Road Trip Destinations: Fall Frolics Await

From enchanting vineyards to secenic trails, Wisconsin’s Lafayette and Green counties are full of autumnal glory that’s just waiting to be discovered.

Twisting roads lined with golden and crimson trees lead to a place where nature’s beauty merges with rustic customs. This fall, the road leads directly into Wisconsin’s Lafayette and Green counties, and all of this land’s alluring autumn delights. As you traverse the rolling scenery of these southern Wisconsin destinations, embark upon scenic hikes, delve into a slice of history and immerse yourself in these counties’ lively attractions to get a true taste of autumnal glory.

Bailey’s Run Vineyard
N8523 Klitzke Road, New Glarus, Wis.
It’s not just the sweeping views of the picturesque countryside that make this vineyard an enchanting destination. It’s the warm and inviting atmosphere, coupled with nearly 20 varieties of wine, that capture the character of the New Glarus area.

Open year-round, the winery serves up wines that are dry, sparkling or sweet in addition to wood-fired pizzas and live music on weekends. The new on-site distillery offers a bold menu of drinks and dishes to complement.

Hawk’s Mill Winery
W8170 Pilz Road, Browntown, Wis.
This log cabin-style winery, ensconced among 2,000 vines, offers a cozy atmosphere that overlooks the vineyard and a forest preserve. Guests can enjoy casual wine tasting on the patio and host large gatherings in the adjacent pavilion.

The menu boasts 25 wines, including dry reds and whites, plus flatbreads and cheese plates. There’s live music on the weekends, with the occasional holiday event thrown in for fun, like a trick-or-treat party and a Christmas open house.

Pecatonica State Trail
Belmont, Wis., to Calamine, Wis.
This 10-mile recreation trail combines scenic beauty with rich history as it follows the former Milwaukee Road rail line that once transported lead through this valley. The crushed stone trail winds through farmlands, woodlands and rolling hills on a gentle grade that appeals to hikers, cyclists, joggers and horseback riders. The path connects to the Cheese County Trail, a 47-mile route that meanders from Mineral Point, Wis., to Monroe, Wis.

Sugar River State Recreation Trail
418 Railroad St., New Glarus, Wis.
From its start at a restored 1887 railroad depot, this mostly crushed stone recreation trail follows an abandoned railroad line for 24 miles from New Glarus to Brodhead. Along the way, the gently sloping path traverses farmlands, forests, rolling hills and remnants of prairies along the Sugar River.

Designated as a National Recreational Trail, it caters to cyclists, hikers, joggers and cross-country skiers. The trail also connects to the nearby New Glarus Woods State Park.

The Toy Train Barn Museum
W9141 WI-81, Argyle, Wis.
This former dairy barn now houses a toy train museum with an array of models and layouts inside. Owned by former engineer Buck Guthrie, the barn’s collection showcases several train layouts of varying sizes with lots of railroad memorabilia to complement.
After browsing the trains inside, head outdoors and ride a real one. The Argyle and Eastern Railroad, as it’s called, is a modest engine that ferries adult and children passengers around a one-mile track, which is complete with a horseshoe and bridge.

Lafayette County Historical Society Museum
525 Main St., Darlington, Wis.
Housed in the Old Carnegie Free Library at the heart of this small town, the museum offers a glimpse into the past through local artifacts and displays that touch on the major milestones of southern Wisconsin, including pioneer life and rural America. There are also displays of original oil paintings by artists like Laverne Kammerude, Florence Bennett, Frank H. Engebretson and Jim Jacobson.

The Geneaology Archives on site include an extensive collection of records, including family trees and histories that detail the people, places and events of this county.

Yellowstone Lake State Park
8495 N. Lake Road, Blanchardville, Wis.
Centered around a 450-acre lake, this park offers activities from camping, swimming and fishing to boating, hiking, biking and picnicking. When the snow falls, the park invites ice fishing, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing.

The park boasts a diverse wildlife population with white-tailed deer and more than 170 bird species, including wild turkeys. The lake is a summer home to more than 4,000 brown bats that eat up to 600 mosquitoes every hour.

Swift Park in Benton, Wis.
If you want to bask in a slice of small-town life in the Badger State, this 11-acre park is a good place to do it. Swift Park is the central hub for this village’s recreational activities, as its illuminated football field and baseball diamond will attest.

Amenities include playgrounds, picnic areas, restrooms and covered pavilions in addition to basketball and pickleball courts. Follow the footbridge over Coon Branch Creek, at the southern part of the park, to find the Boy Scout Camp and the Scouts’ cabin.

Monroe Indoor Farmers Market
1613 10th St., Monroe, Wis.
Held every Saturday from May through October, the market heads indoors from November through April, when it meets on the third Saturday of the month. Vendors bring a true taste of Green County in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, eggs, honey, baked goods and crafts. Expect to find plenty of surprises hidden among the market’s 25 vendors.

Three Waters Reserve
N3941 Golf Course Road, Brodhead, Wis.
Situated on 71 acres of protected lands, this mission-driven event center offers a lunch-and-learn series that invites visitors to engage with the region’s history, savor a meal and glean insights from local experts.

The Lower Sugar River Watershed Association hosts a session on historical plant populations on Nov. 9 from noon to 1 p.m. Guided by botanist Nate Gingerich, the event dives into records of historic plant populations in southern Wisconsin before highlighting such topics as environmental shifts, ecological restoration and biodiversity.