Five Wisconsin Towns Terrific for Fall

By Manya Kaczkowski
Special to

Put away the suntan lotion and beach towels. It’s time to bring out the wine glasses and cameras. You’re going to love Wisconsin’s fall colors! Very few states offer the beauty and seasonal attractions like a fall trip to Wisconsin.

Sample the Fall Harvest in Stone Lake

Stone Lake Cranberry Festival
They resemble shiny red pearls, thousands of them, floating on the cool waters of the bog. This wonderful fall festival offers more than 300 artisans, crafters and food vendors. Other fall activities include a parade, cranberry bake-off and Crate Derby – these homemade race cars are a hoot. Start with cran-cakes at the fire house, tour the Stone Lake Historical Museum and then board a bus bound for the marshes to get a close-up view of the fall harvest. But purchase your cranberries early – they usually sell out by noon

Red Schoolhouse Wines
Later, head over to Red Schoolhouse Wines. Admire the beautiful fall colors in Wisconsin while relaxing by the fireplace on their outdoor patio with a glass of seasonal wine or a cocktail.

Dewar’s Black Bear Pub
Meanwhile, this pub has terrific burgers and chili – the perfect fall food in Wisconsin. This is, hands-down, the best place to watch a Packer game, with discounted buckets of beer and friendly trash-talking (especially when we play the Vikings!).

New Mountain Bed & Breakfast
End your scenic fall day at New Mountain Bed and Breakfast, where you can schedule a relaxing massage and wake up to the smell of fresh bakery.

Scare Up Some Holiday Fall Fun in Milwaukee

Milwaukee Food Tours Adult Trick-or-Treat
Milwaukee Food Tours' Ghouls & Spirits Adult Trick-or-Treat offers a bus tour through some of Milwaukee's most historic (and haunted) neighborhoods. The 21-and-older trip promises plently of stops for tasty eats and "BOO-ze" along the way. 

Waukesha Feargrounds

For a real Halloween freak-out, visit the nearby Waukesha Feargrounds, where you’ll visit the most gruesome haunted houses around, while evil witch Morgana and her terrible troop of troublemakers have their wicked way with you.

Brumder Mansion
Channel your own favorite ghost with a clairvoyant medium at Brumder Mansion, a B&B with lots of Halloween spirit(s). Lose yourself in suspense with murder-mystery theatrical performaces presented live on site, then spend the night… if you dare.

Fall … In Love This Season by Visiting St. Croix Falls

Chateau St. Croix 
A little wine can heat things up, and the St. Croix Valley is particularly romantic during the fall season, when the rich fertile soil produces a lush autumn harvest of Frontenac and Prairie Star grapes. Tour the vineyards of Euro-style Chateau St. Croix, exploring the carriage house, stables, and gardens, then settle in for appetizers and seasonal fall wines – from rich oaked Chardonnay to Ruby Port.

St. Croix Valley Railway Rides
Buy your tickets at a restored century-old depot and hop on vintage train cars for an unforgettable 90-minute journey through amazing fall foliage along the sandstone bluffs of National Scenic River the St. Croix.

Blaze a Trail in Black River Falls

ATV Trails
This time of year, Black River Falls is all about enjoying autumn outdoors – before the snow flies. More than 235 of miles of ATV trails are open to the public until 10/15 (Jackson County) or 10/31 (Clark County) – it’s an exciting way to experience the spectacular fall foliage of Black River State Forest.

If paddling is more your style, then the Black River offers the perfect waterway for experiencing the natural beauty of fall in Wisconsin – lots of folks put their kayaks or canoes in below Lake Arbutus and head downriver, stopping to make camp along the sandbars.

Drivers, meanwhile, can meander through the breathtaking fall colors on over 12 miles of Rustic Road 54, following the old Wazee Trail; it’s a great way to leaf-and-bird watch. From sandhill cranes to eagles, the surrounding marshes are packed with local and migratory feathered friends.

Seasonal Fall Foods
For sustenance, stop in for a cold one at Sand Creek Brewing Company – they’ve got 150+ years of rich brewing history under their belts. Then saddle up to Re-Pete’s Saloon and Grill for a fish fry or a he-man sized cut of prime rib – the perfect food for fall.

Explore the Fall Countryside in Shawano

Caroline Lions Colorama
They call it Shawano “Country” for a reason: it’s filled with farms, lakes and idyllic pastoral fall scenery. In October, horsemen and women take to the trail for the Caroline Lions Colorama. Engage in a little two-stepping Friday night, and saddle up on Saturday and Sunday – or simply come for the autumn horseshoe tournament, wagon rides, craft fair, parade and auction.

Country Miles of Art
Shawano Country Miles of Art features showcases from both emerging and established artisits and the beauty of Shawano County that inspires artists of all ages. Explore area artists’ studios, with sculpture, paintings, jewelry, pottery and more available for purchase.

Barn Quilts and Fall Colors
While you’re peeping at Wisconsin’s fall foliage, try to spot the 300-plus barn quilts gracing the area's well-preserved barns. Worth a stop of its own is artsy little Wittenberg, with their 22 murals (Walls of Wittenberg) depicting the culture and history of the town. See more pleasing works at the WOWSPACE Gallery and an Art Park filled with sculptures.

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