Guide to the best fall things to do in Wisconsin and places to visit for fun fall activities and events
You’re dreaming of taking a fall vacation but can’t decide where to go.
You long for somewhere beauty abounds at every turn and there are more activities than you can shake a stick at.
Well, look no further, because fall in Wisconsin is a magical, enchanting time of year.
To witness Wisconsin in fall is to see nature at its most magnificent.
The splendor of the multihued autumnal colors forms a seasonal backdrop to Wisconsin’s stunning towns and cities.
The state comes alive at this time of year, and there are so many great places to go and things to do in Wisconsin in the fall.
Whether you’re a city-lover or nature enthusiast, you’ll never be short of something to do.
Explore the country or party in the city, it’s up to you, but either way, fall in Wisconsin is magical.
To see the fall in Wisconsin is to witness the countryside at its absolute finest. Everywhere you look, color abounds.
The locals make the most of this special time of year by arranging many of Wisconsin’s finest events for this magnificent season, so start planning that trip now!
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- Best Thing to do: Madison Cooking Class
- Accommodation Options: the Best Western Premier Park Hotel **** has great views on Madison’s main attraction, while the Hotel Indigo – Madison Downtown, an IHG Hotel **** comes with a cool interior design, downtown! On VRBO, this gorgeous vacation rental boasts a gorgeous interior design, and is only a jump from Lake Mendota.
Known locally as Mad Town or Mad City, Madison is the capital city of Wisconsin.
The five lakes around which the city is set (Mendota, Monona, Wingra, Waubesa and Kegonsa) form a magnificent backdrop to all the fun things to do in Madison.
A visit to the fall farmers’ market is a great way to spend an afternoon.
You’ll find numerous vendors selling all manner of seasonal goodies such as dried bouquets, apples, apple cider, winter squash, and pumpkins.
Wisconsin has a historically renowned brewing industry with the city of Madison being especially famed for its superb selection of craft beers.
One of the great fall activities Madison has to offer is a tour around some of the city’s brewers.
A fascinating fact for music lovers: Nirvana recorded their breakthrough album, Nevermind in Madison.
Door County. Wisconsin. Fall. You really can’t go wrong!
To spend some time in the beautiful harbor of Ephraim is to witness the fall in Door County at its absolute finest.
Bountiful colors and a stunning bay…what more could you possibly ask for?
Ephraim has a rich heritage and is famed for its white buildings.
If you’re seeking some exercise, head to the Ephraim Preserve at Anderson Pond where you’ll find a 1-mile loop hiking trail over level ground.
Ephraim also presents opportunities for kiteboarding, kayaking, and paddleboarding.
In addition to the natural splendor you’ll encounter at every turn in stunning Ephraim, there are so many unique things to do in Door County in October.
And this charming village is a great base from which to explore them.
3. Green Bay
- Best Thing to do: Attend a Packers Game
- Accommodation Options: There are plenty of great hotels and resorts in Green Bay. If you want to splurge, consider the Hyatt Regency Green Bay ****, while the Hampton Inn Green Bay Downtown *** is a great mid-range option as well. On VRBO, this East River home is super close to downtown.
Green Bay is a vibrant place where you’ll never be short of things to do in Wisconsin in the fall.
As well as being home to the famous Green Bay Packers, the city features a whole host of other attractions to make it a great place to stay in the fall.
While there are multiple attractions around this small, friendly city, the one that supersedes all others is the mighty Green Bay Packers.
The gridiron season begins in the fall and a trip to Lambeau Field to witness these trophy-hoovers in action is an absolute treat.
Tickets for the Packers can be expensive and sometimes hard to come by since it’s one of the top things to do in Green Bay.
However, if you’re a sports fan, don’t be discouraged as you can always visit the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame and Museum.
The place is packed with interesting sporting artifacts from the Packers’ rich history and is very reasonably priced too.
4. Holy Hill
Holy Hill Basilica is located near Hubertus and is one of the most popular places to visit in Wisconsin in the fall and it’s easy to see why.
The Basilica is just a short drive from Milwaukee yet is a world away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Holy Hill is a great place from which to view the incredible fall colors in Wisconsin.
From atop the hill, you’ll be presented with magnificent views over the surrounding natural areas.
If the Basilica’s Scenic Tower is open, then the views from the top are even more spectacular.
