Complete Autumn Traveler: 20 Reasons to Get Away
Discover brilliant fall foliage, impressive orchards, fun autumn festivals, scenic golf courses, and romantic getaways this fall. Our guide will help you experience the season in all of its glory.
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The river vistas along the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers burst with color this time of year. Depart from Harriet Island in St. Paul and see the changing leaves from the water during a Padelford Riverboat “Fall Sightseeing Cruise” ($20-plus tax and port fee for adults; $10 for kids 3-12).
If you’d rather experience the view from a canoe (or kayak), you can rent a boat at Taylors Falls Canoe and Kayak Rental, about an hour’s drive from the Twin Cities. The most popular trips last anywhere from two to six hours, and start in Taylors Falls then continue downstream on the St. Croix—an easy class-1 river, with no rapids—to either the Osceola Landing or William O’Brien State Park. Keep an eye out for beaver, otters, white-tailed deer, and bald eagles. Local one-way canoe or kayak rentals are available seven days a week. One-way trips start at $45-plus tax (walk-in price); $40-plus tax if you buy online. Group and military discounts are available.
Located just two hours west of the Twin Cities on the shore of Lake Darling, beautiful fall scenery is worth a trip along I-94 to Arrowwood Resort and Conference Center in Alexandria. In addition to prime color viewing, Arrowwood guests can enjoy the indoor waterpark, on-site spa, scenic 18-hole golf course, horseback riding, seasonal hayrides, evening bonfires, and much more. Accommodations range from lodge rooms and suites with lakefront views to luxurious four bedroom townhomes.
In the autumn months, the Mille Lacs area really comes alive. Not only are the fish biting in Mille Lacs, the state’s second largest lake (home to 40 species of fish, including walleye, smallmouth bass, northern pike, perch, and muskies), but the state park campgrounds, golf courses, hiking and biking trails, and small-town attractions are at their prime. The weather is perfect when the leaves are at their peak—not-too-hot and not-too-cold, there are fewer crowds, and many places offer seasonal discounts.
New England might get credit for having the best fall color, but autumn on the North Shore is equally beautiful. Stay in a cozy lodge room, cabin, or lake home at Grand Superior Lodge, a pretty drive along Scenic Highway 61, just north of Two Harbors. The beauty of Mother Nature is minutes from your door at Gooseberry Falls State Park, on the Superior Hiking Trail, along the Gitchi-Gami Bike Trail, and at the historic Split Rock Lighthouse. The Castle Danger Trailhead is just two miles away, with stunning Lake Superior overlooks from the top of Wolf Rock. Reserve a complimentary canoe for a peaceful morning ride on Lake Superior, and warm up by a beach bonfire at night.
The cool lake breeze, backdrop of blazing maples and golden birch, and dazzling blue horizon of Lake Superior makes autumn the most “breathtaking time of year” at the Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts, says Lori Schaefer, marketing director.
Sisters resorts Bluefin Bay on Lake Superior and Surfside on Lake Superior—both located in the Lutsen-Tofte area—are perfectly situated as not only an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, close to the Superior Hiking Trail, Superior National Golf Course, Carlton Peak, Oberg Mountain, and Tofte Charters (complimentary kayak, bike, and canoe rentals are offered to guests), but also as romantic destinations. Book the Romance Package this fall and enjoy breakfast, a candlelight dinner, and optional add-ons like in-room appetizers, a couple’s massage, and a rose-petal welcome.
Guests can receive color-viewing updates, and take advantage of complimentary shuttles to area trailheads and daily-guided hikes. Lutsen Mountain Ski Area is a short drive away, with excellent mountain biking terrain and beautiful Mountain Tram views of the changing leaves. According to Schaefer, “Visitors can’t help but to pause a bit, breathe deep, and simply absorb this incredible beauty.”
A private cobblestone beach is just part of the charm of the clean, reasonably priced, and smoke-free Best Western Superior Inn & Suites, located in Grand Marais. During the day, stroll along the shore of Lake Superior; at night, sleep with your windows open and listen to the waves lap against the rocky shoreline. (Many of the rooms have a private balcony overlooking the lake.) Stay in the Renewal Steam Suites, featuring a luxurious, spacious walk-in shower with five showerheads, a steam unit, built-in tiled bench, and a picture window offering dramatic views of Lake Superior. The hotel is conveniently located within walking distance of Grand Marais restaurants, shops, and galleries, only two blocks from the North House Folk School, and close to the Gunflint Trail, Sawtooth Mountains, and kayaking or canoeing adventures. Visit from Oct. 19-21 for the Grand Marais Moose Madness Family Festival, a family-friendly weekend including a scavenger hunt, moose-themed activities, a race, and much more.