Autumnal Eye Candy

Here’s where to catch fall colors in the Twin Cities

St. Croix Scenic Byway. By Gtranquility/Fotolia
Vibrant colors change up the landscape at the already beautiful St. Croix Scenic Byway.

Photo courtesy Gtranquility/Fotolia

Minnesota boasts beautiful colors around every corner; you just need to know where to look. Although the northern region is known for its fall foliage, leaves in the central and southern parts of the state can change up to three weeks later, so you can experience the autumn rainbow without making the trek up north.

In the Twin Cities, the best residential street for fall foliage is Summit Avenue in St. Paul. It is lined with historic homes, such as the James J. Hill house, and trees that are hundreds of years old. For a city walk by the water, head to the Chain of Lakes, a series of lakes in Minneapolis’ Uptown area. Lake Bde Maka Ska is a popular spot on the chain, but the trails around Lake of the Isles and Cedar Lake are less populated and have denser foliage.

Witness the river bluffs exploding in red and yellow hues on a tour of the historic military base Fort Snelling or during a river cruise on the Mississippi or St. Croix. Paddle freely at Lebanon Hills Regional Park in Eagan with canoe rentals for unguided tours of the 10 lakes. Numerous hiking and biking trails also cover the 2,000-acre park, so you can get closer to the color. 

See 1,137 acres of gardens still in bloom while trees overhead drop their fiery leaves at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska. Wander through Minnesota-native grasses and flowers in the Prairie garden, and explore Midwest garden staples in the Peony Walk garden. The Wright Terrace Gardens’ dense foliage, especially brilliant with autumn’s blaze, provides a secluded retreat. Really, you can immerse yourself in Minnesota’s fall hues in any of the Arboretum’s 32 gardens.

Make The Rounds

Autumn colors are just as lustrous in motion. Hop in a car or on a bike and ride the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway. The 30-mile driving route—and 51-mile biking and walking route—wraps around Minneapolis via connected segments, including the Chain of Lakes, downtown Minneapolis, and Minnehaha Park.