Without a doubt, summer in the Northwoods is a downright escape. We wrote all about it after our summer trip. However, so many people mistakenly think of summer as the only time to really go Up North. Well, we’re here to tell you that the magic does not just disperse when the calendar flips from August to September. I’m going to let you in on a little-known Up North secret: fall in Eagle River is even more beautiful! And we’ve created the perfect itinerary to let you experience all the best of a Northwoods fall in 24 hours.
As we mentioned in our summer edition, with such a packed day, a stay over may be in order. We rented out a cabin this time for our stay, but you can check out a ton of lodging options here.
We started the day bright and early at the Eagle River Golf Course. We were only playing nine holes in order to accommodate our schedule, although we would have loved to have gotten in the full 18. It was a perfect fall morning, just a little chilly with blue skies and fantastic color in the trees. We were the first group to go out, so we had the entire back nine to ourselves, which I appreciated as I sent errant golf balls whipping through the fairways in my valiant effort to swing a golf club properly. Even as a novice golfer, taking in the fall colors in the peace and quiet proved to be a refreshing way to start to our day.
After our round, we had to get ourselves to the chamber offices to board the bus for the cranberry bog tour at Lake Nokomis Cranberries. Did you know that Wisconsin produces 50% of THE WORLD’S cranberries? We are a key player in the international cranberry economy, a fact that delighted me as we toured around the bogs, watching the harvest. We also were in town just days away from the Cranberry Fest, an annual event in Eagle River that attracts some 40,000 people, so the bus was poppin’ with tourists. The tour stopped at the shop to allow everyone time to buy all sorts of cranberry-related goodies (my favorite: the cranberry wine…)
After all the talk of cranberries, we were starving, so we disembarked from the bus back at the chamber offices and quite literally sprinted to Buckshots downtown. We pulled up barstools and were served right away, ordering a round of cheese curds, chicken tenders, and sweet potato fries, all of which were beyond perfect. The extensive menu, the lovely waitstaff, and the baseball game on TV tempted us to stick around, but we had a plan to get to!
Post lunch, we were looking for a little more excitement, so we hit the ATV trails to see some fall color. Having never driven an ATV, I was not entirely convinced I would not end up in the hospital, but it was super intuitive, and the trails were well maintained, so we were flying in no time. We were riding under thick canopies of yellow and orange as the leaves fell all around us, and it was honestly the most picturesque fall scene (even as we were racing down the trail at top speed).
The excitement got us going and we were ready for more activity, so we headed north. So far north, in fact, that in 45 minutes, we hit Bond Falls in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It’s a scenic area built around this cascading waterfall, just beyond the state border. It was absolutely, impossibly gorgeous with the leaves and the cliffs, and we could have spent all day exploring the woods.
Yet, as one might imagine, hiking up and down a waterfall for a good portion of the afternoon got us pretty hungry, Buckshots now a distant memory, so we hightailed it back to Eagle River and got a table at the Craftsman Tavern. I spent the entire drive back researching (read: stalking) their restaurant and its amazing menu. Everything looked so. darn. good. And boy oh boy, it did not disappoint. Cocktails: slapped. Truffle tots: slapped harder. All around a massive hit.
Finally, back at the cabin, we had ourselves a little bonfire. As anyone who has experienced a Midwestern October knows, fall is the best time to have bonfires. We bundled up in our flannels and sat around the fire with s’mores just as the sun was dipping below the lake. It was the picture of fall, right down to the smell of the leaves and the burning wood, an idyllic end to a perfect fall day.
It’s easy to think of Up North as a destination only for the summer months, the perfect place to vacation and explore from May-August. But we are here to tell you that the magic is still there in the fall. It’s in the miles and miles of gorgeous trees. It’s in the cranberries and the smell of the leaves. It’s in the chilly air on the golf course and the early sunsets on the lake.
Up North summers may be more famous, but fall is certainly giving them a run for their money.