01 of 07
From Day Trip to Overnight: Where to Go
The Dairy State is such a prime spot for leaf peeping that some people travel from other states just to experience the beauty. For locals, keeping an eye on that fine moment when the leaves start to turn into shades of gold, pink and amber is a highly anticipated moment, often leading to a day trip by car. This gorgeous scenery can also inspire an overnight adventure in search of more foliage.
Here are five perfect destinations not far from downtown Milwaukee practically guaranteed to yield the kind of vistas you’ll want to capture with your camera.Continue to 2 of 7 below.
02 of 07
Seven Bridges Trail, Grant Park, South Milwaukee
Once you get deep into this park—which is the second largest in Milwaukee County—you’ll soon forget you’re just a few miles (10 miles, to be exact) south of Milwaukee’s skyline. Along Lake Michigan, its 381 wooded acres include paved walking and bicycling paths, as well as lookouts over the sandy shoreline. Hop on the two-mile-long Seven Bridges Trail for the best leaf-peeping opportunities.
Where: South Lake Drive and Park Avenue, South Milwaukee (10 miles or 16 minutes from downtown Milwaukee)Continue to 3 of 7 below.
03 of 07
Holy Hill, Hubertus
Considered a pilgrimage for not only Catholics—due to the church’s Holy Mass, shrine, basilica and other liturgical celebrations—trekking to Holy Hill each autumn is a right of passage for most locals who want to view fall foliage. Definitely take a hike to the top of the bell tower, which is one of the region’s highest-elevation spots, for a bird’s-eye view of the colorful trees.
Where: 1525 Carmel Road, Hubertus (37 miles or 45 minutes from downtown Milwaukee)Continue to 4 of 7 below.
04 of 07
A favorite getaway for Chicagoans, this town is named for its lake and is filled to the brim with historical grand estates (including Black Point Estate, the former summer home of beer tycoon Conrad Siepp during the late 1800s) and adorable shops—plus a local winery (Studio Winery, with live music Saturday afternoons). A simple walk on part of the 26-mile path around the lake yields fall color.
Where: Downtown Lake Geneva (50 miles or 55 minutes from downtown Milwaukee)Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
One of summer’s favorite vacation destinations in Wisconsin is even more gorgeous come autumn when the crowds start to die down and the leaves begin to turn. A beloved dinner tradition—the fish boil—in Door County is still available, particularly at Old Post Office Restaurant in Ephraim, paired with theatrical stories nightly. From the county’s southern-most city (Sturgeon Bay) on up to the tip of the peninsula, there are quite a few state parks, including Newport State Park in Ellison Bay, Peninsula State Park in Fish Creek, Potawatomi State Park in Sturgeon Bay and Whitefish Dunes State Park in Sturgeon Bay.
Where: Sturgeon Bay (154 miles or 2.5 hours from downtown Milwaukee)Continue to 6 of 7 below.
06 of 07
Minocqua and Eagle River
In this area of the state, many people have fishing or hunting cabins—or simply like to enjoy sailing on the water or, come winter, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Autumn is a good time to visit Minocqua, a town of just under 5,000 residents with around 600 miles of hiking trails and near the Eagle River. Among the most popular hiking spots—flush with fall color—to hike is The Bearskin (16 miles, on a former railroad corridor).
Where: 254 miles or just under four hours from downtown MilwaukeeContinue to 7 of 7 below.
07 of 07
Great River Road, Trempealeau
The Great River Road—on the western half of Wisconsin—ranks as one of the best road-trip routes in the entire country, particularly during autumn. The town of Tremealeau is along the 250-mile route, which passes through 33 small riverfront towns, and worthy of a stop. It is also Wisconsin’s only National Scenic Byway. Staying overnight in Trempealeau? Book a room at the Trempealeau Hotel, a lodging property on the National Register of Historic Places.
Where: (225 miles or 3.5 hours from downtown Milwaukee)