Fall in Illinois is an amazing mix of colorful leaves and fun activities and festivals for the whole family!
If you are looking for things to do in Illinois in the fall, you will not be disappointed! The state parks here are some of the best places to experience fall foliage in the Midwest.
From scenic drives to pretty hikes, you can get lost among the dazzling, fiery colors of the Illinois forests. Kayaking in the rivers lined with changing trees is popular too.
Make sure to check the Illinois fall foliage report before you plan your trip so you can see the leaves at their peak color. This will ensure your Illinois fall trip is super pretty and magical.
There are also a ton of fall events in Illinois from Chicago to the smaller towns. Come enjoy pumpkin patches, corn mazes, yummy fall treats, and so much more!
Get ready to make new traditions with your family and friends as you soak in the beauty of an Illinois fall!
Fall in Illinois: Best Fall Foliage + Activities
Hike in Shawnee National Forest
If you want to see the best fall colors in Illinois, head to the Shawnee National Forest.
Found in the southern section of the state, this forest offers a lot of outdoor recreation that is made better by the changing leaves.
This is one of the best places for autumn hiking in Illinois. Make sure your camera battery is charged so you can capture the amazing canopy of red, orange, and yellow leaves as you pass rocky bluffs and waterfalls.
One of the most popular areas is the Garden of the Gods. From beautiful sandstone formations, you can gaze over the forest all the way to the horizon. The see of warm fall colors is breathtaking!
Get Lost in a Corn Maze at Richardson Adventure Farm
If you are looking for the best places to visit in the fall with kids in Illinois, then the Richardson Adventure Farm should top your list!
Located about an hour from Chicago near the Wisconsin border, this farm is home to the Largest Corn Maze in the World.
It is 28 acres large with a combined trail of about 10 miles! The design changes every year.
When you finally break out of the maze, there is more fun to be had! The farm has activities for kids of all ages and adults too.
There’s a pumpkin patch, zipline, corn bin, hayride, bonfire, delicious food, and so much more! Add this to your list of fall attractions in Illinois to check out this year.
Having Fun At The Great Pumpkin Patch Is A Great Way To Celebrate Fall In Illinois
Found in Amish country, the Great Pumpkin Patch in Arthur, Illinois, is the perfect place to pick out pumpkins for carving, baking, or fall decor.
There are over 300 varieties of pumpkins, gourds, and squash here as well as thousands of chrysanthemums. There are many gardens, a wagon ride, and farm animals to see too.
You can also stop by the Homestead Bakery to pick up homemade cookies, cakes, bread, and cinnamon rolls. The Two Mile Sweet Shop offers candy, ice cream, and cider slushies.
This farm has been in the same family for six generations, and they have been sharing their harvest for over thirty years. Check out the historic buildings while you are here.
Go Apple Picking at Eckert’s Country Store
There is nothing that says fall like a fresh, crisp apple right off the tree. At Eckert’s Country Store and Farms in Belleville, there are eleven varieties of apples to choose from!
Bring the family and pick as many apples as you can to bake delicious treats this fall.
The farm has other fruits and vegetables available throughout the year including peaches, blackberries, and pumpkins.
In the Country Store, you will find fresh produce, a deli, and a bakery with homemade pies, breads, caramel apples, and more goodies. Yum!
This is certainly one of the tastiest Illinois autumn activities!
Enjoy Pumpkinfest at Didier Farms
Pumpkinfest takes place at Didier Farms in Lincolnshire throughout the month of October. Along with picking out the perfect pumpkin, there are lots of fun activities and good food to enjoy.
At the bakery, you will find donuts with apple cider and pumpkin flavors as well as an assortment of fruit pies. You can get the pies frozen if you want to save them for later.
The farm has kid rides, a corn maze, pony rides, pig races, hayrides, gem mining, and even more. No one will be bored here!
This would make the perfect Midwest road trip!
Celebrate Oktoberfest in Chicago
Fall in Chicago is a beautiful time, especially as you stroll the colorful parks. But the main attraction that has been drawing tourists in for over two decades is Oktoberfest Chicago.
Similar to the event in Germany, Chicago’s Oktoberfest is a Bavarian beer festival with craft and food vendors as well as many chances to sample local craft beer.
