20 Best Wisconsin Fall Getaways
A guide to cool fall getaways in Wisconsin and other fun things to do in Wisconsin in fall
Although the weather may be getting colder and the days shorter, the arrival of fall is no reason to give up on traveling. Especially when Wisconsin has so much to offer the year-round!
While winters in the state are severely cold, fall still offers pleasant conditions for taking advantage of all the events and attractions the state provides.
With only about a week of rain per month and comfortable temperatures during the day, Wisconsin fall weather won’t stop you from having a great time.
Without further ado, let’s look at some of the best fall getaways in Wisconsin to suit the needs of every traveler.
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1. Do a Wisconsin Fall Color Road trip
As a state rich in varied glacial topography, woodland, and state parks, Wisconsin is the perfect place to enjoy the arrival of fall.
And luckily there are a lot of amazing places to see the fall colors in Wisconsin!
Leaves typically begin to change color in Wisconsin mid-September and continue to burn red, orange, and yellow until mid-October. To make absolutely sure you visit at the right time, check out the Wisconsin fall color report.
Take the 70-mile Hilltop Color Tour from Wausau to Neillsville in central Wisconsin to witness the colorful spectacle from the comfort of your car.
Interestingly, this route will take you to three of the state’s highest mountains. Two of these feature 60-foot observation towers, so you’ll be able to get a breathtaking view of the forest from above.
Another great location is The Hayward Lakes Area in the north of the state. The region is home to some of the best lakes in Wisconsin. It features six routes designed specifically for viewing Wisconsin fall colors while driving.
Conveniently, the routes, ranging from around 45 to 70 miles in length, are marked with leaf-symbol road signs, so there’s no danger of getting lost!
2. Stay in a Romantic Cabin
Fall is the perfect time for a quiet getaway for just the two of you. Take a break from your daily routine and head to Wisconsin for a romantic cabin stay!
Here a list with some of the most romantic cabins in Wisconsin in fall:
- Northwoods Cabin – Big St.Germain
- Northwoods Tranquility – Lake Tomahawk
- The Loon Song Cabin – Boulder Junction
- Lake Shore House – Sheboygan
- Peace of Beach – Door County
- Wind House – Wind Lake
- Wisconsin Dells Cabin – Wisconsin Dells
For a truly special time together, consider renting the Seth Peterson Cottage in southern Wisconsin, 120 miles west from Milwaukee.
Located in the Mirror Lake State Park, the cottage is famous for being the final Wisconsin project of the world-renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright. No wonder that this State Park is often considered as one of the best state parks in Wisconsin.
3. Visit Lake Geneva in Fall
- 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 southeastern Wisconsin’s most popular resort town for a series of very good reasons: beautiful lakeside views, luxurious spas, gorgeous architecture, and plenty of activities for visitors of all ages.
Coming to Lake Geneva in the fall, you can enjoy the town at its best, surrounded by fall colors and without the typical summer crowds.
The best things to do in Lake Geneva include enjoying fine dining at local restaurants, exploring the shops and museums, taking a scooter or a boat tour, or simply relaxing and taking in the atmosphere in some of the best spas and resorts in Wisconsin.
Families will enjoy the Tristan Crist Magic Theatre, the Lake Geneva Ziplines and Adventures park, and the safari featuring animals from around the world.
If you are based in Milwaukee, Lake Geneva is one of the best fall day trips in Wisconsin too!
4. Stay in a Sumptuous, Luxury Cabin in Wisconsin
If busy resorts are not your thing, or you’re looking to go on a short getaway with a large group of friends, consider renting one of the many luxurious cabins in Wisconsin.
You can enjoy hiking, fishing, or simply spending time together during the day and gather around a crackling fire in the evening, all while surrounded by beautiful autumn colors.
The Lakefront Hayward Home with Fire Pit by Ski Trails is a great recommendation, located in the middle of a large system of lakes in northwestern Wisconsin. – Check rates here
The large, luxurious cabin comes with a fire pit, a dock, and a game room to ensure there’s always plenty to do together. It’s one of the best luxury cabins in Wisconsin.
