Every year, when that first real chill hits the fall air and the nights creep on a little longer, thoughts turn to the spooky, the scary, the shadowy and the sinister. It’s Halloween season, and for many in West Michigan that means more than just candy, costumes and pumpkin spice lattes (or Leelanau Cellars’ Witches Brew). Our region boasts some of the best frights and freak-outs around, with long-running locations cranking up the fear factor year by year while new haunts add spine-tingling surprises. Here’s our guide for where to get your scream on this month.
Rated R For Really Scary: Haunted Houses, Trails and More
2070 Waldorf St. NW, Grand Rapids
Sept. 29-Oct. 31, the-haunt.com
Established in 2001, The Haunt is the largest haunted house in West Michigan. It has terrified nearly 400,000 visitors in its 20,000 square-foot compound, complete with Hollywood-worthy sets and special effects. The award-winning location is home to plenty of creepy clowns for those still shivering from this year’s box office smash It, as well as other fiendish frights lurking around every corner.
Forest of Fear
8758 Patterson Ave. SE, Caledonia
Fridays & Saturdays in October, forestoffear.com
Opening at dusk, this outdoor attraction has welcomed visitors to its dimly lit trails for close to two decades. The interactive site allows those brave enough to make their own way through the dark across five acres of sprawling woods and swamps where all sorts of ghastly ghouls and creepy creatures are ready to scare.
New Salem Corn Maze
4516 24th St., Dorr
Oct 1-31, Fridays and Saturdays, witchesofnewsalem.com
The “Witches of New Salem” have absolutely packed this outdoor location with a huge variety of activities. Choose between two different routes (the twisted trail or the wicked path) through the witches’ woods, experience the stalking terror of the haunted corn maze, or take the action into your own hands (and paint ball gun) with the all-out blast of the Zombie Attack.
Fear the Farm
20309 Capital Ave. NE, Battle Creek
Sept. 29-Oct. 31, Fridays and Saturdays, fearthefarm.com
Climb aboard one of six real Army trucks and shoot your way through a full-blown zombie apocalypse with a paintball gun at this relatively new Halloween venue. Inspired by the popularity of The Walking Dead, passengers will have the chance to fire upon “real” and animatronic zombie targets during this safari-style hunt in hopes of saving the farm … and themselves!
7656 Ravine Rd., Kalamazoo
Oct. 7-28, Fridays & Saturdays, Oct. 29 & Oct. 31, hauntpark.com
Known for its long-running Psycho Ward, in which a twisted clan of sick misfits has overrun an asylum, this multi-event park plans to stake a claim on the most extreme haunted attraction in the area with its new Extreme House of Terror. Zombies run amok here as well, both within the District of the Dead and on the Zombie Revenge Firing Range.
Moonlight Manor Haunt
5420 Fieldstone Dr. SW, Wyoming
Oct. 31, moonlighthaunt.com
Run by a volunteer staff of “scareactors,” the Moonlight Manor only plans to open on Halloween night this year, but be ready for a truly unpredictable living nightmare. Changing its theme every year, the slightly smaller location prides itself on packing more screams per square foot than any other haunted site in the area.
Rated PG For Paranormal: Ghostly Haunted Tours
Dark Mansion Tours
Felt Mansion, 6597 138th Ave., Holland
Oct. 21, 22, 27-31, feltmansion.org
Normally the site of elegant weddings and other private functions, the Felt Mansion in Holland transforms this time of year into a one-of-a-kind trip through the manor’s history of ghostly incidents. Featuring world-renowned magician Steve Marshall and members of the Shadow Spirit Paranormal Investigators, the guided tour and performance abounds with intrigue, illusion and the eerily unexplainable.
Ghosts of Kalamazoo Historic Tour
Through October, ghostsofkalamazoo.com
Run by the Kalamazoo Jaycees, this guided tour focuses more on storytelling and sharing the strange lore associated with downtown Kalamazoo and several area cemeteries than setting people up for shocks and screams. Those looking for the truly weird in West Michigan may go home knowing more than they bargained for.
Downtown Grand Rapids
Oct. 21, thezombiedash.com
If there’s one takeaway from the 2009 flick Zombieland, it’s that cardio matters when you and the shuffling hordes of brain-eating corpses are left alone. The best place to get prepared for such a scenario is the sixth annual Zombie Dash, where runners and walkers are equipped with “life-strips” and attempt to make it unscathed through a winding course in downtown Grand Rapids overrun by the living dead.