Fall colors trees golden foliage on mountain
One of my favorite locations for the best Minnesota fall colors: Lutsen Mountains, Lutsen, Minn. Post updated: 10.17.23; Originally published: 09.19.20

Minnesota fall foliage guide: Best places to see fall colors and other family-friendly things to do in the Land of 10,000 Lakes

Vermont church fall foliage
Vermont is known for its stunning fall foliage season – here’s one of my favorite autumn pictures I took when we lived in the Green Mountain state.

When I first moved to Vermont, I had no idea leaf-peeping was a thing. I mean, fall foliage is technically a season Vermont builds tourism around. While we haven’t lived in Vermont for 30 years, it holds a special place in my heart. (UVM alum right here…go Cats!).

So when autumn comes around in Minnesota I get a little homesick for the Vermont foliage season. But there’s an easy fix – take a road trip to the scenic North Shore in Minnesota or along the scenic byways of the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers to the Minnesota state parks and many more places – including your own backyard – all great places to chase fall colors in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

When do fall colors peak in Minnesota?

Hiking trails through fall leaves and foliage
One of my favorite Minnesota things to do in the fall: Crunch through fall leaves on the ground or hiking trails.

Typically, fall colors peak between late September to late-October in Minnesota. However, I’ve visited several of these places after the official peak time in early November and the fall colors are still doing their thing. The timing of the autumn colors peaking depends on where you are in Minnesota as well as the weather. When looking to find the best fall colors near me, I always check the Minnesota DNR Fall Color Finder. You can even sign up for updates to be notified by text or email when fall colors start to peak throughout Minnesota.



With millions of acres of forests, Minnesota is one of the best places in the U.S. to see fall colors

Fall colors on tree with hiking path
Minnesota is home to 17.6 million acres of forest – making state parks, state hiking trails and state and national forests top things to do in the land of 10,000+ lakes.

More than a third of Minnesota is covered in forests. That’s 17.6 million acres. So it’s no surprise that Minnesota is a leaf-peeper’s paradise. Join me on a virtual tour of some of my favorite places for fall foliage colors in Minnesota.


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Minnesota foliage road trip along the North Shore of Lake Superior

Fall foliage and evergreen trees overlooking Lake Superior
Going to Minnesota’s North Shore of Lake Superior is one of my top things to do in the world – not just my state. Captured this photo while staying in Beaver Bay, Minn. during fall foliage season.

Minnesota’s most scenic drive is the North Shore along Lake Superior. This is the perfect place for a fall foliage road trip. Here are a few of the best places in Minnesota to see fall colors along the North Shore.

Lutsen Mountains, Lutsen, Minn.

Red gondola looking over fall foliage trees on mountain
Now Minnesota’s North Shore has countless places to stop for some stunning fall colors. However, the very best-of-the-best places for breathtaking foliage views is from the Summit Express Gondola at Lutsen Mountains in Lutsen, Minn.

View from the top of a mountain overlooking fall foliage and a lake on a gondola ride
For breathtaking views of fall colors on the North Shore of Minnesota, take the gondola ride, Summit Express, at Lutsen Mountains | Lutsen, Minn.

The Lutsen Mountains area in Minnesota is beautiful in every season – especially when the fall colors of gold, orange and reds start peaking against the green pine trees. Lutsen is where you can enjoy the dramatic panoramic view of the Sawtooth Mountains and Lake Superior.

The Summit Express Gondola at Lutsen Mountains takes you 1,000 feet up Moose Mountain for some stunning fall foliage views. You’ll find a mountaintop chalet and can grab a ride back down. Or there are several trails at Lutsen Mountains to hike if you prefer to trek down among the greens, golds and reds of autumn leaves.

And if you time your visit to Lutsen Moutains early in the fall, you can also take in an alpine ride to enjoy all the beautiful foliage scenery.



Panoramic view of fall colors foliage adn trees with lake in the background
Best fall colors in Minnesota: Once you reach the top of the summit at Lutsen Mountains, you can take in panoramic views of the breathtaking fall foliage. You can even see Lake Superior in the distance.


Aerial view of river and fall colors foliage
Best place for fall foliage in Minnesota: Lutsen Mountains | Lutsen, Minn. We captured this shot while riding the Summit Express Gondola ride.


Aerial view of fall foliage along rapids
Lutsen Mountains | Lutsen, Minn. – one of my top places for fall foliage along the North Shore of Minnesota.