5. Go Kayaking in Apostle Islands
- Best Thing to do: Rent a kayak – or bring your own inflatable one
- Accommodation Options: The Pinehurst Inn Bed & Breakfast is perfect for those who want to splurge a bit and the Old Rittenhouse Inn is a fabulous mid-range option. For Airbnb and cabin lovers, this Madeline Island Cabin is located right on the lakeshore on Madeline Island. And this Library Street Cottage is the cutest!
Famous for their unique red sandstone cliffs and sea caves, the Apostle Islands are located in northwestern Wisconsin, on Lake Superior.
Although this area is especially popular in the summer and during the winter months, when the lake freezes and visitors can explore the ice caves, it’s just as beautiful in the fall.
Kayaking is one of the Apostle Islands’ most popular activities, given that it’s the perfect way to view the cliffs and explore the islands and sea caves.
The town of Bayfield is the main access point for the islands, where you can rent kayaks or join a kayaking tour of the area.
If you’re looking for other things to do in Apostle Islands, consider hiking, camping on one of the remote islands, taking a cruise tour, or visiting the city of La Pointe on Madeline Island.
No wonder that the Apostle Islands are often considered as one of the best places to visit in Wisconsin in the fall.
6. Go Hiking in Door County
- Accommodation Options: The Homestead Suites comes with outdoor and indoor pools, a spa bath and the White Gull Inn is a great option for adult-only stays. If you prefer an Airbnb in Door County next to Fish Creek, you’ll love the cute Creekside Cottage or this homey Cottage.
Thanks to the broad choice of trails and gorgeous views, hiking is one of the best things to do in Door County. In fall, there is much less traffic on the trails, and the fall colors make the trip all the more memorable.
More demanding, expert hikers should head for the Door Bluff Headlands County Park. The Newport State Park, meanwhile, offers easier trails, characterized by being long but fairly flat.
Nature-lovers should head to The Ridges Sanctuary, to take part in a guided tour focusing on the diverse fauna and flora observable from the trails.
Door County is also known for having some of the best fall colors in Wisconsin! This is why hiking is one of the best things to do in Door County in October.
Door County, Wisconsin looks spectacular during these months of fall foliage and provides many fall activities in Wisconsin for you to enjoy during your stay.
No wonder that many consider it as one of the most popular weekend trips in Wisconsin.
7. Do a city trip to Milwaukee
- 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 and this studio is perfect for budget and solo travelers. You can also check out my guide on where to stay in Milwaukee.
Though Milwaukee is famous for its beer and cheese production, it has a lot more to offer! It’s the perfect city for a short fall break as a couple, a family, or a group.
There is a series of museums in the city to explore during colder fall weather, including the Harley-Davidson Museum and the iconic Milwaukee Art Museum.
You can also take part in a food tour to taste authentic local delicacies, visit one of the many breweries and learn about Milwaukee’s rich beer history, or enjoy a day out at the zoo. – Check food tours here
As Kenosha is also only 45 min drive from Milwaukee, it might be a great idea when looking for day trips from Milwaukee. There are several best things to do in Kenosha like visiting the Dinosaur Discovery Museum and the Civil War Museum.
Where to stay
If you are more of an Airbnb fan, have a look at my curated list of the best Airbnbs in Milwaukee.
8. Do a weekend getaway in a Luxury Resort
Fall is the perfect time to take a little time for yourself and spend a relaxing weekend in a luxury resort. As it happens, there are plenty of great accommodation options in Wisconsin.
Take advantage of the indoor pool and hot tub at the AppleCreek Resort-Hotel & Suites **** in Fish Creek, Door County, or go for the full celebrity treatment at the Lake Lawn Resort ***** in Delavan, offering a private beach and on-site spa.
This resort features an indoor waterpark free for guests of the hotel, as well as great dining options, including local Wisconsin specialties, such as Friday fish fry. All these facilities make this resort one of the best luxury resorts in Wisconsin.
