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15 Best Places for Fall Colors in Wisconsin

A guide to the best places to see fall colors in Wisconsin, including where to stay and best time to visit

Get ready to discover nature’s best works of art!

From fire-like red, orange or brown, to golden, bright tones of yellow, the fall foliage in Wisconsin offers breathtaking views to those who love autumn or are simply looking to unwind and enjoy nature. 

I can tell you from my experience that fall colors in Wisconsin are a sight worth remembering!

The rustle of vividly colored leaves and the playful light beams that sneak through the foliage transform fall colors, Wisconsin, and an otherwise ordinary trip into a magical, straight-out-of-a-postcard experience.

best time for fall colors Wisconsin, view of forest with green tree
Fall foliage in Wisconsin

Pack your bag, gather your dear ones and explore the uniqueness of the Wisconsin foliage by touring along with oaks, maple trees, and birch trees on a trip to discover the best fall colors in Wisconsin!

In this post, you will find a list of the best places to see fall colors in Wisconsin, tips to capture the peak fall colors, Wisconsin activities, and ideas to spend a wonderful vacation surrounded by fall colors in Wisconsin. 

Keep reading to make the best out of your fall getaway and discover the best places to see fall colors in Wisconsin!

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Best Time to See Fall Colors in Wisconsin

Wisconsin is the best state to visit during the fall season.

People from all over the country enjoy the peak of fall foliage in Wisconsin, the best mountain bike trails and hikes of the state, or the exciting fall festivals in Wisconsin!

For love birds, the dreamy atmosphere of falling leaves and stunning colors topped up with matchless natural sights turns romantic getaways in Wisconsin into a must-do! 

Best fall colors Northern Wisconsin, Waterfalls of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan
Waterfalls of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

Nonetheless, it is an out-of-this-world trip for families or solo travelers too! Getting lost in the picturesque scenery of Wisconsin fall colors is soothing and absolutely relaxing. 

Anyway, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure that you’re not missing any of the Wisconsin fall foliage.

For example, Wisconsin colors peak from September to October. You can check when you can enjoy the best autumn foliage using the Wisconsin fall color report.

For the best time for fall colors, Wisconsin offers a relatively broad time frame to explore the multitude of red, yellow, and orange shades.

My friendly advice is to check the evolution of the foliage using a fall color report and make sure you catch the most vivid and diverse fall colors in Wisconsin.

On the other hand, you can also find information about the best times to see the Wisconsin fall colors in this article, listed for every place mentioned!

1. Holy Hill National Shrine of Mary

best places to see fall colors in wisconsin, Holy Hill National Shrine of Mary
Holy Hill National Shrine of Mary

This religious shrine built on the top of a glacial hill comes first on the list.

Why? Because the view offered by the heights of this basilica is breathtaking.

Wisconsin’s neo-Romanesque basilica attracts more than 500,000 tourists each year.

Some come to admire the architecture, others make a pilgrimage to meditate and pray, and lastly, people come to enjoy the stunning views and peaceful environment.

It is one of the best Wisconsin fall getaways! If you plan to visit, expect to find the peak of fall colors in the 3rd week of October. 

Moreover, while visiting Holy Hill, you can relax in the nearby Glacier Hills County Park or Kettle Moraine State Forest! Both of which provide great fall foliage.

You can include in your trip schedule a quick stop in the biggest city of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

There are many cool things to do in Milwaukee in October, including strolling on the shore of Lake Michigan, one of the best lakes in Wisconsin, or enjoying a walk surrounded by the dazzling fall colors of Wisconsin.

The Holy Hill National Shrine of Mary is also one of the best day trips from Milwaukee during the fall.

2. Milwaukee

fall foliage Wisconsin, Cycling through a park in the fall
Cycling through a Milwaukee park in the fall

Next up is the aforementioned emblematic city, Milwaukee!

Fall comes with many events, opening the door to many unique things to do in Milwaukee. From apple picking to beer festivals, Milwaukee offers a wide range of awesome fall activities in Wisconsin.

Whether you choose to stroll around the impressive fall colors or be a part of the exciting activities, you should definitely put Milwaukee on your getaway list for this fall!

