Family Fall Excursions—5 Full Weekends of Fall Fun

October 2015 View more

Autumn country road, VermontThe annual color-filled fireworks show in the trees is enough reason to love October in Naperville. Fortunately, there are many other things to look forward to in the first full month of fall, including hayrides, hikes, and, of course, Halloween.

Luckily for us, there are five full, or at least partial, weekends in October this year to enjoy the best of what autumn has to offer.

Here are a few highlights worth exploring throughout the month:

Friends on a Hay Ride1. Hay Rides

Horse-drawn or tractor-led hayrides harken back to the area’s rural roots, and are an ideal family activity in the crisp fall air.

The DuPage Forest Preserve offers horse-drawn wagon rides at Kline Creek Farm in West Chicago, where participants can learn about farming on the 30-minute ride. All ages are welcome. Call 630.876.5900 for more information. Rides take place at noon, 12:45 p.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Oct. 4 and Oct. 25.

The forest preserve also offers Hunters Moon Hay-Wagon Rides at St. James Farm in Warrenville at 5 p.m., 5:30 p.m. or 6 p.m. on Oct. 27. Visitors will enjoy listening to Native American folk tales while enjoying hot cocoa and s’mores on a tractor-pulled hay wagon. You can register beginning Oct. 1 at 630. 580.7025.

Fall hayrides are available through the Naperville Park District at Seager Park and Knoch Knolls Park each weekend in October, which include a ride through the woods, a campfire and hot chocolate. A special Halloween Hayride will take place from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Oct. 25 at Knoch Knolls Park. Register at

If your ideal hayride includes a five-ton army troop carrier truck that is equipped with 22 zombie neutralizing paintball guns, then the Zombie Sniper Paintball Ride at Siegel’s Cottonwood Farm in Lockport is for you. Rides are offered from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and Columbus Day. The farm also has a 15-acre corn maze and many other attractions. For more information, visit

NMAG1015_FallFeature_BS_9270_800px2. Fall Colors

The premier location to view fall colors in the Naperville area is, of course, the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. Its Fall Color Festival includes many events, and one of the most popular is the Fall Color 5K Run and Walk and Kid’s Dash, set for Oct. 4. Runners and walkers travel through the colorful East Woods, followed by a post-race party with live music.

You can also combine a hayride with a fall color review when you take a covered wagon ride on the Fall Color Tour around St. James Farm in Warrenville. Rides will take place at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Oct. 7, 11, 14 and 18.

“The 30-minute covered-wagon tour will travel nearly two miles through a portion of the north 353 acres of St James Farm and feature a number of specimen native trees in beautiful fall color,” said Wayne Zaininger, manager of site operations, Danada Equestrian Center and St. James Farm.

A couple of other excellent locations to view fall foliage in the Naperville area include Greene Valley Forest Preserve—which has a scenic overlook almost 200 feet above nearby forests—and Maple Grove Forest Preserve in Downers Grove, which features black, silver and sugar maples that provide brilliant colors during October.

NMAG1015_FallFeature_BS_0079_800px3. Fall Hikes

There are countless places to enjoy a fall hike in the Naperville area, including the Naperville Riverwalk and the DuPage River Trail.

For something a little different, try the night hikes at Waterfall Glen and Fullersburg Woods.

The Halloween Night Walks at Fullersburg in Oak Brook will include Halloween tricks and natural-history tales during the 75-minute strolls after dark. They’re scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 23 and 24, and tickets are required. Call 630.850.8110.

At Waterfall Glen in Darien, the When Darkness Falls hike from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct 24, will help you discover your nocturnal senses. To register for the free, ranger-led hike, call 630.933.7248.

The Arboretum also offers a different take on the fall hike—Fright in the Forest event takes place on Oct. 9 and includes a spirited tram tour and night hike. There’s also live music and treats. The event is suited for ages 16 and over. Visit

One of the most interesting corn mazes in the area is the Konow Corn Maze in Homer Glen which includes two mazes—one for the “Casual Maze Walker” and one for the “Serious Maze Runner.” It also offers concerts, campfires, an animal barn with baby chicks and free rides on the Cow Train Express.

NMAG1015_FallFeature_iStock_000015894177_Large_800px4. Special Events

A perennial October highlight is the Danada Forest Preserve’s Fall Festival in Wheaton, which will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 11.

This year’s festival celebrates the 50-year anniversary of a Kentucky Derby victory for Lucky Debonair, a locally trained horse, Zaninger said.

The festival includes:

  • About 60 guest horses along with Danada’s own herd of 19 horses
  • Performances that include dressage, musical drill team, jumping demonstrations, driving, mounted shooting, and equine therapy
  • Barn tours
  • Hay rides

Also, don’t miss the Arboretum’s Family Weekend, which takes place Oct. 10 through 12 (Columbus Day Weekend). It will include storytelling, face-painting, science experiments, critter shows and live music.

Candy for all the little trick-or-treaters!5. Celebrating Halloween

The most popular Halloween-focused event in the city is the Halloween Happening, a 30-plus year tradition that takes place at the Grand Pavilion at the Riverwalk from 1 to 4 p.m. on Oct. 25. This free event is designed for children ages 10 and younger with four themed areas, where they can collect treats, play games and win prizes.

Another attraction for young Naperville families is the Safety Town Trick or Treat and Food Collection for Loaves & Fishes from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Oct. 24 at Safety Town. For more information, visit

A music-related Halloween event is the Scare-illon concert from 7 to 8 p.m. on Oct. 24 at the Millennium Carillon, located at the base of Rotary Hill at 443 Aurora Ave. The concert will feature both classical and popular music.