Your Wisconsin Weekend: Fall Fun with Oktoberfests, fall harvests and colors, and great events

We’re more than halfway through October with fall colors peaking in areas, fall festivals happening, pumpkin chucking and carving, and plenty of fun all over Wisconsin. Check out some of our Wisconsin Weekend picks here. Now “Pick Some Roads and GO!!”

Sister Bay: Fall Fest

Wisconsin Weekend: Sister Bay Fall Fest, Wisconsin Weekend
Photo credit: Len Villano

Sister Bay Fall Fest is the “granddaddy” of Door County festivals is celebrating its 74th year! The streets of this lovely Door County town along Highway 42 where Highway 57 ends will be packed with fun. Check out a Saturday Parade, a huge arts and crafts fair, plenty of food and live entertainment, and great activities for children of all ages.
Check out live music at Husby’s (which also has great Bloody Marys and is a Sister Bay Fall Fest institution – plus, check out the awesome and huge 1920 Wisconsin state map they have in there!) as well as Door County Creamery, Stabbur, and the Boathouse on the Bay, and more. You can also check out the Pancake Breakfast, Hillbilly Silly Science, Arts & Craft Shows, a Classic Car Show, Pumpkin Bowling, a Firkin Barrel Tapping, and for the kids plenty of games, inflatables, and more. The Fall Fest Parade is Saturday morning at 11. On Sunday, the Packers vs. the Raiders game will be on big screens in and outside all over town! A HUGE Schedule of Events can be found here. Just take Highways 42 or 57 and you’ll get there! More…

Wisconsin Dells: Fall Festival & Dells On Tap

Dells on Tap at Fall Festival Weekend in the Dells

Wisconsin Dells Fall Festival Weekend and Dells On Tap embraces autumn with a craft beer walk, a 5K dash, and plenty of harvest and other fun activities on Friday and Saturday. This is on top of all the things there are to throughout the Wisconsin Dells and Lake Delton areas, from water parks to fun shops, museums, and even the World’s Largest Wooden Trojan Horse along Wisconsin Dells Parkway. Hit I-90/94, U.S. 12, or Highways 13, 16, or 23 and check out the Dells Craft Beer Walk, Race to the Taps, Dells On Tap, and more all around! More.

Milwaukee: Gallery Night & Day and Milwaukee Film Festival

Gallery Night & Day, Milwaukee's Historic Third Ward

Milwaukee has a lot going on this weekend, including the dynamic Gallery Night & Day in the Historic Third Ward, Walkers Point, and areas throughout downtown. It’s the “Ultimate Art Weekend,” with over 50 venues throughout the Third Ward and Downtown that serve as showcases for viewing art from paintings to sculptures to other creative outlets. Bars and restaurants stay open later than usual Friday night, while Saturday is a prime time to continue the gallery gallivanting while also enjoying the area’s unique and eclectic selection of shops. Meanwhile the Milwaukee Film Festival just kicked off Thursday and runs through the rest of October, with over 350 films, panels, parties, and events at nine venues across town, from the ornate Oriental Theater to the Good City Brewing Company. Download their full program here! (PDF)

West Allis: Snowmobile USA Show & Sale

Snowmobile USA Show & Sale

Sure, the snow hasn’t flown yet (at least none that has stuck) but Wisconsin’s largest snowmobile show and sale takes place this weekend at the State Fair Park Expo Center! The Snowmobile USA Show & Sale features snowmobile manufacturers, dealers, trailers, clothing, accessories, resorts and other lodging all providing information and offering discounted pricing across the 200,000 square feet of the Expo Center. Check out 2020 factory displays with new Polaris & Ski-Doo snowmobiles. Get the best pre-season deals and check out all that is snowmobiling all under one roof. (Wear comfortable shoes; There’s A LOT to see here!) It’s easy access off I-94, Highways 59 or 181, or even nearby U.S. 18 to hit State Fair Park. More…