There are many great hiking trails that weave through the woodland around Holy Hill so active types can combine a hike with a visit to the Basilica.
Remember that the Basilica is a Catholic place of worship, so when visiting ensure that you are respectful towards all worshippers.
Osceola bursts with small-town charm and is a great place in which to experience Wisconsin in the fall.
Amd there can be no better way to experience the beautiful fall colors than from the window of a vintage carriage on the magnificent Osceola and St. Croix Valley Railway.
The Osceola and St. Croix Valley Railway provides the ultimate fall train rides in Wisconsin.
This heritage railroad has been painstakingly restored to transport you back to a bygone era in the ornate, period-detailed carriages.
The leaf viewing trips begin in September. Departures are from the splendid SOO Line Depot in Osceola and run at 10;00, 12:00, 14:00 and 16:00 daily throughout the fall.
The 20-mile journey takes you along the St. Croix River, into Minnesota over the Cedar Bend Drawbridge, stops in Marine on St. Croix, then returns to Osceola.
Fall in Wisconsin takes on a whole new perspective throughout this magnificent journey.
6. Wisconsin Dells
- Best Thing to do: Visit the Ringling Brother Mansion
- Accommodation Options: the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Wisconsin Dells *** is always a great choice, while I love the backyard of the Hilton Garden Inn Wisconsin Dells ***. For Airbnb fans, check out this cute deluxe cottage in Christmas Mountain. It’s one of my favorite Airbnbs in Wisconsin Dells.
Wisconsin Dells in the fall offers a plethora of wonderful things to do on those Wisconsin fall getaways.
The whole city is based around providing you with three vacation necessities: fun, fun, and more fun.
In addition to all the fun theme parks, in late September every year the fun-packed Wo-Zha-Wa Days Fall Festival is one of the most fun-packed fall festivals in Wisconsin.
It gets boisterous so make sure you enter into the party spirit.
Wisconsin Dells is one of the most entertaining places to visit in Wisconsin in fall and the three days over which the Wo-Zha-Wa Days Fall Festival takes place are among the most convivial you’ll encounter.
What a great way to spend fall in Wisconsin!
There are many activities over the duration of the festival including a parade, an arts and crafts fair, antique flea market, street carnival.
If you’re visiting in the fall, things to do in Wisconsin don’t come much more fun than this!
- Best Thing to do: Milwaukee Food Tour
- Accommodation Options: The Pfister Hotel **** is a true legend in town, while the Schuster Mansion Bed & Breakfast ***** is probably the most scenic option. For Airbnb fans, this historic house is only a short walk from a scenic park. You can also check out my guide on where to stay in Milwaukee.
Fall in Milwaukee is a great time in which to spend some time in the city; all the better if your schedule allows you to celebrate Halloween here.
There are many things to do in Milwaukee in October, but Halloween is the king of them all.
Dare you stay in a haunted hotel?
Ghosts have been scaring the life out of guests here for years, which is why it’s one of the best fall activities in Milwaukee.
There have been numerous reports of strange sounds and sightings down the years so brace yourself.
Dating back to 1893, the magnificent Pfister Hotel is actually a great place to stay (if you don’t mind ghosts, of course).
The ornate grandeur of this majestic building sets the hotel out as a destination in its own right.
The city also offers perennials such as the Harley-Davidson Museum and Milwaukee Public Museum, which are some of the most unique things to do in Milwaukee.
To get a different perspective on the city, a boat trip out onto the awe-inspiring Lake Michigan is best experienced in the fall, allowing you to see the city at its most colorful.
There are many other great fall activities Milwaukee has to offer, including fall festivals, Halloween events for kids, and fall hikes to enjoy the colors!
Families will have their pick of things to do in Milwaukee with kids.
8. Kettle Moraine State Forest
Kettle Moraine State Forest is at its finest in the fall and what a great time to indulge in some fun outdoor activities in Wisconsin.
Fall presents the perfect climate to explore the magnificent mountain bike and hiking trails in Wisconsin.
The Scuppernong Trail System in Southern Kettle Moraine is home to many of the finest mountain bike trails in Wisconsin.
There are over 60 miles of purpose-built single-track mountain bike trails to suit all abilities, conveniently color-coded to indicate difficulty levels.
The countryside is at its most colorful at this time of year and the trails winding through the forest really come to life, making this one of the best fall activities in Wisconsin.