Fall colors peak at the end of September and the beginning of October, but you can still admire the beauty of the foliage at the Milwaukee Film Festival while enjoying the biggest art event in the city.

Speaking of movies, did you know that some of the best movies set in Wisconsin are Bridesmaids, The Blue Brothers, and Love Actually –  all set in Milwaukee!

Milwaukee is one of the top places to vacation in Wisconsin as the city has a wide cultural cuisine variety, including German, Italian, French, Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Mexican, and Turkish foods.

Milwaukee is a destination that has it all! From cultural heritage to natural sights and fall colors in Wisconsin, the city will delight your senses and leave you with memories worth telling!

For true fall vibes, Milwaukee is home to two of the most haunted hotels in Wisconsin, which are perfect for a fall getaway.

3. Seven Bridges

milwaukee fall colors, wooden bridge in the forest connecting the seven bridges hiking trail
Fall colors at Seven Bridges

Seven Bridges is maybe one of the best hiking trails in Wisconsin, no matter what time of year you visit! it’s definitely one of the best places to go hiking in Milwaukee.

Cross over the seven bridges of this historical hike and let yourself be enchanted by the beautiful scenery and vividly colored foliage!

While Seven Bridges is part of South Milwaukee, this part of the city is often overlooked by tourists. You can find this hike 10 minutes south of Downtown Milwaukee.

It offers parking spots and no entrance fees. Located in Grant Park, this hike will take you on a mystical adventure through the forests, only to arrive at a beach on the shore of Michigan Lake. 

The endpoint of this fairyland-like hike is one of the best beaches in Wisconsin, where you can admire the sight of the lake surrounded by fall foliage. 

The twisting, old paths and bridges will take you back in time on a journey to connect and rediscover the beauty of nature. 

The fall colors peak at the end of September and the beginning of October, so plan your trip to enjoy some of the most impressive views of fall colors in Wisconsin! 

The trail is pet-friendly and accessible for everyone. I believe that it can also be a great opportunity for children to discover and explore nature, play with the colorful leaves, and exercise.

If you are visiting with pets, be sure to check out some of the great pet-friendly hotels in Milwaukee to make their stay – and yours – extra special.

The time to complete this hike is relatively short, about one and a half hours, depending on your pace. But worth it as it’s one of the best Southern Wisconsin hiking trails!

Seven Bridges is great for a romantic day out, and seeing the beautiful fall colors makes it one of the best date ideas in Milwaukee in the fall!

4. Appleton

Best Things to do in Appleton in the fall, Wisconsin, River side view of Appleton
Trees beginning to change color in Appleton, WI

Did you know that this growing city in Wisconsin was rated one of the most kid-friendly destinations in the country? You can enjoy fall color, Wisconsin, and the serenity of nature by making a stop to visit Appleton!

For more fall fun, Appleton is also home to one of the most haunted places in Wisconsin.

In fact, it has the largest haunted house complex in the Midwest, which is one of the best things to do in Wisconsin in October.

The magic of the city comes from the locally owned businesses, rich historical and cultural heritage, and – wait for it – from being the town where Harry Houdini, the famous magician, spent his childhood! 

Some of the best things to do in Appleton are walking around and exploring the city’s culture and architecture, admiring the fall foliage, visiting the Houdini museum, and enjoying the calming and welcoming atmosphere. 

The best time to visit Appleton is the 3rd week of October when you can delight your eyes with the peak of the fall foliage and discover the beauty of the art of mother nature. 

5. Lake Geneva

fall colors in WI, View of Lake Geneva in the fall
Lake Geneva, fall colors

Lake Geneva offers many amazing outdoor activities in Wisconsin.

From zip-lining, while holding a pumpkin, to admiring the vivid fall foliage from a boat or a shore walk or taking a car ride on the rustic road trail 11, Lake Geneva is one of the most popular destinations for fall in Wisconsin

The Lake Geneva fall colors peak in the 4th week of October, but you can still be there earlier for the annual Oktoberfest beer festival!

Lake Geneva’s fall colors will turn your vacation into a fairytale.

That’s why fall is the perfect time for romantic getaways in Lake Geneva.

Taking a walk surrounded by the bright colors of falling leaves in the relaxing, quiet atmosphere of the city is like a breath of fresh air – both literally and metaphorically!

