In need of a mini vacation that doesn’t break the bank or require a week’s worth of time? You don’t always have to leave the country (or even your state) to experience an amazing trip. When international travel just isn’t a realistic option, here are six places in the Midwest to enjoy on a fall weekend.
1. Door County, WI
As one of the most idyllic areas of Wisconsin, Door County tops my list of perfect weekend getaways. Off season, many of these towns have permanent populations of under 500. You’ll find an abundance of eclectic storefronts, cherry tree orchards and beaches, plus it’s easy to find Airbnbs to rent. Spend an afternoon at Peninsula State Park to hike, swim and kayak. I recommend grabbing a meal at Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant & Butik, and don’t be surprised if you see goats eating grass on the roof.
2. Galena, IL
The town of Galena (just under two hours from Madison) is a quaint snapshot of the 19th century. Main Street has plenty of antique shops and cafes, as well as numerous historical sites, all surrounded by vineyards and bluffs. You can tour General Ulysses S. Grant’s mansion as well as other restored historic homes. One of the best times to visit Galena is in the fall, when the bluffs are changing color and the backdrop of the historic buildings offers the perfect photo opportunity.
3. Duluth, MN
As a port city located on the shores of Lake Superior, Duluth has attractions for everyone. The most visited places include the Great Lakes Aquarium, the Lake Superior Railroad Museum, and the Lakewalk Trail that runs along Canal Park, where you can see the iconic Aerial Lift Bridge. From walking along the harbor, checking out the breweries and exploring the speciality shops, Duluth is a great weekend stop!
4. Bayfield, WI
Bayfield is another picturesque nook of Wisconsin. Enjoy the numerous lupin fields, little bookstores (What Goes ‘Round and Apostle Islands Booksellers), coffee shops, art galleries and Victorian houses. In Bayfield, you can also find the entrance to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, which has 21 islands and the famous ice caves.
5. Spring Green, WI
Spring Green is surprisingly artsy area of rural Wisconsin. You can tour Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright’s family home, as well as House on the Rock, a sprawling house created by Alex Jordan Jr. House on the Rock which showcases gigantic rooms filled with quirky collections, winding staircases and, perhaps most notably, a working carousel. The resulting atmosphere is very Tim Burton-esque. Located just across the highway from Taliesin, the American Players Theatre performs plays in the outdoor Hill Theatre during the summer and moves its shows to the indoor Touchstone Theatre during the colder months. Bring a picnic basket to share a meal before the performance.
6. Devil’s Lake State Park, WI
Devil’s Lake, offering numerous hiking trails and two beaches, North Shore and South Shore, is located under an hour from Madison. The park includes connections to the Ice Age Trail, views of 500-foot bluffs, and opportunities to fish and rock climb. You can rent canoes, kayaks and paddleboards. The park is just a quick drive to Baraboo’s Main Square, where you can grab a bite to eat at Little Village Cafe or the Alpine. In the area surrounding the lake, there are not one, not two, but three lavender farms which welcome visitors to their purple fields.