MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

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Favorites for fall

Ghosts on the prowl
Around the region, spirits of past turn out to haunt tourists of today.
Halloween in Chicago
During scary season, this fun-loving city pulls out all the stops.
Fall in Door County
On this Wisconsin peninsula, autumn colors gild a much-loved landscape.
The divine Devil's Lake
In Wisconsin's Baraboo Hills, a stunning state park makes people come running.
Gales of November
Along the North Shore, early-winter winds evoke visions of shipwrecks.
Road trip: Seeking covered bridges
Some are old and some are new, but they all inspire nostalgia for the past.
Greatest hits of the Ice Age
In Wisconsin, the best walking trails are gifts from the glaciers.
Wisconsin's Rustic Roads
On quiet lanes, motorists ramble into the heart of the countryside.

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FastPlans/Late fall in Red Wing

Barn Bluff frames Red Wing on the Mississippi.

Red Wing has a charmed location — in an elbow of the Mississippi River, in the shadow of boxy Barn Bluff and only an hour south of the Twin Cities. It's a favorite fall destination.

What to do: Hike up Barn Bluff.  Catch a concert or play at the Sheldon Theatre.  Sample wine at Falconer Vineyards. See the World's Largest Boot at the Red Wing Shoe Store & Museum. Go on a river cruise. Hear folk music at Hobgoblin Music Loft.

Details: See Roaming in Red Wing.

Past fast plans: Halloween in Chicago, Fall colors in Door County, Fall in Decorah, The Cornish of Mineral Point, Autumn in the St. Croix Valley

This weekend

Time to show off your costumes.

Children's Halloween parade.

Halloween in Anoka, Minn. This town just north of Minneapolis celebrates Halloween for a week, ending with a 1 p.m. Grand Day Parade Oct. 26.

Jack O'Lantern Days in Fish Creek, Wis. There will be mask making, pumpkin carving, trick or treating and haunted trolley tours. Oct. 25–27.

BatFest in Batavia, Ill. This Fox River town hosts a pumpkin roll, pumpkin-carving battles, "Thriller'' dances, marshmallow shooting and a parade. Oct. 26.

Halloween Outdoor Puppet Extravaganza in St. Paul. This all-ages evening spectacle in Hidden Falls Regional Park features larger-than-life puppetry, fire, song, stilting and jazz brass bands. Oct. 25–26, 31 and Nov. 2.

For more, see our Events Calendar.


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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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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Horror around the corner

Spoiling for a fright? For Halloween, ghouls lurk in strange places.

A Redcoat ghoul at Fort Michilimackinac.

It began with a sepulchral fugue, crashing through the frigid steel corridors. Then there was a shriek. And throbbing blood-red lights.

At a fork along a curtained gantlet, a hand-lettered sign advised, "Choose wisely.'' We chose. Another sign said, "You chose poorly.'' Then the ghouls began to crowd in, chattering like monkeys: "Where you goin'? Where you goin'?''

A skeleton slowly turned to face us. We climbed a Plexiglass ramp over an open coffin and into an electrocution chamber. A tortured face poked out of the wall. Behind us, the tunnel closed.

A haunted house? No, a haunted ship — a real claustrophobe's nightmare.

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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.

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Ghosts of the Great Lakes

Centuries of tragedy on ship and shore leave haunting memories.

The Edmund Fitzgerald.

In late fall, ghosts go hand in hand with shipwrecks and the malevolent storms that cause them.

Crews and passengers have been coming to bad ends ever since boats sailed the Great Lakes, starting with the French explorer La Salle's Griffin, which disappeared in 1679 after leaving Washington Island in Door County and may have been found off Michigan's Garden Peninsula.

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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.

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