If you live anywhere in the midwest, you know that you get to experience four very distinct seasons every year. I can honestly say that there are pros to all of them (some more than others...yes, I’m talking to you, winter), but one of the seasons I look forward to the most is fall. I love fall clothes, the colors of leaves changing, cooler weather, and all of the fun activities the season brings! So here is a list of my favorite things to do during fall in Southern Wisconsin/Northern Illinois:
Favorite Fall Activities:
Go to an Apple Orchard
One of my favorite places to go apple picking at is Edward's Apple Orchard and all you need to know about this place can be said in three words: Apple cider donuts. But seriously - is it even fall if you don’t go to an apple orchard? And Edwards is by far the best one I’ve ever been to. It’s just south of the Wisconsin border in Poplar Grove, IL (easy to get to from Chicago too!) and I’m not kidding when I say they have the BEST apple cider donuts. I like them so much, I’ll usually buy a whole bunch and freeze some to take out for a special treat throughout the long Wisconsin winter.
Visit a Farm Market + Petting Zoo
I love petting zoos and luckily for me, Wisconsin is not short of them! My favorite one I've found is Eugster's. I first heard of Eugster’s Farm Market in Stoughton, WI (just south of Madison) a couple years ago, but didn’t get a chance to go until last fall. I am so glad I did! I went with my sister, her husband, and their one year old and we had so much fun petting the farm animals and bottle-feeding the baby goats!
Go Hiking at a State Park
As I mentioned above, one of my favorite parts of fall is watching all of the leaves change colors. The best way to view the changing leaves is to dive right into it! Wisconsin is full of unique nature trails and fall is one of my favorite times to enjoy little adventures on them. And besides taking in the beautiful views, fall hikes are also great because it’s cooler outside and you don’t sweat the whole time! Devil’s Lake State Park is one of my favorite places to explore in the fall!
Pick Your Own Grapes at a Winery or Attend a Wine Stomping Event
This is probably one of the less-popular fall activities, and it can be kind of hard to find a winery that allows you to pick your own grapes, but if you can manage to find one near you, I definitely recommend doing this! My boyfriend and I found a winery just south of the Wisconsin border in Caledonia, IL. McEachran Homestead Winery offers a unique variety of wines (only $3 for a full wine tasting!), including seasonal wine slushies, and each fall they host a “pick you own concord grapes” weekend. My boyfriend and I packed up a cheese and cracker picnic lunch and ate that on the winery’s outdoor porch along with the grapes we picked and a couple glasses of our favorite wine slushies from the tasting we did. And then the next day, we attended an "Annual Wine Stomp" event at another nearby vineyard, DC Estate Winery (a beautiful winery and it was such a fun event to go to!)!
Pick Out the Perfect Pumpkin at a Pumpkin Patch
Is it even possible to think about fall without imagining pumpkins everywhere? I feel like the past few falls have been taken over by pumpkin (or at least by pumpkin spice lattes), and I am guilty of contributing to that takeover. I enjoy all things that are pumpkin flavored, scented, or any type of fall decor that involves pumpkins. One thing I’ve especially enjoyed during the fall the past few years has been carving pumpkins and there’s something extra special about picking out the perfect carvable pumpkin from a pumpkin patch! This past year I went to The Pumpkin Patch in Caledonia, IL (yes, the same city that I did the pick-your-own grapes at the winery in) to find my perfect pumpkin. Many pumpkin patches have other activities like petting zoos, pumpkin catapults, corn mazes, hayrides, games, food, etc. While we were at The Pumpkin Patch, we definitely got lost in a corn maze, but it was surprisingly so fun to walk around in circles and even more fun and satisfying to find our way out!
Attend Oktoberfest Celebrations
Beer, brats, beer, giant pretzels, beer, live music, and did I mention beer? Haha! You can’t say you participated in a Wisconsin Fall unless you put on some lederhosen and attend an Oktoberfest celebration! They’re easy to find late September/early October and they are a great way to experience some German culture.
Freeze Your Butt Off Celebrating Halloween
Halloween is definitely one of my favorite holidays. (I think it’s because I’m still a kid at heart, and I love dressing up for it.) The only problem with celebrating it when you live in the midwest is that - when thinking of clever costume ideas - you need to consider the chilly temperatures at the end of October! This past year, John and I went as Maverick and "Goose" from Top Gun! Keep watching my blog this next month for some other costume ideas! :)
Fall Bucket List:
✓ Apple Orchard
✓ Pumpkin Patch
✓ Fall Hike
✓ Dress up for Halloween
✓ Bake fall treats
✓ Carve Pumpkins
✓ Corn Maze
✓ Oktoberfest Celebration
✓ Watch Hocus Pocus
✓ Watch The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown
✓ Sip hot cider by a campfire
I truly can't believe that fall is officially here already, but I am so excited to start checking off items from my "Fall Bucket List!" What are some of your favorite things to do in fall? Let me know in the comments! And as always,
thanks for reading!