Complete Autumn Traveler
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You know that autumn has arrived when the legendary mosquitoes are gone, the sky is an intense shade of blue, there’s the slightest of chills in the air, and the sun feels incredibly warm on your face. Soon the leaves will paint the landscape in hues unimaginable and seasonal fare like roast pumpkin, squash soup, and hot apple cider will appear on menus across town. Now is the ideal time for a road trip. Kick-start the fall season with a get-away tailored to friends, family, or romance. »
Take the Family:
Fall is a glorious time to visit Bemidji. Not only are the trees decked out in magical coats of crimson, gold, and scarlet, but visitors can find the prettiest places to admire the view on the city’s guide to color tours, found online at www.visitbemidji.com or available at the Tourist Information Center. The colors typically peak the third week in September.
“Bemidji is surrounded by state and national forests and two state parks, and on the Tour, the fall colors can be enjoyed in familiar or off-the-beaten-path driving routes,” explains Cindy Habedank, Visit Bemidji Group Tour Coordinator. One unique way to take in the spectacular scenery is in a covered wagon, courtesy of Buena Vista Logging Village.
The fall season in Bemidji is perfect for golfing (the courses are less crowded and more scenic), fishing, geocaching at Lake Bemidji State Park, biking through the state and national forests, and bird-watching. There are plenty of dining, shopping and lodging options for visitors, and year-round attractions that appeal to the whole family. www.visitbemidji.com
Lutsen Resort on Lake Superior
Lutsen Resort, set amidst a palette of blazing reds and brilliant yellows, is the ideal autumn getaway for the whole family. The mild fall weather is perfect for getting out and exploring the area. Join resort guides on some of the many complimentary fall activities such as guided hikes (don’t forget your camera to capture the spectacular vistas overlooking the forest) or guided kayak tours along the colorful shoreline. Lutsen Resort offers lodging options for every taste and budget, from historic lodge rooms to hand-crafted log cabins, luxury townhomes to seaside villas. www.lutsenresort.com
Best Western Superior Inn & Suites
Leaf-peeping and hiking are among favorite North Shore pasttimes in the autumn months. Stay right in the heart of the action at Best Western Superior Inn & Suites in Grand Marais, offering 66 rooms—all lakefront—with views of Artist Point in the distance. The hotel celebrates its 25th anniversary with a prestigious award—“Best of the Best Design” for recent extensive room renovations and the creation of the luxurious Renewal Steam Suites.
Visitors can easily explore a variety of key attractions and recreational sites on the North Shore, including Lake Superior, the Gunflint Trail, Lutsen Mountains, and Superior National Forest. The hotel is conveniently located within walking distance of many unique village restaurants, shops, and galleries. 1-800-2-VIEW
Few truly wild places remain in this country. Custer State Park is one of them. Located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, the park is home to a variety of wildlife and magnificent scenery spanning 71,000 acres. Nearly 1,500 bison, commonly called buffalo, roam the prairies and hills of Custer State Park, which they share with swift pronghorn, shy elk, sure-footed mountain goats and curious burros. Visitors often enjoy close encounters with these permanent residents along the 18-mile Wildlife Loop Road winding around the southern edge of the park. Visit during the annual Buffalo Roundup, held on a Monday in late September or early October, and experience an authentic western adventure. The ground rumbles and the dust flies as cowboys, cowgirls and park crews saddle up to bring in the thundering herd. www.travelsd.com
Located just two hours west of the Twin Cities on the shores of Lake Darling, beautiful fall scenery is worth a trip to Arrowwood Resort and Conference Center in Alexandria. In addition to prime color viewing, Arrowwood guests have the option of enjoying the Big Splash Indoor Waterpark, relaxing at the Darling Reflections Spa, playing a round on Arrowwood’s scenic 18-hole course, horseback riding, or warming up (and roasting marshmallows) by an evening bonfire. Accommodations range from lodge rooms and suites to four bedroom townhomes. www.arrowwoodresort.com
You don’t earn the nickname of the “Biking Capital of America” unless you have some pretty fabulous trails, and Sparta, Wis.—located in the center of 101 miles of connected state bike trails and at the end of the famous 32-mile Elroy-Sparta Bike Trail—has rightfully earned the designation. The Elroy-Sparta Bike Trail, one of the first rails-to-trails in the country, offers some of the best sun-kissed scenery in the state, in addition to a limestone tunnel, circa 1880s. Visitors can enjoy a fun experience on the “Little” Ben Bikin’ Mystery Tour (“Big” Ben Bikin’ is a 32-foot fiberglass structure; “Little” Ben Bikin’ is a smaller town mascot); the Mystery Tour starts with breakfast at a 1957 soda fountain shop, past buildings rich in history and architecture (such as the former State School for Dependent or Neglected children where over 2000 children were housed until 1976), along the Elroy-Sparta Trail to your lodging destination.
Sparta is located approximately 20 miles east of Lacrosse, via I-90. Drive the back roads of the area and enjoy beautiful scenery, charming Amish farms, and small communities. There are great places to eat, fantastic canoeing/kayaking in the autumn months, Fall Fest Oct. 3, and lovely lodging facilities, including several bed and breakfast inns and cabins. www.bikesparta.com
Grab your camera and head to Hudson, Wisconsin—less than a 30-minute drive from the Twin Cities—for a fun day of fall color viewing. Every autumn, the river vistas of the St. Croix burst with color in this historic river town.
According to Kim Heinemann, president of the Hudson Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau, Hudson offers plenty of ways for visitors to become immersed in radiant fall colors. She suggests checking out the view along the riverwalk, on the Old Toll Bridge, in Willow River State Park, along historic Third Street, in Birkmose Park, from the Octagon House Museum, along Trout Brook Road, or from a fall boat cruise.
In addition to unforgettable fall scenery, autumn events such as Girls Night Out, St. Croix Days, and the Halloween Parade add to the city’s appeal. Visit the website for more details. www.hudsonwi.org