Fall Favorites—Five fun family places to explore this fall.

October 2014 View more

Mother and children in autumn parkFall Color Festival: Morton Arboretum

The Morton Arboretum celebrates autumn with style during the Fall Color Festival throughout October. Visitors can marvel at trees ablaze in autumn color by traveling the Arboretum’s 16 miles of trails or nine miles of roads. Enjoy the fall season in its most stunning beauty. Build-your-own taffy apples and other fall favorite treats will be available for purchase. On select days in October, enjoy a variety of themed activities for kids and families:

Scarecrow Trail
Daily in October, 7 a.m. to sunset.
Free with Arboretum admission, the popular Scarecrow Trail returns to the Arboretum for the 10th year. Take a walk around Meadow Lake to see nature-themed scarecrows, each one uniquely decorated by local Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.

Glass Pumpkin Patch_CMYK_800px

Photo courtesy of Morton Arboretum

Glass Pumpkin Patch
October 15 to October 19, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
See top artisans from around the country and the intricate art of glassblowing during The Morton Arboretum’s fourth annual Glass Pumpkin Patch. Watch as top glassblowers and local artists create stunning autumnal works of art, including pumpkins and gourds, then purchase your own unique work of art. The Glass Pumpkin Sale—with more than 3,000 handmade pieces to choose from—takes place October 17 through October 19.

Theatre-Hikes® at The Morton Arboretum
Weekends in October and Monday, October 13, 1 p.m.
$10 for adult member, $5 for child members
Hikers can follow along to “Resurrected: Grave Tales of Chicagoland.” Profiling five famous Chicago scary tales— Resurrection Mary, Devil Baby of Hull House, Julia Petta, the Italian Bride and Francis Levy’s Handprint—these eerie stories are strung together by the Wynkoop Murder investigation and include audience participation. Wear comfortable shoes, weather-appropriate clothing and bring a chair or blanket, water bottle and insect repellent.

Trick or Trees
Weekends in October, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Free with Arboretum admission, visit the Children’s Garden to play tricky games, create fall crafts, and plant a tree seed to take home. Small pumpkins to paint will also be available for purchase.

Tales from the Tram
Friday, October 31, 7:30 to 9 p.m.
$8 for members, $10 for nonmembers. Board the Acorn Express for an evening of spooky storytelling. This Halloween, glide through the woods of The Morton Arboretum after dark, hear bone-chilling tales and listen for creatures of the night.

The Morton Arboretum, 4100 IL Route 53
Lisle. For more information call 630.968.0074, or visit mortonarb.org.


Photo courtesy of Kuipers Family Farm

Apple Picking: Kuipers Family Farm

Enjoy picking your own apples at the Kuipers Family Farm, a 230-acre apple orchard in Maple Park, IL, or stop by The Orchard Shop for freshly harvested apples to be purchased and bagged. Apples are sold individually, by the half-peck, or peck bag. Unique items are also available in The Orchard Shop. Apple cider, doughnuts, pies, fudge and fresh pressed apple cider are also available. Or you can venture into the orchard and pick your own apples. The cost is $9 per person and includes 1/4 peck bag of apples and a hayride out to the grove. Apple picking is 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 for picking. Apple picking continues through early November while supplies last and weather permitting.

Happy young boy picking a pumpkin for HalloweenPumpkin Picking: Johansen Farms

No autumn harvest decoration is complete without the perfect pumpkin. This pumpkin patch is loaded with pumpkins of all shapes and sizes. 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 in Bolingbrook. Their website boasts more than 25,000 pumpkins. You can also browse the selection of colorful, blooming mums and visit the bakeshop for a variety of pies. Bring the whole family and take some photos among the autumn decorations—they even have several photo-op locations available. The Children’s zoo features more than 500 animals.

Open daily through October 31, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Johansen Farms Children’s Zoo 710 W. Boughton Rd., Bolingbrook, 630.759.8711.

Fall Foliage Forest Preserve District of DuPage County

The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County is a great place to get out and experience the season’s short-lived color displays in the woods and prairies of DuPage County’s 60 forest preserves. While all of the 25,000 acres of prairies, woodlands, and wetlands offer their own unique beauty, here are a few fall favorites worth checking out:

The woods at Maple Grove Forest Preserve in Downers Grove are known for intense colors. According to the Forest Preserve District, the preserve is composed mostly of black, silver and sugar maples, which develop into golden tones that blanket the forest. A winding one-mile trail offers a pleasant stroll and also passes through an oak savanna.

St. James Farm Forest Preserve in Warrenville offers historic charm surrounded by lovely fall scenery. Tree-lined paths of mature oaks, red maples, and black walnuts invite visitors to stroll down the lanes to barns, stables and courtyards. On Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays in October, visitors can join tractor-drawn covered wagon tours to learn the history of the estate and take in the gorgeous views. Tours take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and are $5 per person ages 13 and up; $2 ages 5 to 12; and free for children under 5.

At Herrick Lake Forest Preserve in Wheaton, the 0.7-mile trail around the lake is perfect for a leisurely weekend walk or a brisk lunch-hour walk under the canopy of majestic oaks and maples along the shore. For a longer fall hike, additional trails zig-zag through the woodlands and wetlands.

Other notable mentions include Blackwell in Warrenville, McDowell Grove and Greene Valley in Naperville, Waterfall Glen in Darien, and Churchill Woods in Glen Ellyn.

iStock_000027609877Medium_800pxNot to be outdone, DuPage County’s prairies feature late-blooming flowers like asters in cream, cornflower blue and purple. Grasses transform the open vistas with striking shades of orange, red, yellow and even blue. West Chicago Prairie Forest Preserve in West Chicago is home to one of the area’s most diverse prairies and features
several interconnected footpaths.

Printable maps are available online at dupageforest.org. Each location described is open daily from one hour after sunrise to one hour after sunset. Admission and parking are free at all forest preserves. For information call 630.933.7248, or visit dupageforest.org.

Naperville Happenings

Be part of an annual autumn event that celebrates our community’s heritage during Oktoberfest at Naper Settlement on October 3, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and October 4, noon to 10 p.m. Enjoy live musical entertainment ranging from classic German music to classic rock, along with German beer and cuisine. Family-friendly activities will be available on Saturday from noon-5 p.m. All proceeds benefit the Naperville Heritage Society. Tickets are available in the Naper Settlement Visitor Center or at the door. Children under 4 years old are free.

Dress up the kids in their Halloween costumes and stroll through the streets of downtown Naperville for an afternoon filled with fun and lots of candy on October 26. The trick-or-treat festivities will take place from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. The Trick-or-Treat Trolley will also be circling downtown offering free rides for costumed kids and their parents complimentary of the Main Street Promenade.

Experience two of the darkest nights of the year on Friday, October 17 and Saturday, October 18 with haunting creatures, eerie entertainment and must-see horrors in the Village of Fear during All Hallow’s Eve at Naper Settlement. This one-of-a-kind experience brings some of the scariest characters of the past, present and future to life. 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. both Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $15 per person on the day of the event. No costumes allowed. This event is rated PG-Creepy. Not recommended for children under 8 or those easily scared.