Fall in Wisconsin is all about the color. As September rolls in and leaves become a medley of reds and golds, color-lovers from all around start making plans to get outside and appreciate it. But there’s more to the Wisconsin fall color experience than just seeing it — it’s how you see it that makes all the difference, turning an event into a memorable adventure. An adventure meant to be shared with the people who matter most.
This autumn, climb aboard one of Wisconsin’s historic trains for a fall color show that’s sure to impress — we’ll save you a spot by the window!
Mid-Continent Railway – North Freedom
Behold the scenic Baraboo Hills ablaze with fall foliage from your seat on this turn-of-the-century steam train. The seven-mile journey though rural Sauk County provides ample opportunity to spot changing leaves. Ride in one of Mid-Continent Railway Museum's restored passenger coaches or, for an extra-special trip, the caboose!
Visit on select weekends for special fall-themed rides, including Autumn Color Weekend (running the same weekend as Sauk County’s Fermentation Fest) and the Pumpkin Special, where families can pick out a pumpkin halfway through the ride to bring home and keep the fall festivities rolling.
Riverside & Great Northern Railway – Wisconsin Dells
Families flock to the Riverside & Great Northern Railway to hop aboard this small-sized, kid-friendly steam locomotive, the only one of its kind in the area. Its open-air cars wind through the woods of northern Wisconsin Dells and put you up close and personal with gorgeous scenery. Expect to pass through scenic canyons and rock cuts along the Dells of the Wisconsin River, in addition to great fall color. A special train car for visitors who use wheelchairs can easily be added to any ride so that everyone can comfortably experience this fall adventure.
To make a day of it, pack a picnic to enjoy outside the depot with your favorite people — you’ll be near enough to the tracks to watch the trains roll by!
Osceola & St. Croix Valley Railway – Osceola
Feel like you're traveling back in time with a ride on the Osceola and St. Croix Valley Railway, whose vintage train cars and unspoiled views harken back to life in the 1940’s. See the banks of the beautiful St. Croix Riverway draped in its autumn best on the Marine run (a longer ride along the bluffs, chugging over the river and into Minnesota before rounding back), the Dresser run (a shorter ride, great for families with small children) or on one of their many themed rides including the Fall Colors train, the Pumpkin Express (where you and the family can pick out the perfect pumpkin), or a Wine Tasting train for a romantic weekend away.
Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad – Trego
Meet Madeline. She’s an adorable, self-propelled train car (affectionately known as a “Doodlebug”) beautifully restored for sightseeing around Northwest Wisconsin. Spot dazzling color on your trek along the Namekagon River as Madeline leads you to a scenic overlook only reachable by train or canoe. If you’re feeling fancy, upgrade to a night on America’s only moving Bed & Breakfast train that includes dinner in a private dining compartment and optional cocktails that will make you feel like you’ve traveled back in time.
Hungry for more? Book a seat on the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad’s popular family pizza train for dinner with a view. It’s a slice of happiness that can end a family getaway on a perfect (and cheesy) note.
East Troy Electric Railroad – East Troy
A full day of fall magic begins aboard the East Troy Railroad, on a charming seven-mile ride through thick colorful Wisconsin forest. All rails stop at the Elegant Farmer, a popular family apple orchard packed with all the makings of a perfect fall day: pick-your-own apples, a corn maze, hayrides, homemade treats and more. Finish up with a return trip on the restored electric trolley — definitely more relaxing (and memorable!) than driving the car.
And while you’re at the Elegant Farmer, don’t miss a slice of their famous apple pie. This dessert baked in a paper-bag has been a local favorite for decades. Grab some extra for easy baking at home to keep the autumn memories going long after your visit.
For more Wisconsin color-spotting outtings, check out these 5 Supper Clubs Along Beautiful Fall Drives.