Autumn Traveler

 

Soon the leaves will paint the landscape in hues of yellow, red, brown, and orange and seasonal fare like roast pumpkin, squash soup, and apple pie will appear on menus across town. It’s the autumn season; and it’s road trip time.

 


Key:


ACROSS THE RIVER

Hawks View Cottages & Lodges

Instead of zoning out to the TV, tune in to one another at Hawks View Cottages & Lodges, located about 45 minutes north of La Crosse in Fountain City, Wis. The five well-appointed cottages are set high up on a steep, wooded bluff—prepare for stairs—with “hawk’s eye views” of the Mississippi. You’ll forget about the “real world” as you relax in this peaceful setting. The two lodges overlook Seven Hawks Vineyards—with wines made from 100 percent locally grown grapes (be sure to visit the tasting room and wine bar).  If you feel like venturing out, grab a pint at the Monarch Irish Pub, visit the historic sites in town, or take a side trip to Alma, Nelson, or Wabasha, home of the National
Eagle Center. www.hawksview.net
 

St. Croix River Inn

Autumn is harvest time. That means St. Croix River Inn chef/co-owner Ben Bruno is dizzy with garden-fresh options for his bed and breakfast in Osceola, Wis. He and his wife, Jennifer, have owned the B&B for the past 10 years and only recently added elegant Friday and Saturday night dinners overlooking the river. The menu is always evolving, and fall is one of the best times of the year for fresh, seasonal fare. “If I could, I’d offer a 13-course menu,” Ben jokes. The inn is comfortable and clean with no “over-the-top frilliness,” with many of the rooms offering balconies with river views. The Inn is within a short drive of wineries, spas, hiking/biking, museums, orchards, and golf courses. Catch the Osceola & St. Croix Railway excursion train to see the changing fall colors along the river bluffs. www.stcroixriverinn.com
 

Canoe Bay

Wine and dine in a unique, romantic atmosphere at Canoe Bay, the only prestigious Relais and Chateaux member in the Midwest. Designed exclusively for couples, Canoe Bay—located in the northwestern city of Chetek, Wis.—is one of those off-the-beaten-path places that force you to appreciate the sounds of peace and quiet (is this what it was like “back in the day?”). Rise early on a brisk autumn morning, put on your walking shoes, and hike the estate. Treat yourself to a massage, relax in front of the fireplace, then head to the lakeside dining room for a glass of wine (over 500 to choose from) and a four-course meal. www.canoebay.com
 

Hudson 

Every autumn, the river vistas of the St. Croix burst with color in the historic town of Hudson, Wis., just a 30-minute drive from the metro. Check out the views along the riverwalk, on the Old Toll Bridge, in Willow River State Park, along historic Third Street, from area golf courses, in Birkmose Park, from the Octagon House Museum, along Trout Brook Road, or from a river cruise. Autumn events such as the Girls Just Want 2 Have Fun Bike Ride (Sept. 9-10), Spirit of the St. Croix Art Festival (Sept. 24-25), and Christmas Tour of Homes (Nov. 18-20) add to the city’s appeal. www.hudsonwi.org
 

Madeline Island

Though Madeline Island is small in size, its charm and natural beauty make it the perfect spot for the vacationer who wants to get away from it all. Getting out to the island is half the fun. Take the Madeline Island Ferry from Bayfield, Wis. (a 25-minute trip) for spectacular views of Lake Superior and several of the 22 Apostle Islands that you can’t get from land. Once on the island, walk along beautiful wooded trails, rent a bike and explore the area, visit the museums, or sample the restaurants and pubs. www.madferry.com
 

 

NEAR THE METRO

Stillwater & Oak Park Heights

Thousands flock to Stillwater to see the beautiful fall colors and to visit apple orchards, pumpkin patches, and local wineries. It’s also a great time to take a ride on a bike, paddle boat, or hot air balloon, or to attend one of its many fall festivals including the St. Croix Vineyards Grape Stomp (Sept. 10-11), Art on Main (Sept. 22-23), Fall Colors Fine Art & Jazz Festival (Oct. 1-2) or Harvest Fest (Oct. 8), celebrating food and fun amidst the region’s Giant Pumpkin Weigh Off. Last year’s winning pumpkin set a world record at 1,810.5 pounds! The festival includes a pumpkin boat regatta, costume parade, pumpkin baking contest, chili cook-off, microbrew beer tasting, tractor pull, haunted caves tours, kids’ activities and more. www.discoverstillwater.com
 

CENTRAL

Arrowwood Resort

Located just two hours west of the Twin Cities on the shores 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 Big Splash Indoor Waterpark, relax at the Darling Reflections Spa, play a round on a scenic 18-hole course, go horseback riding, or warm up by an evening bonfire. Accommodations range from lodge rooms and suites with lakefront views to luxurious four bedroom townhomes. www.arrowwoodresort.com

Kavanaugh’s Sylvan Lake Resort

With high season out of the way, prices are usually lower, the crowds are mostly gone (yet everything is still open), and the weather is some of the best all year at Kavanaugh’s on Sylvan Lake. In addition to a prime location in the Brainerd Lakes area (on Gull Lake), the family-owned resort offers friendly hospitality, a large, heated indoor pool, a beautifully landscaped lawn, tennis courts, boat rentals, paved hiking and biking trails on-site (connecting to an expansive city-wide system) and 108 holes of golf within less than two miles. www.kavanaughs.com
 

