Where to See the Best Fall Foliage in Illinois


Happy October! The past few years it seems like summer is starting and ending later and later so I really don’t feel like its “fall” until we hit the month of October. Unfortunately, anyone who lives in Chicago also knows that fall comes and goes in the blink of an eye in Chicago. One minute its 80 degrees (like today) and the next minute its snowing.

Knowing how easy it has been to “miss” fall in the past, I’m determined to embrace every second of fall that we do get this year. I am planning to spend more time outdoors so that I can enjoy the fall colors a little more. Whether it’s taking a weekend trip to the suburbs or changing up my running path for the next few weeks, I’m hoping to hit some of the spots below that are known for having the best fall foliage. Where is your favorite spot to take in the fall foliage in Chicago or your city?

Lincoln Park Zoo:  Take your weekend jog through the beautiful parks around Lincoln Park Zoo. This is one of the spots we took our engagement photos because of all the stunning fall colors.

Millennium Park: Head to The Bean to capture a photo of the Chicago icon surrounded by bright red trees and then stop by Cindy’s Rooftop for a drink and stunning views of Millennium Park’s fall foliage from above.

Chicago Botanic Garden: Not only are there tons of fun fall activities for everyone, the 385 acres of land ensure that there will be plenty of stunning fall foliage to soak in. The Chicago Botanic Garden is close to the city and many surrounding suburbs making it an easy day trip. The Chicago Botanic Garden notes that the first two weeks of October are ideal for seeing the best fall colors.

The Morton Arboretum: Featuring 16 miles of hiking trails and more than 4,000 types of trees you’ll have plenty of fall foliage to take in. If you’re not in the mood to hike you can also take a tram ride around the park. There’s also a cafe and other areas featuring activities.

Crabtree Nature Center: Located in my hometown I had to add this one to the list!

Starved Rock State Park: This spot is a bit of a trek but if you’re looking to do some real fall hiking, Starved Rock is worth it! You can also do horseback riding or canoeing.

Galena Country: This is the perfect spot for a fall weekend getaway. Not only is Galena incredibly picturesque in the fall, it also offers tons of festivities and has lots of great little shops and restaurants to explore. You can even take a hot air balloon to see fall at it’s best from 2,000 feet up.

Forest Preserves of Winnebago County: The 10,500 acres of land is made up of 43 forest preserves, four rivers and 100 miles of hiking trails plus, three campgrounds and three golf courses. Located outside of Rockford this is the ideal destination for anyone living north of the city.

Anderson Japanese Gardens: Another beautiful destination outside of Rockford, the Anderson Japanese Gardens offer a list of seasonal programs and events that make for a fun day surrounded by stunning fall foliage.

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