No season is complete without a Northwoods adventure, but it’s hard to top the famous foliage and the bounty of celebrations that beckon in fall. Autumn in the Northwoods is nothing short of magic, and in the corner of every Wisconsinite’s heart it feels a little like going home. Choose a Northwoods destination where you can look beyond the splendidly colored trees to find one-of-a-kind events, expansive outdoor offerings, and quaint, locally owned shopping opportunities.
Time your trip to coincide with St. Germain’s original Colorama, which first took place 63 years ago. Celebrate the bountiful harvest every September with Colorama’s expansive craft show, farmers market, and cornhole tournament. Afterward, stick around for Pints in the Park in the afternoon, where visitors and locals raise a glass at the annual beer tasting. Taste, test, and toast your way through an impressive showcase of regional microbrews, then let someone else do the driving with a complimentary horse drawn wagon ride through wooded trails. Try your hand at pumpkin painting or pick the perfect plant from the "Mums the Word" mum flower sale. Explore, stroll, and meander all day long enjoying live entertainment and concessions galore.
If fishing floats your boat, drop a hook and stay a while. There’s plenty of elbow room on thousands of acres of lakes brimming with bluegill, bass, musky, walleye, and more. But in the fall, a-FISH-ionados of all skill levels are lured in to the Annual Greater Wisconsin Musky Tournament held every October. Hosted by expert fishing guide Rob Manthei, participants across 10 area lakes can reel in themed gift bags, door prizes, cash prizes, trophies, raffle prizes, and all the fish they can catch.
Insider Tip: While you’re in the area of St. Germain Park, cross the street to the Chamber of Commerce and say hello to Chief St. Germain. Commemorate your trip and take photo with the Chief for the ultimate St. Germain “Insta-worthy” picture.
Fall in the Northwoods puts the “great” in great outdoors. Marvel at how quickly the hustle and bustle fade away, surrounded by the scarlet red, outrageous orange, and brilliant yellow leaves in the vast Northwoods. You’ll be rejuvenated in no time and ready to enjoy the one-of-a-kind events, unique destinations and miles of trails to hike and bike.
Do you know where cranberries come from? Healthy and delicious, cranberries have come a long way from the humble Thanksgiving side dish. Sample these tart, tasty treats at Lake Nokomis Cranberries. Unwind at their daily wine tasting, take a tour, experience a Yoga Happy Hour, or try their new Cranberry Splash, awarded a Gold Medal in the 2020 Great American International Wine Competition. Hit the shop for beautifully curated gift baskets and specialty gourmet items, like Lake Nokomis wines and more.
Insider Tip: If you have a green thumb (of you’d like to have one), check out Dave’s Topsoil, created and distributed at Lake Nakomis Cranberries. Your plants will love the dark, nutrient-rich peat soil that’s generated in the creation of the cranberry beds.
Sometimes the journey really is the destination. Lace up those hiking boots and grab the binoculars, because fall is an outstanding time to walk, hike, bike, or otherwise explore Awassa Nature Preserve and Hiking Trail. Shaded trails meander through stands of mature pines, oaks, maples, and balsam fir. With paths from 1.0 to 4.4 miles in length, it’s easy to add a healthy excursion to any weekend getaway.
For a somewhat rugged, intermediate level hiking experience with striking contrasts in terrain, try the Fern Ridge Trail. Two loops traverse the property, totaling 1.4 miles of trail, including a bog boardwalk. The many wildflowers, trees and non-flowering plants make the trail beautiful every season, but it’s especially gorgeous in autumn.
You don’t need an excuse to take an exit from the fast lane, but there’s no better reason to slow down than to appreciate the change of seasons. This year, be sure to let off the gas and coast down a winding road during the height of fall.
Scenic, country drives are a timeless l tradition and there’s none more beautiful than Rustic Road 60. Just under twelve miles long, the route cuts through the heavily wooded Northern Highland/American Legion State Forest, which is abundant with wildlife. Catch glimpses of old logging camp sites, hiking trails, and an old saw mill. The entire stretch of road is dotted with scenic vistas and numerous clearings where shimmering lakes reflect the sun and sky.
Insider Tip: To guide your exploration, Rustic Road has a webpage with a detailed map and highlights including historic markers, native plants as well as trails to hike and bike.
The striking fall colors may be the main attraction, but there’s always time to shop. Take a retail reprieve through the numerous (shop)tions in St. Germain.
Shop until you drop without breaking the bank at The UCC Thrift Store, a non-profit business operated by volunteers of the church and community. Score a few vintage gifts among the long-lost treasures hidden on their expansive shelves.
Insider Tip: If you’re headed to UCC Thrift Store, donations are accepted every day except Tuesdays and Sundays. Pack a bag or box full of gently-loved items from home to be a part of the circle of upcycling while making room in advance for all your new finds.
This year, check off a few items on Santa’s list early at Bear Paw Pottery located on the backwaters of the Wisconsin River. Peruse the studio and on-site gallery featuring stoneware, porcelain, and raku pottery. Check out the functional and decorative wheel-thrown and hand-built items with a Northwoods theme. It might just be the perfect souvenir.
Make your next catch the biggest yet. Head to Ray’s Landing for all the gear you need and the inside scoop with their fishing reports. Ray's friendly experts offer guide services, rentals and expert advice to go with their fresh trapped bait for all species of fish. A visit to Ray’s Landing is the next best thing fishing, minus the one that got away.
And if you’re yearning for yarn, needing to knit or craving to crochet, you’ll find miles of smiles at Just Yarnin’ with hundreds of colors, styles, patterns, needles, notions, and supplies. Their friendly, encouraging classes and workshops have turned the community table into the focal point of the shop. BYO supplies or purchase them on the spot to stop, drop and create.
Insider Tip: If you appreciate the beauty of a clear, calm lake, fall in Wisconsin’s backyard can’t be beat. Many of the speed boats and jet skis, so plentiful in summer, have docked, leaving some of the busiest lakes empty, placid, and perfect for fishing or just enjoying the view.
Worried thoughts are crowded out by birdsong, wildlife, great food, friendly people, and fresh air. This fall, celebrate the turning of the season in St. Germain. Discover a fun-filled, nature lover’s paradise that’s easily reachable, but worlds away.