The fall climate is perfect for outdoor pursuits, so if you’re an active type looking for things to do in Wisconsin in fall, look no further because mountain biking is one of the greatest Wisconsin fall activities.
9. Sturgeon Bay
- Accommodation Options: If you want to stay in the most scenic location, go for the Westwood Shores Waterfront Resort, if you prefer a great mid-range option, you’ll love The Scofield House B&B. Cabin lovers, the Collectic Farmhouse Suite is super cozy and this waterfront Sturgeon Bay Home comes with it’s own deck!
Magnificent Sturgeon Bay is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Wisconsin in the fall.
The town is not only a fisherman’s mecca, it’s also a great place to take to the water with numerous opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, sailboat rides and jet-skiing.
While Sturgeon Bay is the largest town in Door County, the population is under ten thousand so the place has a very laidback, relaxing vibe, making it a great place in which to spend fall in Wisconsin.
Until the middle of October, the Sturgeon Bay Farmers Market operates on Saturday mornings, allowing you to sample some of the locally produced goodies on offer.
This charming town is a great base from which to tour the winding country roads of Door County, witnessing the fall in its full splendor.
10. Devil’s Lake State Park
- Accommodation Options: The Ringling House Bed & Breakfast has the best reviews in town and the Inn at Wawanissee comes with a hot tub! Cabin lovers, this area is heaven for you! Check out this quirky Log Cabin or stay in this gorgeous contemporary home on a quiet wooded lot.
For those seeking outdoor activities in Wisconsin, Devil’s Lake State Park is home to one of the finest Southern Wisconsin hiking trails.
If you’re looking for challenging Wisconsin fall activities, then the magnificent Ice Age National Scenic Trail is as hard as you want to make it.
The trail actually extends for around 1200 miles, but no one’s expecting you to walk it all at once!
Walking through the park in the fall is simply one of the best things to do in Wisconsin in fall.
Whichever part of the trail you attempt, you’ll be sure to encounter stunning scenery and those magnificent fall colors at their absolute finest.
There are many great camping sites in the park and fall shouldn’t be too cold for those wishing to bed down under canvas.
11. Lake Geneva
- Best Thing to do: Do an Audio Tour of the Lake Shore Path
- Accommodation Options: The Grand Geneva Resort and Spa **** is perfect for a spa getaway, while the Lake Lawn Resort ***** has the best views! On Airbnb, I love this dreamy Geneva beach house, while this downtown home is an affordable luxury experience! Not what you’re looking for? Check out my guide on where to stay in Lake Geneva.
Lake Geneva is one of the most amazing places to visit in Wisconsin in fall.
A stroll along the sensational Lake Shore Path soaking in the magnificent colors of the season is a life-affirming experience that you’ll never forget.
In Lake Geneva, you’ll find countless opportunities to engage in outdoor activities.
However, if that’s not your thing, don’t worry as wherever you are in this beautiful location in fall, things to do in Wisconsin don’t come much finer than just sitting back and taking it all in.
The annual Oktoberfest takes place in downtown Lake Geneva around Broad Street and Flat Iron Park.
Held every October, in addition to the ubiquitous beer, you’ll find options for kids such as bounce houses and pony rides. There’s also a craft fair.
Above all, simply seeing the amazing fall colors reflecting off the lake is a sight to leave you with memories you will treasure all your life.
12. Sister Bay
- Accommodation Options: The Open Heart Lodge has the best reviews in town and the Country House Resort comes with a spacious garden. For Airbnb fans, this cozy renovated home is located close to the town center.
Sensational Sister Bay is a great place to just kick back and relax.
This laidback tourist town also provides a marvelous base from which to explore all the very best that stunning Door County has to offer.
If you’re planning on spending October in Wisconsin, then make sure to take in the Sister Bay Fall Festival.
Known as the ‘Granddaddy’ of all fall festivals Wisconsin has to offer, the festival features an arts and crafts fair, live entertainment and a joyous parade.
Fall in Wisconsin is an exquisite time of year.
To witness the dramatic autumnal colors throughout the region is something never to forget.
Delightful Sister Bay provides an extraordinary location in which to witness all of this and an amazing festival to boot.
So if you’re looking for things to do in Wisconsin in October, look no further!
