It’s official–fall is here. But that’s no reason to stop taking trips. There are plenty of wonderful weekend trips you should ESPECIALLY take in fall. Here are eight awesome places you need to head over to this fall.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
1. LaRue Pine Hills
Shawnee National Forest (any part of it, really) is a place you need to visit any time of the year. But fall is an especially beautiful time. We chose LaRue Pine Hills as one of the best places to visit in all of Shawnee National Forest, even maybe greater than Garden of the Gods, just for this shot in the fall. Wow. Talk about being able to really appreciate the changing colors of the fall foliage. But while you're there, definitely see Garden of the Gods and hike wherever you possibly can. There's also a phenomenal wine trail to explore down there in Southern Illinois, and make your stay complete with a few nights in a cabin. Likely, Fido can come, too.
2. The Morton Arboretum
If you want to see some trees, heading to an arboretum makes tons of sense. Also, Morton Arboretum has tons of other activities to make a trip out here worth your while. Into running? There is a 5K Fall Color run. Does your child (or you) love LEGOs? There are 27 LEGO designs inspired by nature. Do you want to be super scared? There is something called "Fright in the Forest." There is definitely something for everyone to enjoy at the Morton Arboretum this fall.
3. Starved Rock State Park
Again, this place is fantastic to come during anytime of the year, but the changing colors make it even more majestic. According to the folks over at Starved Rock State Park, this might be one of the best fall seasons to come down and see Starved Rock State Park, due to unique weather patterns this year. Wow. I am so excited to see how beautiful it will be.
4. Chicago Botanic Garden
This might seem counter-intuitive because flowers and the like are best right in spring. But there are actually tons of activities to do here in the fall. There's the Fall Bulb festival, complete with live music, beer, and a harvest market. There is an October fall-color tree walk, where you can really appreciate the changing colors in a very convenient setting. And, in fact, fall is a time when many plants are at the peak of their growth, such as annuals, perennials, and shrubs.
5. Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway
Want to just get in the car and drive? Well, then, you should head down the Illinois River Road. This is a road that runs alongside the Illinois River. From the comfort of your own vehicle, you can take in the changing colors of fall foliage. Stop along the way in unique communities with all sorts of offerings from great restaurants to small shops. Hike up a bluff or towpath. There are plenty of places to pull by the river and see some bald eagles. What a way to take in fall!
6. Six Flags Great America
You aren't going to observe much of fall's brilliance here, but you are going to have a fall experience to remember. Six Flags during the summer is fun--but avoid the humidity and heat, and experience it during the fall. Also, the park is taken over by Fright Fest, so you will totally get in the Halloween/fall mood.
Galena is especially fabulous to visit during fall, with the crisp fall air and the leaves crunching beneath your feet. Start your morning exploring some local forests or boating. Explore the downtown area and heat up with a nice cup of coffee. Stay in a nice bed and breakfast to really appreciate the fall season. Would make for a very romantic weekend trip.
This is a secret to Illinoisians unless you went to school down here or went to a Bears game during the season Soldier Field was getting an overhaul: Champaign-Urbana is gorgeous in fall. Absolutely gorgeous. You can see soybean and corn fields pre- and post-harvest, which always makes the mood festive. There are tons of mature trees of all colors, which look especially majestic juxtaposed with the stone university buildings. It's great to come down here on a Friday night, tailgate on Saturday morning, and then head over to the stadium to root for the Illini. The towns also have fantastic restaurants to eat at if football isn't your thing.
Where else is a must-go in Illinois in the fall? Let us know in the comments.