Fall Favorites: 10 Ways to Celebrate Autumn in the Naperville Area

October 2013 View more

Photography by: Illustrations by Justin Goode

N2013_10_01_Large_coverThe Fall season is in full swing in Naperville. It’s a great time to enjoy the crisp autumn air, the exploding palate of fall colors, and a chance to relive childhood memories, or create new family traditions. Naperville Magazine has compiled a list of a few must-do fall events in the Naperville area.

N2013_10_01_Large_PumpkinPumpkin Picking: Johansen Farms

This pumpkin patch is huge and chock-full of pumpkins of all shapes and sizes. Its website boasts more than 25,000 pumpkins. No autumn harvest decoration is complete without the perfect pumpkin. Whether you want to carve a unique jack-o’-lantern or bake a delicious pie, more than likely, you’ll find what you need at Johansen Farms. You can also browse the selection of colorful, blooming mums and visit the bakeshop for a slice of mouth-watering pies. Bring the whole family and take some photos among the autumn decorations. They’ve set up some charming scenes just for photo-ops. Open through October 31, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Johansen Farms Children’s Zoo 710 W. Boughton Rd., Bolingbrook.

N2013_10_01_Large_GhostsNaperville Ghost Tours

If you’re looking to discover the ghostly side of Naperville, there are two terrifying options to explore.
Join paranormal investigator, author, and storyteller Kevin Frantz in a terrifying evening on Naperville’s dark streets. The 2013 Ghost Tour is called “Grand Deceptions” and is a walking tour approximately 1/4 mile long. Tours last between 90 and 120 minutes. The world of Naperville’s restless spirits will literally come to life before you as Frantz presents the true and historically accurate tales of Naperville’s most terrifying haunts. During this award-winning tour, Frantz will show you actual full-body apparition photos of many of the spirits being talked about. Frantz has hosted the Official Ghost Tour of Naperville™ for 7 years. This tour is recommended for adults only. Minimum age 16 years old. For info, visit www.hauntednaperville.com.

Hunt for ghosts using EMF ghost meters on your choice of two lantern-led ghost walk tours of Naperville. Stroll brick-paved walkways lit by antique-style street lamps while admiring Victorian mansions and the stately North Central College campus in Naperville’s Historic District. The highlight of this route is ghost hunting at the site of the Great Naperville Train Disaster. Or take a trip and hunt the ghosts that haunt the DuPage River along Naperville’s Riverwalk, Naper Settlement, and North Central College campus. Rated PG and suitable for ages 8 and older. Visit www.hauntedhometowns.com.

N2013_10_01_Large_CornMazeCorn Maze: Keller’s Farmstand

Looking for an ‘amazing’ fall adventure? Keller’s Oswego Farm not only has a massive pumpkin patch where you can pick the perfect pumpkin right off the vine, this farm has special weekend-only activities including a 12-acre corn maze, tractor-drawn wagon rides, animal barn, and a new concession stand with cider, donuts, and kettle corn.
Admission is $8 per person

(3 years and under are free). Admission includes access to the 12-acre corn maze, rope maze, hay wagon ride, animal barn, pedal tractors, kids straw maze, grain boxes, and a large kids play area with pirate ship, castle, train, tractor, truck and more. Activities take place every weekend 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Halloween. Keller’s Farmstand, 2500 Johnson Road, Oswego.

N2013_10_01_Large_AppleApple Picking: Kuipers Family Farm

Enjoy picking your own apples at the Kuipers Family Farm, a 230-acre apple orchard in Maple Park, IL. Wade and Kim have tried to remain true to their original vision of offering a farm experience to their customers that is as close to what you might find on a Midwest farm without getting dirty.

Freshly picked apples from the orchard are ready to be purchased, bagged, and available each day at the Orchard Shop. Apples sold individually, by the half-peck, or peck bag.

Or you can venture out into the orchard and pick your own. The cost is $9 per person and includes 1/4 peck bag of apples and a hayride to the grove. Apple picking is only available on Saturdays and Sundays. No picking on Columbus Day or weekdays. Call the apple information line at 815.827.5200 to learn about the apple varieties currently available for purchase and picking. Apple picking continues through early November, while supplies last and weather permitting.

N2013_10_01_Large_HallowsEveAll Hallows Eve: Naper Settlement

Experience two of the darkest nights of the year with haunting creatures, eerie entertainment, and must-see horrors. This one-of-a-kind experience brings some of the scariest characters of the past, present, and future to life. Meet the lost souls of the dead in a haunted happening you won’t forget. No Costumes Allowed. This event is Rated PG-Creepy and is not recommended for children under 8 or those easily scared. October 18 and 19, 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Advance tickets are $10 per person and available until October 17. Day of event tickets are $15 per person. For more information, visit www.napersettlement.org.

