The leaves are beginning to change color tree by tree, with Northern Illinois' most brilliant fall foliage expected within the next couple of weeks. We've gathered some options for best fall foliage viewing so that you can plan a family outing to enjoy the beautiful seasonal colors, as well as some family-friendly activities to keep the kids entertained!
The Forge: Lemont Quarries
1001 Main Street, Lemont
The Forge: Lemont Quarries stretches across 300 acres of land, and is committed to the restoration and preservation of the historic natural landscape found at the park. You'll also find activities to keep your family busy all day long! Here you'll find the largest aerial challenge course, tallest climbing towers, and longest ziplines in the tri-state area, with opportunities for mountain biking, rock climbing, kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboat excursions. Learn more.
North Park Village Nature Center
5801 North Pulaski Road, Chicago
The North Park Village Nature Center is located on the northwest side of Chicago and includes a forty-six acre nature preserve and educational facility. This oasis in the city allows visitors the opportunity to interact with wildlife, plants and other natural resources through environmental education and access to improved natural landscapes. Hike the trails and see woodland, wetland, praire and savanna highlights, and spot animals like deer, frogs, turtles and more. Learn more.
Northgate and Cass, Darien
The 2,492-acre Waterfall Glen is known for its Rocky Glen waterfall, Sawmill Creek bluff overlook, and extensive trails. Families can hike, bike, and even horseback ride through the trails! It's part of the Des Plaines River Valley that was formed by glacial meltwaters and drainage from a postglacial lake that covered most of the Chicagoland area. Enjoy fall foliage, and teach kids to navigate with a map and compass using options for different skill-leveled maps. Learn more.
Chicago Botanic Garden
1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe
These beautifully designed and landscaped gardens are blooming with plants and flowers, with multiple garden areas showcasing the best plants of the Midwest. Children can see flowers close up, and can check out the Model Railroad Garden, featuring trains run on 17 tracks, winding over bridges and trestles, and around models of American landmarks. Learn more.
Osaka Garden at Jackson Park
6401 S. Stony Island Ave., Chicago
In 1893, on Jackson Park's Wooded Island, the Japanese Government built the Ho-o-den [Phoenix Temple] as its pavilion for the World's Columbian Exposition. The original pavilion had only a small garden, however, in the 1930s the newly formed Chicago Park District restored the pavilion and added a more extensive Japanese Garden. This garden symbolizes the mutual respect and friendship that Japan and the United States initiated more than 120 years ago. Learn more.
4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle
The Morton Arboretum offers 1,700 acres of beautiful gardens, world-renowned plant collections, and rare and unique natural areas. In the Children's Garden, kids can splash through secret streams, climb colossal acorns, and slide down giant tree roots, and explore, learn, and play among trees and the natural world. During October, families can stroll the path along Meadow Lake to see the friendly faces of Scarecrow Trail, each scarecrow handmade by a local scout troop. Learn more.
16400 W Buckley Rd., Libertyville
Independence Grove is an idyllic seting located on a 115-acre lake where you can easily spend an entire day with your family. While hiking the trails, you might spot owls, muskrats, beavers, raccoons, deer and more. Enjoy the scenery while hiking, biking or boating, and then let kids run wild on the enormous children's playground. Learn more.
Emily Oaks Nature Center
4650 Brummel Street, Skokie
Skokie's thirteen-acre savanna and nature center is an oasis full of native wildflowers, grasses, oak trees, a two-acre pond, and trails. Families can explore on their own, or downlod a Woodland Bingo Scavenger Hunt map from the web site and create their own adventure. Learn more.
Vera Meineke Nature Center at Spring Valley
1111 E. Schaumburg Road, Schaumburg
The Vera Meineke Nature Center at Spring Valley is an earth-sheltered, passive-solar natural history museum and visitor center that offers beautiful scenery and plenty of activities for kids. Families can enjoy interactive exhibits on local plants and animals, a children’s activity area and a living turtle pond display. Learn more.
Lake Katherine Nature Center and Botanic Garden
7402 W. Lake Katherine Drive, Palos Heights
Lake Katherine is a 20-acre man-made lake that features several botanic gardens with a variety of flowers and plant life and a cascading waterfall. Visit to see the fall colors while taking a hike or cycling. Kids can take in the scenery and, if they're lucky, they might spot turtles, frogs, muskrats, beavers and water birds. Learn more.
There are so many more places near Chicago to explore and enjoy Illinois' beautiful Fall leaves and scenery. You can find even more Nature destinations right here!