Other notable things to do in Lake Geneva are visiting apple farms, looking for llamas and alpacas that graze on land, or enjoying the immense number of bike trails in the surroundings. 

6. Minocqua

fall colors in northern wisconsin, trees in bloom around Wisconsin lake
Lake Minocqua in fall

According to the city’s website, the area has the title of “Nature’s Original Water Park.”

The surroundings offer thousands of lakes, rivers, and streams where you can spend your day fishing, enjoying the sunset, or taking a walk around the multitude of water sources. 

With more than 107,000 acres of forests and some of the best hiking in Northern Wisconsin, the city offers picture-perfect, appealing, and panoramic sights of the fall colors in Wisconsin. 

The fall colors in Northern Wisconsin peak in the 1st week of October.

Apart from seeing the vivid foliage, you can add to your list visiting local shops, discovering wildlife, or playing golf at the Timber Ridge Golf Club. 

The uniqueness of this destination comes from the pure enjoyment of the great number of cool things to do in Northern Wisconsin that can be discovered in the city and surrounding area.

There are also lots of great things to do in Minocqua itself, so if you want to stay for longer check out my guide on the best hotels in Minocqua.

7. Eagle River

popular fall activities in Wisconsin view of Eagle River
Eagle River in Fall

Add to your fall bucket list the scenic views of Eagle River! Let Northern Wisconsin fall colors hug your senses by exploring the calm, untouched paths of this region. 

Here, you can find some of the best waterfalls in Northern Wisconsin.

The spectacle of dropping water, accompanied by the colorful fall leaves moving in the soft wind and the smell of autumn are the keys to a wonderful vacation. 

Its calmness and quietness put Eagle River on the list of “Top 100 Places to Retire” in the country.

The city is open to everyone, many people choosing to spend relaxing vacations in this serene corner of nature. 

Keep in mind that fall colors peak in the 1st week of October.

So pack your things and hit the rustic, tranquil roads and paths of the city and its surroundings to capture the perfect image of the Northern Wisconsin fall colors!

8. Door County

Door County, Wisconsin, the beauty of autumn
Door County fall colors

The fall foliage peaks in Door County in the 2nd week of October.

So it’s no surprise that this is one of the best things to do in Door County in October.

Additionally, you can enjoy numerous fall festivals and explore the calmness of nature by taking one of the best Wisconsin road trips on the Door’s roads guarded by trees on each side.

It is an enriching experience and a great way to see all the fall colors in Wisconsin.

There are many interesting things to experience in Door County in the fall season, from trips and long walks in the forests to festivals, shopping, or exquisite restaurants.

You can even experience the colors on one of the top Door County bike trails.

Door County fall colors come in many shades of orange, yellow, red, and brown.

If you plan to stay more than a few days, you’ll have the opportunity to observe the changes of the colors, turning from green to yellow, red, or orange, only to lastly become brown.

Apart from the impressive fall foliage, you can go taste testing at some of the best wineries in Door County. So, relax, sit back and taste some flavorful Wisconsin wines!

Some other amazing things to do in Door County in the fall are:

  • Calm walks on the beaches while the sun sets complementing the orange shades of the trees
  • Exploring old and new lighthouses; Door County has some of the best lighthouses in Wisconsin
  • Climbing the 184 steps of the Mountain Park Tower to see Door County from above and enjoy the diversity of fall colors

One of the best places to see fall foliage in Door County is in Sturgeon Bay and the vivid colors of the trees of the Potawatomi State Park!

You’ll find some of the best hikes in Door County in Sturgeon Bay, many of which are great for fall foliage.

Sturgeon Bay is a great family-friendly destination, offering opportunities like long walks surrounded by fall foliage and one-in-a-million views!

9. Wisconsin Dells

best fall colors Wisconsin, Areal view from rocky ice age hiking trail during sunset hours. Devil's Lake State Park, Baraboo area, Wisconsin
Beginning of fall at Devil’s Lake State Park, Wisconsin Dells

Wisconsin Dells is one of my favorite places and an ideal spot for anyone hoping to see beautiful fall colors in Wisconsin.