Tettegouche State Park | Silver Bay, Minn.

Fall colors along hiking trail in the forest and woods
There’s something magical about hiking through the beautiful forests and trails of Minnesota during foliage season. Tettegouche State Park in Silver Bay, Minn. is one of my top places to see fall colors up close.

Tettegouche State Park, one of my favorite Minnesota state parks, in Silver Bay, Minn. offers beautiful hiking trails, the Baptism River, waterfalls and the stunning Palisade Head. These soaring sheer cliffs overlook the rugged shores of Lake Superior.


Fall foliage colors and waterfall and river
Best places for fall foliage in Minnesota: Chasing waterfalls at Tettegouche State Park | Silver Bay, Minn.


Top of a waterfall overlooking fall colors foliage trees
Chasing waterfalls and fall colors at Tettegouche State Park | Silver Bay, Minn.


Stairs leading down to a river with trees turning fall colors
Tettegouche State Park in Silver Bay, Minn. offers gorgeous hiking trails through forests and along the river and waterfalls.

Hiking trail steps stairs leading up through green trees
Tettegouche State Park | Silver Bay, Minn. Although many of the trees were already turning the first week in October last year, there was still plenty of green on the hiking trails. Check out the Minnesota DNR’s fall color finder for the peak times to visit.


Palisade Head and Shovel Point at Tettegouche State Park | Silver Bay, Minn.

Cliffs and fall foliage overlooking Lake Superior
Palisade Head in Tettegouche State Park looks over the beautiful Lake Superior – my favorite lake of the 10,000+ lakes in Minnesota.

For some breathtaking and panoramic views of Lake Superior during fall foliage season (or any season), stop at Tettegouche State Park’s Palisade Head. It’s located rght along Highway 61 (North Shore scenic byway). The entrance is two miles from the main entrance of Tettegouche State Park, and this view is just a short distance from the parking area.

Fall foliage colors and sheer cliffs overlooking Lake Superior
Stunning fall foliage views of Palisade Head, Shovel Head and Lake Superior at Tettegouche State Park.

Warning: You’ll appreciate the unobstructed views of the sheer cliffs of Palisade Head, Shovel Point and Lake Superior. However, use great caution (especially with children) as the cliffs at Palisade Head rise 300 feet above the lake. Several people have fallen over the years resulting in serious injuries and even death.

Cliff overlooking Lake Superior
Use extreme caution when taking in the gorgeous views of Lake Superior at Palisade Head along the North Shore in Minnesota. For perspective on scale, note the person standing on the cliff.

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park | Two Harbors, Minn.

Split Rock Lighthouse in Two Harbors Minnesota overlooking Lake Superior in the fall

The iconic Split Rock Lighthouse in Two Harbors is one of the top things to do in Minnesota and on the North Shore. While most of the buildings are currently closed because of the pandemic, you can roam the grounds to enjoy some beautiful fall colors. The area also offers many bike and hiking trails – the famed Superior Hiking Trail runs through Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. See my local’s guide to the historic Split Rock Lighthouse State Park in Minnesota.


Stairs leading down through the woods to the lake
Stairs leading down to the Lake Superior shoreline. Learn more about Minnesota’s famed North Shore – the most scenic road trip in the Midwest.

It’s only a quarter-mile hike down to the Lake Superior shoreline to capture a stunning pic of the historic Split Rock Lighthouse in Two Harbors, Minnesota. I don’t recall how many steps down and back up, but thinking close to 200. You can find places to stop on the stairs and take additional shots of the Split Rock Lighthouse, Lake Superior and fall foliage while you catch your breath.


Gooseberry Falls State Park |Two Harbors, Minn.

Waterfalls and fall colors foliage
Gooseberry Falls is Minnesota’s most-visited state park with easy hiking paths as well as easy access to the top or bottom of the waterfalls.

If you love waterfalls, you must visit Gooseberry Falls State Park, Minnesota’s most popular state park. The whole family can enjoy an easy hike on a paved trail around the falls top to bottom. This state park is less than seven miles south of Split Rock Lighthouse. While it’s beautiful all year round, the fall colors here at Gooseberry Falls are pretty spectacular.


Beaver Bay, Minn.

panoramic view of fall colors and evergreen trees overlooking lake superior
Cove Point Lodge in Beaver Bay, Minn. is our favorite place to stay on the North Shore. We especially love their cottages that overlook Lake Superior – this panoramic shot was taken from our deck.