The event takes place the last weekend of September each year and is spread throughout the city.
The main festivities are found in the West Lakeview neighborhood centered around St. Alphonsus Church.
You will have so much fun listening to live music, doing a bar crawl, or getting your fill of bratwurst. Bring the kids to Kinderfest for arts and crafts, polka dancing, and more.
If you are spending 2 days in Chicago in Autumn, add this to your itinerary!
Stroll the Cute Town of Galena
Galena is one of the best small towns in Illinois and is pretty as a postcard. In fall, it becomes even more magical, and you can imagine you are in New England with the colorful leaves.
Take a stroll through the historic downtown with a pumpkin spice latte and soak in the autumn vibes. To see the fall leaves hike in Apple River Canyon State Park or kayak the Galena River Trail.
There are a bunch of events here that encompass every aspect of the fall season. The Oktoberfest here has beer and food, polka dance lessons, kid games, and a costume contest.
Other autumn events include the Galena Country Fair, Autumn Craft Fair, and the Halloween Parade & Festival. Galena is easily one of the best places to visit in the fall in Illinois.
Attend the Route 66 Mother Road Festival
If you want Illinois things to do in the fall that aren’t centered on pumpkins or leaves, check out the Route 66 Mother Road Festival. This fun event takes place at the end of September in Springfield.
This festival is dedicated to the history and nostalgia of Route 66 and has been happening for over two decades. Admission is free too!
The Route 66 City Nights Cruise fills downtown with up to 2,000 vintage cars. You will love seeing all the colorful hot rods lined up in front of historic buildings.
There are also competitions, a farmers’ market, live music, and cool photo ops. Anyone interested in old cars will want to add this event to their Illinois fall to-do list.
Wander the Morton Arboretum
For more of the best fall foliage in Illinois, you will want to go to the Morton Arboretum. The 16 miles of trails will bring you to gardens, water features, and sculptures.
Some of the best Illinois fall colors can be seen in the maple, oak, and ginkgo collections, but anywhere will be picture-perfect. Check their website’s fall color report before visiting.
The Fall Color 5k Run and Walk is a fun way to experience the leaves and get some exercise. The Glass Pumpkin Patch is where you can buy artisan, blown glass pumpkins.
The Morton Arboretum is one of the best day trips from Chicago. It is only an hour away from the big city.
Find Creativity at the Scarecrow Fest
St. Charles’ Scarecrowfest is over thirty years old and offers a ton of family fun. Come admire all the cool scarecrows displayed in town. You can enter a scarecrow in the contest or vote on your favorite.
You can buy a Scarecrow in a Box with all the supplies to make your own scarecrow. This is an awesome fall activity in Illinois!
This Scarecrow Weekend has many photo ops, amazing art by professional pumpkin carvers, and a family zone with kids’ activities and face painting. This event is one of the most fun things to do in the fall.
You’ll also want to check out the Autumn On The Fox Art and Craft Show where more than 100 vendors display their wares. You can find fall decor, stained glass, jewelry, baked goods, and more.
Drive the Great River Road
If it is too chilly or rainy for a hike, you can still take in the colorful views from the safety of your car.
Driving the Great River Road National Scenic Byway is one of the best ways to experience fall in Illinois.
This route follows the Mississippi River through ten states and 550 miles of it are found in Illinois. A drive along this road is gorgeous in the fall when the forests wear their fiery colors.
The autumn colors reflect in the river to paint a beautiful scene. You will be pulling over a lot to take photos.
Pack a picnic to enjoy under the fall leaf colors in one of the recreational areas the road passes.
Visit Starved Rock State Park
If you are looking for an awesome place to hike in Illinois for fall colors, look no farther than Starved Rock State Park. This is one of the best state parks in Illinois!
The landscape here is a pretty mix of forests, sandstone bluffs, canyons, rivers, and waterfalls. There are over 13 miles of trails with stairs that will lead you up through the colorful fall trees.
This park holds some of the best waterfalls in Illinois. Come after a rain to see them running at their best, but beware of muddy areas.
If you don’t feel like hiking, you can rent a kayak and see the bright foliage from the water. The park has free admission, so it is a great budget-friendly autumn attraction.
