Fall evokes bittersweet feelings in Minnesota. The colors and temps provide an autumnal aesthetic perfect for our inner photografurs, but we know what’s coming: Winter. Fool’s Spring. Second Winter. Spring of Deception. Third Winter. Before bracing for the deep freeze, enjoy the beauty our Land of 10,000 lakes (and even more trees!) offers in fall. We sniffed out some of the best Minnesota fall road trips for optimal leaf peeping with your best fren. So roll the windows down, turn the Red Hot Chili Puppers up, and get driving.
Grand Rounds Scenic Byway
For more than 50 miles, the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway takes you along lakes, woodlands, wetlands, parks, picnic grounds, and more, with plenty of opportunities to stretch your legs and let the dog walk you around. Enjoy breathtaking views of fall colors from the Lake Street and Ford Parkway Bridges. Need T-R-E-A-Ts for you and pup? Your journey takes you right by Minnehaha Park, Sea Salt Eatery, and Minnehaha Scoop. For peak color, plan this trip in late September or early October.
Minnesota River Valley National Scenic Byway
In late September to early October, spend some time driving down the Minnesota River Valley Scenic Byway. Take County Road 6 and Highway 93 from Belle Plaine to Le Sueur, Highway 169 to Mankato, and Highway 68 to New Ulm. Lookin’ fur a shorter drive? Just choose a section. Stop in riverside parks along the way to let doggo sniff around and soak in the view.
If you make it all the way to Mankato, we recommend checking out dog-friendly Javens Family Vineyard & Winery to meet vineyard dogs Charlie and Cooper, and drink the Patio Prints. The raised patio overlooks the vineyard and is a prime spot for fall leaf peeping.
Lake Superior’s North Shore
Driving alongside Lake Superior on State Highway 61 provides gorgeous scenery no matter the season, but there’s something extra special about taking the trip in the fall. Peak foliage begins around late September, but dropping temps cause the leaves to fall quickly, so plan ahead for this journey. Enjoy bright yellow aspen and birch leaves interspersed with striking scarlet maples. Pup’ll enjoy the fresh air and stops along the way. Luckily, we have the scoop on the North Shore’s dog-friendly hikes, sights, and bites.
We can’t wait to see all your Fido fall foliage photos. Tag us in your adventures @SidewalkDog. Have a fave leaf peepin’ spot we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments!