One of the best things about Chicago is the beauty that comes with every season; each season has its own look and feel.
Fall, however, is a particularly magical time of the year in Chicago—the sea of golden leaves in Millennium Park, the crisp air blowing by Lake Michigan, and the colorful myriad of interesting events and activities around the city makes fall one of the best times to explore Chicago.
In the fall, there is something for everyone—from children who want to play all day in the park to adults who want to enjoy the savory experience of a great restaurant. From young singles who want to soak in the beauty of the city from a rooftop bar to elderly couples enjoying long garden walks, from classy museumgoers with a taste for art or history, to enthusiastic sports fans looking for the thrill of a good game…everyone has a place in Chicago.
September ushers fun fall activities like apple picking or getting lost in a corn maze. October brings in a burst of colors and Halloween events and activities like pumpkin patches.
For visitors or longtime residents looking for what to do in Chicago this fall weekend, here is a guide on the top 5 things to do in Chicago this fall:
1. Check out a Pumpkin Patch
One of the most exciting things to do in Chicago this fall is picking out the perfect pumpkin in a pumpkin patch! There are a number of them around the greater Chicago area. Some pumpkin patches also have exciting side attractions like kids’ rides and delicious treats.
Pumpkin patches offer great planning flexibility: you could dedicate a whole day or just a few hours to the fun that comes with visiting a pumpkin patch with your family or friends.
Some of the best Chicago pumpkin patch locations are:
Jack’s Pumpkin Pop-Up: This pumpkin patch is located on the biggest cornfield in the city. It’s not real farmland, but it is designed with a lot of great Instagrammable photo backgrounds. The tickets for the October pop-up will go on sale soon; you can check for yours here.
The Puckerville Farms: This is a family-owned pumpkin patch with side attractions like face painting, fun rides, and other family-oriented activities. It’s a great option if you are looking for what to do in Chicago for free. Check out their website for more details on the prices for specific activities.
Bengtson’s Pumpkin Farm and Fall Festival: This is probably the most famous pumpkin patch in the Midwest. The farm also has other attractions like piggy races, children’s rides, a petting zoo, and more. It has over 13 rides, and most of its grounds are paved, so you can bring your stroller. Everything is included in the admission fee. Here is their websitefor more information.
2. Go Apple Picking
With the slow exit of the summer season, fall comes in with blossoming orchards full of the widest range of apples—better than any you’d find even in the supermarket. So prepare your family and friends for a fun day picking apples, mostly around the suburbs and nearby countryside.
Like the pumpkin patch, most of these orchards are also home to additional fun activities like hayrides and corn mazes. You’re guaranteed a day of great fun, laughter, and bonding time with your loved ones.
If you’re looking for what to do in Chicago this weekend, some of the best orchards to visit are:
The Honey Hill Orchard: This orchardproduces over 24 varieties of apples, and visitors can also pick pumpkins and raspberries.
The Royal Oak Farms: This farm is spread across more than 160 acres of land. It has over 20,000 apple trees that produce over 30 different apple species.
The Kuiper’s Family Farm: Apple picking goes on at the Kuiper Family Farm every weekend through October. Not only is there a wide range of apple species to pick from, but there are also a lot of other activities like a giant fun slide, a huge spider web, and pig racing, along with lots of other family friendly activities.
3. See the Best Fall Foliage
In the first couple of weeks in October, the trees in Chicago will begin to shed their leaves, which have already started turning red, yellow, and orange, decorating the streets and sidewalks in bright colors.
That makes taking a long walk in the park one of the best options of what to do in Chicago for free this fall. There’s a sea of lovely foliage to crunch under your feet, and you can breathe in the beauty of it all. Here are a few places to find the best fall foliage in Chicago:
Jackson Park (Garden of the Phoenix): Spread across about 600 acres of beautiful land, Jackson Park is one of the best places to wander in the fall, take long walks, and experience the aesthetic of fall foliage. Don’t miss the Osaka Garden (also called Garden of the Phoenix), landscaped in Japanese style. The Skylanding sculpture by Yoko Ono is also photo-worthy, as is Bobolink Meadow, where you might even see a few birds.
Chicago Botanical Garden: The beautiful thing about this garden is the myriad of colorful flowers and foliage. Experience the fiery redness of the Japanese maples, or the transformation of filigreed sumacs into a beautiful blend of red, orange, and even green. It makes for a beautiful and peaceful experience.
Winnemac Park: Looking for the perfect location for picnics this fall? Experience the beauty in Winnemac Park with all kinds of exquisite leaves and colorful flower buds. It’s spread across more than 20 acres of green land. There’s a nice playground for kids, and you might be able to catch a game at one of the many baseball and soccer fields.
4. Take a Walk in Gold Coast
Experiencing the lovely fall aesthetic in the city is also one of the best things to do in Chicago. Chicago’s Gold coast is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods for long walks where you can take in exciting foliage. Some of the most expensive homes in the city are here: Brownstones worth millions. If you like the combination of interesting architecture and nature, this is a great place to stroll. The neighborhood also has interesting historical value because it was actually a cemetery until the 1880s, when Potter Palmer bought some of the local land for his mansion. There are also a number of great boutiques and restaurants, so if you’re looking for what to do in Chicago this weekend and you want to stay in the city, the Gold Coast is a great option.
5. Visit Chicago Open House
If you have eyes for great architecture and are looking for what to do in Chicago for free this fall, you’ve got to check out the walking tour offered by the Chicago Architecture Center: Open House Chicago. Notable landmarks include Chinatown, Olmsted’s South Park, Pilsen, and Givins Castle. You can kill two birds with one stone on this activity because it’s also a great way to get some fall exercise.
The leaves are changing colors, and there are so many options of what to do in Chicago this fall. This is the best time to start looking out for exciting things to do with your family and friends. But in case you don’t know where to start, you can begin with any of the suggestions on this guide and prepare for an absolutely beautiful fall experience.
Have you visited any of the places on this list? What was your experience like? If you haven’t visited any of those spots, what are the places you would like to visit first? Comment Below!