9. Do the Marinette County’s Waterfall Tour
- Best Thing to do: Rent an RV and go on a road trip
- Accommodation Options: The Lauerman House Inn has the best reviews in Marinette and the Country Inn & Suites by Radisson comes with a pool and hot tub. Marinette County is perfect for a cabin getaway, have a look at this Cozy Cabin on the Menominee or this homey cottage in Crivitz.
Why not combine admiring the state’s fall colors with visiting some of the spectacular waterfalls the state has to offer?
The Marinette County Waterfall Tour is the answer to this question, forming a 125-mile loop that offers marvelous views of 14 waterfalls. This place is home to some of the best waterfalls in Northern Wisconsin.
The tour starts at Menominee River near Niagara and winds its way to the village of Crivitz, stopping at observation points for the waterfalls.
You can complete the whole tour in one day, or take it slow and stop along the way for camping, a spot of hiking, or simply to relax and take in the views and atmosphere.
10. Explore the Upper Mississippi River Valley
- Best Thing to do: Rent an RV and explore Great River Road
- Accommodation Options: In La Crosse, Gundersen Hotel & Suites has top reviews and The Charmant Hotel comes with views of the Mississippi River and Riverside Park. For Airbnb fans, why not check this Historic House or this Modern Victorian home.
For more opportunities to enjoy Wisconsin’s fall colors, as well as many other attractions, consider exploring the Upper Mississippi River Valley by driving the so-called Great River Road.
The route takes its name from the fact that the river is very wide here, with sandstone bluffs on either side.
The 250-mile trip will include much more than stunning views of the river and the surrounding woodland, though. There are plenty of villages along the way, with attractions well worth a visit.
For instance, the Potosi Brewing Company Museum is a popular stop, as are the historic towns of Genoa and La Crosse. There are five wine tasting venues to visit, too, including free samples of locally produced wine at the Seven Hawks Vineyards.
11. Cycle one of Wisconsin’s “Rails to Trails” routes
Another great way to enjoy the last of the good weather and admire Wisconsin’s fall colors is cycling one of the many rails to trails routes in the state.
Because the trails are in fact converted rail corridors, they’re wide and mostly flat. Bikers of all ages and experience levels can easily manage the trip.
The 41-mile Badger State Trail, for instance, connects Madison to the border with Illinois and runs mostly through farmland and forests.
With several small communities along the way, there are plenty of places to stop for food and rest along the way. The trail also features a 1,200 ft (365 m) tunnel and several bridges to cross.
The Ahnapee State Park Trail is another great recommendation, located in the famously scenic Door County.
Stretching for almost 40 miles between Sturgeon Bay and Casco, the trail offers cafes, vineyards, and rest stops, as well as truly spectacular views, of course!
When in the area, don’t forget to taste the legendary Wisconsin beer cheese soup in any of the restaurants closeby.
12. Do the Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive
- Accommodation Options: The Hidden Serenity B&B is a great hideaway. But a cabin getaway is the best way to enjoy the natural beauty here. You’ll love the McJugger’s Loft close to trails and the lake. The Lillibridge Lake Home is just steps from the water on quaint Tittle Lake, nestled in the Kettle Moraine State Forest.
If you’re up for a long but thoroughly interesting drive, check out the Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive. You won’t be disappointed!
This scenic drive covers a total of 115 miles one way, between Elkhart Lake and Whitewater Lake.
You can take the route from north to south or south to north. Just follow the acorn signs beside the road and the driving instructions available at all Kettle Moraine State Forest offices.
Along the way, you’ll get to enjoy the glorious fall colors, see some fascinating historic sites, and rest at one of the many recreation areas.
The route’s main selling point, however, are its unique landscapes and views of the glacial terrain of Wisconsin.
In fact, the name “Kettle Moraine” comes from one such type of glacial landform, and is an accumulation of rocks left behind by a retreating glacier.
