Fall is right around the corner, and as you start swapping your shorts and t-shirts for pants and sweaters, you may be wondering how you can make the most of the season this year. Fortunately, we’ve done our research, and there are plenty of ways to safely experience fall 2020 throughout Chicagoland as well as Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin.
Pick Your Own Apples and Pumpkins
The Midwest is home to plenty of pumpkin patches and apple orchards. Boasting lush apple trees across a gorgeous landscape, Apple Barn Orchard & Winery in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, features 13 varieties of apples. Less than two hours from Chicago, the orchard has a versatile collection during prime picking season in October with apples that are great on their own, coated in caramel, or baked into pies.
Meanwhile, County Line Orchard in Hobart, Indiana, invites visitors to its 40 acres with 25 apple varieties. Masks are mandatory for the U-Pick experience, which also includes pumpkins. The U-Pick fun doesn’t stop there. 45 minutes east of Hobart, Dinges’ Farm in Three Oaks, Michigan, has 20 varieties of pumpkins, 25 varieties of gourds, and 15 varieties of squash for you to pick, as well as Concord and Niagara grapes.
With over 200 acres of fresh veggies and favorite fall items, Goebbert’s Farm & Garden Center in South Barrington is one of the best spots in Illinois to pick pumpkins. Round out your visit to the farm with a taste of delicious apple cider donuts, seasonal fruit pies, and harvest cookies. Pumpkin pickers should also make their way to Lincolnshire, where Pumpkinfest at Didier Farms runs all season long until October 31. Visitors can pick pumpkins and gourds of all shapes and sizes to craft into their perfect jack-o-lantern.
Catch a Drive-In Movie
Drive-in movies have become a summertime staple amid social distancing, and luckily they are carrying into fall. Starting October 1st, Music Box of Horrors will feature 31 nights of Halloween films at Chi-Town Movies Drive-In in Pilsen, with weekend showings aptly themed Grindhouse Fridays, Rip-Off Saturdays, and Sequel Sundays. The 31-day movie experience will showcase audience favorites as well as obscure titles. Visitors must purchase tickets ahead of time!
Get Lost in a Corn Maze
Test your sense of direction and visit one of Chicagoland’s best corn mazes. Adults and kids can roam freely through winding fields of corn stalks at All Seasons Apple Orchard in Woodstock, Illinois, which has both easy and difficult paths with varying stalk heights. You can make a day of your adventure at the orchard by visiting the petting zoo and pumpkin patch, or enjoying any of the other available activities. For those looking for a bit more of a challenge, head to Richardson Adventure Farm’s corn maze in Spring Grove, Illinois. Spanning 9 to 10 miles, Richardson Corn Maze is considered one of the longest and most intricate corn mazes in the world and it has a new theme every year! This year celebrates the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.
Photo by Southwestern Michigan Tourist Council
See the Fall Colors
Take advantage of fall’s gorgeous weather and watch as the foliage transitions from green to red, orange, and gold. Chicagoland is home to some of the most incredible natural expanses, where you can hike, bike, or relax among the changing scenery. If you’re in the city, stroll through Lincoln Park along the Nature Boardwalk or through Lincoln Park Conservatory’s manicured gardens. Some of our other favorite spots include the Morton Arboretum, Lurie Garden, and Maple Grove Forest Preserve, to name a few.
On the North Shore, the Chicago Botanic Garden boasts over 20 gardens and several natural areas. The garden’s iconic Night of 1,000 Pumpkins is still on this year, and has been adapted based on COVID-19 safety precautions.
If you find yourself in southwest Michigan, drive down winding backroads or hike your way through Warren Woods State Park in Three Oaks or Galien River County Park in New Buffalo.
Decorate Your Home
Whether you live in an apartment, condo, or house, you can get into the fall spirit by sprucing up your living space with seasonal decor. Bring in classic fall colors using throw pillows or blankets, and add scented or colored candles to create a warm and inviting ambiance. Brighten up your porch with your freshly picked pumpkins and gourds, or give your front door the fall treatment with a festive wreath.
Enjoy a Taste of Fall
What better way to enjoy fall than by supporting a local business? Chicagoland is full of locally and/or family owned businesses that have been perfecting the taste of fall for years. Looking for the area’s best apple treat? Head to Julius Meinl in Lakeview for a cup of warm apple cider or make your way to the western suburbs, where you’ll find one of the best caramel apples at Graham’s Fine Chocolates & Ice Cream in Geneva. Craving a pumpkin-flavored drink? Try Sol Café in Rogers Park or Caffee Streets in Wicker Park. And for the best pies? Check out our rundown of favorite pie shops throughout Chicago.
Keep an eye out for seasonal menu announcements, and be sure to follow each establishment’s COVID-19 safety precautions!
Photo by Graham’s Fine Chocolates & Ice Cream