The cooler fall weather is coming soon. My favorite part of fall is slowing down and taking the time to appreciate the changing colors. We always make it a point to go somewhere (even just for a day trip) and look at the colors close to or during their peak times. Here are a few places within the Midwest to check out!
Must-See Fall Scenery in the Midwest
Fall scenery is one of the best ways to spend a weekend with family getting to know your region. This list has a ton of options around the Midwest that are ideal for you to enjoy for a weekend getaway. Pack up the car, and don’t forget your Road Atlas, a great camera, some binoculars, and even a good hoodie or jacket to keep you warm for your trip! Set out on a road trip for the best fall scenery you’ve ever seen!
Shawnee National Forest
LaRue Pine Hills and Garden of the Gods are located inside Shawnee National Forest. They provide an unbeatable view.
An arboretum is probably one of the easiest places to see a variation in colors come fall. Morton Arboretum even offers other activities during the fall months. Be sure to schedule your visit during these times to make the most of your visit.
Chicago Botanical Gardens
While going somewhere that specializes in plants doesn’t seem like the best fall outing but, there is still so much to see here. You can find a fall tree walk, a fall bulb festival complete with live music, a harvest market, and adult beverages. On top of all of these fun things, many of the plants are at their peak during the fall so be sure to put this on your list of must-see fall places.
Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway
This road runs through several small towns offering unique restaurants and shops. From your car, you can see so many different trees boasting lots of different colors. This is the perfect opportunity for a day trip with the family.
Ohio River Scenic Byway
Ohio River Scenic Byway is a longer trip at somewhere around 300 miles. Not only does this beautiful drive boast gorgeous colors found along the shoreline but, along the road, you will also find many other beautiful landscapes to catch your eye.
Arts Road 46
Arts Road 46 stretches through Brown County State Park and connects 3 towns on an approximately 40-mile long trek. This stop is one worth making if you are near the area. Within the park, you will find many activities to enjoy the fall colors. You can do anything from horseback riding to camping.
Parke County Bridges
In Parke County Indiana, you will find a 10-day celebration that celebrates the county’s unique covered bridges. During these 10 days, the celebrations are spread out throughout the county. During your time in the area be sure to also enjoy a beautiful hike or trail ride. You can pick any of the routes. Each of them stretches about 50 miles or less and are well worth the trip.
Historic Hills Scenic Byway
This scenic byway is found in the Southeast Iowa along the Des Moines River. These 110 miles connect family farms with villages and valleys. It is a beautiful site to see. During October, there is a scenic drive festival with pancake feeds and craft fairs that give you the perfect small town feel.
This 50-mile trek takes you through a few of the Amish Communities. You can stop and enjoy shopping in their amazing shops and eating the fantastic food. You may even get a glimpse of a horse and buggy while you are there. If 50 miles is a bit too long of a stroll for you, there is a shorter way you can take and still get to see some breathtaking views.
Overland Park Arboretum
This arboretum boasts 300 acres of beautiful scenery. Inside you will find picnic areas, water gardens, botanical gardens and you can’t forget the trails as well. This is the best place to make a day of your autumn viewing and to top it off, it’s free.
Botanica, The Wichita Gardens
Dispersed among the 9 acres you will find about two dozen different themed gardens with thousands of different types of plants. With all the different types of plants and trees, you are sure to see a wide array of colors to catch your eye.
Loose Park is the perfect spot for the whole family to enjoy the changing colors. This is a 75-acre park where inside
Tunnel of Trees
The Tunnel of Trees is located on M-119. The golden trees form an awning over the 20-mile winding road which stops just shy of the Wilderness State Park. Don’t forget to make a couple of stops in each of the unique places that the Tunnel of Trees passes through.
M-22 Color Tour
116 miles of beautiful scenery is found along this route. M-22 follows the shoreline of Lake Michigan from Manistee to Leelanau Peninsula and even further down into Traverse City. Along the route, you will find some charming towns.
The Mackinac area is a popular summer destination for a huge number of travelers. However, come fall, that is the time to visit. All the offerings of summer are still available and not nearly as crowded. Plus, things like hotel rates will be discounted as it is the offseason. There are so many trails and parks in this area to explore along with shopping downtown.
Minneapolis Grand Rounds Scenic Byway
The Minneapolis Grand Rounds Scenic Byway is a beautiful 55-mile stretch that winds its way all over Minneapolis. It can be enjoyed in pieces or, you can make a day trip out of it and circle the whole thing. However you choose to enjoy it, you are sure to see some breathtaking views.
Minnesota River Valley National Scenic Byway
This byway stretches through 287 miles of smaller river towns in South Central Minnesota. There are many very unique stops along this trail. You can see several waterfalls, bird watch in hopes of seeing a few eagles, and see the college town of St. Peter, or pick apples at Emma Krumbees restaurant and orchard. You can also take a stop and enjoy a tour of a local brewery and vineyard (plus, enjoy a wood-fired pizza!).
The Lake Superior provides amazing views during the fall. It is an unexplainable beauty. There are many opportunities to take in the pretty colors but the 150-mile drive between the lake and Duluth makes for a unique experience. There is a huge number of State Parks all around the lake for great trails to hike as well.
Weston Missouri has so many options to take in the amazing fall colors. No matter where you choose, you are destined to have your breath taken away. You can take a hike in the Weston Bend State Park where you will find yourself on the bluff with a spectacular view or, stop off at the Weston Red Barn Farm to say hi to the animals or pick out your pumpkin.