13. Stay in a resort in Northern Wisconsin
- Best Thing to do: Bring your own inflatable kayak
- Accommodation Options: The Northernaire Resort has a privileged location next to the lake and the Gordon Lodge comes with hot pools. For Airbnb and cabin lovers, the Hauser’s Bayfield Cabin is ideal for y cozy winter getaway.
Wisconsin fall festivals and Halloween celebrations, in addition to the gorgeous lakes and landscapes, are what draws visitors to the state this time of year.
However, it’s also the ideal place to get away from the crowds and enjoy a relaxing weekend in one of the many resorts in the area.
With an in-house waterpark and a volleyball court, this resort will be the perfect choice for families and those looking for adventure. The Minocqua Northwoods Zip Line Park is closeby, too, for hours of fun zipping in the fall-color canopy!
14. Have fun in 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 south of the state is a city known primarily for its many adventure centers and theme parks. So there’s no better destination for fall Wisconsin getaways to suit the whole family.
When looking for fun things to do in Wisconsin Dells, you can go for watersports, spa treatments, shopping or enjoy outdoor sports.
Nature lovers will enjoy the wide selection of wildlife parks and animal-related attractions in the area, including the Wisconsin Deer Park and Timbavati Wildlife Park.
Wisconsin Dells also offers more unusual and unique attractions, such as the Alligator Alley Adventures, where you can feed a real gator!
The city is home to some of the best escape rooms in Wisconsin, which is a fun way to spend an afternoon with friends and family, or even as a romantic outing.
There’s also a magic theater and Ripley’s Believe It or Not, a curious museum filled with illusions, puzzles, and oddities to fascinate kids and adults alike.
Wisconsin Dells in the fall is just as fun as in the summer, except with fewer queues and smaller crowds.
15. Go hiking near the best waterfalls in Northern Wisconsin
- Accommodation Options: The Northernaire Resort has a privileged location next to the lake and the Gordon Lodge comes with hot pools. For Airbnb and cabin lovers, the Hauser’s Bayfield Cabin is ideal for y cozy winter getaway.
For a state with such flat terrain, Wisconsin boasts a surprising number of waterfalls, the products of glacial, varied topography.
For unforgettable fall hiking memories, head to Copper Falls State Park, around 25 miles south of the city of Ashland.
The park features some of the best waterfalls in north Wisconsin, made all the more scenic in the fall by the falling red leaves.
The Copper Falls and Brownstone waterfalls are particularly worth visiting. Both can be reached by hiking the 1.7-mile Doughboy’s Trail. These great natural views make this trail one of the best hiking trails in Wisconsin.
To make your vacation in Wisconsin extra-special, go to Pattison State Park in Douglas County to see the tallest waterfall in the state.
Big Manitou Falls reaches 165 ft (50 m) in height, which makes it the fourth highest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains.
The waterfall can be admired from a viewpoint near the parking area, but it’s well worth hiking the 1.5-mile trail to see it up close.
Along the way, you’ll also see the 30 ft Little Manitou Falls. It’s thus definitely a great Wisconsin vacation idea.
16. Go Apple Picking in an Apple Orchard
Fall is the time of harvest, and in Wisconsin harvest is almost synonymous with apples. Apple orchards make for some of the best fall weekend getaways in Wisconsin, so start planning yours now!
The Erickson Orchard in Bayfield is one of the most popular apple-picking spots in the north of the state.
If you time your visit for the first week of October, you’ll get to take part in the annual Apple Festival, one of the most popular fall Wisconsin festivals, with live entertainment and lots of fun contests and activities.
In southern Wisconsin, consider the Eplegaarden Orchard & Pumpkin Farm, just a 20-minute drive away from central Madison.
As well as apples, the old-fashioned orchard also offers pumpkins and raspberries, as well as special events with live music, hayrides, and much more!
17. Attend Northern Wisconsin Pumpkin Patches
If visiting a pumpkin patch sounds boring, think again! In addition to pumpkins, most patches offer plenty of other attractions that will make for a fun day out and ensure you never run out of things to do in north Wisconsin.
