Wisconsin is a great place for families looking for outdoor adventures, and that’s especially true during fall.
While Wisconsin certainly offers summers full of trips to the beach, autumn is when Wisconsin adventures shift from lakes to leaves, with the state’s backdrop of trees creating a brilliant display of color that enhances any outdoor activity.
For families experiencing their first autumn in Wisconsin, or for those thinking about experiencing one in the future, here are several gems our state has to offer each fall.
We already mentioned that Wisconsin’s fall colors can be breathtaking and are a sight to behold – but where’s the best spot to see them? Fortunately, there are several spots that can take your breath away.
If it’s a clear day, Parnell Tower in Plymouth will let you view 25 miles of surrounding forests and farmland. The 60-foot wooden observation tower is the highest point of elevation in the Kettle Moraine State Forest and its 3.5-mile loop overlaps with a segment of the 1,000-mile Ice Age National Trail.
Wisconsin’s largest state park in Devil’s Lake offers great views from 500-foot Quartzite bluffs overlooking its 360-acre lake. Nestled along the Ice Age National Trail, its rocky bluffs make it one of the most scenic spots in the state and a great place to mountain bike. And its two selfie stands provide the perfect opportunity to capture memories with your family.
High atop a glacial hill, Holy Hill is known for the beautiful view offered from the magnificent church built there in 1926. Surrounded by 400 acres of woods, it’s nestled near the Ice Age National Trail and welcomes nearly 500,000 guests each year.
Other optimal viewing spots include Kohler-Andrae State Park, the Apostle Islands, Peninsula State Park and Rock Island. And always available for reference are Wisconsin’s fall color reports.
Did you know that Wisconsin is the nation’s leading producer of cranberries, harvesting more than 60 percent of the country’s crop? Wisconsin celebrates the bountiful state fruit when fall comes around, dedicating countless festivals to highlight one of the state’s most valuable resources.
Nearly 30,000 people annually descend on beautiful Stone Lake the first Saturday of October to attend the Stone Lake Cranberry Festival. Featuring more than 300 vendors, artisans and crafters, people from all over come together for a day full of parades, food, fun and marsh tours.
Held the same weekend, nearly 40,000 people attend the Cranberry Fest in Eagle River. Approximately 10,000 pounds of premium select cranberries are sold during the festival, which features arts and crafts, cranberry food sales, a bakery, entertainment, souvenirs and a 5K jog and walk.
For a complete list of cranberry celebrations visit WisCran.org.
Hunting and Fishing
Each year the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources thanks military service members by extending privileges that make it easier for them to enjoy Wisconsin’s outdoor offerings.
Wisconsin law offers a one-time free small game, archery, gun deer or annual fishing license to recently returning veterans who become Wisconsin residents within 365 days of discharge. Veterans who wish to take advantage must first contact the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) to determine their eligibility for the program. Different sections of Wisconsin statutes authorize these privileges, each with their own qualifications.
With approximately 42 percent of state residents reporting full or part German heritage, Wisconsin is home to some of the country’s largest and longest running annual Oktoberfest celebrations.
One of the Midwest’s largest German festivals takes place in La Crosse, where numerous local groups and hundreds of area residents come together to welcome guests to experience live music, a run/walk, concessions, contests, ethnic food and beverages.
The Milwaukee Oktoberfest, held for five consecutive weekends in Heidelberg Park at the Bavarian Bierhaus just north of downtown Milwaukee, claims to be the oldest and most authentic Bavarian Oktoberfest in the Midwest. Featuring German music and entertainment like brass bands, yodeling and folk dancing, it also offers authentic German food, games, souvenirs and other festivities.
Additionally, Wisconsin breweries begin to bring out their Oktoberfest lagers to bars, breweries and grocery stores beginning in September.
Apple Orchards, Pumpkin Patches and Corn Mazes
No Wisconsin autumn would be complete without a trip to an apple orchard and pumpkin patch. Wisconsinites swarm to orchards in droves to hop on hayrides, navigate corn mazes and partake in cider tastings. Likewise, they love to flock to the local pumpkin patch in search of “the” pumpkin to bring home to carve.
And when it comes to carving, the Pumpkin Pavilion is a great place to start. The annual Bay View tradition is a four-day, family-friendly event that brings together nearly 2,000 people to Humboldt Park Pavilion to carve pumpkins, check out nearly 1,000 lit pumpkins, hear live music, eat local food and get in the Halloween spirit.
The four-night Great Pumpkin Festival also highlights the talents of Wisconsin pumpkin carvers, providing carving tools, candles and table space for attendees to create masterpieces to display all night. Each night features live music and food to go along with the carved pumpkins being shown off.
And if you’re looking to get lost, Wisconsin has several corn mazes that will keep you guessing – and having fun.
When one football season ends, the countdown to the next season begins in Wisconsin. And when it comes to cheering for the Green Bay Packers, Wisconsin Badgers and high school football teams, September marks the kickoff of celebrated fan traditions throughout the state. It’s about more than watching games and offering up unconditional support In Wisconsin, where tailgating has been elevated to an art form.
Football players aren’t the only ones in Wisconsin to get their exercise in the fall. The state hosts some of its most popular running events during its colder months, including the annual Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon and countless other fun runs.
For a complete guide of other Wisconsin fall offerings, visit TravelWisconsin.com.