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Where to Experience Fall Color this Season


Now that autumn is here, the crowds have begun to thin out, the leaves and trees are growing more vibrant by the day, and you’ll be hard-pressed not to find a gorgeous fall scene around every corner.

If the cooler weather and shorter days have you ready to embrace the fall season and engage in a little fall-color hunting, Door County is just the place.

Here are just a few ways to enjoy the seasonal display of fall color and get to know the peninsula and Washington Island on a deeper level.

Scenic Walks & Hikes

Enjoy a scenic walk on a trail such as the 2.8-mile Red Trail at Whitefish Dunes, the 3.6-mile Tower Trail at Potawatomi State Park, or any of the trails at Door County Land Trust Nature Preserves, which range from 0.5–3 miles. 

Find longer autumn hikes here.

Or, simply step outside your door and wander through the downtown area of the town you’re staying in. Most local communities’ downtowns are located on or near the shoreline and offer excellent lake views, quaint shops, cafes and coffee shops, and quiet streets perfect for stopping to admire the leaves.

If you want to explore other nearby towns, Ephraim, Fish Creek, Ellison Bay, and Baileys Harbor all offer great views and plenty else to see and do as you amble through town.

From the Water

Hop aboard a boat tour, kayak tour, or ferry ride and appreciate the kaleidoscope of fall color from the water. From the lake, you can admire the colorful treelines on far away shores, quaint towns nestled along the shoreline, and beautiful, color-rich beaches, bays, coves, and bluffs you might not otherwise see.

At Farm & Orchard Markets

Visit roadside orchard stores and farm markets whilst on a scenic drive on Highway 42, Highway 57, or just about any side road.

A farm market with bins of pumpkins and gourds.

Some are simple makeshift stands or trailers on the side of the road selling a single item like tomatoes or pumpkins. Others are as extensive as a full brick-and-mortar store with hundreds of food products and canned goods, fall produce and décor, local drinks and spirits, and other artisan goods.

Plan your drive around these great roads and highways for taking in fall color, whether by car, motorcycle, or bike.

In the Woods

Try fall camping—there’s still time to snag a campsite at local campgrounds and parks. Or, if your fall weekends are already full, it’s never too early to start planning next year’s trip.

You can’t forget to pack an extra-warm sleeping bag, multiple clothing layers, and a thermos of your favorite hot beverage, but camping among the ambers and oranges of an autumn forest and truly immersing yourself in the seasonal transition is an unmatched experience. 

If sleeping outdoors during a Wisconsin autumn sounds a little too harsh for your tastes, many campsites and campground facilities are open for day use.

On Spiritual Grounds

Take a driving tour of the countryside and be treated to a variety of rustic and historic roadside attractions that can transport you back in time to a more pastoral time.

Belgian chapels are relics of Door County’s earliest European settlers. These humble places of worship were once used for peaceful and quiet solo worship and can be found across Southern Door, on farms, and in other natural settings.

You can also check out the Stavkirke, a Norwegian-inspired church hidden in the woods of Washington Island built as an homage to the county’s Scandinavian settlers.

If you want to make a day of seeing spiritual sights, choose a few from the Spiritual Journey itinerary. Or, plan to see a few historically or culturally significant sights from our Historical Itinerary, most of which are located in or near natural settings.

From Above the Treetops

Mountain Park Tower is a 186-stair lookout tower located in the north-central part of Washington Island. Although the top-most part of the tower is closed indefinitely (as of fall 2020), ambitious view-seekers can still climb most of the stairs and enjoy views of the island and lake during the climb up. The tower is also located in a beautiful wooded area, so even from the ground there is fantastic fall color to be seen.

While on Washington Island, you can also take in color at Schoolhouse Beach or on a bike ride.

Aerial view of Washington Island with peak fall colors.

More on Fall & Fall Color Experiences

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