MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Trip Hints

Favorites for fall

Ghosts on the prowl
Around the region, spirits of past turn out to haunt tourists of today.
Pursuing the hues
With luck, leaf peepers can squeeze six weeks of color out of fall.
5 great places to watch birds in fall
Tag along with experts, and you'll get to see the migration up close.
Horror around the corner
Spoiling for a fright? For Halloween, ghouls lurk in strange places.
Quiet time on the North Shore
Late fall is marked by stark beauty, cheaper stays and the gales of November.
5 great hikes in Minneapolis
See the best of this beautiful city on these short but sweet walks.
On the wine trail
In November, taste the fruits of the harvest on winery road trips.
Fall in Door County
On this Wisconsin peninsula, autumn colors gild a much-loved landscape.

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FastPlans/Halloween in Chicago

Skull at a farmers market.

In Chicago, Halloween is the biggest holiday of the year after Christmas.

The city puts on a big cultural party in and around Millennium Park. Navy Pier has a party over two weekends. And everybody dresses up.

Events to catch: Oct. 22, The Halloween Gathering Festival, with 6 p.m. parade. Oct. 22-23 and 28-31, Halloween at Navy Pier, with  fireworks at 9:30 p.m. Oct. 29.

What to do: Go on one of the many Halloween tours offered by the Chicago History Museum. Go on a ghost tour of the city. Tour Graceland Cemetery.

Details: For more, see Halloween in Chicago.

Past fast plans: Fall at Devil's Lake, Fall in Door County, Fall in Decorah, Fall on the St. Croix, Capital of cheese

This weekend

Carve, roll or catapult pumpkins.

Halloween in Chicago.

The Halloween Gathering in Chicago. A cultural festival around Millennium Park includes mask-making workshops, tarot readings, a disco line, improv comedy, a children's costume procession and a lighted parade along Columbus Avenue at 6 p.m. Oct. 22.

BatFest in Batavia, Ill. This Fox River town hosts a pumpkin roll, hay rides, pumpkin-seed spitting contest, "Thriller'' dances, marshmallow shooting and a  parade at 11:50 a.m. Oct. 22.

Applefest in Alexandria, Minn. Enter a pie-eating contest, go on a horse-drawn wagon ride and watch a pumpkin-catapult contest. Oct. 22.

BooFest in St. Paul. This family festival along Grand Avenue features a petting zoo, a children's karaoke contest and pony rides. Oct. 23.

For more, see our Events Calendar.

15 great fall views

From these overlooks, see rolling waves of color light up the landscape.

The Porcupines' Lake of the Clouds in autumn.

In autumn, the pilgrims head for Holy Hill.

Some want to pay homage to the Blessed Virgin Mary, for whom the basilica was built in 1930. But many others just want to see the amazing view, which includes the Milwaukee skyline and surrounding Kettle Moraine State Forest, dappled with colors.

The basilica was built atop a kame — a mound filled with glacial rubble — that has one of the highest elevations in southeast Wisconsin and the highest in the 120-mile-long kettle moraine, where two lobes of the last glacier collided.

It's one of 15 great overlooks that are easy to reach on a lovely fall day.

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November girlfriend getaways

When hunting season starts, women head out to have fun with their friends.

Horseback riding in autumn.

In November, women make a break for it.

As men sit in deer stands or watch football games on TV, women hit the road with their friends. They shop, they visit spas, they sip wine and they see shows their husbands or boyfriends don't want to see.

For women, November is a great month. Not only do they have a good excuse to get away with their friends, but it's time to start shopping for Christmas.

There are art fairs and holiday markets everywhere. And festivities start early in such shopping meccas as Cedarburg, Wis., which starts its Festive Friday Eves on the eve of Wisconsin's firearms deer opener.

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15 great late-fall getaways

It's the mellowest time of the year, when hotel rates drop with the leaves.

Dells Boat Tours.

Late fall — when crowds fade and hotel deals — appear  is one of the best times to make a getaway.

For hikers, it's the sweet spot between the fall-color rush and hunting season. For shoppers, it's the time to get a head start on the holidays, before the craziness starts.

More often than not, the weather still is gorgeous, and stubborn oaks and willows offer color that lasts into the middle of November.

The more popular a destination is in summer, the more likely you'll find great deals in late October and November.

Here are 15 great places to go for a late-fall getaway.

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30 classic fall hikes

For autumn scenery, these beautiful trails are the best of the best.

Runners in Carleton's Arboretum.

An autumn Saturday dawns, sunny and mild. It’s a perfect day for hiking — but where?

This time of year, you could walk down the street and see something nice.

But if you're looking for the kind of hike that makes you marvel at nature and feel glad to be alive, you'll probably have to look a little farther afield.

Here are 30 of our favorite fall hikes. A few require a little huffing and puffing, but most are easy strolls. And they all showcase fall at its finest.

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15 great fall drives

Chase the colors through glorious autumn landscapes.

Hilltop view of Hudson.

On a crisp, sunny fall day, we all get the urge to go for a drive.

The countryside is alight with color, and there's a lot going on — art-studio tours, corn mazes, hay rides and harvest festivals in every little town.

And you'll be chasing the colors, of course.

You probably could throw a dart at the map and find a pretty spot, but here are 15 routes that we think are especially beautiful.

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Pedaling for a pint

Thanks to mutual attraction, breweries are popping up along bike trails.

Lucette Brewing's tall cans.

What pairs best with beer? These days, a bicycle.

Beer always has tasted best when you sweat for it. You can still drink a so-called lawnmower beer, but after a bike ride, most people want something flavorful — ambers, blondes or pale ales.

Craft beer and bicycles seem to go hand in handlebar. Some beers even are named for bikes, such as Fixed Gear IPA from Lakefront in Milwaukee.

That city always has been crazy about bikes as well as beer. Its Fat Tire Tour/beer crawl was started long before New Belgium Brewing, whose co-founder was inspired by a bike tour through Europe, launched its Fat Tire amber ale and Tour de Fat cycle series.

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