THE HOT FIVE

Get out of town and enjoy the autumn leaves at their peak.

CREAMERY RESTAURANT

New ownership has breathed new life into this rural looker, where chef Brian Griep, relies upon locally raised ingredients (many from the restaurant's garden) for dinner and weekend brunch. Grab a pastry at the adjacent Brickhouse Bakery. Bring your bike and pedal the nearby Red Cedar Trail.

E4620 County Rd. C, Downsville, Wis., 1-715-664-8354 thenewcreamery.com

FISHER'S CLUB

Small-town supper club dining at its very best. The menu swings from walleye and broasted chicken to steaks and burger baskets, along with deep-fried sunfish, fabulous potato salad and a killer relish tray. Saturday nights mean Octoberfest. Dinner only.

428 Stratford St. W., Avon, Minn. 1-320-356-7372, fishersclub.com

LAKEVIEW DRIVE-INN

This Winona landmark has it all: perky carhops, a something-for-everyone menu (get the bison burgers), low prices and kid-proof surroundings.

610 E. Sarnia St., Winona, Minn. 1-507-454-3723

RABBIT'S BAKERY

A total gem. There are just a few seats inside Dan Patterson and Hallie Abbott's modest shop, where in-the-know customers go for a small but first-rate selection of sandwiches, salads, soups and sweets. Low prices, cash only.

304 S. Washington St., Lake City, Minn., 1-651-345-3199

TANGLED UP IN BLUE

Chef/owner Ross Reed's small-town charmer boasts lively, contemporary cooking, an appealing wine list and Minnesota Nice service, all just a few steps from the über-scenic St. Croix River Valley. Dinner only.

425 Bench St., Taylors Falls, Minn. 651-465-1000 tangledupinbluerestaurant.com

RICK NELSON