A classic destination and for good reason. The hilly terrain, lack of development, and the vistas of Lake Superior, make this one of the most beautiful places to be in Minnesota at this time of year. Many people plan an annual trip to the North Shore of Minnesota in October, so don't expect lodging to be cheap. If you are lucky and can get up north on a warm weekend, then many campsites and cabins are still open and can save you a few bucks on lodging.
The Fall color season starts earlier than in southern Minnesota, and ends earlier too. Harsher weather up north can end the season early too - check on conditions before you travel.
But Ely makes the list not just for canoeing - it's very possible to have an action-packed weekend in Ely without stepping foot in a canoe. For shoppers, Ely's downtown will keep you happy all afternoon. for families, the Wolf Center and Bear Center are both interesting destinations, and there are miles of hiking trails in the forests and parks surrounding town.
Itasca State Park and the Source of the MississippiA classic tourist destination and one that every Minnesotan should experience: stepping across the headwaters of the Mississippi River as it flows, as a narrow stream, from Lake Itasca in Itasca State Park.
Itasca State Park isn't just the source of the Mississippi. It's one of Minnesota's largest state parks, and has 100 other lakes, as well as Itasca. It also has several cabins, campsites, almost 50 miles of hiking trails, 16 miles of paved bike trails, which will take you though the rolling scenery. Now is a perfect time to go: avoid the summer crowds, and enjoy how simply gorgeous it is in fall.
Would you prefer less of a drive? Here's some great places to see fall color on a day trip from Minneapolis-St. Paul. And, here's even more places to see fall color right in the Twin Cities metro area.