Multiple locations: Wisconsin Science Festival

Wisconsin Weekend - WI Science Festival

The Wisconsin Science Festival is a 4-day celebration of science all across the state, with major events in Madison, Wausau, Fond du Lac, Milwaukee, and more! Features include Fab Lab tours, the “Fragile Bee” WUD Art Exhibit, and events at the UW Geology Museum (which literally rocks) in Madison, special tours of the Aldo Leopold Center near Baraboo, exhibits on Milwaukee’s Magnificent Machines from the invention of the typewriter to the outboard motor and more at the Grohmann Museum, Wooly Mammoths and touchable dinosaur bones at the Colossal Fossils Museum in Wausau, and additional events from Fond du Lac to Sarona. It’s a great weekend to learn and have fun while you road trip! More…

Racine: Lantern Festival at the Racine Zoo

Racine Lantern Festival at the Zoo

The Lantern Festival at the Racine Zoo is a spectacular nighttime event, covering the zoo with incredible works of art! From tigers, lions, pandas, exotic flora, and a colossal dragon, Racine Zoo will be transformed into a world of illumination with custom-made lanterns. To top it off, an array of food and drink options will make the Lantern Festival a truly unforgettable event. The Racine Zoo Lantern Festival covers more than just this Wisconsin Weekend: it runs 80 select nights through December 31, 2019! Hit Highways 11, 20, 32, or 38 to get into Racine; you’ll find the zoo just off Highway 32 right by Lake Michigan, just north of North Beach and Racine’s downtown. More…

Spooner: Jack O’Lantern Festival & Zombie Run

Spooner Jack O' Lantern Festival

Gotta give some #WIWeekend love to Spooner, which celebrates fall with a full day and evening of fun at the annual Jack O’ Lantern Festival Saturday! Enjoy this fun family festival with tons of kids’ games, a pumpkin roll down Siegner Hill, pumpkin painting, inflatable bounce houses and much more. There’s also a Pumpkin Recipe Contest and a Pumpkin Carving Contest. The 5K Zombie Fun Run takes place in the evening through Spooner’s “haunted woods” and promises adventure. Spooner is easy to get to via U.S. 53, U.S. 63, or Highway 70, about halfway between Eau Claire/Chippewa Falls and Superior. There’s a reason they call Spooner the “Crossroads of the North”! More…

Hales Corners: China Lights at Boerner Botanical Gardens

China Lights at Boerner Botanical Gardens

Boerner Botanical Gardens hosts “China Lights: Panda Mania” and the Chinese Lantern Festival, running all the way through October 27th! China Lights brings stunning illuminated sculptures to select venues around the world. Now, it floats into Milwaukee for an after-sundown celebration of Asian life and culture. The 9-acre Gardens transform into a magical paradise of enchanting illuminated displays. Dragons, glowing pagodas and iridescent pinwheels add color, vibrancy, and excitement. Check out a backstage tour of the lanterns and participate in the nightly parade. Or simply enjoy wandering through the thrilling spectacle, which includes live performances of music, juggling and other arts. Enjoy a variety of Asian and Western cuisine from numerous local vendors, celebrate Asian culture with entertainment and live performances and a bustling marketplace. The entertainment ramps up Tuesdays through Sundays, 5:30pm-10pm – China Lights is closed Mondays. Admission includes a link to the official festival tour mobile guide, which will provide fascinating insight about the wonders all around you as you stroll with your cell phone. Parking is free for China Lights; simply follow the signs along 92nd Street – one mile east of U.S. 45/Highway 100 – to find the lots. More…

Check out the latest State Trunk Tour Podcasts on the Wisconsin Coastal Food Trail and the Blues history in Ozaukee County!
State Trunk Tour founder Eric Paulsen got to talk with Jason Ring of the Manitowoc CVB about the new Wisconsin Coastal Food Trail that offers pathways for exploring everything from farms and cheese factories to breweries, bakeries, wineries, and distilleries in and around the Manitowoc and Two Rivers area, as well as with Kris Raymond of the Paramount Music Association, about the amazing and little-known history of early Blues and Jazz records being made in Grafton and Port Washington – recordings that helped shape music ever since. Check them both out below:

More for your Wisconsin Weekend

There are MANY more events to check out on this Wisconsin Weekend. Explore history, enjoy parks, experience shops, bars, and restaurants, and have FUN! In true State Trunk Tour fashion, Pick Some Roads and GO!!!

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The State Trunk Tour Logo for Wisconsin highways and great trips

Wisconsin highways, road trips, attractions, quirks… just what IS the State Trunk Tour?