Beaver Bay, Minn. was our base camp while exploring the North Shore during fall foliage season. We stayed in a cottage at the beautiful Cove Point Lodge overlooking Lake Superior – easy day trips to check out the beautiful fall colors from this Minnesota location.


sunrise on lake superior with evergreen tree in front
My husband captured this beautiful sunrise over Lake Superior from our deck on Beaver Bay, Minnesota.

Fall foliage and evergreen trees overlooking Lake Superior
Another view of the fall colors from our cottage deck overlooking Lake Superior in Beaver Bay, Minn.

Silver Bay, Minn.

Down tree and fall foliage on hiking trail
Silver Bay is a beautiful destination along the North Shore of Minnesota during fall foliage season.

For a variety of scenic fall colors, check out Silver Bay, Minn., which offers 21 hiking trails. The trail that leads you to a scenic overlook of the city of Silver Bay and Lake Superior is relatively short (but may have some natural overgrowth that you’ll need to hike over or around). Silver Bay is a beautiful destination along the North Shore of Minnesota during fall foliage season.


Scenic overlook of town and fall foliage and trees with blue sky and a few clouds
Scenic fall foliage view overlooks Silver Bay, Minn. and Lake Superior in the distance.


Agate Bay | Two Harbors, Minn.

Deer standing in fall colors grass with trees in background
Not much fall foliage in this shot, but came across this deer while hiking in Two Harbors, Minn.

We stopped in the town of Two Harbors, Minn. to check out the fall colors surrounding the lighthouse and to take a short hike along Lake Superior’s Agate Bay. While there were warnings to watch out for bears when we went hiking, I was happy and surprised to come across only a deer.


Fall foliage season along the north shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota
Agate Bay | Two Harbors, Minn. offers beautiful up-close views of Lake Superior during the beautiful fall season.

Silver Creek Cliff Wayside Park and Tunnel | Two Harbors, Minn.


Silver Creek Cliff Tunnel on Minnesota North Shore

While on the most scenic highway in Minnesota (Highway 61), be sure to pull over at the Silver Creek Cliff Tunnel overlook near Two Harbors, Minn. You’ll actually go through two tunnels on this fall foliage road trip. Check out That Traveling Chick’s post for more details and photos.

Silver Creek Cliff Wayside Park View of Lake Superior in Minnesota
Stunning views of Lake Superior in the fall (or any season) at Silver Creek Cliff Wayside Park in Two Harbors, Minn.

Moose Lake State Park | Moose Lake, Minn.

Tall trees with yellow trees and leaves on the ground
Moose Lake State Park in Moose Lake, Minn. is a beautiful and uncrowded state park.

Less than two hours north of the Twin Cities and only 40 miles south of Duluth – the gateway to the North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota is Moose Lake State Park. This MN state park offers several easy hikes through forests of tall trees and alongside Echo Lake. I hiked Moose Lake after fall color peak time and it was still beautiful.

St. Croix State Park | Hinckley, Minn.

Trail and steps leading through fall colors and trees along a river
One of the top places in Minnesota during foliage season for some breathtaking fall colors is St. Croix State Park. The largest state park in Minnesota offers many hiking trails along the Kettle River and the St. Croix River – located less than two hours north of the Twin Cities and on the way to the North Shore.

Less than two hours north of the Twin Cities (and south of the North Shore), you’ll find Minnesota’s largest state park, St. Croix State Park. The 33,895 acres feature some of my favorite fall foliage spots in Minnesota. Trails wind along two rivers – Kettle and St. Croix, which you can hike alongside or go kayaking or canoeing.


fall foliage along river
Golden fall colors at the beautiful St. Croix State Park, near Hinckley, Minn.

Evergreen trees along river
You’ll still see some green in Minnesota during fall foliage season – like this beautiful shot of evergreens overlooking Kettle River at St. Croix State Park.

fall foliage with road leading through the trees
While St. Croix State Park in Minnesota offers miles of bike paths and hiking trails, you can also take in some of the best fall colors on a scenic drive and make stops along the way.

Bridge overlooking creek and fall colors in trees
No shortage of water views while leaf-peeping at St. Croix State Park near Hinckley, Minn. This bridge overlooks fall foliage at Bear Creek.

