The flicker of a jack-o’-lantern on an autumn night holds a curious magic. Spend an afternoon in Traverse City at Gallagher’s Farm Market in pursuit of the perfect pumpkin.

Halloween is near, and while festivities may alter with age, there is one October tradition that transcends all generations: the search for the ultimate pumpkin. Rooting among gourds at a local pumpkin patch for “the one” will resurrect an impish joy you thought had long since been laid to rest.

Luckily, Northern Michigan is home to many pumpkin patches, farms and produce stands for Great Pumpkin devotees. A favorite in Traverse City is Gallagher’s Farm Market located at 7237 E. Traverse Hwy. Symmetrical, squat, lopsided, elongated—you’ll scare up a pumpkin in every shape and size. Heck, you can even find green and white pumpkins. Peruse the pallets until you’ve picked just the right one. Then cart or carry your plump prize toward the market stand to weigh in (price is by the pound).

Bewitching aromas of freshly baked goods waft outside from the market. Follow the alluring scents inside and reward yourself with a cinnamon doughnut and a cup of warm apple cider. Take this opportunity to stock up on other cozy provisions such as local jams, mustards and cheeses, too. Snacks in hand, meander out back to the picnic tables where you’ll be treated to a panoramic view of tree-covered hills and rolling fields ablaze in fall colors.

Find the perfect pumpkin, sip Michigan hard cider and go on a fall color tour.

Things to Do in Traverse City in Fall 

Doughnut consumed and pumpkin safely buckled into your vehicle, motor just a ways up the road and prepare to get lost at Jacob’s Corn Maze (7100 E. Traverse Hwy). The 10-acre maze design changes each year, and can take up to two hours to navigate. Once you’ve made it through the winding rows of corn, head over to Rove Estate Vineyard & Winery (7007 E. Traverse Hwy.). Perched at the highest point in Leelanau County, the tasting room offers a must-see fall vista, estate-grown wines and crisp ciders.

More fall fun …

Northern Michigan Pumpkin Patches

Harris Family Farm
7356 Indian Hill Rd., Honor, 231.510.8455

Altonen Orchards
11595 S US 31, Williamsburg, 231.264.8052

Farmer White’s
11373 S US 31, Williamsburg, 231.632.1500

Royal Farms
10445 N US 31, Ellsworth, 231.599.3222

Fleming Farm
4264 Martindale Rd., Gaylord, 989.272.3312

Coveyou Scenic Farm Market
4160 S US 131, Petoskey, 231.347.0011

Bill’s Farm Market
4450 E Mitchell Rd., Petoskey, 231.347.6735

Andrew VanDrie writes from Traverse City.