Fall is a special time with so many seasonal delights we look forward to every year. Wisconsin is a perfect place to enjoy the flavors, scents, and scenes of the season. From city centers to farmland and suburbs to rolling hills, Wisconsin offers a perfect environment to immerse yourself in the fabulous feelings of fall. As the leaves start changing and the air grows cooler, we’ll show you some of our favorite reasons that fall in Wisconsin is as good as it gets.
1. Take A Scenic Drive
Road trips are perfect for checking out the Wisconsin fall color. You can start in just about any location and plot a course for as long (or short) as you’d like. There are so many wonderful towns to visit; it’s easy to have a fun day trip in any direction.
Check out our ideas for a longer northern-bound road trip up to Sister Bay in Door County with plenty of fun stops along the way. If you’re heading up that way and want a more secluded trip, don’t miss the Northwoods, or “Up North” as the locals call it. Small towns along the Wisconsin and Eagle rivers with many lakes and forests make excellent places to get away and relax in nature.
For a fun day go to Green Bay. They have the Great Pumpkin Train at the National Railway Museum on October 8 and 15. They have train rides to the pumpkin patch where there will be lots of activities for the whole family. Another one of our favorites is Stevens Point. Take in the Stevens Point Sculpture Park downtown. The 27-mile Green Circle Trail is fun to hike or bike. Its beautiful parks and wetlands follow the Wisconsin and Plover Rivers.
Madison is great place to start enjoying your drive. Explore the isthmus and then drive up to Devil’s Lake State Park in less than an hour. The magnificent bluffs make a fun place for hiking and taking in the views. Head out from Milwaukee along Lake Michigan and drive to darling Cedarburg about 30 minutes away.The Wisconsin Dells has been drawing fall season visitors for decades. It’s a place packed with family fun. Here you’ll find waterparks, zipline, golf, and fall festivals. Lake Geneva, just over the Illinois border, is an easy midwest fall getaway. It has a unique small-town vibe with many fun things to do like golfing, hiking and shopping. Join the Fall Wine Walk on October 1, when over 20 downtown stores offer wine tastings with hors d’ouevres.
2. Get Lost In Corn Mazes
You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy the sheer fall fun of working your way through a crazy maze of corn stalks. From spooky labyrinths to acres of mazes with checkpoints and challenges, Wisconsin has plenty of corn mazes that are family-friendly and lots of fun to explore.
3. Apple Picking
Fall and apples go hand in hand. But when it comes to getting exactly the apples you want, there’s nothing quite like picking them yourself. Wisconsin orchards are bursting at the seams with apples when fall comes around. That makes it the perfect time to go apple picking.
Orchards For Family Fun
You can choose the orchard with your favorite types of apples and check their schedules for what’s available. If you don’t feel like picking yourself, you’ll find full bags with different types of apples and sometimes mixed bags for baking or eating. Many offer hayrides and other family-friendly activities. Here are just some of our favorites:
- Eplegaarden in Fitchburg, Wisconsin
- Appleberry Farm in Cross Plains, Wisconsin
- Door Creek Orchard in Cottage Grove, Wisconsin
- Lapacek’s Orchard in Poynette, Wisconsin
4. Hiking And Biking
It’s no secret that Wisconsin is a gorgeous state with tons of hiking and biking trails. They’re even prettier during the fall. Great hiking trails offer a variety of terrain, from prairies to forests to challenging hills. Many offer footpaths as well as trails well-suited to bicyclists. Some have unique features like lakes, rock formations, caves, and waterfalls. Check out our list of a few favorite Wisconsin hikes and know that there are many more from which to choose.
5. Plenty Of Pumpkin Patches
Some of us live for pumpkin season, where pumpkin spice everything is the order of the day. Even if you’re not into pumpkin seasoning, pumpkin season is a whole lot of fun. It’s especially entertaining when you head out to one of Wisconsin’s incredible pumpkin patches, where you can choose the perfect pumpkins for your fall and Halloween decorating. Whether you want big pumpkins to make into jack-o’-lanterns or petite, sweet sugar pumpkins to make into pies, you should have no trouble finding what you want. Pumpkin patches offer everything from fields of squash to pumpkin-centric activity centers.
6. Apple Cider Donuts, Pies, Turnovers, Cider, And More
While we enjoy picking apples, we also love all the delicious treats they make. Fall in Wisconsin brings out apple goodies like nobody’s business. Apple pies, apple cider donuts, apple turnovers, apple strudels, apple squares, caramel apples, and so much more fill the air with scents of cinnamon, spice, and everything nice. You can find all sorts of goodies at the apple orchards themselves and at markets, stands, and bakeries. For a little grown-up apple indulgence, try the wonderful ciders from The Cider Farm while listening to live music.