St. Croix State Park fire tower offers the best views of fall colors in Minnesota
fire tower fall foliage and trees
One of the top places to see fall colors is at the top of the 100-ft. fire tower at St. Croix State Park – it’s perfect for some of Minnesota’s best fall foliage.

Minnesota’s largest state park also features a 100-ft. fire tower that you can climb for some amazing fall foliage views. Check MN state park’s website for the latest updates.

Built in 1937, the St. Croix State Park Fire Tower is one of the 123 fire towers that were used to monitor wind and fire damage. Most fire towers are decommissioned (this one in 1981) as they now use aerial surveys.

Here’s a video clip of my son and husband climbing the St. Croix State Park fire tower. I joined them a few minutes later – and it was a workout (also went back up a couple of weeks later with my friend).


View of fall colors looking through an open window with bars from the top of a fire tower in Minnesota
One of my top fall colors photos – taken from the top of the 100-ft. St. Croix fire tower during fall foliage season in Minnesota.

Chase fall colors at Minnesota state parks, regional parks, city parks and Minnesota lakes

Field of grasses in the fall with trees and blue sky and clouds
Catch some beautiful fall colors on the best hiking trails in your state parks like this one: Wild River State Park in Minnesota. This guide includes stop state parks throughout the U.S.

Head to your local state parks for some beautiful fall foliage this autumn. Check out my Exploring MN state parks challenge series and my local’s guide to the best Minnesota lakes for some inspiration on where to find fall colors.

Best bluff view for fall colors in Minnesota Beaver Creek Valley State Park
Stunning fall colors and view from the switchback trail at Beaver Creek Valley State Park in Caledonia, Minn.

You’ll find spectacular fall colors at Beaver Creek Valley State Park in Caledonia, Minn. This beautiful state park with its stunning bluff views and switchback trail is worth the drive to the southeast corner of Minnesota.

Forestville Mystery Cave overlook
Stunning views of fall colors at Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park in Preston, Minn.

One of my favorite Minnesota state parks for fall colors is Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park in Preston, MN. The photo above was actually taken past peak season for autumn foliage in Minnesota (early November 2020).

Trees reflecting in a lake at sunset
Fall is the best time to hike at Minnesota state parks – even if past peak fall foliage season. One of my favorite moments in autumn 2020: Lake Louise State Park in Le Roy, Minn.

Loved all my beautiful hikes at Minnesota state parks last fall. Lake Louise State Park in Le Roy, Minn. is perfect if you’re looking for solitude and beautiful colors in southern MN.

Chasing waterfalls and fall colors in Minnesota

One of the best things to do in Minnesota in autumn is chase waterfalls.

fall colors waterfall in autumn
Best-of-the-best place for fall colors: Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Minnehaha Regional Park in Minneapolis, featuring the 53-foot Minnehaha Falls waterfall, is especially beautiful in autumn with its fall colors.

Waterfall in autum
Top place for fall colors and waterfalls: St. Anthony Falls in Minneapolis

And since you’re in the neighborhood (kinda), you can find another beautiful waterfall surrounded by fall colors in Minneapolis about five miles away from Minnehaha Falls. St. Anthony Falls is located right on the Mississippi River.

Waterfall in autumn
As long as you’re chasing fall colors, you can also chase waterfalls. Minneopa State Park features a double waterfall. Here’s the top cascade.

Minnesota’s state parks are my favorite places to chase fall colors. Pictured is the beautiful autumn colors that frame the double waterfall at Minneopa State Park (this is the top half of the cascading water). Added bonus: This state park is one of two that is home to a bison herd. The other is Blue Mounds State Park in southwest Minnesota near the Iowa and South Dakota borders.

waterfall with fall colors
The charming waterfall at Caron Park in Northfield, Minn. is one of the best places to hike for fall colors.
Ramsey Falls Little Yellowstone waterfall autumn
Ramsey Falls Park in Redwood, Minn. is known as Little Yellowstone – best place to view fall colors.

Chasing fall colors in your own backyard

Willow tree in autumn overlooking lake
Where can I find the best fall colors near me in Minnesota? Sometimes in your own neighborhood.

Sometimes the best fall colors are right in your neighborhood.

This willow tree is my favorite tree in any season – especially when it showcases its golden fall colors. And it’s only a few blocks away from me at Antlers Park overlooking Lake Marion in Lakeville, Minn.

fall colors and trees on lake
You don’t always have to go on a road trip to find the best fall colors in Minnesota. Visit your city and local parks. Ritter Farm Park in Lakeville, Minn. is right off I-35, but you’ll feel like you’re miles away from civilization.