- Best Thing to do: Rent an RV and go on a road trip to spot the best lakes
- Accommodation Options: The Waters of Minocqua has the best reviews in town and the Best Western Plus is a great mid-range option. Minocqua and surroundings are perfect for a cabin getaway, have a look at this cozy Lakefront log cabin with a dock or this luxury waterfront rustic townhome.
Beautiful Minocqua is a great place to visit at any time of year but it springs to life in the fall so don’t miss out!
There’s so much to do here that it makes a magnificent place in which to base yourself for a vacation, however long you plan on staying.
Taking to the water is a splendid way in which to see the beautiful autumnal colors of fall in Wisconsin from a different perspective.
With the splendid Lake Minocqua to the east and Kawaguesaga Lake to the west, Minocqua is perfect for those wishing to take to the water.
Boat rentals in Minocqua, WI can be made through R&R Rentals, located near the Boathouse Restaurant.
They offer a variety of boats and you can rent by the day, or longer if you wish.
This is a great place from which to launch a voyage into the Lake Minocqua Chain, which features some of the best lakes in Wisconsin, including the awesome Tomahawk Lake to the South.
14. Rib Mountain State Park
If you’re seeking things to do in Central Wisconsin a visit to the magnificent Rib Mountain State Park is a must.
Rib Mountain is the tallest in the whole state and offers spectacular views out over the sensational hues of fall in Wisconsin.
To experience those spectacular views, throughout the fall you can take a scenic chairlift ride at the Granite Peak Ski Area of the park.
The ascent on the chairlift provides you with a bird’s eye view of the stunning countryside.
The chairlift is open from early September through to late October – but check before departure for the exact dates and times.
- Accommodation Options: Dance the night away at The Stella Hotel & Ballroom. At the Wyndham Garden Kenosha, you can enjoy a night of luxury overlooking the beachfront.
Kenosha is a city packed with great museums and significant cultural highlights.
But for those seeking less cerebral activities what better way to celebrate fall in Wisconsin than by sampling the finest brews on offer at the Great Lakes Brew Fest?
This expansive beer festival is held every September on the beautiful shore of Lake Michigan.
If you’re a beer (or cider) lover, then fall events in Wisconsin simply don’t get better than this.
There are over 300 craft beers and ciders from almost 75 brewers to choose from!
Wisconsin’s brewing tradition dates back to the first settlers, with influxes from northern Europe bringing brewing traditions and establishing what was to become the largest brewing industry in the country!
So what a great way to immerse yourself in this culture!
This festival is great value as your admission ticket includes unlimited sampling of all the brews.
Ticket prices start at $50 and are even less for designated drivers.
Fall in Wisconsin is a truly magical experience. To see the magnificent colors is to witness nature at its finest.
Not only that, the range of activities at this time of year is truly spectacular and provides the opportunity for a vacation that you’ll remember for a lifetime.
In this article, I’ve presented an overview of many of the great places to go and things to do throughout the state so that you can combine some fun things with your sightseeing.
So book that trip and prepare to be amazed!
Short FAQ About Fall in Wisconsin
What are the fall months in Wisconsin?
Officially fall starts on Septeber 22, but really it starts to feel like fall in Wisconsin from early to mid-September. Fall activities in Wisconsin continue until Thanksgiving, then it starts to feel like winter.
What is the best time for fall colors in Wisconsin?
It varies from city to city, and especially North to South, but generally from late-September to mid-October is the best time to visit Wisconsin in fall if you want to enjoy the changing colors. The further north you go, the early the leaves change.
What are the best fall activities in Milwaukee?
The fall activities Milwaukee offers change a bit every year, but you can always count on fun Halloween festivities and fall festivals. Hiking in the surrounding areas is also a great fall activity. For the brave, try staying in a haunted hotel!
Before You Go: Top Tips for your Trip
- You’ll snap tons of photos and I love to take my GoPro in order to shoot even in extreme situations.
- Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and hiking sandals when traveling to warm countries. Consider trying some of these eco-friendly vegan hiking boots.
- Sunscreen is key! I always take with me my eco-friendly sunscreen by Thinksport.
- I always carry a light rain jacket, just in case. Pack smart with these organic cotton clothing companies.
- Be environmentally friendly and get one of these awesome backpacks made from recycled materials.
- Get in the mindset with these amazing wilderness survival books.
- Travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel is protected against all odds with HeyMondo.