Archive for the ‘Wisconsin’ Category

Visit Great Smoky Mountains for fall color and terrific crafts

 

I love all parts of Tennessee but if you only have time for a color drive through one section you won’t go wrong choosing the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Great Smoky Mountain National Park offers more than 800 miles of well-maintained hiking trails and wonderful fall color. (Tennessee Tourism photo)

Great Smoky Mountain National Park offers more than 800 miles of well-maintained hiking trails and wonderful fall color. (Tennessee Tourism photo)

BTW if you see bear cubs, pull to the side to take photos because “bear jams” instead of ordinary fall color “peeps” make it hard for people merely driving through the park from Nashville to get to Ashevill, NC.

Put Sugarlands Visitors Center (above Gatlinburg) into your GPS to start the color drive. It’s a short drive south of Gatlinburg on US 441.

Ask there about road closures. You should be able to continue up to Clingman’s Dome for an amazing view and a fun picture op

At 5,048 feet you can stand with one foot in Tennessee and the other in North Carolina. The Tower is closed but the parking lot which also has great views is open.

After going back down to Gatlinburg, drive the eight-mile Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community loop on Glades and Buckhorn Roads.

The art in the studios complement the park’s natural wonders.

You are likely to return home with great photos and probably a well-turned bowl or gorgeous painting.

For more information call (865) 436-1200 or visit the park headquarters at 107 Park Headquarters Road Gatlinburg, TN 37738.

 

For fall color drive along the other Minnesota river

 

Pair fall color with a town worth at least one overnight stay and a drive that is scenic any time of year.

Take a paddle boat excursion on the St. Croix River. (Jodie Jacobs photo)

Take a paddle boat excursion on the St. Croix River. (Jodie Jacobs photo)

A fun getaway is to drive along the St Croix National Scenic Waterway and Lake Superior’s North Shore after first starting in Stillwater, MI.

Overlooking the St. Croix River on the Minnesota side of a waterway that also borders Wisconsin, Stillwater has several historic B and B’s, antique shops and cafes.

I stayed at the Rivertown Inn for its romantic rooms, great breakfasts and charming hosts. However, there are several other good B&Bs.

A good way to see color from the town is a paddle boat excursion.

When ready to look for a long color drive, head north on Highway 95 to follow the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway.

Both sides of the highway are state parks. The scenic byway goes from Point Douglas near Hastings to north of Sandstone, MN.

If you didn’t take a paddle boat in Stillwater you can do so from the Minnesota side of Taylors Falls. From Taylors Falls continue north on M35 and then I 35 to Duluth where you pick up M61 along the North Shore of Lake Superior.

The route takes you to Grand Marais. The North Shore is a nationally designated “All American Drive” for its scenic overlooks, fall color, hiking trails and waterfalls. Be sure to make an overnight reservation ahead of time.

A fun lodge is the Naniboujou.  Or check out the lodges at the William Obrien State Park site.  For more information visit Explore Minnesota.

Remember to charge the phone because lots of good photos await.

 

 

Five fall trips where color is just part of the draw

 

Now that leaves on a few trees are changing is the time to figure out where to go to see spectacular color in a few weeks and next month.

 

Ephraim in the fall in Door County, WI. Door County Visitors Bureau photo

Ephraim in the fall in Door County, WI.
Door County Visitors Bureau photo

But if you don’t want to merely drive some place for fall color and then head back home then consider a vacation destination with great views, hiking, biking, fun shops and lots of lodging and dining choices.

 

 

 

 

 

Where: Door County, Wisconsin, near Green Bay

 

Why:

 

    • ·         Good hiking and biking in state parks
    • ·         Really good art galleries
    • ·         Fun crafts and clothes shopping
    • ·         Excellent dining choices
    • ·         Beautiful views of Lake Michigan and Green Bay

.        Lots of lodging choices

More information at Door Vacation and Door County

 

 

Where: Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois

 

Why:

  • ·         Scenic overlooks, hilly terrain and interesting stone formations
  • ·         Good hiking, biking in Giant City State Park
  • ·         Shawnee Wine Trail tastings
  • ·         Makanda, a delightful artist comunity

More information at Shawnee National ForestShawnee Wine TrailGiant City State Park and Makanda.

Explore the back roads of Brown County in the fall. Brown County photo

Explore the back roads of Brown County in the fall. Brown County photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where: Brown County, Bloomington area

 

 

 

Why:

  • ·         Good hiking, biking and horseback riding in Brown County State Park
  • ·         Fun crafts shops in Nashville
  • ·         Scenic hills and Hoosier National Forest
  • ·         Renown architecture in nearby Columbus
  • .         Indiana University has a beautiful campus (go on a non-football weekend)

More information at Brown County State ParkHoosier National Forest and Columbus.

 

 

Where: Wisconsin Dells on the Wisconsin River

 

Why:

  • .     Good river boat scenery
  • .     Nice hikes
  • .     Fun water-parks for kids
  • .     Interesting photo museum in town
  • .     Circus World in nearby Baraboo

More information at Fall colors Wisconsin Dells, Baraboo,  and fall color advantage.

