Leaves & Lunches: Wisconsin Fall Color Outings

Between the lush green of summer and winter’s white, Wisconsin’s fall puts on a magnificent, multicolor show. The leaves up north begin changing color first, and the brilliant wave makes its way down through the state, from mid-September to late October.

Here are a few of our favorite spots for admiring the fall foliage. We’ve included our picks for local lunch spots and attractions, so that you can make a day of it. Bring your camera, but remember that it’s more fun when you take in the beauty for yourself, and not just for the perfect photo!

Northern Wisconsin

Fall Color Destination: Rib Mountain State Park, Wausau. The billion-year-old Rib Mountain is the tallest hill in Wisconsin; its 60-foot observation tower provides stunning views. The hiking trails are great, but for three weekends in the fall, you can get a lift to the top instead – a ski lift. The Granite Peak Ski Area, at the north base of the hill, transforms its ski lift into a Fall Colors Comet Sky Ride especially for fall foliage fans.

  • Rib Mountain State Park is Travel Green Wisconsin Certified
  • A vehicle admission sticker is required for cars stopping in state parks
  • A round-trip ticket for the Fall Colors Comet Sky Ride is $8 (children 5 and under ride free)
  • The Sky Ride will run from 11am-4pm on September 28-29, October 5-6, and October 12-13, 2013

Lunch Spot: Stop for a designer burger at the Mint Café. This Wausau favorite dates back to 1888, looks like a 1940s diner, but, in true 21st-century style, tweets their daily specials. 

Local Attraction: The Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum is famed for its annual, international Birds in Art juried exhibition. This year’s Birds in Art will be open to the public from September 7-November 10, 2013. The museum also offers eight to ten changing exhibitions, a sculpture garden, and a formal English garden.

  • Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 9am-4pm; Saturday-Sunday, noon-5pm
  • Admission: Free
  • The Woodson Museum is Travel Green Wisconsin Certified 

Central Wisconsin

Fall Color Destination: Perrot State Park, Trempealeau. With tall limestone bluffs along the Trempealeau and Mississippi Rivers, Perrot offers dramatic views year-round. Fall is a special time to visit and make the most of hiking and biking trails that take you right into the heart of fall color.

Lunch Spot: Go nuts at The Historic Trempealeau Hotel. They’re known for their Walnut Burger, a seasoned walnut and cheese patty, and their Walnut Balls starter, served with honey mustard and green chili salsa.

Local Attraction: The Historic McGilvray-Seven Bridges Road, within the Van Loon Wildlife Area, is listed on the National Register for Historic Places. It features five rare bowstring arch truss bridges and a low truss bridge – perfect for hiking, birding, and gorgeous photos. Free admission. 

Southern Wisconsin

Fall Color Destination: The Geneva Lake Shore Path, Lake Geneva. Grand mansions surround Geneva Lake, but thanks to early settlers’ wisdom, the first 20 feet of land up from the lakeshore is public domain, creating a wonderful path around the lake. Enjoy the fall colors among exquisite landscaping and historic homes.

Lunch Spot: The Simple Café’s menu focuses on locally sourced food. If you’re in a brunch mood, the apple crumble French toast is the way to go.

Local Attraction: Black Point Estate is a 20-room Queen Anne mansion with its original Victorian furnishings. You can only reach it by boat; Lake Geneva Cruise Line runs tours that launch from Riviera Docks in downtown Lake Geneva. The tour includes two floors of the home, its gardens, and a narrated return trip on the boat.

  • Fall tour times; Monday-Friday 10:30am, weekends, 10:30am and 12:30pm, through September 30; October times are based on the weather.
  • Tour tickets: $36 for adults, $34 for seniors, $30 for ages 13-17, $24 for ages 4-12.

Before you go, find out where and when the leaves are at peak color: sign up for our Fall Color Report.

This entry was posted in Fall and tagged Fall, Fall Colors, History / Heritage, Nature, Outdoor Fun