Want to do something fun with the family without putting a dent in your wallet? Look no further.

MICHIGAN—It’s fall, and that means pumpkin patches, cider mills, and petting zoos will be packed with Michigan families looking to enjoy time together outdoors before the weather takes its familiar, cold turn. 

But let’s say you’ve done all that and you’re looking to do something a little different but you don’t want to break the bank. Well, then this list might be just what you’re looking for. 

All stretches of our state offer fun fall activities for the entire family, and many of them come at little or no cost. That’s what we’ve assembled for you here, eight activities you can do without putting a dent in your wallet, broken down by where you might be in the state. 

And we know we didn’t get them all, so if you know of something that is free and fun let us know by emailing [email protected].

West Michigan

Pet an Alpaca

Think your kiddos might be interested in seeing some Alpacas up close and personal? Then a trip to one of Michigan’s most famous Alpaca farms might be in store. 

The Crystal Lake Alpaca Farm in Michigan’s northwest corner of the Lower Peninsula is a full-service veterinary alpaca farm that welcomes people to stop by and see the alpacas. 

For more information, call the farm at 231-920-7085 or stop on by at 4907 River Road in Frankfort.

Watch a Movie With the Family

Want to watch a movie but don’t want to fork out the dough to do it? On Saturdays in Traverse City, that’s no problem. The State Theatre was founded by Michigan filmmaker Michael Moore and is now run by volunteers with the Traverse City Film Festival.

But most importantly, on Saturdays, kids can catch a matinee for just 25 cents at 10 a.m., meaning the family can take in a film for nowhere near the cost of some other area theaters. 

Find out more by calling the theater—which is located at 233 E. Front St. in downtown Traverse City—at (231) 947-4800. 


Tour Michigan’s Capitol Building

Is it ever too early to learn about democracy and our state government? Well, if you ask us, no! Luckily, tours at the Michigan State Capitol as well as at other facilities can easily be scheduled for those who want to see how things operate in Lansing. 

If time permits, feel free to head over to the Michigan History Center, as well, where admission is free for children up to 5. 

Interested? Call (517) 373-2353 to schedule a tour. 

Take in Nature at the Chippewa Nature Center

If your little one is interested in nature, a stop at the Chippewa Nature Center at 400 S. Badour Rd. in Midland might be well worth the trip from wherever you may be driving in from. 

The nature center features something for everyone, from trails for a nice day hike to nature preschool and various programs that might get your kiddos interested in nature if they aren’t already. And the best part? The majority of the programs are free!

For more information on the nature center programs, call (989) 631-0830.

Northern Michigan

Model Trains

If your little ones like trains, the Roscommon Historic Model Train Museum is a can’t miss place to visit when you’re looking for things to do this fall. The museum has numerous exhibits of trains at different scales, and occasionally hosts events for families. 

The museum is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The museum is located at 815 Lake St, Roscommon, and can be reached at (989) 366-9410. 

See Metal Sculptures at a Northern Michigan Junkyard

Lakenland in Marquette is a perfect destination for families looking to get a look at creative metal art sculptures with the kiddos and also the family pet. The sculpture park is free for families and is open 24 hours, seven days a week. Park owner Tom Lakenen says that over the past 25 years, he has created more than 100 sculptures, all made from scrap iron. 

Interested in learning more? You can reach out to the park, which is located at 2800 M-28 East in Marquette, at (906) 250-5138.

Metro Detroit

Visit Belle Isle

If you and the family are looking for something to do in Metro Detroit, you’ll probably never run out of options. But, if you’re looking for something free and enjoyable, a simple day trip to Belle Isle might be up your alley. 

The island features tremendous views of life around the Detroit River, with passing ships and great spots for photos. All of that doesn’t mention the island’s Dossin Great Lakes Museum, Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, and Belle Isle Aquarium. 

You can learn more about what’s happening on the island by going online or by calling (313) 821-9844.

Have a Sweet Treat

Most kids love sweets and let’s be honest, we as parents enjoy indulging in the occasional chocolate or two. Luckily, if you’re in the Metro Detroit area, there are plenty of chocolate and sweet shops to enjoy. 

Take, for example, Roger’s Bulk Candy & Ice Cream In Eastpointe, which features taffies and bubble gum among other classic candies. Of course, this activity does include spending a little moolah, but with so many options, one of them is bound to be worth it. 

You can contact the shop, which is at 15020 E. 9 Mile Rd in Eastpointe, by calling (586) 772-1076.