There are a lot of amazing things to do in Wisconsin Dells, but in the fall you can’t miss an opportunity to see the gorgeous colors.

It’s an especially perfect time for a romantic getaway to Wisconsin Dells.

The fall colors here usually peak in the 2nd week of October, offering stunning scenery of immense forests covered in shades of orange, red, and yellow.

One of the best ways to enjoy the fall colors here is to go hiking in Wisconsin Dells. The hiking here offers some stunning options for enjoying the fall foliage in Wisconsin.

If you want something a little more central, the Wisconsin Dells Riverwalk is another great option for seeing beautiful Wisconsin fall colors.

I recommend going to Devil’s Lake State Park (25min drive from Wisconsin Dells), one of the best state parks in Wisconsin, and spending the day there for some of the absolute best views and fall foliage in the entire state!

The park also has one of the best campsites in Wisconsin Dells, so you can camp out here and enjoy the fall colors in Wisconsin from the comfort of your tent.

Book here the best tours in Wisconsin Dells

10. Douglas County

northern wisconsin fall colors, trees changing color around a river
Fall colors in WI

Visit Douglas County in the 1st week of October and make the best out of your fall getaway!

View the amazing foliage with a trip to Lake Superior and hike surrounded by the vividly colored forests in a serene atmosphere. 

With 4,400 acres of forest land, the Superior Municipal Forest offers a great view of the changing state of nature.

The forest allows you to walk on a paved path, and get lost through the multitude of white and red pines, aspens, and white birch trees. 

11. Pepin County

Fall hike in Wisconsin, large rock next to multicolored trees
Fall hike in the Five-Mile Bluff Prairie State Natural

Accommodation Options: Enjoy gorgeous sunset views across Lake Pepin and access from your backyard in this beachfront condo! Or, upgrade to a suite at the Historic Getaway with amazing views on Lake Pepin.

You can find the peak of fall color in the 2nd week of October, but always be sure to check the Wisconsin Fall Color Report for any updates!

Pepin County has a lot to offer – from Mississippi scenic overlooks to rural roads and natural areas, you can find something for every taste. 

One great, but challenging thing to do in Pepin County is hiking the Five-Mile Bluff Prairie State Natural Area.

This trip is worth the effort. With steep climbs and tiring paths, this hiking trail will take you to a panoramic wide view over miles of fall forests.

You will be able to see past the Mississippi River and the Chippewa River while admiring the colors of the foliage. It is a truly magical experience, offering postcard-like views.

12. Sheboygan

Fall foliage in Wisconsin, yellow trees against blue sky
Sheboygan fall colors

This popular summer destination in Wisconsin has a lot to offer in the fall season and is a bit of a hidden gem.

Escaping the crowds that overtake the city in the summer season and breathing the fresh air of fall, you will be able to enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of the city.

The fall colors usually peak in the 3rd week of October, allowing you to leave behind the hot, dry air of the summer and chill in a refreshing environment. 

Take a Segway tour to learn about the historical and cultural background of the city, or enjoy the fall colors while tasting a wide variety of beers.

Speaking of beer, you should put the Sheboygan Beer Festival on your list and taste some German beers while trying traditional German cuisine. 

To spend some time outdoors and really explore the fall season, you can choose to wander around the city and discover its architecture or hike along forest paths and meditate on the beauty of nature. 

If you want to stay and enjoy more of the fun things to do in Sheboygan during the fall, there are lots of wonderful hotels in Sheboygan to choose from.

13. La Crosse

best all colors in Wisconsin, Fall foliage in Wisconsin park
Enjoy a colorful walk through the park in La Crosse, WI

La Crosse is a great fall destination to enjoy the fall colors in Wisconsin – and to generally explore all the fun fall events and things to do in La Crosse, WI!

With an important historical background, the region’s bluffs are more beautiful than ever in autumn.

It offers good food and wines, along with calming walks and exciting activities in the region.

For hiking-passionate people, for those in search of relaxation, and for wine and food lovers, this city has its gates open!

Visit the Grandad Bluff for a marvelous panorama of the surroundings and see the shades of yellow, red, and orange of the forests.

You can also take in the stunning fall colors biking along the Human Powered Trails, some of the best mountain bike trails in Wisconsin.

