MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

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Favorites for fall

10 cool ways to see fall colors
When the trees put on a show, get a front-row seat that can't be beat.
Cheap fall getaways
Here are 20 places to enjoy autumn colors without going into the red.
Toasting Oktoberfest
These festive tributes to Bavarian tradition put the oompah into fall.
Hawk heaven
On a ridgetop in Duluth, bird watchers keep eyes on the fall skies.
Cruising into fall
For lovely views of the hues, try a float on a boat.
Fall in Door County
On this Wisconsin peninsula, autumn colors gild a much-loved landscape.
Pedaling for a pint
Thanks to mutual attraction, breweries are popping up along bike trails.
Autumn in the studios
On fall art tours, treasure hunters strike gold (and orange and red).

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FastPlans/Fall on Minnesota's North Shore

Fall colors on Oberg Mountain.

For Minnesotans, the stretch of Lake Superior they call the North Shore is hallowed ground. The cobblestone beaches, the dramatic river gorges and the panoramic views of a vast inland sea all make their hearts beat a little faster, especially in fall.

When to go: Right now through the last week of September in inland maple forest (pictured).

What to do: Hike the trails. Ride the Gitchi-Gami Trail. Have a picnic on Palisade Head. Skip rocks or hunt for agates on the beaches

Events to catch: Sept. 25-Oct. 4, Art Along the Lake: Fall Studio Tour.

Details: See Colors of the North Shore and North Shore by the mile.

Past fast plans: Exploring La Crosse, Cooling off on the lake in Duluth, Breezy in Bayfield, Exploring the Keweenaw Peninsula, Staying cool in Grand Marais

This weekend

See outdoor art and historic barns.

Pop-up art along the Farm/Art DTour.

Art and Artists Celebration in Taylors Falls, Minn. The 43-acre Franconia Sculpture Park is holding its annual celebration, with bands, food trucks and sculpture tours, as well as the grand opening of its Franconia Commons Building. Sept. 26.

Fermentation Fest from Sauk City, Wis. This fest in the scenic hills of southwest Wisconsin features the 50-mile self-guided Farm/Art DTour and the Food Chain marketplace of food, art and ideas. Sept. 26–Oct. 4.

Greenway Glow Arts Festival in Minneapolis. This festival along the 5-mile-long Midtown Greenway bicycle trail includes a puppet parade, live performances, art installations and craft beer. It's from 3 to 9 p.m. Sept. 26.

All-State Barn Tour in Iowa. It's the Iowa Barn Foundation's annual free, self-guided tour of restored historic barns. Sept. 26–27.

Blue Ox Music Festival: Campout in the Pines in Eau Claire, Wis. This family-friendly acoustic festival features Big Wu, Pistol Whippin Party Penguins, Lindsay Lou and Buffalo Gospel. There's camping onsite. Sept. 25–26.


Pursuing the hues

With luck, leaf peepers can squeeze seven weeks of color out of fall.

Rowing on the Mississippi.

As anyone who’s ever planned a fall trip knows, peak leaf color can be elusive.

Betting on a burst of spectacular color is like plugging nickels into a slot machine. To win, all of the figures have to line up: the right number of warm days and cool nights, the right levels of sugar produced, the right amounts of moisture.

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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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Best of fall

The chase is on as autumn colors start to coat the countryside.

Waterfall in the Porkies.

We always get a little frantic in fall, trying to make the most of a too-brief window of opportunity.

Fall is the best time for a lot of things: hiking, after frost has knocked off the bugs; road trips, when the countryside is at its loveliest; and wildlife-watching, when birds and beasts are on the move.

Plus, it's gorgeous. Most people try to catch the reds and oranges of maples at peak, but tamaracks, tallgrass and oaks keep things glowing through October.

Here are our picks for the best things to see and do this fall.

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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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