For example, at the Schultz’s Country Barn in Eleva, Trempealeau County, you can play in a corn maze, visit a petting zoo, and buy fresh local produce in addition to picking pumpkins.
The Treinen Farm Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch in Lodi, Columbia County, offers similar attractions, as well as wagon rides and a tractor tire playground. Their corn maze is the largest in Wisconsin, so make sure you take on the challenge!
18. Do a fall hike to Timm’s Hill
- Accommodation Options: This area is a heaven for outdoor lovers, thus a cabin is the best option. Have a look at this Northwoods cabin or this relaxing “Creature’s Retreat“.
At 1951.5 ft (595 m), Timm’s Hill is Wisconsin’s highest natural point, and you can reach it by hiking one of the many trails in the surrounding County Park. The shortest trail is less than half a mile long and suitable for all skill levels.
For the full experience, consider hiking the Timm’s Hill National Trail, which connects the hill to the Ice Age Trail.
The full Timm’s Hill National Trail stretches over 10 miles, passing a series of lakes as well as other glacial formations. To hike the trail, head to Timm’s Hill County Park near the town of Ogema.
The views from the observation tower at the top of Timm’s Hill will be worth the trip, as you can see the varied surrounding terrain, swimming in red, orange, and yellow Wisconsin fall foliage, from above.
19. Do a train trip to Osceola & St. Croix Valley Railway – Osceola
- Accommodation Options: The Holiday Inn Express & Suites St. Croix Valley is the best address in town. There are great Airbnb options such as this The Artists Loft or this cozy Copper Room apartment.
The small, unassuming town of Osceola, located on St. Croix River, which constitutes part of the border between Wisconsin and Minnesota, hides several hidden tourist gems.
One of the most charming of these is the historic train station offering scenic tours on vintage trains.
In the fall, take the Fall Colors Train Ride. This 1.5-hour round-trip will take you to the most scenic woodland in the area, giving you the opportunity to experience fall foliage from aboard a historic train.
If you’d like to learn more about the history of railways and the historic trains, take the Transportation Museum Historic Tour.
The Marine Tour is well worth recommending, too, as you’ll get to see the gorgeous St. Croix River Valley with gorgeous waterfalls along the way and views of the beautiful sandstone bluffs.
The landscape is absolutely stunning and has been the setting for several movies set in Wisconsin.
Speaking of waterfalls, don’t miss the Cascade Falls waterfall while you’re in the area, hidden away in a quiet gorge right in the middle of the village.
20. Go on a football weekend in Madison
- Accommodation Options: Best Western Premier Park Hotel has great views on Madison’s main attraction and Hotel Indigo comes with cool interior design – downtown! On Airbnb, this Downtown Victorian House is located right on Lake Mendota.
Football fans can’t miss the thrill of attending a football game in the capital of Wisconsin. With the football season in full swing in fall, it’s the perfect time for a sports-fueled weekend getaway.
The Camp Randall Stadium in Madison is the home turf of the Wisconsin Badgers, so named after the early 19th century Wisconsin prospectors allegedly “living like badgers”.
Make sure you arrive early, too, to take advantage of the fun events and activities preceding the game.
The Badger Bash and Badgeville tailgate parties start around 2.5 hours before the game and involve food, drink, and lots of live entertainment.
Short FAQ about amazing Fall Getaways in Wisconsin
What are the best fall day trips in Wisconsin?
Lake Geneva, hiking in Door County, or do the Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive are some of the best fall day trips in Wisconsin.
Where to do a fall color drive in Wisconsin?
As a state rich in varied glacial topography, woodland, and state parks, Wisconsin is the perfect place to enjoy the arrival of fall. The Hayward Lakes Area in the north of the state, features six routes designed specifically for viewing Wisconsin fall colors while driving.
Where to go on a Wisconsin fall train ride?
Osceola & St. Croix Valley are best places to go on a Wisconsin fall train ride.