Everyone knows Wisconsin's fall colors can't be beat—and the same is true for Wisconsin's fall flavors. From food festivals to wine trails and new seasonal treats, harvest season in Wisconsin makes for exceptional culinary experiences. Take a food excursion this fall season and taste it all for yourself!
1. Travel the Door County Wine Trail
There's no better time than fall to get out and experience Wisconsin's beautiful wineries. Why not make a foodie-themed trip out of it? The Door County Wine Trail encompasses seven wineries throughout the Door Peninsula. As you taste your way though the wineries, take in the beauty of the season. Door County offers a gorgeous backdrop of fall color.
The Door County Distillery is a must-stop on the trail. Opened as an expansion to the Door Peninsula Winery, it's one of the few hand-crafted distilleries in the state of Wisconsin and the first in the region to produce vodka and gin.
2. Reap the Harvest of Bayfield
Bayfield has a number of culinary celebrations this fall. For some fresh seasonal produce, foodies can take part in the Bayfield Apple Festival. To combine scenery with tasty fare from local restaurants, try the BigTAP ChautauquaFest's "culinary hike" at Big Top Chautauqua.
3. Bring Frozen Tundra Wine to a Tailgate Party
Sure, it's acceptable to bring wine to a Packer's tailgate party, just so long as it's Parallel 44 Winery's Frozen Tundra Wine. In time for football season, the wine, which comes in Tundra Red, Tundra White and Frozen Tundra blush, is named after – you guessed it – Lambeau Field. Order online or purchase at Parallel 44's Winery in Kewaunee right near Titletown. There's even a picture of Lambeau infused with a vineyard on the label.
What goes good with wine? How about some chocolate from Seroogy's in nearby De Pere? Seroogy's chocolate is homemade, hand-dipped and delicious. In the store, foodies can find free samples of both chocolate and Seroogy's signature coffee. For something seasonal, try the cranberry clusters, Wisconsin-grown cranberries dipped in chocolate.
4. Celebrate Wisconsin's Famed Sausages
Wisconsin sports teams are on fire. But the Packers, Badgers and Brewers aren't the only things sizzling this season. Head to Miller Park for a Milwaukee Brewers game and you may find it difficult to decide which of the five Klement's Racing Sausage varieties to pick: chorizo, Polish or Italian sausage, a hot dog or bratwurst. For any foodie, the correct choice is all of them. The Racing Sausage Kabob, voted by fans as the winning item in the Brewers "Create a Concession' contest, allows you to sample all of the flavors on a stick.
If you can't make it to a game, do Milwaukee proud and watch it while savoring some delicious Usinger's Sausage, which has been made in the city for more than 125 years. Usinger's ships all over the United States, which means you can order some for your cousin who lives in New York, who happens to be a Yankees fan.
5. Enjoy the Fruits of Wisconsin's Harvest, Literally
Stop by the Wisconsin Cranberry Discovery Center in Warrens to tour a musuem dedicated to Wisconsin's fruit. Interactive exhibits display the state's unique connections to the cranberry, from a staple of Native American life to its importance today as Wisconsin's top fruit crop.
The best way for a foodie to appreciate the cranberry is by sampling, of course. Visit the test kitchen and ice cream parlor to taste cranberry creations. We recommend the cranberry ice cream, cranberry pie, cranberry bread, cranberry scones, cranberry cookies … well, you get the idea.
6. Try Some Stinkin' Cheese
This foodie list wouldn't be complete without a mention of Wisconsin's pride and joy: cheese. A trip to Green County provides you with endless cheesy options, as more than a dozen factories are located in the area.
Visit Monroe's Baumgartner's Cheese Store and Tavern to try their specialty Limburger sandwich. Known as "stinky cheese" for the unique odor it produces, Limburger cheese is made solely in Monroe. Sink your teeth into the sandwich, which starts off with two hunks of rye bread slathered in spicy mustard, followed by a chunk of Limburger and topped with raw onion. Baumgartner's, which opened in 1931 and is Wisconsin's oldest cheese store, offers a deli and a tavern with locally brewed beers and sandwiches.
