MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Trip Hints

Favorites for fall

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.
Fall in Door County
On this Wisconsin peninsula, autumn colors gild a much-loved landscape.
Great grape stomps
At winery harvest festivals, compete with your feet.
Cheap fall getaways
Here are 20 places to enjoy autumn colors without going into the red.
Bash on a bike trail
In fall, kick up your wheels at a small-town festival.
Wisconsin Dells in fall
For many, the scenery is best when the crowds are gone.
Hiking Minnesota's North Shore
Soak up the scenery above Lake Superior with one of these great day hikes.
15 great trails to ride in fall
Here's where to get your fill of flora, fauna and fall colors.

Find us on Facebook

FastPlans/Autumn in the St. Croix Valley

A paddlewheeler on the St. Croix.

On a lovely day in fall, the 52-mile stretch between Taylors Falls and Prescott has everything a tourist could want — shops, historic houses, theaters, train excursions, boat cruises and scenery.

Events to catch: Sept. 22-23, Art in the Park in Afton and Spirit of the St. Croix Art Festival in Hudson. Sept. 22, Art and Artists Celebration at Franconia Sculpture Park near Taylors Falls.

What to do: Ride the Osceola & St. Croix Valley Railway. Take a paddlewheeler cruise from Taylors Falls. Shop in Stillwater or Hudson.

Details: For more, see Autumn along the St. Croix.

Past fast plans: Capital of cheese, Fall on Minnesota's North Shore, Swiss tradition in New Glarus, Exploring Michigan's Porkies, Exploring La Crosse

This weekend

Apple orchard in Door County.

Apple Day in Excelsior, Minn. On the shore of Lake Minnetonka, there's an artisan fair, apple pie-eating contest, music and a street dance. Sept. 22.

Party on the Pavement in Racine, Wis. Racine's biggest street festival features five stages of entertainment and a car show, art walk, carnival rides and zones for kids and sports. Sept. 22.

Doors Open Milwaukee in Milwaukee. More than 170 historic buildings — theaters, breweries, mansions, cathedrals, hotels, museums — are open to the public, and many offer free guided tours. Sept. 22–23.

Latino Heritage Festival in Des Moines. This festival at Western Gateway Park features Latino music, dancing, arts, cultural booths, children's activities and a corn-eating contest. Sept. 22–23.

For more, see our Events Calendar.


Autumn in the studios

On fall art tours, treasure hunters strike gold (and orange and red).

Shops on Commerce Street in Mineral Point.

In September and October, artists everywhere throw open their studio doors, inviting the public to see some fall colors along with fine art.

It's tempting because of the scenic landscapes in which so many artists live: the bluffs of northeast Iowa, the coulees of southwest Wisconsin, the towns around Lake Pepin, the lumpy terrain of the Ice Age Trail.

Read story and trip tips


Best of fall

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

Fall colors at Devil's Lake.

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.

Read story and trip tips


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.

Read story and trip tips


Toasting Oktoberfest

These festive tributes to Bavarian tradition put the oompah into fall.

Narren at Minneapolis Oktoberfest.

When fall arrives, we get a sudden urge to hoist a stein of beer, eat a grilled bratwurst and listen to red-cheeked men in little felt hats play the accordion.

Fall belongs to the Germans, who streamed into the Upper Midwest in the 1850s and still are the largest ethnic group in every state. Which is a good thing, because Germans like to have fun.

Read story and trip tips


10 cool ways to see fall colors

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

A gondola on the St. Croix River.

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, dog team or 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.

Read story and trip tips


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.

Read story and trip tips