At the Arboretum you don’t have to just walk through the colors, you can also drive through them, take a tram ride, or ride your bike. Hike around 16 miles of trail among 1,700 acres of woodland, or ride your bike along 9 miles of paved road. They suggest visiting five different areas to experience different trees and different colors. You can even call ahead to their Bloom n’ Color hotline to find out what trees are the most colorful. A very family-friendly place, they even have a children’s garden. And then when you’re all done hiking and have worked up an appetite, head back to the visitor center to get a bite to eat.
4100 Illinois Route 53
Lisle, IL 60532
Bloom ‘n Color Hotline, 630-719-7955
Hours: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
$11 Adults (18–64)
$10 Seniors (65+)
$8 Youth (2–17)
Children under 2 are free
Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve
The ridges that make up Waterfall Glen are left over from what was once the Wisconsin Glacier. Today Waterfall Glen includes prairies, savannas and oak-maple woodlands that are home to 740 native plant species. Hike one of the four mapped trails that contain almost 11 miles of limestone and turf-covered routes. When you’ve hiked to the waterfall, take a seat on the rocks, soak in the colors around you and enjoy a little peace and quiet.
Intersection of Cass Ave. and Northgate Roads
Darien, IL 60561
Hours: Open daily one hour after sunrise until one hour after sunset
Starved Rock State Park
If you really want to see some amazing colors and scenery, it’s worth the 90-mile drive outside of the city. Starved Rock, located on the south bank of the Illinois River, has deep canyons that lie to the east and west. Hiking trails weave you from waterfall to waterfall and you can experience all the wonderful autumn colors along the way. If you’re looking for a few of the more scenic waterfalls, try exploring St. Louis, French, Wildcat, Tonty, Ottawa and Kaskaskia. If you need a snack after all the hiking you’ll be doing, stop in at Trailheads at the Visitor Center.
Hours: 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. Trails from dawn to dusk
Admission: Free to enter the park, and free to park your car
Walter E. Heller Nature Preserve
If you’re in the north suburbs and looking for a place to enjoy with the family, then you can visit the Heller Nature Center and take a hike through the preserve. Three miles of trails will lead you through the 97-acre preserve. The trails will let enjoy oak-hickory forests, tall grass prairies, oak savanna, natural wetlands and native plants and animals. To relish in the fall weather even more, bring a picnic along with you and sit outside in the woodlands.
2821 Ridge Rd.
Highland Park, IL 60035
Little Red School House Nature Center
In Willow Springs, the Little Red School House is the perfect place to bring your kids to teach them about the forest preserve and animals that inhabit it. Visitors of the nature center at the schoolhouse will learn about the native plants and animals in the area. You’ll then be able to kick around the colorful fall leaves while walking the nature trails surrounding it for a quiet self-guided tour.
9800 Willow Springs Rd.
Willow Springs, IL 60480
Hours: March 1 – last Saturday in Oct. 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily
Last Sunday in Oct. – Feb. 28: 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. daily