MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Autumn in the studios

On fall art tours, treasure hunters strike gold (and orange and red).

Northeast Iowa art tour in Decorah.

© Beth Gauper

The Northeast Iowa Artists' Studio Tour starts in Decorah.

In September and October, artists everywhere throw open their studio doors, inviting the public to see some fall colors along with fine art.

It's tempting because of the scenic landscapes in which so many artists live: the bluffs of northeast Iowa, the coulees of southwest Wisconsin, the towns around Lake Pepin, the lumpy terrain of the Ice Age Trail.

"This is such a pretty area in the fall, and we thought it would be nice to have a tour where people could travel through it,'' says potter Diana Johnston, who helped found southwest Wisconsin's Fall Art Tour, the region's oldest.

The tours are free, and many artists demonstrate their craft and provide music and treats. It's not like shopping at the mall, that's for sure.

"You can get a slice of someone's life and see just what they do out there,'' Johnston says. "You can go home with a piece of art and have a story to go with it.''

Here are some of the best in 2015.

Trip Tips: Fall studio tours

Sept. 18-20 and 25-27, Lake Superior 20/20 Studio Art Tour between Two Harbors and Duluth. Visit 20 artists along the 20 miles between these towns on Minnesota's North Shore of Lake Superior.

Sept. 25-Oct. 4, Crossing Borders Studio Tour on Lake Superior's North Shore, with artists at studios between Duluth and Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Sept. 26-27, Art Leap in northern Minnesota, with artists at studios and cultural sites in and around Park Rapids.

Oct. 2-4, Meander, the Upper Minnesota River Art Crawl, with artists at sites in and around Ortonville, Appleton, Madison, Milan, Dawson, Montevideo and Granite Falls in western Minnesota.

Oct. 2-4, Fall Fresh Art Tour, with artists at studios along the Wisconsin side of Lake Pepin, from Bay City to Durand and Pepin.

Shoppers on a studio tour.

© Beth Gauper

Shoppers look at Dean Schwartz vases on the northeast Iowa tour.

Oct. 2-4, Hidden Studios Art Tour along the Ice Age Trail in central Wisconsin, with artists in studios in  Almond, Amherst Junction, Iola and Waupaca. 

Oct. 2-4, Northeast Iowa Artists' Studio Tour, with artists at sites around Decorah, Burr Oak, St. Lucas, Waukon, West Union, Cresco, New Albin, Lansing, Elgin and Clermont. 

For more, see Table-hopping in bluff country.

Oct. 3-4, Falling Leaves Art Studio Tour in western Wisconsin, with 42 artists at studios in and around Augusta, Fairchild and Osseo, southeast of Eau Claire.

Oct. 3-4, Shawano Country Miles of Art, with tours of artist studios, barn quilts and murals in Shawano and Menominee counties in northeast Wisconsin.

Oct. 3-4, Fall Studio Tour around Grand Rapids, Minn., with 10 artists at six studios.

Oct. 3-4, Blue Coast Artists Studio Tours between South Haven and Saugatuck, Mich. Visit artists at 12 studios along Lake Michigan, with detours to farm markets, orchards and wineries.

Oct. 9-11, Covered Bridge Studio Tour in eastern Wisconsin, with more than 60 artists in Cedarburg, Grafton, Port Washington, Mequon, Thiensville and Newburg.

Oct. 9-11, St. Paul Art Crawl, with artists in downtown St. Paul and the Raymond-University area.

Oct. 9-11, Northwoods Art Tour in northeast Wisconsin, with artists at studios in and around Manitowish Waters, Boulder Junction, Minocqua and Eagle River.

Oct. 10, Scott County Art Crawl south of Minneapolis, with 60 artists at studios in and around the suburbs of Shakopee, Jordan, Savage and Prior Lake.

Oct. 10-11, Artisans Road Trip in northwest Iowa, with artists in and around Storm Lake, Spirit Lake, Okoboji, Spencer and Estherville.

Shops on Commerce Street in Mineral Point.

© Beth Gauper

Many of the old stone storefronts of Mineral Point house artist studios and galleries.

Oct. 16-18, Twenty Dirty Hands Pottery Tour, with artists at studios and a wood kiln in and around the northwest Illinois towns of Galena and Elizabeth.

Oct. 16-18, First City of Arts Studio Cruise in Bemidji, Minn., with artists in a 40-mile radius around this northern-Minnesota college town.

Oct. 16-18, Southwest Wisconsin Fall Art Tour, with artists at studios between Mineral Point, Spring Green, Dodgeville and Baraboo. This tour, started in 1994, is very popular; reserve lodgings early.

Oct. 16-18, Studio ArTour, with 46 artists at 23 studios in and around Northfield, Cannon Falls and Faribault in southcentral Minnesota.

Oct. 17-18, Southeast Iowa Artists's Studio Tour, with 29 artists in and around Washington, Mount Pleasant, Burlington and Fort Madison.

Oct. 24-25, Earth, Wood & Fire Artist Tour east of Madison, with artists in and around Lake Mills, Cambridge and Fort Atkinson.

Nov. 6-8, Art Attack in Minneapolis. Visit more than 200 artists in their studios at the Northrup King Building in the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District.

Last updated on September 30, 2015

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