NORTH SHORE

Cove Point Lodge

 

Guests are treated to peace and solitude at Cove Point Lodge in Beaver Bay, about a half hour’s drive from Lutsen. The secluded Scandinavian-style lodge is surrounded by 150 acres of woods and rocks, with all rooms facing Lake Superior—the ideal setting for a romantic getaway. www.covepointlodge.com
 

Bluefin Bay on Lake Superior

The fall colors in New England might get all the glory, but it doesn’t get much better than the vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows spread out across the rugged Sawtooth Mountains near Bluefin Bay on Lake Superior. Now picture this set against a clear blue autumn sky, with Lake Superior looming in the background, and what you have is the definition of bliss. Choose from suites, condos, and townhomes so close to the water you can practically feel the spray as the waves crash against the rocky shoreline. www.bluefinbay.com
 

Lutsen Resort

 

The fall hikes along the rivers in the state parks and along the ridges of the Superior Hiking Trail are amazing at Lutsen Resort on Lake Superior. Guests enjoy fall color driving tours, complimentary guided sea-kayak tours, and listening to the waves of Lake Superior lap against the shore during the evening campfires.Visit during the Fall Color Photography Workshop (Sept. 28-30), the 21st Annual Bluegrass Masters Weekend Nov. 4-6, or Gales of November Photography Workshop Nov. 18-20. www.lutsenresort.com
 

Grand Marais  / Best Western Superior Inn

 

Part artists’ colony and part staging point for wooded treks, harborside Grand Marais is known not only for amazing wildlife, but also charming galleries, restaurants, and shops. You can’t beat the views from the resorts, cabins, and lodges—like Best Western Superior Inn—right along the shore. If you feel like checking out the glorious fall foliage on nearby scenic byways, the hotel, awarded “Best of the Best” 2009 for exceptional cleanliness and service, is within a short drive. It’s also a great place to stay during the popular fall festival Mountain Stage and Unplugged X: The Northern Harvest Sept. 15-18, featuring Kathy Mattea, John Gorka, Tim O’Brien, Jon Vezner, Cheryl Wheeler, Lindsay Mac, Michael Johnson, and Michael Monroe. For a truly unforgettable (and romantic) getaway, book the Renewal Steam Suites, with a spacious steam shower, two-person whirlpool, gas fireplace, and private balcony overlooking Lake Superior. www.bestwestern.com/plussuperiorinn/
www.northhouse.org/programs/events/unplugged.htm
 

 

SOUTHERN

Northfield

 

A bang-up bank raid reenacts the day in 1876 when townsfolk halted the James-Younger Gang’s bank robbery. When the coast is clear, take in the antique-tractor pull, car show, professional rodeo, square dance and grand parade during the Defeat of Jesse James Days Sept. 7-11. In addition to having a rich legacy, this charming 19th-century village is home to Carleton and St. Olaf colleges, beautiful scenery, abundant outdoor recreation and the Riverwalk Market Fair along the Cannon River in historic downtown. www.visitingnorthfield.com
 

Winona

When summer fades into fall, the river bluffs blaze with color in Winona, creating a perfect backdrop for bird watching, canoeing or kayaking (free rentals are available), hiking, biking, camping, fishing, golfing, or visiting nearby vineyards. Add to that the new theatre production of “The Haunting of Potters’ Field,” produced by Theatre du Mississippi—coinciding with the “Voices from the Past Cemetery Walk” October 7-9— and you have no excuse not to visit Winona this fall. Unless, of course, you’re scared of ghosts. www.visitwinona.com
 

New Ulm

It’s all about fun autumn festivals in the town of New Ulm, described by one happy visitor as “small town America at its best.” Riverblast, a two-day music festival along the Minnesota River, features a lineup of live music plus a bike tour, 5K walk/run, and free harmonica workshop for kids, held this year on Labor Day weekend. New Ulm really comes alive, though, during Oktoberfest—a celebration of German heritage—set this year from Sept. 30-Oct. 1 and Oct. 7-8 at the Holiday Inn and throughout downtown. Dance your lederhosen off Friday and Saturday evenings while enjoying locally brewed August Schell’s beer. Both Saturdays downtown feature German food and music, horse-drawn trolley rides, and dancing. www.newulm.com

Owatonna

 

rive one hour south of the metro to Owatonna—where the fall colors really pop—for Harvest Fest Oct. 6-8. There will be sidewalk sales, a homecoming parade, and a bake-off downtown, while the Steele County Historical Society will hold pumpkin decorating, wagon rides, cider pressing, and square dance lessons at the Village of Yesteryear. Visit the first Cabela’s store in Minnesota, or spend a brisk fall afternoon in the parks, on the trails, or on one of three championship golf courses. www.owatonna.org
 

NORTHERN

Thumper Pond Golf Course

Thumper Pond Resort is the perfect place to relax and get away. Located in the “Heart of the Lakes” area of Ottertail, Thumper Pond isn’t just a golf getaway—with the 18-hole championship Thumper Pond Golf Course in addition to a nine-hole course and driving range—but the ideal spot for fishing, boating, hiking, biking, and bird watching. The kids will love the indoor waterpark; you’ll love the full-service spa. www.thumperpond.com

 

 

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