What better way to see all of the colors in St. Louis than to go to the top of the arch and look. Here you will be able to see a good portion of the beautiful colors that St. Louis has to offer.
This 225-mile trail passes through wine country, farmland, small towns along the way and prairie lands. This trails views are unbeatable due to their large cliffs and amazing trees that line path makes this an amazing site to see.
Glacial Hills Scenic Byway
In White Cloud, you will find a platform. If you get on top of this platform you will be able to see the stunning fall colors. Not only will you be able to see the Missouri colors but, from this platform you can also see fall colors from Nebraska, Iowa, and Kansas as well.
Within Nebraska City, you will find an arboretum that spans 72 acres. This arboretum is like many others but, is special because the trees within this one were planted by Arbor Days founder and his family as well.
Steamboat Trace Trail
This trail is about 21 miles of abandoned railroad tracks running along the Mississippi River. Alongside this path you will see many bright fall colors. While it runs on the shorter side, it won’t disappoint with the views.
This path winds through some of Nebraska’s most famous landmarks. It runs a total of 238 miles from East to West along the Southern border of Nebraska. Alongside this route, you will also find the Indian Cave State Park which is known to have some the best fall views in the area.
Grahams Island State Park
Not only does the state park boast a lot of yellow/gold and red leaves during fall but, one of my favorite fall views is the leaves against the lake. Devils Lake is right inside the park and does nothing but make the views that much more impressive.
Turtle River State Park
The Turtle River State Park gets its name from the river it surrounds. Inside this State Park, alongside the river, you will find a wide array of trees with many different colors that perfectly display fall scenery.
Located right in Fargo, you don’t have to go far for a stunning view. Lindenpark is well known for not only its upwards view but, also for the amazing view reflected in the water.
Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park
Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park offers unbeatable fall foliage views but, also so much history to learn and sights to see. This one is a must-see for sure.
Ohio Erie Canalway
The Ohio and Erie Canalway runs through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. On this trail, you will find a railway you can take the views in on, trails to hike and waterfalls to see. The total mileage of this trip is about 110. Not only does this route encompass beautiful sites but, along the way, you will also find the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the Rock and Roll Museum and Hall of Fame. On weekends they up the game and you can take a horse-drawn boat ride down Canal Fulton to enjoy the colors.
At Malabar Farm, they hold an annual Arts in the Park event. Between this event and the beautiful colors that paint the trees, this is a stop that needs to be on your list if you are in the area. Looking for fall scenery here is easy to manage and this destination will keep the whole family happy!
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga National Park is a must-see destination for many all over the country. It tops the charts at one of the most beautiful National Parks around. Come fall this is no different, in fact, the various types of trees and plants there become vibrant colors that truly is a sight to see. The colors are the perfect reason to visit but, the wildlife in the area doesn’t hurt either.
Located in Cleveland, Squire’s Castle in North Chagrin Reservation is a sight to see. You can hike the trails or play a round of golf both allow you to take in the stunning colors. If slowing down is more your speed, you can enjoy a picnic lunch in front of the castle and take in the beauty from there.
Custer State Park
Here you will find about 71,000 acres of gorgeous views. Here against the beautiful trees, you may get a chance to catch a glimpse of a wild bison. Here in the Custer State Park (which is pretty well known for its granite spires), you can find a short 1-mile loop or much longer hikes. Both allow you to take in the views and relax.
From Custer all the way to Deadwood, this route runs about 59 miles long. This makes for a pretty trip with the combination of evergreens and changing leaves.
Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway
This Byway connects man of South Dakota’s major landmarks. It loops twice and runs about 70 miles long. The zig-zags and hills add to the stunning views you will see along the way. The changing colors against the green backdrop make this an awe-inspiring drive.
Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway
This by far wins out when it comes to the local’s favorite fall viewing spot. This is a shorter trip at only 22 miles long but, the view is not one to disappoint. There are several spots where you can stop to take some pictures but, beware that there are a few favorite spots (like that of the water features in the canyon) that may be a little busier than others.
Door County Circle
Door County is one of the best places to see the fall colors in Wisconsin. The circle tour runs about 70 miles North and South in the Peninsula. It links lighthouses, state parks, galleries, and their famous fish boils. You can even enjoy the colors on a boat or trolley tour.
Lake Geneva is a getaway destination for many at all times of the year but, come fall this is perfect destination. The fall scenery is abundant and breathtaking! There are so many options to take in the views. You can choose to take a boat ride on the lake, hike the trails around the lake or just take in the views while enjoying a meal at a nearby restaurant.
Devil’s Lake State Park
Devils Lake is overflowing with trees. The colors are vivid and bright and not to be missed. Not only can you hike through the trails but, you can even do some rock climbing as well. The best view though is what you will see when you get on top of the bluffs.
House on the Rock
The House on the Rock offers so many learning experiences during the summer but, to make it better you can even enjoy the fall colors during your visit. If you climb up into the Infinity Room, you can enter the glass walkway that stretches a mere 218 feet. This walkway allows you to look down upon the beautiful changing colors of the Wyoming Valley.
As you can see, there are tons of places in the Midwest to find spectacular fall scenery! Your family can use a great weekend away to any of these regions to see beauty in the changing of seasons!