The State Trunk Tour is all about Wisconsin highways, drives, road trips and celebrating the fun of the Badger State by selecting state highways and riding them end to end, reporting everything along the way.

Wisconsin’s state highways – the first system of numbered highways in the world (first done in 1917 – which means 2017 marked its 100th anniversary!) – connect all sorts of points of interest, attractions, cities, towns, recreation trails, scenic byways, lakes, rivers, bridges, historical sites, geographic markers, taverns, antique shops… you get the idea.

Hear our discussion about State Trunk Tour on Wisconsin Public Radio from January and March below!

Wisconsin truly is one of the most fun and unique states in the country. We’re in the smack dab in the middle of the northern and western hemispheres. We have plenty of “world’s largest” entries: the musky, the corkscrew, a talking cow, an indoor water park, a six-pack, and a can of chili are just some of them. Wisconsin also claims a number of “world’s firsts” and inventions including the snowmobile, malted milk, the hamburger, hydroelectric power, outboard motor, rail-to-trail, and a bunch more.

We have two Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, and beautiful drives along all of them. Dynamic cities like Milwaukee and Madison offer incredible options for things to do. Vacation hot spots like Wisconsin Dells, Lake Geneva, Door County, Minocqua, Eagle River, and Hayward draw people from all over the country. Quaint, relaxing towns like Ephraim, Shullsburg, Hudson, Bayfield, Princeton, Green Lake, Oconomowoc and more offer great boutique shopping and plenty of charm.

Follow one of our Wisconsin highways end-to-end – or in sections – and enjoy everything along the way. Sample Featured Routes below or pick your own from the State Trunk Tours menu. We’ll help guide you, provide fun history, insight, and trivia, and welcome your feedback and additions as we continue to build our web and mobile sites. We’re on a new platform, adding and updating more routes, attractions, photos, points of interest and more constantly, so check back often. Updates will be sent out via Facebook and Twitter, of course!

HIghway 19 in northern Dane County

"'Trek' Between Mazo and Watertown"

State “Trunk” Highway 19 skims the northern side of Madison's metro area and connects to Watertown. Before 1926, Highway 19 once continued all the way west to Prairie du Chien and before 1947, all the way east to downtown Milwaukee. Today, Highway 19 serves as a key connector, part of which could serve as Madison's north beltine sometime in the not-too-distant future. You travel through the only Waunakee in the world, check out the sun and the prairies around Sun Prairie, hit the HQ of TREK bikes, and more....

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"Coast to Coast covering Circuses, Canoes, and Coulees (and more)"

State “Trunk” Highway 33 is a "coast-to-coast" state highway, connecting La Crosse on the Mississippi with Port Washington's scenic harbor on Lake Michigan. From the big blue waters of the Great Lake to the beautiful coulees framing La Crosse, you encounter hairpin turns in what seems like a mountain range, Baraboo's famous Circus Museum, ski slopes of Cascade Mountain, the natural wetlands of Horicon Marsh, and some of the best canoeing in the nation along the Kickapoo. It's a great cross-section of southern Wisconsin....

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Mt. Morris Mill sign

"Highway 152: Seven Miles from the Christmas Tree Capital of the World to Mount Morris' Nordic Mountain"

Wisconsin Highway 152 is a brief State Trunk Tour route that runs from Wautoma (which bills itself as the "Christmas Tree Capital of the World" to the tiny town of Mount Morris, which hosts camps, forests, and the Nordic Mountain Ski Area. On this brief connector route you can enjoy some nice scenery, a 19th century dam and mill, and some nice topography amidst this glaciated area of central Wisconsin....

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Highway 27 between Rising Sun and Fairview

"Whipping up and down Western Wisconsin"

State “Trunk” Highway 27 runs for almost 300 miles, from the wilderness of Brule River State Forest fifteen miles from the Lake Superior shore, through a slew of rural towns, up, down and around western Wisconsin's rugged landscape, all the way to the banks of the Mississippi River in Prairie du Chien blocks short of the Iowa border. Scenery, serenity and small-town charm abound on this route from top to bottom....

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Wisconsin Fall Color Report

Real Racine Events Guide 2019
Visit Port Washington
Visit Marshfield via State Trunk Tour
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