Best Places to See Fall Colors in Minnesota

By Brant Skogrand Seasonal Series Comments Off on Best Places to See Fall Colors in Minnesota

Whether you go north, south or simply stay in the Twin Cities, locations abound to take in the Minnesota fall colors.


Here are some of our favorites.


  • North Shore of Lake Superior: According to Explore Minnesota, mid-September to early October is the best time to catch the fall foliage here. Highway 61 from Duluth to Grand Portage is one of 15 routes in the U.S. to be designated an “All American Drive,” so be sure to have reservations if you plan on staying overnight.
  • Mississippi River Valley: In mid-October, head south from Red Wing to La Crescent for gorgeous views of the Mississippi, charming towns and brilliant autumn colors. As this drive is also popular, remember to book your stay.
  • Twin Cities: You don’t have to go far to see some outstanding fall colors. From late September to mid-October, a drive around Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun, Lake Harriet and Lake Nokomis will be worth your while. Add in a visit to Minnehaha Falls, and you have the makings of a super Sunday afternoon.
  • Mississippi Headwaters: Beyond a reason to see the source of the Mississippi, Itasca State Park has an excellent surface bike trail. Nearby Lake Bemidji State Park has mountain bike trails, and the northern half of the park preserves a spruce-tamarack bog. Visit in mid-September to early October for the best colors.
  • Brainerd Lakes & Mille Lacs: Peak color in the “Up North” part of the state runs from late September to early October. Look for delightful colors from maple, oak, birch and aspen.


For tips on planning your trip and free fall color updates, visit Explore Minnesota.

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