Cool, crisp fall air can feel a welcome change after a hot and humid summer. But autumn in the Windy City tends to be fleeting. Make a point to get out and appreciate the season before it’s too late and you regret not having done so. Here are some fun fall outings the entire family can enjoy.
Go apple picking
Enjoy quality family time and stock up on apples for eating and baking with this timeless fall activity. One option, just over the Wisconsin border from Illinois, is Apple Holler Family Farm. Nicknamed “the apple picking amusement park,” Apple Holler’s farm park is home to a petting zoo, pedal carts, mazes, a train ride, hay rides, and more. Another apple farm known for its children’s activities is All Seasons Orchard in Seneca Township.
Although plucking your own apples from the tree is not an option, Long Grove’s annual Apple Fest is another fun place to buy freshly-picked apples with your family in the fall. Vendors sell a range of tantalizing apple treats, and there’s a Kid Zone to keep the little ones entertained. This year’s action takes place this weekend, September 22-24, just 15 minutes’ drive from AMLI Deerfield.
Get lost and find your way out of a corn maze
The corn maze has become a quintessential fall outing for families with young children, and Chicago has some noteworthy offerings. Richardson Adventure Farm, about an hour’s drive northwest of Chicago, claims to have the world’s largest corn maze. Other area corn mazes can be found at County Line Orchard in Hobart, Odyssey Fun Farm in Tinley Park, and Kroll’s Fall Harvest Farm in Waukegan. If you live in AMLI at Seven Bridges, Konow’s Corn Maze in Homer Glen and Siegel’s Pumpkin Farm in Lockport are both 20 minutes’ drive away.
Pick, carve, and celebrate pumpkins
The Chicago area is home to several farms you can scour for the perfect carving pumpkin. Some of the most popular pumpkin patches are at Goebbert’s Farm & Garden Center in South Barrington, Royal Oaks Farm in Harvard, Johansen Farms in Bolingbrook, Didier Farms in Lincolnshire, and Kuipers Family Farm in Maple Park. When choosing a pumpkin, be wary of bruises and soft spots. And never carry a pumpkin you plan to carve by its handle.
If you’re feeling festive after carving your pumpkin, hit up the Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival October 6, 7, or 8. This Make-A-Wish benefit event hosts carnival rides, pumpkin-carving stations, pie-eating contests, and other family-friendly activities. The festival holds the Guinness World Record for most carved pumpkins lit at the same time (30,851). Festival admission is free if you bring a carved pumpkin.
Visit a museum for free
Chicago’s collection of world-class museums are educating and fascinating all year long. But if you’re looking to keep costs down, fall and winter are ideal because there are more opportunities for free admission than in spring and summer. More than 30 of the city’s museums are offering free admission this Saturday, September 23, as part of Smithsonian Magazine’s Smithsonian Magazine’s Museum Day Live! 2017. Visit ChooseChicago.com for a comprehensive list of free museum days in Chicago for 2017.
Fall for fall colors
The window for fall foliage in Chicagoland is often short, but the colors can be striking. Woodstock’s Autumn Drive is a fun way to celebrate the season of falling leaves with the entire family. More than 20 farms and orchards open their doors to visitors. Garden Valley Road is lines with everything from seasonal squash arrangement to antiques. Hay rides, tractor rides, petting zoos, and other kid-friendly activities abound. The backdrop to the entire event, if Mother Nature cooperates, is a wall of beautiful fall colors. The 30th Annual Autumn Drive event is scheduled for October 20, 21, and 22.
If you can’t make it to Autumn Drive or the leaves change early this year, there are plenty of other great fall foliage spots. The Chicago Botanic Garden, Douglas Park, Garfield Park Conservatory, Graceland Cemetery and Arboretum, and Morton Arboretum are all known for their autumnal picturesqueness. Closer to downtown, Millennium Park is also beautiful during fall.
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