A distinct chill is blowing through the Windy City, and we couldn’t be more excited! There are plenty of fall-themed activities for you in the city and surrounding areas so that you can make the most of the season. Whether you’re into football, the arts, photography, food, spooky attractions, or all of the above, Chicago has just what you need. Put on your flannel shirt, sweater, boots, and a beanie, and head out to these festive fall events.
Fall Festivals and Activities
When the leaves start changing colors, you might get the itch to do classic autumn things, like festivals, football games, and even Halloween get togethers. Chicago has events for families and children as well as parties for adults 21 and over, which ensures that there’s something for everybody this season. Here are some fall festivals to write down on your calendar.
- NFL Football. Bear Down! It’s the team’s 100th season, so you can support our Chicago Bears by going to home games at Soldier Field. Wear your orange and navy to the field Sept. 5 and 29, Oct. 20 and 27, Nov. 10 and 24, and Dec. 5 and 22, and cheer for Da Bears!
- Norwood Park Fall Fest. Not only does the Norwood Park Fall Fest offer plenty of live music, but there’s also food trucks and beer there for you to enjoy. On top of that, vendors and merchandise booths will be set up for shopping. Attend on Sept. 20 or Sept. 21 for fun with friends and family. There is a suggested donation of $5.
- Apple Fest 2019. The perfect way to kick off fall is at Lincoln Square Ravenswood 32nd annual Apple Fest. Vendors along Lincoln Avenue will sell fall foods, clothing, and decorations to get you ready for the chilly wind. The festival on Oct. 5 is free, but there is a suggested donation of $5.
- Scarecrow Fest. Grown from a small community festival in 1985, the Scarecrow Fest in St. Charles now attracts nearly 100,000 attendees each year. There’s a scarecrow contest, arts, crafts, and carnival rides. Come out Oct. 11 through 13 for some good fall fun. The festival is free, but ride packages start at $25 a day.
- The Haunted Halloween Party Cruise. You’ll get plenty of spooks and boos on this Haunted Halloween Party aboard the Spirit of Chicago [hyperlink removed]. Wear a costume and pre-game Halloween in the city on a stylish yacht. Tickets start at $30, and the event is 21 and over. The ship will board at 5:30 P.M. on Oct. 26. It will redock after cruising on Lake Michigan at 8 P.M. There will be a similar cruise on Oct. 31.
- Halloween Bar Crawl. Presented by Bar Crawl Live, this bar crawl will get you in the Halloween spirit. Your tickets waive cover charges at each bar and include drink and food specials throughout the crawl. This 21 and up event encourages you to wear your best costume. Oct. 26 from 3 to 11 P.M. Tickets start at $19.99, but there are group rates available as well.
While all of these festivals sound amazing, what if you’re not in the mood for a friendly fall activity? What if you want to get scared out of your mind in true Halloween fashion? Keep reading to find out where you can get into the spirit with a spooky trip out of town.
Getting bored in the city? The best way to combat boredom is to get a good fright at a haunted house. Many of the haunted houses in the Chicago area are voted to be the scariest and best-produced in the nation. Although some are within city limits, most of the best haunted houses are actually about an hour’s drive from the city.
- The Park After Dark. Desolate Entertainment teamed up with the Chase Park Advisory Council to continue the tradition of The Park After Dark with this year’s installment: The Attic. On Oct. 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, and 27, you can walk through this house that is overrun by orphaned children who were experimented on by an evil doctor. You can buy tickets here for $10.
- 13th Floor Chicago. The world famous 13th Floor Haunted House in Chicago’s Melrose Park has new attractions for 2019 called The Other Side and Creature Feature. With multiple ticket options, you can go in September, October, or early November to experience the mysterious 13th Floor for yourself.
- Basement of the Dead. On Friday the 13th this September, the family-run Basement of the Dead opens its doors to people who want to be terrified. Whether you walk through the Basement or select the Shattered 3D clown-themed haunted attraction, you are sure to be immersed in the environment and truly believe you are in danger. This haunted house is located about an hour from Chicago in Aurora. Tickets and dates can be found here.
- HellsGate Haunted House. If you want an adventure on top of being scared, HellsGate Haunted House is perfect for you. Just under an hour away from Chicago, this multi-level mansion in the woods with a giant slide offers you a challenge: find the key and get your money back. If you’d like to accept the challenge, you can buy a ticket here.
- Statesville Haunted Prison. There’s nothing scarier than a prison overrun by insane inmates, and that’s exactly what happened at the Statesville Haunted Prison. This terrifying themed experience does not allow anyone under 10 to attend, and children under 15 must be accompanied by an adult. Tickets start at $30, and the prison is under an hour away in Crest Hill.
- Realm of Terror Haunted House. Leave your kids at home for this haunted house experience. Nationally acclaimed as one of the scariest in the nation, the Realm of Terror Haunted House is so terrifying because of their amazing makeup effects by Stevie Calabrese, who was on a TV show specifically showcasing special effects makeup skills. The house is about an hour away from the city, but it’s worth the drive to get your socks scared clean off. Tickets start at $25.