Photograph Anderson Japanese Gardens
In Rockford, the 12-acre Anderson Japanese Gardens are an impressive showcase of the colors of autumn in Illinois.
The landscaping is great any time of the year, but in fall the Japanese maples add a crimson pop.
As you wander the paths, you will come across koi ponds, rock gardens, waterfalls, and traditional Japanese architecture.
Overall, it is definitely another place you will want to have your camera ready!
Soak in peace and tranquility as you journey through this award-winning garden. You can also enjoy lunch at Fresco at the Gardens.
Take In The Views On The Grandview Drive Of Fall In Illinois
Another jaw-dropping scenic drive that shows off Illinois in the fall is the Grandview Drive. Found in Peoria, this section of road is only about 2.5 miles, but do not underestimate it.
In 1910, Theodore Roosevelt called it the “world’s most beautiful drive.” On one side, you will have panoramic views of the Illinois River Valley and on the other, there are historic homes to spot.
You will also pass Soderstrom Castle, one of the prettiest buildings in Illinois. It was built in 1930 and is privately owned. Each year, there is an epic Halloween party!
Pere Marquette State Park Is A Great Place To Experience Fall In Illinois
Another place for an Illinois autumn excursion is Pere Marquette State Park. Late October or early November is usually the best time for peak colors here.
Illinois leaf peeping is popular as you hike 12 miles of scenic Midwest trails. You will spot wildlife along with views of bluffs and the Illinois River.
The Pere Marquette Lodge is a great place to stay if looking for a fall weekend getaway in Illinois. It was built in the 1930s and the historic landmark looks pretty surrounded by fall trees.
Inside, you will find a gorgeous, rustic interior. Warm up by the fireplace, play a game of giant chess, have a sip at the winery, or eat at the restaurant.
Packing List When Experiencing Fall In Illinois
If you are searching, here are some tips on how to pack lightly when packing to go experience autumn in Illinois.
A concealed travel pouch may be one of the most important items you bring along when searching for places to see Illinois fall foliage.
It is always important to protect your personal information. Identity thieves are everywhere.
This unisex RFID blocking concealed travel pouch is lightweight and comes in several colors. It has lots of organization to give you peace of mind.
If you have a pouch already that does not come with the RFID protection, as I do, these RFID sleeves are the perfect solution.
This configuration comes with enough credit card sleeves that the entire family would be protected. They are slim too, so they will easily fit into your pouch or wallet.
If you are planning on taking a lot of pictures with your phone you will definitely want to consider an external charging battery. This Anker high-speed phone charging battery is the exact one I carry with me on all of my trips.
It can be used on a variety of phones, not just an iPhone like I have. And wow is it fast!
I like that it holds its charging capabilities for several uses so I do not have to worry about it while out and about, and if I forget to recharge it at night, it will still be good to go the next day.
My daughter gifted me with this FugeTek selfie stick and tripod setup for my birthday. I absolutely love it! It is made of lightweight aluminum and is so easy to use.
It has Bluetooth connectivity and is a breeze to use for taking selfies when seeing the beautiful Illinois colors of autumn.
Hydration is so important when traveling. You want to remain hydrated throughout your travels to support your immune system which in turn will be stronger to fight off any germs you will encounter during your travels.
You will want to bring your own refillable water bottle with you.
I never leave home on a trip without my Bobble filtration bottle. The 18.5-ounce size is perfect for hiking and it fits nicely in the pocket of a backpack.
When filled with water, it is not too heavy to carry. And the charcoal filter ensures fresh clean water whenever you fill the Bobble.
Perhaps you are traveling a long distance and packing space is a premium in your suitcase, or in your car.
Then this set of collapsible silicone foldable water bottles would work well for you. Would not take up much space at all.
You will want a backpack or daypack with you to store snacks, your water bottle, phone, extra clothes, etc.. then this foldable water-resistant backpack would be great.
Illinois is one of the best places to visit in the fall in the Midwest.
Autumn in Chicago and the small towns is magical with many fun activities for the whole family.
Pumpkin patches, hayrides, and more will keep the family entertained.
The many gardens and state parks offer spectacular views of the best Illinois fall foliage. Hike or kayak through the forests and take a ton of photos!