Fall Getaways in Illinois
When the leaves on the trees lining The Magnificent Mile start to string hints of orange and yellow above the busy sidewalk, you know that fall in Chicago is well underway. Autumn is one of the nicest times to explore Chicago, as the city embraces the comforts of the cool, crisp air. At locals’ favorite rooftop bars and patios, heat lamps turn al fresco dining into a cozy affair; and tours of Wrigley Field feel even more nostalgic as the Chicago Cubs’ season hits the home stretch.
This season is also a great time get out of the city and explore the rest of Illinois. From ziplining above the foliage at Pere Marquette State Park to hiking leaf-covered paths on the Rock Island Trail, there are so many ways to make the most of a fall getaway in Illinois.
Every fall, families flock to Illinois’ many family-owned farms and orchards to celebrate the bounty of another harvest — or maybe just to pick some fresh apples. Head downstate to enjoy fall festivals with all their family-friendly activities, including eating apple cider doughnuts, petting farm animals, and navigating corn mazes. This year, several Illinois farms have designed their mazes to commemorate the Illinois Bicentennial.
While looking for a place to stay, you can make accommodation into an adventure with some of Illinois’ more offbeat lodgings. At Ten Acre Treehouse in Navoo, every room is a forest view as you’ll spend the night in a fully furnished treehouse complete with an outdoor shower. And at Rocky Comfort Cabins in Makanda, staying inside a Lord of the Rings–inspired Hobbit hole lets you imagine a life in the countryside near the rolling shire of Blue Sky Vineyard.
Speaking of which: whether you’re on a romantic getaway or letting loose with friends, wine makes any trip more colorful. In the fall, the hues of Shawnee National Forest make for spectacular views along the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail, a collection of 11 independent vineyards and wineries that bottle the essence of Southern Illinois. It’s worth a trip any time of the year, but something about the crisp fall air begs for that warm, toasty feeling you get from a glass of full-bodied red.
Communities throughout Illinois are always throwing festivals and fairs, but some of the wildest parties mean donning the liederhosen, raising a stein, and dancing the polka.
Read a roundup of the best Oktoberfests in Illinois featuring everything from wiener dog races to giant pretzels.
Fun in Chicago: Feel the Blues
Here in Chicago, venture beyond The Magnificent Mile to take in some of the city’s rich culture. The Windy City is home to music legends such as Buddy Guy, Willie Dixon, and Lurrie Bell, pioneers of the soulful genre known as the blues. At places like Buddy Guy’s Legends and Kingston Mines, you might find a blues legend take the stage on any given night. As Lurrie Bell said in an interview with Travel Illinois, "Something about the city makes you want to make some music." And listen to it, too.
Explore Illinois' Other Food Towns
Chicago is home to plenty of amazing restaurants — but don’t miss out on the food scene at some of Illinois’ other destinations.
Last year, Champaign-Urbana was #1 on Midwest Living’s list of the Midwest’s Greatest Food Towns. This guide on the college town’s best restaurants — many of them focused on local ingredients — gives you a good idea why.