N2013_10_01_Large_BrewOktoberfest: Naper Settlement

You don’t have to go to Germany to enjoy Oktoberfest. Be part of an annual autumn event that celebrates Naperville’s heritage at Naper Settlement. Enjoy live musical entertainment ranging from classic German music to classic rock, along with German beer and German cuisine including brats, pretzels, sauerkraut and apple strudel. Family-friendly activities will be available on October 5 from Noon to 5 p.m. The entrance to the festival will be through the Pre-Emption House Visitor Center. All proceeds benefit the Naperville Heritage Society. Friday, October 4, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday, October 5, Noon to 10 p.m. Advance Tickets: $10 adult/seniors (13+); $5 youth (4–12 yrs); Under 4 years old are free.

Day of Event: $15 adult/seniors (13+); $10 youth (4–12 yrs); Under 4 years old are free. Saturday admission also includes touring of Naper Settlement. Because Oktoberfest is a special event, free admission for Naperville Residents does not apply.

N2013_10_01_Large_RiverwalkAutumn Stroll: Riverwalk

Enjoy the fall colors and crisp autumn air with a stroll along Naperville’s famous Riverwalk. Considered the “crown jewel” of Naperville, the Riverwalk is a place of beauty and tranquility along the West Branch of the DuPage River that comes alive with fall beauty. It features 1.75 miles of brick paths, fountains, bridges, meeting and event places, outdoor sculpture and artwork, recreational facilities, and celebratory memorials. The Riverwalk is a preferred destination and an ideal place to stroll, unwind, reflect or just enjoy the changing colors of the season. The Riverwalk was created in 1981 as a permanent commemorative to honor Naperville’s 150th anniversary. Its covered bridges, fountains, landscaping and distinctive shepherd’s crook light poles are symbolic of Naperville’s ties to its historic past as the oldest settlement in DuPage County. These features create a perfect backdrop for fall family portraits or a leisurely autumn stroll.

N2013_10_01_Large_ScarecrowREVScarecrow Fest: St. Charles

Join generations of visitors who flock to the annual St. Charles Scarecrow Fest every year. For more than 25 years, this award-winning festival has brought heartwarming memories to both children and adults, and is a tradition for thousands of families across the Midwest. The heart of the festival is the Scarecrow Contest, which boasts more than 150 handcrafted scarecrows. Visitors view and vote for their favorites. Both children and adults will find plenty to do all weekend long.

Enjoy live entertainment, a huge arts and crafts show, carnival, and petting zoo. You can even make your own scarecrow to take home. Plus, enjoy plenty of delicious food. Admission, parking, trolleys and parking shuttles are free. Experience why Scarecrow Fest is a four-time winner of the “Top 100 Events in North America.” October 11 and 12, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., October 13, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

N2013_10_01_Large_HayridesREVHayrides: Naperville

Round up the family and friends for a hayride in the crisp autumn air through a beautiful Naperville park. You may bring your own food to cook over the bonfire or bring the fixings for s’mores.

The Park District provides hot chocolate and apple juice. No alcohol allowed. Picnic tables are provided. Bring your own chairs, blankets, flashlights and insect repellent. Group hayrides are also available and include a two-hour block of time at Knoch Knolls or Seager Park. Additionally, the Park District has Halloween Hayrides. Kids and parents can dress up in their favorite Halloween costume for a Halloween Hayride. Each registered child ages 1 to 12 years old who checks in with the hayride coordinator will receive a Halloween goodie bag containing treats and prizes. To register and for more information, visit www.napervilleparks.org.

N2013_10_01_Large_ColorFall Color Festival: Morton Arboretum

Fiery red, orange, and yellow leaves light up the woods at The Morton Arboretum this fall, attracting thousands of visitors. Come leaf peeping on the Arboretum’s 1,700 acres, then celebrate the autumn season at a fall-themed event.
Fall Color Festival kicks off with the 10th annual Fall Color 5K Run & Walk and Kid’s Dash on Sunday, October 6 at 8 a.m. The 5K follows a challenging USATF-certified course along the East Side Main Route through rolling terrain. Cost is $25 for members, $30 for nonmembers, or $35 on race day including admission. Scarecrow Trail will be back around Meadow Lake, with nature-based scarecrows created by local Girl and Boy Scout Troops. Open daily in October, 7 a.m. to sunset.

Enjoy juicy brats, build-your-own taffy apples and other mouth-watering bites available for purchase in Arbor Court at the Fall Color Festival. Plus, sample complimentary wine tastings. The festival is open weekends in October and Columbus Day, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Glass Pumpkin Patch returns for the third year with glassblowing demonstrations and one-of-a-kind, fall-themed glass artwork for sale. From October 16 through October 20, the event will feature 3,000 glass pumpkins and other autumnal designs such as apples, gourds, acorns, and more. The Glass Pumpkin Patch will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and is free with Arboretum admission.

Illustrations by Justin Goode