Fall Color Guide

There’s a misconception that you need to leave the Twin Cities to see the best fall colors, but in fact you can see some of the most scenic spots in the state without ever leaving the metro.

 Our fall color tour is a blend of stunning scenery in the heart of the city, and parks so secluded you won’t realize you’re only a few miles from downtown. 

When is the best time to go? Peak time in our area is late September to mid- October. For the most up to date color report, use the DNR’s Fall Color Finder

Minnesota fall colors graph

1. Hilton Garden Inn Minneapolis/ Maple Grove 

Hilton Garden Inn exterior

Your home base for the fall color tour. 

2. Elm Creek Park Reserve

Scenic Fall colors

This enormous park will have you feeling worlds away from civilization. Walk or bike nearly 13 miles of paved trails covered in satisfyingly crunchy leaves during the fall. 

3. Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park

Fall trees

 Wander the secluded and heavily wooded paths on the west side of the river to get up close to the fall colors. Or enjoy panoramic views of the Mississippi from the dam’s walkway. 

4. Nicollet Island

Saint Anthony Main in the Fall

The only inhabited island on the Mississippi, Nicollet Island is located right next to downtown. A stroll around the quaint island is about 1 mile long and features pretty foliage, spectacular views of the skyline, and of the Stone Arch Bridge. 

5. Aster Cafe

Restaurant front with Fall colors

Stop for lunch in the courtyard at nearby Aster Café, on the oldest street in Minneapolis. 

6. Chain of Lakes

Lake surrounded by colorful trees

Take a scenic drive following the tree-lined parkways around Cedar Lake, Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun, and Lake Harriet

7. Fort Snelling State Park

Mississippi River during Fall

 Hike the Pike Island loop (3 miles), located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers. You’ll be surrounded on all sides by river bluffs bursting with yellows and oranges.

8. Minnesota Landscape Arboretum:

Path in the woods surrounded by colorful trees

Not to be missed, the Landscape Arboretum is worth the drive out to Chaska. It has the widest variety of trees you’ll find anywhere in Minnesota: orange-leaved sugar maples; yellow elms and ash; fiery red viburnums, dogwoods, sumacs and more. 

9. Have dinner overlooking Lake Minnetonka at Maynard’s in Excelsior. 

Dock onto the lake during Fall