7 Scenic Spots to Enjoy a Fall Day in Chicagoland

There’s absolutely nothing like a beautiful autumn day in Chicagoland! Here in Illinois, fall is a special time of the year. Nestled between the heat of the summer months and the snowy days of winter, the fall season is a great time to head outdoors and really explore the natural beauty of our area. 

And Chicagoland has no shortage of remarkable fall destinations to add to your “must see” list. Whether you’re in the heart of the city or out in the suburbs, you’re never far from all that the golden days of fall have to offer. Looking for a place to enjoy the crisp air and fall foliage that make autumn in Chicagoland so wonderful? Here are seven stunning, scenic spots to seek out this season: 

1.) Morton Arboretum

Where better to experience fall foliage than a living museum full of 222,000 live plants, including trees from all around the world? Located in Lisle, the Morton Arboretum is a true gem of the Chicagoland region, offering stunning views of plants and wildlife spread across 1700 lovingly curated acres. Whether you want to hike, bike, enjoy rotating art displays, or simply relax with a picnic and a view of the changing leaves, Morton Arboretum should be high on your fall bucket list. There are few places in our area better for celebrating trees and plants, and all they do to make our world healthier and more beautiful. 

2.) Lincoln Park

The crown jewel of Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, Lincoln Park is a perfect place to really soak in all that fall in Chicagoland has to offer. The park is dense with amazing autumn attractions, including a free zoo, a conservatory with exotic flora from all around the world, and a nature museum, which offers a fascinating glimpse into the ecology of Lincoln Park and the entire Chicagoland region. Or, you could simply wile away the hours wandering the park on your own, soaking in a view of the falling leaves or the Chicago skyline bathed in fall light. 

3.) Starved Rock State Park

Just a short trek from Chicago, Starved Rock State Park offers natural vistas unlike anything else you’ll find in Illinois. While Starved Rock should be on every serious explorer’s to-do list throughout the year, it truly shines in the fall, when the forests come alive with fall foliage in stunning reds, golds, and oranges. The free park offers countless things to see and do, including 13 miles of hiking trails that cover all sorts of terrain, including some of the area’s most stunning natural canyons and waterfalls. 

4.) Fox River

Located west of Chicago, the Fox River runs through some of Chicagoland’s most charming communities, including Geneva, Batavia, Algonquin, Elgin, and Aurora. The fertile grounds around the mighty Fox River are collectively known as the Fox Valley — and they’re full of some of the most beautiful forests and natural areas you’ll find anywhere in the state. The natural areas around the Fox River make for an incredible escape on fall days. In particular, look out for the Fox River Trail. Built over three former railroad lines, the Fox River Trail offers miles of paved pathways for hiking or biking, with plenty of spots to stop and enjoy a scenic view of the resplendent fall foliage all along the river. 

5.) Chicago Botanic Garden

Nestled among the woodlands and lagoons of Glencoe is the Chicago Botanic Garden, a stunning place to enjoy the wonders of nature and the changing of the seasons. Comprised of 27 gardens and four natural areas, all organized across 385 acres, the Botanic Garden is an amazing tribute to the beauty of the natural world. Whether you want to explore a Japanese-style garden or wander a trail lined by vivid fall foliage, the Botanic Garden has something for every nature lover. Even better, the Botanic Garden is free to enter, and hosts fun events throughout the fall, including classes, exhibitions, and farmer’s markets. 

6.) Lurie Garden/Millennium Park

Millennium Park is a favorite spot for Chicago tourists and locals alike. Conveniently located in the heart of downtown Chicago, the Millennium Park campus is full of plenty of unique sites perfect for fall, including the world-famous Cloud Gate sculpture, affectionately known as The Bean, which offers a reflective view of the city’s skyline. Nestled a bit behind Cloud Gate and the Pritzker Pavilion lawn is Millennium Park’s true autumn gem, the Lurie Garden. This secluded urban oasis provides a healthy refuge for a variety of plants and animals over two and a half beautiful acres. A living work of art, Lurie Garden evolves with the seasons. In the fall, you’ll find it full of plants that capture the vibrant reds, golds, and yellows of the harvest season, set off against the backdrop of the city. 

7.) Des Plaines River

An enormous and slow-moving river, the Des Plaines winds down from Wisconsin and through four counties in Illinois, including Lake and Cook. Lined by lush trees and vegetation that changes with the seasons, the Des Plaines River is a stunning sight. One of the best ways to enjoy the natural beauty of the wilderness around the Des Plaines River is to hop on the Des Plaines River Trail, which runs alongside the waterway for more than 50 miles, and can help connect walkers and bikers to green spaces and activities all along the river’s edge. 

Baird & Warner: Helping You Discover Chicagoland Since 1855

At Baird & Warner, we’re all about connecting people with the best things to see, do, and experience around Chicagoland. After all, we’ve been a part of this community since 1855. That’s a lot of lovely fall days under our belt!

Whether you’re looking for a new home, or just a recommendation on a hidden gem to try out before the winter chill settles in, let us help! At Baird & Warner, our hyperlocal agents know this area better than anyone. When you want to buy, sell, or learn more about the Chicagoland market, we’ll be here to help you find exactly what you’re looking for — while making the experience easier, at every step of the way.