No matter where you live, it is important to venture out and get away every now and then. I personally recommend that you do a day trip, or weekend getaway at least 4 times a year (once a quarter). To be clear, these are trips in the region that you live. Not across the country in a plane, but rather a roadtrip that fits YOUR budget.
So a day trip is likely to be a couple hours from where you live. A weekend getaway is probably 3+ hours driving distance away.
Why is this is important?
1. You need perspective of the region, not just where you live.
2. You need to get out of the same old routine and stimulate your senses.
3. ADVENTURES are good soul food...and with these you can determine of what kind of adventure you want.
This fall, my recommendation is to head EAST...over to the Minnesota - Wisconsin border. My husband and I did this trip last fall and it was PERFECT. It was SPONTANEOUS and we loved it.
Take what you want from this and make your own adventure!
Drive (4.5 hours) from Sioux Falls to La Crosse, WI. Podcasts were our main entertainment source for the drive. We even found some spooky ones to get in the Halloween spirit since we planned to go to the House of Shadows this evening.
Stop for dinner, or late appetizers at Buzzard Billy's in La Crosse, WI. You have officially crossed the Mississippi River into Wisconsin after a long (and possibly boring) drive through southern MN. This is a light-hearted and fun bar. The menu has a fun cajun flare to it. I didn't expect to eat cajun when going to WI but it was one of the few places open when we got into WI late night...and we REALLY enjoyed it.
DON'T STAY TOO LONG IF YOU PLAN TO GO TO THE HOUSE OF SHADOWS
Go to the House of Shadows! This is one of the best haunted attractions I have been to...and I have been to a few. What's cool is that it is a fundraiser to support the local Boys & Girls Club of Sparta. They host the haunted house at the former infirmary of the Wisconsin State Child Center. They truly do a great job!
**For those with small kids, or not into haunted attractions, they do have a "Not So Scary" tour earlier in the evening
Spend the night in Sparta! There are several inexpensive hotels in Sparta.
Wake up and hit up the Sparta Farmers Market. It is a quaint small town with an awesome farmers market. If you don't find breakfast at the farmers market, there are a couple other restaurants on the same street that can take care of you.
Before you leave town...FIND THIS GUY!
Next on the agenda: CRANBERRIES - This is Wisconsin's #1 fruit crop. Remember those commercials with the guys wearing waders in the cranberry bogs...YOU CAN SEE SIMILAR BOGS!
Drive (about 40 minutes) to the Cranberry Discovery Center in Warrens, WI. Here you can get all of your cranberry treats, including fresh cranberry ice cream! Spend the time (and small fee) to check out the museum downstairs. You will learn a lot of cool information about growing and harvesting cranberries.
From here, the best plan of action is to take a driving tour through cranberry country. You do this in your own car, at your own pace, and choose the route YOU want to go. Grab a map from the Discovery Center or check this one out. Stop at some of the cranberry farms that are open to see what they have going on and buy some fresh cranberries! (These would be great for your Thanksgiving meal)! October is the height of harvest season, so you will hopefully be able to see harvest in process with the bogs flooded.
Make the most of this drive through the country. There are some cool things to see along the way. Stop to "smell the flowers"...this is YOUR adventure.
*This is a full day of adventuring, so we stopped at our hotel and regrouped before heading to the Hootenanny.
Go to THE hootenanny! This is a fun fall festival-type event held at one of the local apple farms. However, this one is a step (or two) above the normal fall festival. They have (good) bands playing into the night, food trucks, large beer selection and all of the other family fun activities you would expect. The atmosphere is absolutely perfect. Everybody is there to simply have a good time listening to music, drink beer and enjoying a campfire in the rolling hills of western WI.
This year's Ecker's Honeycrisp Hootenanny is Oct 12th, 2019. If you don't make it for the hootenanny, stop by the orchard and country store instead.
Spend the night in the area. There was limited availability for lodging when we were there and ended up staying at the Draft Horse Inn in Arcadia, WI. It was about 20 minutes away from the Hootenanny. We made sure one of us was DD because we weren't confident if there would be many Lyft or Uber rides available out there. Roads back to Arcadia were windy, so be careful and watch for deer.
We had planned to do a local hike on Sunday but the weather did not cooperate. Instead we headed back to Ecker's Apple Farm since their country store was closed by the time we got there Saturday evening. We were more than happy to sample their baked goods and bought some apples!
We then started our trek back to Sioux Falls by way of Winona, MN. It is another cute college town to drive through. Several places to stop for lunch.
Enjoy your time in small towns of Wisconsin this weekend. It is a beautiful landscape with rolling hills that almost seem like foothills to a mountain range. Take the time to stop wherever you feel the urge. There is no right or wrong way to adventure...just get out there and do it!
If you take a similar adventure as this, be sure to share your pictures and adventure with us!
Thanks for reading!