Traverse City area puts on a color show each fall. TC Visitors Bureau photo

Traverse City area puts on a color show each fall.
TC Visitors Bureau photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where: Traverse City/Sleeping Bear Dunes  in northern Michigan below the UP

 

 

Why:

  • ·         Good hiking in a scenic national park
  • ·         Excellent wine trails
  • ·         Wonderful dining choices
  • ·         Beautiful views of Lake Michigan and Traverse Bay.

More information at fall color trip, Traverse City/Sleeping Bear and Traverse

 

 

Fall color tips:  For current Midwest color reports go directly to a state’s tourism site.

Wisconsin’s suggested scenic drives are at Travel Wisconsin.

Michigan is at Michigan.org and at Fall Color Tours.

Minnesota is at MNUS and Explore Minnesota.

Illinois is at Enjoy Illinois and ILUS.

Indiana is at Visit Indiana and Hoosier fall color. http://www.fs.fed.us/r9/hoosier/docs/fallcolor.htm

 

Have a fun, safe trip!

 

 

 

 

 

Last gasp of summer vacations within four hours of Chicago

 

Before becoming engulfed in everything fall from cool nights to school schedules, take a few days for one last summer break. Within four hours of Chicago there are restaurants and resorts with lake-side views, good spas and shopping, plus scenic boating and biking choices.

Gaze out from Peninsula State Park after hiking, biking or taking a trolley ride there. Photos by Jodie Jacobs

Gaze out from Peninsula State Park after hiking, biking or taking a trolley ride there. Photos by Jodie Jacobs

 

Door County, WI

About 3.5 hours north of Chicago is a finger-like peninsula that sticks so far out into Green Bay on one side and Lake Michigan on the other that there are almost too many scenic views for one trip.

The Door, as visitors and residents call it, begins halfway up in the fleshier part of the finger but the vacation destination begins at the Sturgeon Bay knuckle and continues  up the finger to Gills Rock. Some folks even cross the choppy waters north by ferry to Washington Island, an interesting day trip when time allows.

To make the most of your vacation, first nail down where to stay. The sailing, hiking, biking and the Door’s specialties of art gallery hopping and lighthouse touring can wait. But accommodations fill quickly.

Before deciding, you should know that the Lake Michigan side is known as the “quiet side” because the small towns are nestled further apart among the forests. The Green Bay side is dotted with small bustling villages, restaurants, shops and inns.

But it doesn’t take long to cross The Door’s farmland in between so neither side is a bad choice. Both sides have state parks.

To stay amid the action, look at places on the Bay side from Fish Creek to Ephraim to Sister Bay. For quiet side accommodations, look at Baileys Harbor.

The best way to find lodging is to go to Door County, click Availability or Stay. If still not sure call the bureau at 800-527-3529 because they are very helpful.

“One of our primary things to do is help people find a place to stay,” said Communications Director Jon Jarosh.

The web site lists lots of activities but if you want a map and brochures stop at the Visitors Bureau after where WI Highways 57 and 42 connect at 1015 Green Bay Rd. on the south end of Sturgeon Bay.

 

Galena, IL

Downtown Galena is a historic and yummy place to be.

Downtown Galena is a historic and yummy place to be.

 

Tucked into the northwest corner of Illinois about three hours from Chicago are the scenic rolling hills of the Galena Territory and the historic town of Galena, home to Ulysses S. Grant with tie-ins to Abraham Lincoln.

Indeed more than 80 percent of Galena has historic district designations.

But a trip here isn’t just about going back in time. Situated on the Galena River and near the Mississippi, it’s a picturesque river-town edged with steep, photo-op streets.

Shopping its main street is delicious because there are wine-tasting places and yummy ice cream and candy shops.

Nearby, are the stage coach trail, fort and scenic vistas of Galena’s Jo Davies County. There is usually balloon or Wine or other festival taking place in the area.

Accommodations here range from charming B&Bs and inns to resorts.

If interested in combining golf, spa treatment or hiking, a good place to stay is the Eagle Ridge Resort on the outskirts of town at  444 Eagle Ridge Drive, Galena and at (800) 892-2269.

If interested in a Labor Day Weekend stay check out its special events and guest rate package.

To learn more about the area and find other lodging choices visit Galena.

 

Lake Geneva, WI  

Boats pull up at piers around Geneva Lake.

Boats pull up at piers around Geneva Lake.

 

Closer to Chicago is the town and lake where some of the city’s elite used to vacation and where some urbanites still have homes and cottages. It’s Lake Geneva on Geneva Lake and the small towns nearby.

From Chicago’s northern suburbs, the drive is about 1.5 hours but don’t try to make it faster than the posted speed limit. Some of the small towns along the route add to their coffers with speeding tickets.

However, Lake Geneva is an easy, fun getaway for folks who like to hike, bike, golf or enjoy water sports.

A great way to hear about the estates around the lake is to take the mail boat which pauses, sort-of, at some piers for postal deliveries.

Because the Lake Geneva area has been a vacation destination since before the turn of the last century, there are lots of lodging choices from contemporary to vintage and from resorts and B&Bs to inns and condos. To fit in golf or a spa treatment, consider the Grand Geneva outside of town.

For accommodation availability visit Lake Geneva and enter your arrival and departure dates.

 

So, instead of looking at the calendar with dismay that summer is just about gone, fit in a getaway. You deserve it.

 

 

 

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