Favorites for Fall

Autumn in the Brainerd Lakes
In fall, this lake-resort area is a hideaway in plain sight.

Cruising into fall
For lovely views of the hues, try a float on a boat.

A feast of festivals
At small-town shindigs, get your fill of strawberries and sauerkraut, kolacky and sweet corn.

Mississippi panoramas
Take in the views from 500 feet above the famous river.

Hiking in Duluth
The city sections of the Superior Hiking Trail are easy to reach and amazingly scenic.

A spin around Lake Pepin
On the Mississippi River between Minnesota and Wisconsin, a favorite driving route leads to some real treats.

Afoot in the Porkies
On the Upper Peninsula, a splendid wilderness remains unchanged.

10 cool ways to see fall colors

When the trees put on a show, get a front-row seat that can't be beat.

In fall, you don't need to limit yourself to seeing the colors while speeding by in a car or even at a snail's pace from a hiking trail.

You also can watch the show on horseback, by boat or from a train. Or try a different kind of conveyance — say, covered wagon, chairlift or Venetian gondola.

The important thing is get out there and see as much as you can while it lasts. Here are 10 cool ways to view the hues.

At Copper Peak ski-flying hill near Ironwood, Mich., you ride a chairlift to the crest of a volcanic outcrop, ride 18 stories on an elevator to an observation deck, then climb eight stories to the top starting gate. Cost is $25, $10 for youths 5-14.

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Autumn along the St. Croix

In a lovely autumn day, visit the towns of this scenic valley.

On a lovely day in fall, few places show off this region better than the St. Croix River Valley between Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The 52-mile stretch from Taylors Falls to the St. Croix's confluence with the Mississippi at Prescott has everything a tourist could want — shops, historic houses, theaters, train excursions, boat cruises.

But mostly, it has scenery — scenery I wanted to show my nieces Alissa and Livia, who had left Florida to start careers in the Twin Cities. As it turns out, the St. Croix in autumn looks awfully good to people raised in Florida.

"Wow, look at those trees," said Livi, who hadn't seen fall color since she attended grade school in Iowa.

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Fall in Door County

On this peninsula in Lake Michigan, autumn colors gild a much-loved landscape.

Around the Upper Midwest, Door County is the tourist destination that other tourist destinations envy.

Everything a tourist loves, it's got: Lighthouses, craggy shorelines, sand dunes. Golf courses, boutiques, bistros. Bicycle paths, hiking trails, beaches.

There's a little bit of New England in the white-frame buildings of Ephraim, where tourists click photos of Wilson's, a century-old ice-cream parlor.

There's a little bit of Europe in Sister Bay, where goats graze on the sod roof of Johnson's Swedish Restaurant. There's not much that isn't picturesque.

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The Lighthouse Express

On Minnesota's North Shore, a vintage railroad takes passengers back to the past.

Once, passenger trains crisscrossed the state, and lighthouses guided sailors on the Great Lakes.

Trains and lighthouses are beloved relics now, symbols of a simpler past. In the digital age, they seem antique, like Grandpa's buggy or Grandma's butter churn.

But don't relegate them to history's dustbin just yet.

There's still a train out of Duluth, and it takes passengers to the depot in Two Harbors. On weekends, passengers can bring their bags, stay overnight and return on the next day's train.

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15 great fall drives

Here are 15 great places to chase the colors through glorious autumn landscapes.

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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So many festivals, so little fall

The season is short, so go on a power trip and catch two or three festivals each weekend. Here's where to go.

In this part of the world, fall is sweet but way too short.

All of the quaint little towns along rivers and in the bluffs have to pack their autumn festivals into the same six weekends, rolling out parades, pumpkin contests and oompah bands for all the leaf-peeping tourists.

The choices are paralyzing. Flea market or scarecrow contest? Pumpkin regatta or studio tour? Yodeling contest or dachshund races?

You can't do it all, but you can do a lot. Just go on a power trip — to two, even three festivals in one weekend.

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15 great fall views

From these easy-to-reach overlooks, see rolling waves of color light up the landscape.

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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Cheap fall getaways

Here are 20 places to enjoy autumn colors without going into the red.

Fall is the busiest travel season of the year — we all know the nice days are numbered, and we're going to try our darndest to make them count.

But with pretty much everyone heading out to look for fall color, especially on weekends, there are few bargains.

That's why those of us on a budget look to our old friends: the state parks, the mom-and-pop motels, the environmental centers, the outdoors clubs.

Here's our list of 20 great autumn trips. Most of them cost $100 or less per person.

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