And then just a few miles away on the other side of Lake Marion are the brilliant fall colors at Ritter Farm Park – still in Lakeville, Minn.


Discovering beauty in my own backyard – literally. Autumn is when we can expect geese to congregate in our backyard pond. Watching them communicate and take flight in unison into the sunset never gets old.

Fall colors on tree at night
For a different perspective, check out fall foliage at night. I loved how the street lights and our porch light danced off our tree in our front yard.

And sometimes you don’t even have to leave your front yard to capture beautiful fall foliage. I captured a lot of really cool photos of trees at night and the wee hours in the morning typically between 2 and 3 a.m. over the past year. That’s because our miniature dachshund, Romeo, and I had a weird sleep schedule. We had to say goodbye to our beloved Romeo earlier this summer so this image of the autumn leaves at night is bittersweet as it reminds me of those quiet nights of just him and me and the trees.


“There is a time for everything. There’s a time for everything that is done on earth. There is a time to be born. And there is a time to die. There is a time to plant. And there’s a time to pull up what is planted.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

Best places for fall leaves in the Twin Cities: Summit Avenue in St. Paul, Minn.

fall foliage along a city sidewalk with leaves on the ground
One of my favorite places in the Twin Cities – for fall foliage or any season – is the most scenic street in St. Paul: Summit Ave.

One of the best neighborhoods for stunning autumn colors is the historic Summit Ave. in St. Paul, Minn.


Take a stroll along the historic Summit Ave. in St. Paul, Minn. during fall foliage season. You will not be disappointed. Learn more about the prettiest street in Minnesota and the Twin Cities: A local’s guide to the historic and beautiful homes of Summit Ave.

Fall foliage of red leaves framing a historic home on Summit Ave
The beautiful Summit Ave. in St. Paul, Minn. features nearly five miles of historic homes and mansions – including 373 of the neighborhood’s original homes from the 1800s. Summit Ave. is beatuiful in the fall or any season.

Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota features the best fall colors in the Twin Cities

Fall colors on tree at Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis
Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis is one of the most peaceful places for fall colors.

One of my favorite places in the Twin Cities for a peaceful urban hike or stroll to reflect is Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis. It’s beautiful in any season especially the fall. See my related post: Most beautiful cemeteries in the world.

Fall colors at Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis
Beautiful fall colors at Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Other fun things to do in the fall in Minnesota

fall leaves on the ground
Where to find the best fall foliage in Minnesota – sometimes look down.

Here are some other top fun fall activities to do in Minnesota.

Top things to do in Minnesota in the fall: Take a history tour

Flowers fountain garden lake
Glensheen Mansion in Duluth, Minn. is a photographer’s paradise in the fall and the spring and the summer and the winter.

When heading to the North Shore of Minnesota, start off your fall foliage road trip by visiting Minnesota’s most popular historic home – Glensheen Mansion in Duluth, Minn. – the gateway to the North Shore.

Glensheen Mansion

How beautiful is the image of Glensheen Mansion that I captured last summer? I’ve also toured the historic home in the winter (hosted by Glensheen Mansion both times; opinions are my own). I need to head back up that way soon to take autumn shots of Glensheen’s garden and grounds. Note that they have social-distancing guidelines in place and there is plenty of outdoor space on this 12-acre estate.


fall colors, flowers and trees with gate to a fence
Mayowood Mansion – the historical home of Dr. Charles H. Mayo and Edith Mayo in Rochester, Minn.- is one of my top historical tours and places to visit in Minnesota for fall colors. Mayowood is now open with social-distancing guidelines in place (e.g., masks required). Check their website for updates.

History Center of Olmsted County and Mayowood Mansion

The History Center of Olmsted County and Mayowood Mansion hosted my husband and me on several history tours during the fall season. And it was the perfect time to visit to check out all the fall foliage at both historic locations in Rochester, Minn. Opinions, of course, are always my own.

porch with flower overlooking fall foliage
The historic home of Mayowood Mansion in Rochester, Minn. set among beautiful fall foliage.

One of my favorite historical tours and places to visit for fall colors: Mayowood Mansion – home of one of Dr. Charles H. Mayo and Edith Mayo.

Path through fall colors and trees leading to red barn
Fall colors create the perfect setting for this historic farm at The Historic Center of Olmsted County in Rochester, Minn.

