I’ll admit it: I am a little bit sad the dog days of summer are behind us. But let's look on the bright side: nothing beats fall in the Badger State! Here are 17 reasons to love autumn in Wisconsin:
- Rustic roads and changing leaves — There are 100+ stunning rustic routes to experience in Wisconsin during the fall. (Tip: Check out the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Rustic Roads program for a downloadable guide. )
- Barn tours — Round up the kids, hit the backroads and enjoy some of Wisconsin’s most beautiful rustic barns set against a brilliantly colorful backdrop. How about a trip to Hinchley's Dairy Farm in Deerfield or Busy Barns Adventure Farm in Fort Atkinson?
- Fall daytrips — Done the tour by car? Head off the beaten path and take in Wisconsin’s gorgeous fall colors by boat or train: I recommend cruising Lake Geneva, the Apostle Islands in Bayfield, the Mississippi River near La Crosse or the sandstone bluffs of Wisconsin Dells. Or you can climb aboard Mid-Continent Railway Museum in North Freedom, the Osceola & St. Croix Valley Railway in Osceola or the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad in Spooner.
- Backyard bonfires — Bonfires may be a year-round leisure here in Wisconsin but there’s just something different about bonfires during the fall.
- Beer and brats — Summer barbecues are popular in Wisconsin but grill-outs are still very much a pastime in the fall. (We’re just usually sporting a football jersey of some sort.)
- Boots, jeans and hoodies — I believe Wisconsin fashion to be at its best during the fall. Warm, comfy and hassle-free outfits. I call it: Wisconsin-Chic.
- Hunting and fishing — Outdoor sportsmen are tuning their bows, trapshooting, and hitting the less-crowded lakes, where the fish bite all day in the fall.
- Crisp, cool weather — If you find the word “cool” unsettling, think of it this way: less humidity.
- Apple Orchards — Fall’s true mascot, apple orchards provide a wonderful place for kids and kids at heart to enjoy an autumn hayride together, sip some warm apple cider and of course, pick a bucketful of Honeycrisps.
- Open windows — A light breeze means we can keep our windows open during the fall here in Wisconsin. Just make sure to have a few warm blankets on hand.
- Pumpkin patches — Search for the perfect pumpkin at one of Wisconsin’s many pumpkin patches: Blue Vista Farm in Bayfield, Eugster’s Farm Market and Petting Farm in Stoughton, Mulberry Lane Farm in Hilbert, Schuster’s Farm in Deerfield and many more!
- Tundra swans and Canadian Geese — Nature is abundant year round in Wisconsin but fall brings us a different set of visitors: Tundra swans and Canada Geese overtake the Badger State during the autumn months.
- Corn mazes — Grab a sweatshirt, a decent navigational companion and get lost together at one of Wisconsin’s farm corn mazes. We recommend Meuer Farm Corn Maze in Chilton, Schopf's Hilltop Dairy in Sturgeon Bay or Treinen Farm Corn Maze in Lodi.
- Fall festivals — Summer is fantastic for festivals but fall just might be the party season in Wisconsin: There’s Autumn Fest in St. Croix Falls, Bayfield Apple Festival in Bayfield, Oktoberfest in La Crosse, Warrens Cranberry Festival in Warrens, Wo-Zha-Wa Fall Festival in the Dells and dozens more!
- The food — Ripe cherries, caramel apples, beer cheese soup and pumpkin-flavored everything. (And that’s just a slice of what Wisconsin offers on its fall menu!)
- The smell — Falling leaves, Maple trees, fresh air and warm apple pie. Say it with me: Ahhhhh.
- Football — I’d be remiss if I didn’t spotlight the unofficial sport of Wisconsin: football! Fields and stadiums across the state light up every Friday night for hometown games. And I love seeing fans gather at local bars and restaurants– adorned in Bucky wear and cheeseheads – to cheer on the Badgers and Packers each weekend.
What do you love most about autumn in Wisconsin?
Mariah Haberman is the co-host of the nation’s longest-running tourism TV show, Discover Wisconsin. She hails from Evansville, where she was brought up in a family of seven in a small farmhouse outside of town. Some of her favorite memories include Lake Michigan fishing trips with her Dad, showing sheep at the Rock County Fair and buzzing around the farm on an ATV with her little brother. Watch Discover Wisconsin Saturdays at 10 a.m. on FSN Wisconsin’s outdoor block.
My favorite thing about fall is the trees turning so many beautiful colors! Absolutely love going up to Fish Creek in Door County and checking out Peninsula State Park! Unbelievable beauty!
Don't miss the spectacular colors, incredible views and wonderful wines at Botham Vineyards & Winery just south of Barneveld in the heart of the magnificent Iowa County Uplands. Pack a picnic to enjoy on the terrace or in the eclectic and inviting Back-barn Lounge.
Come explore the beautiful Driftless region of Fennimore in Grant County. Tons of activities and great places to dine, shop and explore; all within easy, scenic drives. Make the Green River Guest House your base of comfort, quiet and privacy after a day, or two, of being out and about.
LOVE the driftless area...especially during the fall. Thanks for the comment, Kathy!
Thank you for sharing your knowledge and the corresponding links for the rustic road, barn and boat/train tours.
I have only been in Wisconsin for a year. And as a former resident of New England, I was missing the foliage trips back home until I saw this informative article. Now I look forward to making new memories while taking beautiful pictures of your lovely state. Thank you!!
You bet, Lea. Thanks for reading! Since you're pretty new to our state, be sure to watch our show, Discover Wisconsin, every weekend for great trip ideas! 🙂
Don't forget the Kettle Moraine area, both north and south. As the maples start to fade, the beautiful oaks come into their own. The drive out to Holy Hill is just gorgeous.
For me, each fall is a golden opportunity to head North and enjoy and photograph the abundance of waterfalls --especially in the Northern tier of counties-- against the backdrop of autumn leaves. Although special places like Pattison, Amnicon and Copper Falls State Parks come immediately to mind, there are many other spectacular falls scattered throughout Wisconsin's Northwoods, and each is worthy of exploration.