While you're in the area, stop by the New Glarus Hotel Restaurant and the Chalet Landhaus Inn for some Swiss specialties. The Chalet, "America's Little Switzerland," is known for its Beef Fondue Bourguignonne and Cheese Fondue a la Neuchatel. And, since everything tastes better in fondue form, we recommend chocolate fondue for dessert.
7. Attend the Kohler Food and Wine Fest
Kohler is known for its world-class resorts, golf courses, top-notch spa and now, food and wine. The Kohler Food and Wine Experience is the ultimate foodie event held every fall. The celebration includes nationally renowned chefs offering dozens of seminars, demonstrations and tastings. More than 60 types of wine and upwards of 20 cooking classes give visitors a chance to learn from the pros and become experts themselves.
8. Travel the Great River Road for a Homemade Meal
Bask in the glory of delicious homemade food along the Great River Road National Scenic Byway. Following the Mississippi River along the western border of the state, the road has a number of stops on the way – some for eating, some for photo opportunities.
Head to Pepin for some slow-cooked food at Harbor View Café, which touts cooking with the highest quality and freshest local ingredients available. Fall menu items in the past have included braised pork, pork shank, apple-flavored sauces and more.
Also along the Great River Road is the Freight House Restaurant in La Crosse, a National Historic Register site. It was originally constructed in 1880 as the Milwaukee Road Freight House. Today, they serve up top-quality steaks, seafood, seasonal vegetables and have an extensive wine list. Hint: Grab a seat at the Freight House's impressive bar on a Friday or Saturday night to listen to the region's finest musicians.
For dessert, a trip to Stockholm Pie & General Store is a foodie must. We recommend the Stockholm Pie fall specialty: the apple dumpling. Peeled and cored, the apples are filled with white sugar, cinnamon and butter. Then they're wrapped in a special crust, basted in butter, cinnamon and sugar and baked in the oven. You also can't go wrong with any of the seasonal apple pies to choose from: regular, apple crisp, caramel apple crunch and sour cream apple. Is your mouth watering yet?
9. Attend the Ultimate Foodie Halloween Party in Lake Geneva
Who says Halloween is just for kids? Head to Lake Geneva for the beer and spirits tasting event Beer and Spirits. Held at the Ridge Hotel in Lake Geneva, this is the place to sample the region's best beers. The event includes unlimited beer tasting from 35 Midwest craft breweries and distilleries, as well as samples from multiple food vendors. Limited tickets for a VIP Beer Tasting held one hour before the event allow foodies to sample the beer early, and get some one-on-one time with the beer distributors. Tickets also are available for designated drivers, which include unlimited tasting of gourmet sodas.
10. Nosh in the Northwoods
This fall, take a drive along the Great Divide Scenic Byway through the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. The scenic route, nearly 30 miles long following Highway 77, winds through forests, lakes, swamps and small Wisconsin towns, offering views of some of the most vibrant fall color in the state.
Wisconsin's Northwoods are home to a variety of one-of-a-kind eateries. Start at the Green Lantern in Glidden, an eclectic restaurant with home-cooked meals. People come for the food and stay for the welcoming atmosphere at this local hangout.
If supper clubs are more your scene, head to Hayward's original steakhouse The Ranch, which boasts great food, classic cocktails and the coolest bartop in Wisconsin. In nearby Cable, foodies delight in seasonal dishes at the Rookery Pub, a top-rated area restaurant on TripAdvisor. Located at the Cable Nature Lodge, the pub's ever-changing menu features weekly fresh fish specials, beef and bison steak, handmade pasta, specialty salads, and vegetarian and vegan entrees, all made with ingredients from local producers.
Need a walk to burn off those calories? Try one of these 15 fall color hikes, from easy to difficult, and see some of Wisconsin's most gorgeous autumn scenery.