The History Center of Olmsted County. The 54 acres includes two historic farmsteads, historic buildings and the History Center museum – and plenty of opportunity for some leaf-peeping at all the fall colors. You can read about our great experience as we traveled back to the 1800s in Minnesota. And you’ll have to check out the History Center of Olmsted County’s annual creepy doll contest they run every Halloween.

Top things to do in Minnesota in the fall: Visit a nature center

Yellow leaf on the ground
Quarry Hill Nature Center in Rochester, Minn. is one of my top places to check out fall colors.

While we were in Rochester, Minn. last fall, we visited the Quarry Hill Nature Center. The visitor center was super cool and educational; however, it is currently closed due to the pandemic . Regardless, Quarry Hill Nature Center is still worth a visit to hike along the easy paved paths and check out the old quarry and caves. We loved looking at the fall colors while hiking at Quarry Hill Nature Center in Rochester, Minn. last autumn. Here’s a local’s guide to the best hiking trails within 50 miles of Rochester.


Top things to do in the fall in Minnesota: Minnesota Zoo Jack-o-Lantern Spectacular

a pile of carved pumpkins jack-o-lanterns
So much crazy talent carving these pumpkins for last year’s Jack-o-Lantern Spectacular at the Minnesota Zoo.

One of the best family-friendly events in the Twin Cities is the Jack-o-Lantern Spectacular at the Minnesota Zoo. This magical trail features more than 5,000 creative pumpkin carvings. Special thanks to the Minnesota Zoo for hosting me again this year. Opinions, of course, are always my own. Check out my review of one of the top things to do in Minnesota this Halloween season: Review and photo gallery of the Jack-o-Lantern Spectacular.

Additionally, you can enjoy a virtual tour of our Jack-o-Lantern Spectacular experience. This is one of my top things to do in the fall in Minnesota. And it’s great inspiration to carve the most creative jack-o-lanterns this Halloween.



Top things to do in the fall in Minnesota: corn mazes

Corn maze in the fall
As someone who is directionally challenged, I’m surprised I ever make it out of a corn maze without a search party. Corn mazes are one of the top things to do in the fall in Minnesota.

I grew up in Iowa and when I visited friends on the farm, we’d play hide and seek in the cornfields. But I didn’t experience my first corn maze until I was an adult. And it’s been a fun family tradition (even before we had our son).

Sever’s Fall Festival and its corn maze has entertained our family for years – located in the Twin Cities metro area of Shakopee, Minn. It’s one of our top things to do in Minnesota in the fall. You must order tickets online.

Some of the best things to do at Sever’s Fall Festival include the largest corn maze in Minnesota, corn pit, jumping pillows, pumpkin blasters and more.

Top things to do in the fall in Minnesota: haunted tours

Night shot of clouds over a dimly lit barn
The historic George Stoppel Farmstead at the History Center of Olmsted County in Rochester, Minn. takes on a vibe as one of the Haunted Rochester Trolley Tour ride. For a not-so-scary look at this 1860s historic site, please see my full blog post.

Several iconic haunted house and haunted tours in Minnesota such as Valley Scare at Valley State Park in Shakopee, MN and Scream Town in Chaska, Minn. are open during the Halloween season. We loved our Haunted Rochester Trolley tour in Rochester, Minn. The trolley is open air and most stops are outside. However, they may put the plastic flaps down during the tour. Here’s a local guide to the top things to do in Rochester in the fall or any season.

Although not located in Minnesota, you may be interested in my experience staying at one of the most haunted hotels in America: The Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, Mass. While I don’t necessarily find cemeteries scary, here’s a list of my pursuit of the best cemeteries in the world – including a few here in Minnesota.

Top things to do in the fall in Minnesota: apple picking

apple orchard with blue sky
Apple picking also reminds me of Vermont during the fall. Minnesota has several pick-your-own apple orchards . Pictured: Applewood Orchard in Lakeville, Minn.

Apple picking at the local apple orchard is always a top thing to do in Minnesota. Fun fact: My favorite apple, honeycrisp, was developed here in Minnesota.


Top things to do in Minnesota in the fall: Homegating – the new way to tailgate

Tailgating Vikibgs Football Game
Try homegating this fall season.

One of our family’s favorite thing to do in the fall in Minnesota is to tailgate before Minnesota Vikings home games. If you’re unable to tailgate at the stadium, try homegating. Check out my post: The year of homegating – the new way to tailgate. Skol!