7. Barn Quilts
Barn quilts are some of the most interesting features of fall in Wisconsin. These beautiful designs are located all over the state, adorning barns with a warm and homey nod to Wisconsin’s agricultural heritage. There are several places in Wisconsin where you can actually follow a trail to see the numerous barn quilts in the area. Like a rural art scavenger hunt, barn quilt trails have captured the imaginations of visitors and locals alike. They’ve become so popular you can actually get a map that will guide you through different trails in several Wisconsin counties.
8. Farm Stands And Markets
Fall fruits and vegetables are part of Wisconsin’s annual bounty, and there’s no way to better enjoy them than fresh from a local stand or farmers market. There are many to choose from, and you can fill your kitchen with the freshest produce available while supporting Wisconsin farmers at the same time. We don’t know of a better win-win, so we spend lots of time visiting old favorites and adding new ones every year.
We like to visit Eugster’s for a dose of fresh fall flavors. Stop in Janesville at Skelly’s Farm Market September through October for family fun. You can enjoy pumpkin picking, apple cannons, and corn mazes. Don’t miss their bakery for apple cider and pumpkin donuts, caramel apples, apple turnovers, and many gift ideas too.
9. Weekend Cabin Getaways
Fall in Wisconsin brings a desire to get away and enjoy the beauty of nature. One popular way to do that is by getting a cabin for a fall weekend getaway. Lake cabins are especially popular because they offer so many activities as well as a chance to relax, refresh, and renew. Kayaking, fishing, hiking, bird-watching, and other ways to have fun can fill a weekend with just the right mix. Cabins, cottages, and other weekend rentals often come with equipment you can use to enjoy your time there, making it easy to get the most out of a fall Wisconsin retreat.
10. Midwest Fall Colors
Although it may go without saying, we’ll say it anyway: Wisconsin is absolutely gorgeous wearing its fall colors. Beautiful areas for leaf peepers are all over the state. The colorful wave typically flows from north to south, so plan the time you’ll be there to make the most of the fiery hues. If you feel like driving to see all the colors, check out our suggestions for the most scenic Wisconsin fall foliage road trip. Be sure to follow the Wisconsin fall color report so you arrive at the best time to see all the best colors.
11. Explore The Cranberry Marshes
Most people think of the Northeast when they think of cranberries. But Wisconsin actually produces the most cranberries in the United States — some 60 percent. So when fall comes around, that’s the perfect time to see where all those cranberries grow. You can drive along the Wisconsin Cranberry Highway or take a cranberry marsh tour to learn more about this favorite fall flavor and get some cranberry treats to take home.If you’re lucky enough to be in this area at the end of September don’t miss the Cranberry Festival in Warrens, Wisconsin.
12. Hunt For The Best Cheese On A Cheese Trail
It’s hard to imagine a season in Wisconsin where cheese is not a highlight. Fall brings some extra-special cheeses, however, where master cheesemakers show off their talents with flavors that highlight the season. You can choose your own cheesy stops or take a bunch in on a Wisconsin Cheese Trail. Be sure to look for seasonal cheeses that incorporate fall flavors like apple and cranberry as well as fabulous Wisconsin harvest cheese boards.
13. Oktoberfest And Beer
Wisconsinites enjoy beer with all that cheese, and fall is a great time to explore the incredible number of local brews. Oktoberfest is a fall tradition because so many residents have German heritage. With over 220 entries, this guide to Wisconsin breweries will give you a great start.
There are also other fall flavors to celebrate the Oktoberfest spirit. One of our favorite ways is to get authentic old-world products at Bavaria Sausage. Stepping inside feels like a visit back to the old country. With imported goods of all sorts from candies and clothing to sausage and steins, you’ll get into the Oktoberfest spirit right away. They also ship items directly from their website.
Don’t miss the New Glarus Oktoberfest September 22-25, in downtown New Glarus. The festival offers beer tents, food stands, live music, and prizes for wearing your best Oktoberfest attire. Oktoberfest USA in La Crosse, Wisconsin (September 29 through October 1) is one of the largest harvest celebrations in the midwest. There are two parades, local food vendors, carnival rides, and of course, beer!
14. Best Places to Go Birding
Bird-watchers know that fall is migration season. And Wisconsin’s waterways fill with many birds as they head south for the winter. Wisconsin is home to over 300 birding hotspots. One of the most incredible spots to see the spectacular migration of Canada geese is Horicon Marsh, one of their favorite stops on the long journey south. Some 200,000 geese make their way there around peak season in mid-October.
15. Beautiful Parks To Visit
Wisconsin’s parks offer fall majesty in every hue. Lakeshores, riverways, forests, botanical gardens, scenic trails, and parks of every size fill Wisconsin with beautiful places to discover and explore. Fall colors make the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum, Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, and other spots even more vibrant. Wisconsin’s beauty is on full display through its many natural attractions and state parks.
When you’re looking for family fun fall activities, fall food, beautiful colors, places to explore, and so much more, these are just a few of the reasons why we think that fall in Wisconsin is as good as it gets.