Though traveling to a national park this fall to see foliage sounds like a great idea, you barely need to leave Chicago to get in some prime leaf peeping. Below are some of the best Chicago-area spots to take in autumn’s glory. Before you plan your foliage-filled weekends, be sure to check out this handy map, which forecasts when peak colors will arrive.Read More
Where to see the best fall foliage in Chicago
Ranging from the Chicago Botanical Garden to University of Chicago
1. Chicago Botanic Garden
This 385-acre garden not only has excellent fall foliage, but hosts seasonal programming, including a bulb festival and the Night of 1,000 Jack-o’-Lanterns. The garden is great any time of the year, but take a stroll or bike ride in the fall and you’re sure to be impressed by the colors.
2. Maple Grove County Forest Preserve
Downers Grove Township, IL 60515
With 81-acres of space, you can easily spend part of the day strolling and picnicking in one of the oldest forest preserves in DuPage County. Keep your eye on this maple grove as it begins to turn shades of red, orange, and yellow and if you’re lucky, you might even see hawks or great horned owls amongst the trees.
3. The Morton Arboretum
There is no better place to leaf peep than in an arboretum—let alone, an arboretum that publishes a “fall color report.” Along with a variety of fall-themed events, there are 1,700 acres to explore with more than 222,000 live plants. You’re bound to see some colors.
4. Swallow Cliff Woods
You can view fall colors at this forest preserve while getting in an intense workout at the same time — there’s a 100-foot bluff people use to walk and run up. Don’t fret, if this doesn’t sound enjoyable, there are plenty of trails and bike paths to keep your interest.
5. Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
Walk around North Pond and you’re bound to find foliage, but on a day where the weather might not be great, this environmental museum can be a reprieve. Museum specimens include 13,900 birds, 5,200 mammals, 71,100 insects and spiders, and so much more.
6. Lurie Garden
In Millennium Park’s “secret garden,” expect to see some birds and butterflies when looking at the colors Lurie Garden with the city as a backdrop. Ignore the looming skyline and you might just forget that you are downtown.
7. LaBagh Woods
LaBagh Woods is the location for the North Branch Trail’s southernmost section. Whether you are biking or walking along the trail, the colors are sure to pop against the Chicago River and the wetlands.
8. North Park Village Nature Center
You can expect there to be lots of color-changing trees in this 58.54-acre nature preserve, which includes woodlands, wetlands, prairie, and savanna. There is also an educational facility to learn about wildlife and nature hands-on.
9. Jackson Park
Chicago, IL 60637
With a history going back to the mid-1800s and then the World’s Columbian Exposition, this 551.52-acre park on the lake includes a Japanese garden, meadows, and a vegetable and flower garden. There are plenty of areas to find beautiful foliage.
10. The University of Chicago
Walk around the neo-gothic quadrangle and you’re bound to see the ivy clinging to the historic buildings in red, orange, and yellow. Take a walk around the tree-filled campus as students cram for mid-terms in the fall semester. While you’re at it, consider popping over to the Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House which is open late this fall.