November 28, 2022

Donuts, Pumpkin Patches, and Corn Mazes, Oh My!

Classic fall treats and activities for the whole family
By Brighid Driscoll | Oct. 1, 2022

The bittersweet transition from fall to summer has been made a little easier. The Farmers' Almanac has predicted a warmer-than-usual autumn for us northern Michiganders, and with a host of fun fall activities and our beautiful northern Michigan home as a backdrop, we’re excited to spend some time with loved ones outside. Dream up your Jack-O-Lantern designs, prepare your taste buds, and grab your scarf; we have some fall fun coming your way.

Donuts, Donuts, Donuts

It’s not fall without donuts, and Mitten Licken Donut Co. is bringing them to you by the truckload. Husband and wife duo Dylan and Ariel Johnson are the proud owners and donut-makers behind the confectionary caravan.

“Our most popular sellers are our Maple Bacon [and] Peanutbutter Oreo. We have a puppychow one, a s’mores. We like to play around with new flavors every month too, so we have quite a lot of flavors.” As for the Johnsons’ favorite donut? “Classic cinnamon sugar.”

Though the fall festival season is winding down, Mitten Licken will still be available to hire for private parties and events throughout the winter. Contact and keep up with them by liking their Facebook page.

For the classics, Cops and Doughnuts locations can be found throughout northern Michigan. With Long Johns, fritters, and bismarks galore, there’s a flavor for everyone. The donut emporium is lovingly owned by nine active and retired cops who also serve other delicious pastries like giant cookies, various breads, and paczki on Fat Tuesday. Find them at their Jay’s Precinct location in Gaylord, locations in Bay City and Mt. Pleasant, at their bakery in Clare, and scattered throughout NoMi convenience stores.

Last but not least, get a bite-sized fix at Peace, Love and Little Donuts in downtown Traverse City. If variety is what you crave but you can’t help but feel full after only one, little donuts may be the answer. Due to their poppable size, you can explore more than a few. We like the Raspberry Lemonade and a classic Chocolate Sprinkle.

Family Fun

Embrace half a dozen fall activities at the popular Poplar Pines Farm in Mesick. The farm has been in Jessica Pangborn’s family since 1987.

“Three or four years ago, we decided to take our hobby farm and turn it into something a little more public,” Pangborn says. A farm open to the public in a neighboring community had closed after destruction caused by a large storm, and there was a need in the community for a family-friendly farm that people could visit, especially in the fall. “We decided to open and offer hayrides, pumpkins, games, and that sort of thing,” she explains.

A favorite fall event is the Pumpkin Hunt. “Kids take a hayride out to the woods on the back of our property. We hide a bunch of pumpkins through the woods, and the kids go and hunt for whatever pumpkin they want. The community received it really well, and the kids absolutely love it.” This year’s event will be Saturday, October 15. Tickets are $15 a person and must be reserved in advance at poplarpinesfarm.com under the Events tab.

While you’re at Poplar Pines, make sure to stop by the petting farm. Mini goats, ponies, and horses are sure to delight your littles, along with adorable rabbits, ducks, and chickens. If you want to make a night out of it or are traveling, check out the farm’s camping information, also available on their website.

Jacob’s Farm (pictured), a historic site on the Leelanau side of Traverse City, is also well worth the stop or detour on an autumn afternoon. Their first corn maze was created in 2008 and has only grown in popularity. This year’s theme is Alice in Wonderland and has 10 acres dedicated to the labyrinth. (Adult tickets are $15, and kids are $10 for the two-hour maze.) Refuel after wandering through wonderland with pizza, wraps, salads, and simple kids menu items. Jacob’s Farm Signature Pizza with jalapeño, beef, black beans, and corn is as delicious as it is inventive, and their cocktail offerings extend into craft territory and are thoughtfully made and locally sourced. Every Wednesday through Sunday, you can catch live music from 6-8:30pm. With sprawling acreage, playscapes, food, drinks, and music, this truly is a destination fit for the entire family.

Pahl’s Pumpkin Patch and Country Store in Buckley is another classic fall tradition. Every year David and Holly Pahl grow pumpkins on 15 acres. The varieties vary, so if you’re looking for something more unique in color or texture, Pahl’s is your place. They just opened for their season on September 19 and have all the other autumn accouterments you could want at their store, including fresh cider and donuts. They also have a corn maze, apple cannon, and slide for the kids. Entrance to Pahl’s is $5 and includes hay mazes. Pumpkins are priced according to their size, with little ones at 50 cents and larger ones up to $20. Visit before the end of October; Halloween is their last day open for the fall season!

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