MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Trip Hints

Favorites for fall

Pursuing the hues
With luck, leaf peepers can squeeze six weeks of color out of fall.
Ghosts on the prowl
Around the region, spirits of past turn out to haunt tourists of today.
Tippling into fall
In November, taste the fruits of the harvest on wine trails.
15 great fall views
From these overlooks, see rolling waves of color light up the landscape.
Hawk heaven
On a ridgetop in Duluth, bird watchers keep eyes on the fall skies.
Grazing in Wisconsin
Where Badger state began, Old World flavors remain.
10 cool ways to see fall colors
When the trees put on a show, get a front-row seat that can't be beat.
Halloween in Chicago
During scary season, this fun-loving city pulls out all the stops.

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FastPlans/Fall in Door County

In fall, Door County produces plenty of pumpkins.

In fall, Door County's many apple orchards, pumpkin patches and vineyards provide eye candy for tourists, who flock in on weekends.

What to do: Hike in five state parks, 18 county parks and 28 natural areas. Shop at orchard markets and dozens of galleries. Go to a fish boil. Tour wineries and even a haunted winery.

Events to catch: Oct. 24-26, Jack O'Lantern Days in Fish Creek. Oct. 25-26, Ellison Bay Fall Arts Crawl.

Details: See Fall in Door County and Outdoors in Door County.

Past fast plans: Fall at Devil's Lake, Fall in Red Wing, Fall in Decorah, Art in Mineral Point, North Shore in fall

This weekend

Pick a few new haunts for Halloween.

The Midnight Circus in Chicago.

Happy Hauntings in Chicago. The free Chicagoween festival moves to the Chicago Cultural Center, with daily ghost tours and Midnight Circus performances and the Monster Bash on Saturday. Oct. 23–26.

Jack O'Lantern Days in Fish Creek, Wis. There will be mask making, pumpkin carving, trick or treating and a Halloween parade at 1 p.m. Saturday Oct. 24–26.

Halloween in Anoka, Minn. A carnival, block party and big 1 p.m. parade caps festivities in the town that calls itself the Halloween Capital of the World. Oct. 25.

Pumpkin Festival in Sycamore, Ill. In this town between Rockford and DeKalb, there will be a pie-eating contest, carnival, decorated pumpkins and a parade at 1 p.m. Sunday. Oct. 22–26.

For more events, see our Events Calendar.


Horror around the corner

Spoiling for a fright? For Halloween, ghouls lurk in strange places.

A Redcoat ghoul at Fort Michilimackinac.

It began with a sepulchral fugue, crashing through the frigid steel corridors. Then there was a shriek. And throbbing blood-red lights.

At a fork along a curtained gantlet, a hand-lettered sign advised, "Choose wisely.'' We chose. Another sign said, "You chose poorly.'' Then the ghouls began to crowd in, chattering like monkeys: "Where you goin'? Where you goin'?''

A skeleton slowly turned to face us. We climbed a Plexiglass ramp over an open coffin and into an electrocution chamber. A tortured face poked out of the wall. Behind us, the tunnel closed.

A haunted house? No, a haunted ship — a real claustrophobe's nightmare.

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30 classic fall hikes

For autumn scenery, these beautiful trails are the best of the best.

Runners in Carleton's Arboretum.

An autumn Saturday dawns, sunny and mild. It’s a perfect day for hiking — but where?

This time of year, you could walk down the street and see something nice.

But if you're looking for the kind of hike that makes you marvel at nature and feel glad to be alive, you'll probably have to look a little farther afield.

Here are 30 of our favorite fall hikes. A few require a little huffing and puffing, but most are easy strolls. And they all showcase fall at its finest.

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November girlfriend getaways

When hunting season starts, women head out to have fun with their friends.

Horseback riding in autumn.

In November, women make a break for it.

As men sit in deer stands or watch football games on TV, women hit the road with their friends. They shop, they visit spas, they sip wine and they see shows their husbands or boyfriends don't want to see.

For women, November is a great month. Not only do they have a good excuse to get away with their friends, but it's time to start shopping for Christmas.

There are art fairs and holiday markets everywhere. And festivities start early in such shopping meccas as Cedarburg, Wis., which starts its Festive Friday Eves on the eve of Wisconsin's firearms deer opener.

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10 great late-fall getaways

It's the mellowest time of the year, when hotel rates drop with the leaves.

Dells Boat Tours.

Late fall – when crowds fade and hotel deals appear – is one of the best times to make a getaway.

For hikers, it's the sweet spot between the fall-color rush and hunting season. For shoppers, it's the time to get a head start on the holidays, before the craziness starts.

More often than not, the weather still is gorgeous, and stubborn oaks and willows offer color that lasts into early November.

The more popular a destination is in summer, the more likely you'll find great deals in late October and November. Check deal sites, including LivingSocial Escapes and Groupon Getaways.

Here are 10 great places to go for a late-fall getaway.

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Tales of the dead

At Chicago's famous Graceland Cemetery, the graves have a lot to say.

Lorado Taft's

It isn't true that dead men tell no tales.

Actually, they can be quite chatty. At Graceland Cemetery in Chicago, their stories keep up to seven tour guides busy, especially during Halloween season.

Graceland's residents are a Who's Who of Chicago society: retailer Marshall Field, meat-packer Philip Armour, hotelier Potter Palmer, piano maker William Kimball.

Often, their exits were as remarkable as their lives.

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Ghosts of the Great Lakes

Centuries of tragedy on ship and shore leave haunting memories.

The Edmund Fitzgerald.

This time of year, ghosts go hand in hand with shipwrecks and the malevolent late-fall storms that cause them.

Crews and passengers have been coming to bad ends ever since boats sailed the Great Lakes, starting with the French explorer La Salle's Griffin, which disappeared in 1679 after leaving Washington Island in Door County and may have been found this year off Michigan's Garden Peninsula.

Some say the ship was done in by an Iroquois curse on the French invaders, and that it still can be glimpsed lurking in the fog.

Lonely lighthouses also produce ghosts. In northern Michigan, two of them hold haunted tours: Seul Choix Point just east of the Garden Peninsula, where a keeper died in 1910, and Ontonagon on Lake Superior, where a young woman died of diphtheria in 1885.

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15 great fall drives

Chase the colors through glorious autumn landscapes.

Hilltop view of Hudson.

On a crisp, sunny fall day, we all get the urge to go for a drive.

The countryside is alight with color, and there's a lot going on — art-studio tours, corn mazes, hay rides and harvest festivals in every little town.

And you'll be chasing the colors, of course.

You probably could throw a dart at the map and find a pretty spot, but here are 15 routes that we think are especially beautiful.

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Mural trails

In some places, colorful local characters are literally larger than life.

A mural of 22 lumberjacks in Ashland.

If you want to see colors, you don't have to wait for fall.

Artists are splashing every color of the spectrum across the sides of buildings, in murals that celebrate colorful local characters.

In the northern Wisconsin town of Ashland, murals pay tribute to lighthouse keepers, lumberjacks, pilots and jazz musicians. They've made Ashland such a destination that the Minnesota Iron Range town of Virginia has put their creators to work creating murals there, too.

In Illinois, vintage postcard-style murals in 35 towns mark the route of the Lincoln Highway.

In northern Iowa, dozens of towns sport the work of artist Carl Homstad, and in Michigan, Ludington has used eight artists to tell its story of life on a Great Lake.

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