Fall in Minnesota is a charming period to enjoy the sunshine, clear skies, and fantastic fall colors of smoke and maple trees. Whether you take a stroll through the Minneapolis–St. Paul region parks or a road trip in the countryside, fall can be a stunning time to pop around Minnesota. Just choose your favorite destination from the list below and go for it.
The Twin Cities (peak in late September to mid-October)
When you happen to visit in the Minneapolis–St. Paul region, you can easily find magnificent fall colors in this urban environment. Drive through the Minnesota River Valley (south of Bloomington), walk around Lake Minnetonka, or stroll through the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Other adorable places to take in the foliage are apple orchards or pumpkin patches during harvest time. These locations, perfect for a day trip, can be found within an hour's drive of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
St. Peter and Mankato (peak in late September to mid-October)
Consider strolling up and down Seven Mile Creek County Park halfway between St. Peter and North Mankato. The park boasts over 600 ac (243 ha) of forest and 8 mi (13 km) of trails, perfect for biking, hiking, and blading. Explore the Minnesota River Trail from Riverfront Park to Sibley Park, with marvelous views of the vivid fall hues along the Minnesota River. Another option is The Red Jacket Trail, a 6-mi (10-km) trail that stretches from Mankato straight to the Rapidan Dam.
Taylors Falls (peak in late September to mid-October)
Interstate State Park is a leafy fairyland of hiking trails and giant glacial potholes along the river bluffs' pathways. You can take a Scenic Boat Tour on the St. Croix River here to float through fall colors or board the Fall Color Express with Osceola & St. Croix Valley Railway to enjoy picturesque River Valley views. Consider stopping at the Franconia Sculpture Park, on your drive to or from Taylors Falls. The park is known for its alluring art installations.
North Shore (peak from mid-September to early October)
As you go northeast towards Lake Superior, do yourself a favor: stop or even stay in Two Harbors, Grand Marais, and Duluth. Enjoy the North Shore Scenic Byway on Highway 61, a road that takes you from Duluth to Grand Portage. You can also observe the coastline on the Superior Hiking Trail by bicycle or on foot. If you travel up to Grand Portage, visit Grand Portage State Park to see the highest waterfall in Minnesota or climb Mount Josephine for spectacular foliage-filled views. Temperance River State Park and Tettegouche State Park are iconic North Shore sites in Silver Bay. And Duluth can be an excellent addition to any kind of trip, especially when the foliage is peaking. Relish brightly toned trees in the Bayfront Festival Park in Duluth or Jay Cooke State Park, about a half-hour from the city.
Red Wing (peak from late September to mid-October)
How about walking amid the scarlet trees of this river bluff town? Put your tracking boots on and explore Red Wing's Memorial Park that boasts excellent views of the surrounding scenery from the top of Sorin's Bluff. Bike, rollerblade, or hike for around 20 mi (32 km) on the picturesque Cannon Valley Trail between Cannon Falls and Red Wing. The section of about 5 mi (8 km) of this trail is usually closed between October and the spring period, but the trail from Red Wing to Welch remains open. You will also find fantastic hiking trails and equestrian paths that twist along Lake Pepin's shores and through prairie forests and grasses in Frontenac State Park.
Where to Stay
Here in Minnesota, you can find a world of places to stay while admiring beautiful fall colors. The state is literally dappled with numerous lodgings, hotels, and campsites. We recommend the campsites in Frontenac State Park’s or Tettegouche State Park to be closer to nature.