The colors usually peak in the 2nd week of October, releasing a blast of color upon nature.

Furthermore, be sure not to miss the Alpine Inn, a historical bar in La Crosse, that serves delicious food and offers one of the best views of fall foliage and bluffs.

14. Hilltop Color Tour

fall colors in northern wisconsin, miles of fall foliage with a city in background
Hilltop Color Tour

You will find three of the highest points in Central Wisconsin along the Hilltop Color Tour. This is one of the most unique things to do in Central Wisconsin during the fall.

The trip allows a panoramic view of the Wisconsin River Valley’s fall colors from a 60-foot observation tower situated on one of the oldest mountains in the world.

You can find this impressive mountain along with the spectacular views at the Rib Mountain State Park. 

Another stop on the Hilltop Color Tour is Timm’s Hill near Ogema, offering a view of the surroundings from the highest point in Wisconsin. 

15. Hayward Lakes Area

peak fall colors wisconsin, Tri-colored trees in Wisconsin
Gorgeous fall foliage, Wisconsin
  • Accommodation Options: The Riverside Motel offers stunning views over Lake Hayward and Namekagon River. Hayward is also home to some great lakeside cabins. You can go all out with this magical Northwood cabin on Windigo Lake that sleeps 12 and has a patio and electric fireplace. Or try the Spider Creek Country Cottage for a romantic getaway.

Fall colors in the Hayward Lakes area usually peak in the 4th week of September.

This region offers six self-guided tours to admire and see the fall foliage of diverse species of trees.

The first tree to change its color is the sugar maple, then the aspen, followed by maples, oaks, and lastly tamarack trees. 

This area is a popular destination for those who want to observe the fall foliage of Northern Wisconsin.

You will find many accommodations around, as well as restaurants and pubs to relax after your day on the roads.

This region is great if you are looking for a quiet getaway, and has some of the best romantic cabins in Wisconsin and cozy winter cabins in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin fall weather is incredibly pleasant, so you can enjoy an amazing off-summer getaway in nature’s serene state of the fall season. 

Explore and discover many outdoor activities that will guarantee you the best memories and don’t miss out on visiting these destinations to see fall foliage in Wisconsin. 

Apart from amazing views, the state has to offer numerous hiking trails, walks, and unique natural areas that will impress you. 

What would you need more? Nature, fresh air, stunning scenery, amazing food, beer, and wines rich in flavor, bays, lakes, and rivers! Wisconsin has it all, so what are you waiting for?

best places to see fall colors in wisconsin, Wisconsin forest path in fall
Northern Wisconsin fall colors

Before You Go: Top Tips for your Trip 

Short FAQ About Fall Colors in Wisconsin

1. When do fall colors start in Wisconsin?

You will find fall colors throughout Wisconsin from mid-September until the end of October. Keep in mind that the fall foliage in Wisconsin starts a bit earlier in Northern Wisconsin and heads south, where it ends later.

2. When do fall colors peak in Northern Wisconsin?

Peak colors in Northern Wisconsin are usually the last week of September and the first week of October.

3. Where are the best places to see fall colors in Wisconsin?

Holy Hill National Shrine of Mary is perhaps the best and most unique place for Wisconsin foliage, but a few other places include Milwaukee, Wisconsin Dells and Doro County.


Monday 1st of August 2022

Hi Paulina, I just found your site and am enjoying it...thanks. I too agree Eagle River is a great place to see fall colors, but the picture posted is definitely NOT Eagle River or any place in Wisconsin. Those high sagebrush covered hills must be somewhere in western Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming or maybe Arizona.


Tuesday 2nd of August 2022

Hi Patrick, thank you for your kind comment and the feedback! This has been amended now, it was an editorial mistake on my end :) Thank you so much

Robert Hardt

Saturday 16th of October 2021

Devil's Lake isn't in Wisconsin Dells. It's in Baraboo, WI. That's not a cusp location either. It's on the opposite side of Baraboo from the Dells, not even close to it. I live there.


Sunday 17th of October 2021

Hi Robert, thank you for your comment. Devil's Lake is a 25min drive away from Wisconsin Dells, I added that in the text. Hope to come soon to the Dells :)