Minnesota News

Where to embrace the charm of fall in Minnesota

A horizontal photo of fall foliage
Vibrant fall foliage is visible from a fire tower near Grand Portage, Minn., shortly after sunrise.
Ben Hovland | MPR News 2022

It’s official. We are leafing summer behind. 

Minnesota has many wonders to offer this short season and you can start planning day trips to make the most out of it. From apple orchards, pumpkin patches, corn mazes to colorful foliage … our MPR News colleagues hand-picked some of their favorite places and activities from all across the state. You’ll fall in love with them:

A family classic in Hastings

This will probably be the pick of half the newsroom! But we've always gone to Afton Apple in Washington County. Nice topography. You can roam around or hop on the tractor-pulled hay wagon. You can sample the apples before you walk in. Our kids are adults now and still love it.

— Paul Tosto, senior editor

A sweet getaway in Chaska

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is one of my favorite places to enjoy a relaxing fall afternoon and see all the beautiful fall colors if I can't make it to Duluth! There are so many trails and beautiful gardens to wander through — and many fall festivities throughout the season! If you're lucky — North Star Donuts’ Food Truck may be there selling Apple Cider Mini Donuts!

— Ellie Roth, APM Reports investigative intern

10 12 18 fall color
Fall color show near the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.
Paul Huttner | MPR News 2018

Enjoy great hikes and views in Red Wing 

Usually in the fall, I am just getting ready to hunker down and try to stay warm. However, I tend to go to the river down by Red Wing to check out the fall colors — when it's not an election year, that is. Frontenac State Park has good hiking trails and great views. When I do go, it's just for the day.

— Mike Mulcahy, senior editor  

Create everlasting memories in Jordan

My husband and I do have a tradition of going to an apple orchard to pick apples for our anniversary. We go to Ferguson’s orchard in Jordan, Minn., and we make apple crisp with them afterwards. We make a whole day out of it. 

We got ourselves a candle from there last year and we burn it to remind ourselves of that orchard every season now. We’ve been to different orchards around southern Minnesota, but I have a feeling we’ll be going back to that one this year. A lot of kids go there too since there’s activities for them.

— Hannah Yang, senior regional reporter 

Mountains and microclimates in Lutsen

I do like everything apple: probably my favorite thing about fall. Apple pie, apple crisp, apple cider. Some great orchards in the St. Croix River valley are Carpenter Nature Center and Whistling Well Farm

I do like fall foliage, just not the change in weather. A great place to see fall foliage is probably not much of a secret: Oberg Mountain on the North Shore is a little hike but great view of both Lake Superior and the inland side of “the mountains:” you can see how the microclimates of Lake Superior work, colors turn much sooner inland without the modifying effect of Lake Superior on the lake side of the hills.

— Sven Sundgaard, meteorologist

Fall leaves brighten the ridges of Minnesota's North Shore
Fall leaves brighten the ridges of Minnesota's North Shore, as seen from Oberg Mountain near Tofte, Minn.
Andrew Krueger | MPR News 2019

Visit the spooky and mesmerizing Fargo-Moorhead

OK, so I'm new-ish to Fargo-Moorhead which means I have to go to every. Fall. Thing.

The Moorhead Haunted Farm stood out to me because I crave all things terrifying. There's the Insane Clown Room and Dark Maze with some other spooky-sounding themes, $22 a pop. It starts Sept. 22 and runs through Halloween.

Farm in the Dell's annual Fall Festival in Moorhead is on Sept. 23-24. I'm talkin' barrel train rides, a pumpkin sale and crafts. $15/family and all proceeds go toward local folks with disabilities.

There's also the Buffalo River Pumpkin Patch in Glyndon, Minn., opening that same weekend through Oct. 29. Read: petting zoo and duck races. $6 a person.

One more! Speaking of Buffalo River, its state park has been gorgeous each time I've ventured there. Locals say the fall colors there are spectacular (bonus: if you count the water's reflection, that's two times the pretty colors.) Send photos if you go. Here are others.

— Amy Felegy, associate digital producer

Biking and hiking at the Minnesota River bottoms

One of my favorite places to enjoy fall is the network of natural-surface trails along the Minnesota River bottoms between Mendota and Bloomington, Minn. Sinewy braids of single track weave through the flood plains, perfect for exploring by biking and hiking.

Though the exact route can change due to flooding and other natural forces, you can find a patchwork map of the existing trails here and at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services website here. Trail conditions vary by season, but members of a community Facebook group frequently post ride reports.

— Ben Hovland, visual journalist

A woman rides a sandy trail
Kathleen McCarthy rides a sandy section of the Minnesota River bottoms trail system near Long Meadow Lake.
Courtesy of Ben Hovland

Hidden treasures in central and southwest Minnesota

Where I currently live in the St. Cloud area, I like to visit Quarry Park for a hike. There are lots of great trails to stroll by the changing leaves and take in the fall colors. And after your hike, it's just a short drive to Milk & Honey Ciders in St. Joseph, Minn., where you can reward yourself with a refreshing fall beverage.

Back in southwest Minnesota, where I grew up, one of my favorite places to visit (and another quarry!) is Pipestone National Monument. It's not just fall leaves here — beautiful wild flowers and the changing colors in the monument's Tallgrass Prairie also offer fun fall sights.

— Anna Haecherl, digital editor

Group adventure in northern Minnesota

This will be my third fall in Minnesota and I never enjoyed the season that much until I moved here. I am still amazed by the colorful midwestern foliage and one of my favorite places to enjoy it is in northern Minnesota.

In 2022, my husband and our best friends went on a day trip up north from the Twin Cities. We started our day bright and early, had a gigantic and delicious brunch at Bridgeman’s in Duluth and then had a great time at Gooseberry Falls State Park in Two Harbors, Minn. We did some trekking, took great photos of the landscape and watched the sunset at Lake Superior’s shore. A hundred percent recommended.

— Nicole Johnson, assistant digital producer

Piles of rocks throughout Quarry Park and Nature Preserve
Piles of rocks throughout Quarry Park and Nature Preserve give clues to is past use as an active quarry in Stearns County.
Paul Middlestaedt for MPR News | 2022

With this map, you can easily locate all of these great recommendations in one place. Scroll in, and out, pick your favorite and plan your adventure. 

Happy fall y’all! 

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