Autumn Bucket List: 7 Ways to Enjoy Fall in Milwaukee

Don’t get overwhelmed by the changing leaves and pumpkin spice advertisements. We’ve planned out every fall excursion you should enjoy before snowplows hit the roads in December. (Please, God, no earlier than December.)

The season of fall is underway. And we have until Dec. 21 to squeeze in all the pumpkins, Oktoberfest, tricks, treats and cold winds our Milwaukeean hearts and stomachs can handle.

There’s limited time, so here’s at least one place for every fall must-do activity. Let’s get started: time’s a wastin’!

1) A colorful walk

Holy Hill
Holy Hill. Photo by John Kunze.

Milwaukee has two state forests. Lakeshore State Park grants some nice sights of downtown, but Havenswood State Forest on the north side truly shows off the colors of fall. “Peak color” week started on Sunday, Oct. 22 and lasts for the whole third week of October. That’ll be the best week to visit, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. If you’d rather escape city limits, head out to Holy Hill.

Plus: Here are the 10 best spots to enjoy the fall foliage in the Milwaukee area.

2) Find the perfect gourd

Take a break from watching football this weekend and go to Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Farm. They’ve got hundreds of squash to pick from. Or check out our top 10 list of Milwaukee-area pumpkin farms. Carve them into jack-o’-lanterns, or turn them into pumpkin custard or pumpkin bread — click the links for tried and true recipes you can make at home.

Courtesy of Getty Images

3) Pick apples

Most orchards end their harvest in October, but you can keep filling baskets with America’s favorite fruit into November at Apple Holler in Racine County. Apple picking is available seven days a week. And before you leave, don’t forget a pie or two to share on Thanksgiving, or get a gallon of that famed cider.

4) Paranormal Discoveries

October is the month for scares, obviously. Ward off ghosts and ghouls in the Third Ward on the famed Milwaukee Ghost Walks. There aren’t any jump scares or makeup-covered clowns. You’ll get plenty of real Milwaukee history mixed in with questionable tales of local legends. Not scary enough for you? Check out one of these Milwaukee-area haunted houses, or visit some real haunted spots in Milwaukee.

5) An autumn day trip

If you’re willing to drive all the way to Madison, you can easily fill a whole day at Treinan Farm. In addition to hayrides on a horse-drawn carriage, you can spend hours getting lost in a gigantic corn maze or find the perfect squash growing in the big ol’ pumpkin patch. Plus, here are six more ideas for fall weekend getaways.

The Fondy Farmers Market in full swing. Photo courtesy of K. Hassemer/Fondy Food Center.

6) Stock up on produce before winter’s chill

Our go-to farmers market has got to be the Fondy Farmers Market on Fond du Lac Avenue — it’s the biggest and oldest market in the city. Its schedule runs longer than most farmers markets too, with the last 2018 session slated for Saturday, Nov. 17. (Here’s when the other Milwaukee farmers markets are closing for the season.) Don’t miss out on the weekly cooking demonstrations.

And lest we forget, your access to fresh fruits and veggies continues indoors through the winter months. The 10th season of the Milwaukee Winter Farmers Market starts on Saturday, Nov. 3 at the Domes’ Greenhouse Annex, 524 S. Layton Blvd.

7) Two great seasonal drinks you can’t order at Starbucks

– The Beverage Tasting Institute gave Great Lakes Distillery a silver medal for its Pumpkin Seasonal Spirit, supposedly inspired by a Thomas Jefferson recipe. Now in its 10th batch, this whiskey is aged in beer, bourbon and rum barrels from Lakefront Brewery, plus wine barrels from Von Stiehl Winery from Algoma. 90 proof.

– Using real pumpkin and real spices (don’t say it), Lakefront Brewery has crafted one of few true pumpkin lagers in the world. In 2007, it took home a silver medal at the World Beer Championship. Ten years later, it got a regional honorable mention at the United States Beer Tasting Championship in the pumpkin beer category.

– Here are 9 pumpkin-flavored things to try in Milwaukee this fall.




Adam is a journalist who recently returned to his Wisconsin home after graduating from Drake University in December 2017. He interned with MilMag in the summer of 2015 and has been a continual contributor ever since. Follow him on social media @Could_Be_Rogan