Summer may be over, but there’s still time to enjoy the great outdoors before Chicago becomes Chiberia again this winter. In fact, fall is the perfect time to escape the city and take either a quick drive, or a bit longer of one, to see the Midwest lit up in beautiful Autumnal colors. From city gardens to state parks, there’s plenty of beautiful places to explore that aren’t too far from the city. Check this list for some places to see, too.
(Photo Credit:

(Photo Credit:

Chicago Botanic Garden
1000 Lake Cook Road
Glencoe, IL 60022
(847) 835-5440

With 385 acres, the Chicago Botanic Gardens may be best known for their various gardens and plethora of flowers, but come the fall season, the gardens change and light up with plenty of fall colors. To kick off the season, the Botanic Garden hosts a popular Fall Bulb Festival, which this year takes place Oct. 2-4. While the leaves may not quite be turning at the Bulb Festival, it’s a wonderful way to usher in the season, with bulbs for purchase as well as live music and a harvest market with a variety of local vendors. Of course, the gardens are open throughout the fall season (and into the winter as well).

Promontory Point
5491 S. Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60615
(312) 742-5369

The shore of Lake Michigan isn’t all sandy beaches or concrete. In fact, grab a picnic blanket and head to the South Side and Burnham Park, where Promontory Point is located. Designed by Alfred Caldwell, the man-made point today is home to meadows, bike paths and trees, all set against the backdrop of the beautiful Lake Michigan. This wonderful setting makes a  perfect place to enjoy the view and organize a family picnic.



Starved Rock State Park
2668 E 875th Road
Oglesby, IL 61348
(815) 667-4726

Escape the city and experience a beautiful piece of nature with a trip out to Starved Rock State Park. Located just about an hour and a half to two hours from Chicago, when you first pull into the park you’ll be driving underneath towering, awe-inspiring trees, even more glorious when they’re decked out in fall accommodations. There’s lots to do and see at the park too, including 18 canyons and 13 miles of hiking trails. What makes all this even more impressive? It’s nature, untouched, as it’s been for centuries. To get the most out of your Starved Rock State Park trip, spend a long weekend there by booking a stay at their lodge accommodations.

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Mississippi Palisades State Park
16327A IL Route 84
Savanna, IL 61704
(815) 273-2731

Spread across 2,500 acres where the Mississippi River and Apple River meet, Mississippi Palisades State Park is a treasure worthy of exploring no matter what the season, even with the three-hour drive from the city. The natural rock formations and the miles of hiking trails have existed for over a thousand years, giving hikers a glimpse into the past. If it’s fall colors you’re looking for, you’ll find those in abundance here, particularly in the wooded ravines. While admiring all those amazing colors, don’t be surprised to see a variety of wildlife, from woodpeckers and eagles to badgers, deer and more.

Crabtree Nature Center
3 Stover Road
Barrington Hills, IL 60010
(847) 381-6592

In the 1830s, farmers moved onto the land we now know as suburbia and greatly impacted the nature wildlife and prairies. But in the 1960s, the forest preserve staff began restoring the land to bring it back to its natural state. The result of their work can be seen at Crabtree Nature Center, which covers more than a thousand acres in the northwest suburbs just a short hour from the city. Today, the park includes both biking and hiking trails, and during the fall season the many trees are a wildfire of colors; a beautiful site to behold, especially paired with the prairie grass.

Related: Best Autumn Desserts In Chicago

Elizabeth SanFilippo is a freelance writer, who enjoys trying new foods from all over the world. But her favorite city for culinary treats will always be Chicago. When not blogging about food, she’s working part-time at a culinary vacation company, The International Kitchen, based in the Windy City, as well as repping Younique cosmetics and skincare products. Some of her writing can be found at