with some of the best family-friendly fall fun waiting Indiana’s Cool North, make the most of the season and check them out! Find even more exciting experiences and places to stay here.