Maybe terrifying experiences aren’t for you. That’s okay! There’s still plenty for you to do this fall. Farms offer a more relaxing adventure for you and your friends or family.
Orchards and Pumpkin Patches
Summer isn’t the only season when it’s fun to be outside. There’s nothing like a hayride through cornfields at a family farm on a crisp fall day. Even though apple orchards and pumpkin patches require a little bit of a drive outside the city, they’re well worth the distance. Within an hour’s drive, you can visit any of these places to pick apples, stroll through pumpkins, or sip on apple cider.
- Goebbert’s Pumpkin Farm & Garden Center. If you’re looking for a place with a pumpkin patch, corn maze, and farm animals, then Goebbert’s Pumpkin Farm is the perfect place for you. Just 35 miles outside of Chicago, Goebbert’s fall festival has everything for the classic fall experience. Their fall festival lasts from Sept. 14 through Oct. 31. You can find tickets here.
- Bengtson’s Pumpkin Farm. Since they offer lowered prices during weekdays, you can’t beat the value at Bengtson’s Pumpkin Farm. With known attractions like the 90-foot slide and tractor-pulled hayrack rides, and new attractions like Tractor-Town, you’ll find plenty of family fun here. Travel 30 miles outside the city to find this traditional fall fest before they close on Nov. 4. Tickets start at $11.99.
- Odyssey Fun Farm. Fall family fun is easy to find at the Odyssey Fun Farm just 30 miles from the city. Some attractions there are hayrides, a petting zoo, zip lines, and a kids’ zone. Admission is just $12, and you can sign up for coupons as well.
- Didier Farms. You can eat, play, and make family memories at Didier Farms’ Pumpkinfest, open Sept. 21 through Oct. 31. Drive 34 miles north of Chicago to get to this admission-free fest. Tickets for rides and other activities cost $1 per ticket, but there are also packages you can buy if you’re planning to do everything.
- Sonny Acres Farm. Sonny Acres Farm not only has a fall festival with carnival rides, food, and attractions, but it also has a haunted house and wagon ride. 36 miles west of the city in West Chicago, you can visit this farm to fill up on corn, apples, and other fall foods. Make sure to bring cash because tickets are cash only.
After you’ve had your fill of apple fritters and cider, you might want to venture out to a park for some classic fall snapshots. You could even wear a flannel shirt to truly embrace the season.
Fall Photo Opportunities
In today’s time, you don’t need a fancy camera to take a good picture. We all have a high-quality camera in our hands constantly—our phones! Whether you’re a traditional real-camera photographer, or tap your phone screen to capture a moment, you know a good background can make or break a photo. Fall offers colors that warm up your pictures, so here’s a list of places to visit throughout the city to get that perfect fall pic to frame or post.
- Lincoln Park. Nestled within the Lincoln Park neighborhood, the area’s namesake park has plenty of beautiful spots to take a fall photo. You can go to the Lakefront Trail, the Conservatory, the Zoo, or even just the grounds of the park to get your perfect fall backdrop.
- Winnemac Park. With 22 acres of park and sports fields, Winnemac Park will provide you with many great places for pics, including willow trees that can be beautiful or spooky, depending on your shoot. Within the park is the Winnemac Natural Area that is 2.7 acres of native prairie habitat full of birds and butterflies.
- Millennium Park. Bold architecture coexists with nature in Chicago’s iconic Millennium Park. Your pictures in this park can be more than just the typical Chicago Bean selfie. There are plenty of other spots like the rows of trees and the Lurie Garden.
- Lurie Garden. Occupying the south eastern corner of Millennium Park is the Lurie Garden, a free oasis. There’s trees, flowers, and water that would be wonderful backgrounds, but they would be even more lovely in photos on their own as sunlight filters through the high rises.
- Jackson Park. There’s a picturesque bridge in Jackson Park’s Garden of The Phoenix section that crosses the lagoon, and is surrounded by cherry blossoms and fall foliage, and frames the Museum of Science and Industry behind it. This Japanese garden, as well as the rest of Wooded Island, is a serene getaway in Woodlawn. No matter your angle, you’re bound to capture the perfect image.
- The 606. The nature path The 606 is a mix of urban and environmental landscapes. This park has many access points in four different neighborhoods and links four separate parks across the city. You can pose at various spots of the three-mile trail, or snap shots of changing leaves of the trees along the way.
- The Morton Arboretum. Sprawling 1,700 acres, The Morton Arboretum has woodlands, prairies, meadows, lakes, streams, and includes more than 222,000 live plants on its grounds. Fall is the busiest time of year here, so if you’re planning to do a photo shoot, make sure to allow yourself enough time to get around.
Now that you’ve attended fall festivals, gotten spooked at a haunted house, walked through a pumpkin patch, and taken the perfect picture, you can cozy up in a blanket on the couch with a cup of hot cider to keep the autumn chill off.
Happy Fall from Thomas Law Offices!
At Thomas Law Offices, we know that you want to get the most out of fall before the winter comes. Whether you want to be cozy and calm or creepy and spooky, autumn is perfect because there’s something for everyone. Whatever you choose to experience this fall, remember to be safe, but also make sure you still have fun!