Top things to do in Minnesota (or anywhere) in the fall: ongoing quest for the best mac and cheese

lobster mac and cheese
One of my top places for lobster mac and cheese in Minnesota is at Chester’s Kitchen & Bar in Rochester, Minn.

Fall is sweater weather, boot season and the official restart of my ongoing quest for the best mac and cheese – not just in Minnesota in the fall – but anywhere during any season. I have an entire blog post dedicated to the best mac and cheese in the U.S. Mac and cheese – the best comfort food in the fall.

So when you’re in Rochester, Minn. to check out Mayowood Mansion, the History Center of Olmsted County and Quarry Hill Nature Center, Chester’s Kitchen & Bar offers one of Minnesota’s best lobster mac and cheese.

And one of my top three places for lobster mac and cheese in the U.S. is located in the Twin Cities. You can find Lobster Smack Shack in Minneapolis, Minn. as well as the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport in Bloomington, Minn.

And not only does this former food truck turned brick-and-mortar restaurant have the best lobster mac and cheese, I’m also a huge fan of Smack Shack’s lobster guacamole. Yes, lobster guac is a thing. A really delicious thing!


If you need more inspiration on what to do in the fall in Minnesota or anywhere, check out That Traveling Chick’s top 10 list of things to do outside in the fall. I also recommend checking out my top things to pack on a day hike.

And if you’re looking forward to the season that comes after fall (who are you people?), here are the top 90 things to do in the winter in Minnesota and other brrrrlow-zero states.


Pin it for later: Top places to see fall colors and fun things to do in Minnesota

Fall colors surrounding a waterfall with a white pedestrian bridge
Best places to see fall colors in Minnesota.


This Minnesota foliage guide features the beautiful Palisade Head at Tettegouche State Park overlooking Lake Superior.

fall foliage gold willow tree overlooking lake
Minnesota fall foliage guide: Best places for fall colors

Red gondola car during fall foliage season
Best fall colors in Minnesota: The North Shore of Lake Superior

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Fall colors trees river
Take a scenic drive to the North Shore of Minnesota to see the best fall colors

View of fall leaves on trees from the top of a summit in a gondola car
Fall foliage road guide on Minnesota’s North Shore

Fall colors looking up to lighthouse sitting on a cliff overlooking Lake Superior
A leaf-peeping weekend: Minnesota’s North Shore

Fall colors and stairs leading down through forest
Autumn in Minnesota: Chasing fall colors









Author

Twin Cities-based blogger sharing memorable emptynester, solo, family and girlfriend-getaway adventures, as well as my day hiking adventures (including all 66 Minnesota state parks), latest book reviews, and updates on my quest for the best adult mac and cheese. Also two WIPs: historical fiction and psychological thriller

125 comments

    1. Yay! That makes me happy. I’ve lived in Minnesota for 26 years and discovered so much beauty in my state on my summer staycation (which is extending into fall).

  1. These pictures are beautiful!! In Florida we only have summer and 3 day of winter each year! Definitely no color changing seasons around here, I’m so jealous of the beautiful seasons everyone up North gets!! Thanks for sharing!

  2. I love the color you captured here. These hikes and lookout are wonderful at any time of year but especially fun during the autumn. Ainsley was reading this post with me and she especially liked the steps in Tettegouche State Park in Silver Bay, Minn.

  3. Lutsen has one of the best views for fall colors up the North Shore I do feel. Your pictures are awesome!!

    Now when are you coming to visit me?

  4. Minnesota keeps surprising me, is this a ski resort in the winter time? Or just a beautiful gondola ride?

    1. Yes, it’s a ski resort – four mountains with 95 runs. In the summer and early fall you can ride the alpine slide – super fun for kids and adults.

  5. I am such a sucker for fall foliage. i just love seeing how it plays out throughout the country…not just in the expected north east corner. lovely

    1. Thank you…I lived in Vermont for five years and didn’t think anyplace could match it…but Minnesota is beautiful in the fall.

  6. All of these places look amazing! I love waterfalls but that view of Split Rock Lighthouse is amazing!! The 200 +/- stairs, not so much! 😉

  7. Your photos are incredible and inspiring – I feel like I am right there, enjoying the scenery! Your love of nature really shines through in this post!

  8. Stunning photos! Our western NC leaf peeping season will probably be a bust due to prolonged drought and heat, so I’m going to have to enjoy fall leaves through this post.