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Sunday, May 26, 2024
The Observer

Celebrating the season: A guide to autumn in Michiana


As the leaves turn red and the air begins to chill, all I can think about is the arrival of autumn. It is my favorite season of the year, a time of festivals, family, football and friends. 

Though Notre Dame has football covered, what else is there to do in the Michiana area to celebrate the turning of the seasons?

Go apple picking

Picking fresh fruit and vegetables from a local farm is one of my favorite things to do in the fall. It‘s perfect for when the sun is shining, but it’s not too hot. You can do it with multiple friends at once and you get to forage for delicious food that you get to keep in the end. It makes me feel like a hunter-gatherer. Lehman’s Orchard in Niles, Michigan is well-known by many Notre Dame students and it is always a beautiful and calming place to explore. Apples, tomatoes, blueberries, blackberries and more are available for picking this season. 

Visit a farm

Visiting a farm during the autumn season is a must, especially for everyone from the Midwest. A trip to a local farm is the epitome of what fall is for — the harvest. Thistleberry Farm in South Bend is a great place to indulge in your favorite farm activities like picking pumpkins, solving corn mazes, going on wagon rides and greeting animals, to name a few. For an extra charge, Thistleberry Farm also offers pony rides and a chance to operate their apple cannon. During September, they are open on the weekends during early afternoon and early evening hours. They expect their sunflower field to be in full bloom at the end of the month, so make sure to check it out.

Go to a harvest festival

As I’ve emphasized already, fall is a perfect time for indulging in your favorite fresh produce. If you’re a fan of apples, the Four Flags Apple Festival in Niles has you covered. Running from Sept. 28 to Oct. 1, this festival will host a variety of events, including a scarecrow contest and a competition for the biggest apple. There are plenty of rides, games, parades, live entertainment and, of course, all the apple you could want. 

Visit a horror attraction

Halloween and the celebration of all things creepy and spooky are inextricably linked to the fall season in the U.S. While a large proportion of people do not prefer spending a few hours in constant fight-or-flight mode, some of us do. If you’re one of these people, you just might like the Niles Scream Park. The park, which just recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, operates every weekend until early November. There are several different attractions to enjoy along with games, food and professional entertainers. 

Go on a haunted history tour

Personally, I’m not a fan of being scared out of my wits, but I do love to learn about all things spooky and ghoulish. Something like a haunted history tour is more my speed. In the past, Notre Dame has done tours of all the haunted buildings on campus including Washington Hall, Main Building and the Basilica. These kinds of tours are fascinating ways to learn more about the intricate history of the places we inhabit and the people who have been here before us. While it can be frightening to learn that a building you frequent is haunted, for me, it is refreshing to know the weird chill I get when I enter Hayes-Healy isn’t just my imagination. 

There are plenty more opportunities to get into the autumn feeling around the Michiana area — all you have to do is look for them. It’s the perfect time to enjoy the season and experience the wonderful things our area has to offer.