Plan a foodie road trip to Wisconsin featuring the cranberry harvest, unique foodie experiences and Osthoff Resort! Our travel Wisconsin fall road trip includes the best road trip planner for foodies looking to experience a taste of Wisconsin cranberries.
Fall is a season of comfort. Like clockwork, as the temperature drops between September and October, leaves become striking hues of yellow, orange and red. And while summer and winter vacations tend to breed a “go go go” mentality, fall beckons us to relax and reflect. The small towns scattered throughout Wisconsin make for a perfect fall getaway for those looking to indulge in the season’s comfort foods and the region’s culinary experiences. (You can never have enough Wisconsin cheese!) The towns may not be wildly known to visitors, but they’re worth a trip for those longing for a culinary-inspired fall getaway.
Travel Wisconsin Fall Road Trip
Getting to Wisconsin
Green Bay and Milwaukee are both great starting points. Between September and October, you can find inexpensive flights. Foliage varies by year, but mid-October is the safest chance you’ll catch fall at its peak. If you’re looking to attend a festival, such as the Warren’s Cranberry Festival (the world’s largest cranberry festival) that takes place during the last weekend of September, you may miss the trees in their prime, but you’ll still find cooler temperatures and witness trees starting to turn.
The Osthoff Resort at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
Start your trip on a relaxing note by checking into The Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake. The AAA Four Diamond awarded resort is situated an hour from Green Bay and Milwaukee and features all-suite guest rooms, a 500-foot private lakefront beach, a cooking school and a holistic spa, which in addition to spa suites, includes a meditation sanctuary, yoga studio and café. Founded in 1885 and restored 100 years later, the resort still carries its old-world charm with modern-day luxury amenities.
The Osthoff’s L’ecole de la Maison cooking school makes for a great hands-on experience for foodies. Each two-hour class is geared toward recreational cooks and vary in tastes, such as Wisconsin Roots—highlighting the region’s cheeses—and Travel to Wellness—introducing healthy brunch alternatives, such as chia seed pudding, overnight oats, cranberry quinoa salad and egg shakshouka, all prepared with produce sourced from The Osthoff’s two-acre organic garden that produces over 10,000 pounds of food each year.
If cooking on vacation isn’t your thing, then the Aspira Spa will be right up your alley. The Cranberry Body Envelopment and Cranberry Anti-Aging Facial have autumn written all over them. Utilizing the fruit’s antioxidant properties, the treatments leave your skin feeling nourished and ready to tackle the dropping temperatures.
Lola’s on the Lake is the resort’s premier on-site restaurant that showcases eclectic Wisconsin cuisine and sources its ingredients from local farmers, including The Osthoff Garden. Be sure to make a reservation during sunset to catch panoramic views of Elkhart Lake. You won’t be disappointed when ordering the soul-comforting soup trio and pan roasted duck breast with parmesan risotto and tart cherries.
Stevens Point, Wisconsin
After a pampering couple of days, you’ll be ready to head two-hours west to Stevens Point, an ideal home base for exploring the state’s Cranberry Highway which stretches 50 miles from Wisconsin Rapids to Warrens, and between Pittsville and Nekoosa. The Cobblestone Hotel & Suites is a modest accommodation walking distance to downtown Stevens Point. For more than 150 years, downtown Stevens Point has held the longest running farmers market in Wisconsin. It runs six days a week (except Sundays) from May through October, so be sure to snag some local goods before it wraps up for the season. The quaint town is also home to a variety of hidden food gems, including family-run Sunset Point Winery, which features a tasting room and tours, and AGORA Local Makers Market filled with local foods, ceramics, kitchenware, bath products and more.
Cap off your trip with a fine-dining experience at Muse at Sentry. Here, art is the core of all that they do. From décor—including an original print signed by Pablo Picasso—to plating and presentation, everything you lay eyes on is quintessentially a masterpiece. And just like the art on the walls, the menu is constantly evolving, so diners never know what they’ll experience. Executive Chef Christopher Ault prides himself on house-made pasta, locally-sourced meats and produce, and Muse’s Luxe Dressed Eggs—fancified devil’s eggs with an ever-changing flavor. Don’t skimp on the dessert, too. The Fall Pumpkin Mouse with a pie crust cookie is equally tasty as it is stunning.
No matter the purpose of your trip—whether it’s geared toward chasing the fall foliage, talking a leisurely drive along the cranberry highway or rewinding at a lakefront resort, Wisconsin makes it easy to achieve either (or all) of those activities during your visit.
If you experience Wisconsin’s fall foliage or foodie experiences, don’t forget to tag @SpoonfulFlavor and #SpoonfulTravel in your social media posts so that we can follow along. Or come back here and share your thoughts about the trip.
All photography by Aubrie Gerber. Aubrie is a travel contributor who writes for publications such as Rachel Ray Everyday, United Hemispheres, Luxe Getaways and more. Visit AubrieGerber.com or follow on Instagram to read more about her travels.