The colors of the autumn season are ever-changing, and we like to make every golden moment count. In Wisconsin, the fall brings plenty to do and more than enough to celebrate — so we’ve gathered this list of our top 10 favorite fall activities. No matter where in Wisconsin you find yourself this fall, you’ll be able to experience these favorites with the people who matter most.
Insider tip: check out our Fall Color Report to time your adventures for prime color.
Ride the Rails
Wind your way through a forest of fall color with a ride on one of Wisconsin’s historic trains. Each season, rail lines around the state show Wisconsin dressed in its autumn best on scenic tours and themed rides, like Mid-Continent Railway’s Pumpkin Special, where riders hop off to pick pumpkins halfway through their journey. Adventures like these are the kind that the kids will never forget.
Wondering if there’s a train near you? Check out these 5 Scenic Fall Train Rides in Wisconsin.
Pick Fresh Apples
Honeycrisp, Red Delicious, Gala, Granny Smith… whichever is your favorite, pick it straight from the source at a Wisconsin orchard. You may come for fresh apples, but you’ll stay for everything else happening around the farm — hayrides, cider tastings, corn mazes and a whole bunch of apple-filled treats are all commonly found on site. And we like to make the picking a friendly competition: who in your family or group of friends picks the best apples?
Find your filling for the perfect apple pie at these 7 Wisconsin Apple Orchards Worth the Pick This Fall.
Cruise Through Fall Colors
An open road draped in reds, oranges and golds and a car full of the people who matter most — fall drives are free-spirited and unforgettable. Head to any number of Wisconsin’s scenic routes, and you’ll find adventure waiting. The Great River Road National Scenic Byway follows the state’s western edge along the Mississippi River bluffs, Highways 42 and 57 in Door County offer a front row seat to fall foliage on the Lake Michigan shoreline, and an entire network of rustic roads crisscross the state in between, revealing the best of fall color off the beaten path. The variety of stops along any fall drive make it a great option for both families and friends.
If you hear a strange creak in the floorboards, or feel a soft breeze on the back of your neck — it’s probably just the wind. But if you feel that breeze while on the Dells Ghost Boat or a Door County Trolley Ghost Tour, then we can’t say for sure. Fall is the perfect time of year to explore the spooky side of Wisconsin’s history on a tour through the state’s haunted hideouts. While not for the littlest ones, experiences like these make for some of the best memories.
Legend says there are a few guests that never checked out of some of Wisconsin’s haunted hotels — but you’ll have to stay in them to see for yourself.
Tour Cranberry Country
Odds are your cranberry juice came from Wisconsin — as did your cranberry sauce and your cranberry trail mix because Wisconsin is the country’s largest producer of these sweet, tart berries. Fall is cranberry season, and this year’s harvest is on full display in bogs throughout Central Wisconsin’s cranberry country. Gather your family or friends to tour a bog and learn more about the fruit at the Cranberry Discovery Center.
And we don’t just enjoy cranberries, we celebrate them. See what we mean at the giant Warrens Cranberry Festival September 23-25. Covering three whole miles, Cranfest features hundreds of vendors including everything from arts & crafts and antiques to farm goods and food — all centered around the delightful, little cranberry. You’ll also have the chance to tour a working cranberry marsh. So load up the family van, or your friend’s sedan, and head to Warrens for the festival — it’s sure to sweeten the memories you make together this fall.
For tips on touring and tasting all things cranberry, don’t miss these Four Stops along the Wisconsin Cranberry Trail.
Celebrate a traditional Oktoberfest with a stein and good times in Wisconsin. German heritage runs deep here, and each year we embrace it by donning a dirndl, strapping on lederhosen and shouting “Prost!” with friends and neighbors. Follow the smell of fresh brats and come prepared to polka — we’ll save you a spot in the biergarten.
Dine at a Classic Wisconsin Supper Club
Dinner at a supper club: cozy and classy at any time of year, but it’s even more so in the fall. Settle in for an iconic old fashioned and Friday fish fry at one of many supper clubs around the state – try Timmer’s Resort for fireside dining, Greenwood Supper Club for towering dessert drinks and Toby’s for their homemade cinnamon rolls — all best enjoyed in good company.
For a journey that’s just as charming as the destination, visit these 5 Supper Clubs Along Beautiful Fall Drives.
Sip an Autumn Brew
Wisconsin’s breweries and cideries are mixing up something special for the fall season, and now’s your chance to get it before it’s gone! Beer drinkers wait all year for a taste of New Glarus Staghorn and Capital Brewery’s Oktoberfest, and local favorites like Lakefront Brewery’s Pumpkin Lager and Sand Creek’s Hard Cranberry Lemonade (made with Wisconsin cranberry juice) round out an already stacked list of fall-flavored brews. Catch up with your favorite people with an autumn brew in hand.
Can’t choose just one? Try a little bit of everything at these 6 Great Fall Beer and Wine Festivals.
Traverse Some Trails
Fresh air and fall color: a match made in Wisconsin. Keep it simple with a hike, bike or paddle through autumn woods — Wyalusing, Willow River and High Cliff state parks each boast gorgeous colorful views from their trails and waterways.
Keep your camera at the ready on these Fall Hikes with Picture-Perfect Views.
Float Above the Fall Splendor
Looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience this fall? Book a hot air balloon ride and get a view of Wisconsin usually reserved for the birds. WindDancer Balloons in Waukesha, Handcrafted Furniture Balloon Rides in Wausau, Calm Sky Adventures near Oshkosh and Lake Geneva Balloon Company all offer sky-high trips in different areas. Whether it’s a family adventure or a romantic sunset flight over autumn-colored hills, these experienced pilots know how to make unforgettable moments for you and your loved ones.
Keep the good times rolling and check out more fall trip ideas around the state.