During the first two weeks of October, Chicago’s trees shake off the last vestiges of summer in favor of red, orange and yellow splendor. You’ll be treated to autumnal views on any old tree-lined city street, but for the most impressive results, it’s best to head to Chicago parks, gardens and cemeteries packed with fall-friendly foliage (think birch, sumacs and the always resplendent red maple). You can even check out places like Millennium Park and other iconic Chicago attractions to soak in the sight of colorful leaves against cityscape vistas. Whether you prefer to wander amid nature preserves or crunch leaves on the city’s downtown streets, here are all the best places to find fall foliage in Chicago.
In October, make time to take a walk from the Botanic Garden’s visitor center to the Conservation Science Center to see the many colorful perennials and fruit-bearing shrubs. Marvel at the Japanese maples as they turn red like fire and, if you’re lucky, see the filigreed sumacs transform into a remarkable mix of orange, green and red. If you’re here in November, an autumn walk in the Dixon Prairie is also a peaceful escape.
It might be a 30-minute drive to reach Morton Arboretum, but once you arrive, it’ll feel like you’re a world away (in a good way). Forget your troubles amid peaceful nature as you stand surrounded by more than 4,200 types of trees. Take a hike on one of the many trails or explore the gardens, wetlands and other natural areas. In the East Woods, Virginia creeper vines turn red and bur oaks drop their yellowing leaves. Be sure to check out the calendar for events throughout the year.
Leaf peeping in Lincoln Park is a no-brainer, as plenty of other amenities exist here, too. The kids can play on one of the many playgrounds in the area, or you can start the day with a date at the zoo, pointing out all sorts of furry creatures before strolling along the outdoor paths. Chicago’s largest park has trees aplenty, with red maple, ash, birch and elm all standing tall, and you can walk, jog or bike by them.
A Lincoln Square favorite, Winnemac Park has provided Chicago with nearly 40 acres of green space since 1910. Cruise through the breathtaking garden and nature trail, where you’ll spot fall flowers, colorful leaves and woodland creatures. There are few better places to set up a seasonal picnic spread—you can even bring along pumpkin spice lattes!