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Best Places in Chicago to See the Changing Colors

Chicago’s fall foliage typically is at its most vibrant in mid-October. Just outside your Chicago luxury condo, public parks provide a calming and colorful respite against the backdrop of the city. Chicagoans are also within striking distance of some spectacular autumn landscapes that lie outside the city. Here are your best bets for enjoying the transition from summer to fall:

North Branch Trail

The North Branch Trail is a Class I bicycle trail that begins at Devon and Caldwell Avenues in northwestern Cook County. The trail traces the north branch of the Chicago River for 20 miles, through wildlife-filled forests, golf courses, and open fields, remaining mostly isolated from suburbia’s traffic and noise. Fall colors are everywhere thanks to the variety and abundance of vegetation. Most of the trail is paved, and the unpaved portions are well-kept.

Chicago Botanic Garden

The North Branch Trail terminates at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Lake County, another great place to take in the autumn atmosphere. The garden is open year-round and fall is a wonderful time to take in the nearly 400 acres of natural landscapes. There are 24 display gardens to explore, many of which will be awash in fall color during October. From September 30th to October 2nd, the garden will host its annual Fall Bulb Festival. At the festival, local vendors offer a variety of seasonal food and drink. There are plenty of fall family activities, such as live music and a straw bale maze. There will be 242 types of bulbs for sale this year.

Morton Arboretum

For viewing the Chicago area’s fall colors, there may be no better place than Morton Arboretum in Lisle. This outdoor museum has 16 miles of hiking trails winding through 1,700 acres of gardens and nature preserves. This is truly a place where you can surround yourself in autumn’s display for hours. The arboretum’s two-month-long AutumnFest has already started. AutumnFest features theater hikes, bird walks, gourd art demonstrations, and a glass pumpkin patch. In October, there will also be taffy apples, kettle corn, and wine to enjoy.

Kettle Moraine State Forest

Located in southeastern Wisconsin, Kettle Moraine State Forest is named after its most prominent feature: a large moraine (accumulation of glacial debris) that is dotted with kettles (shallow bodies of water) of varying sizes and shapes. The forest is divided into five units and stretches out over 100 miles. There are many opportunities to enjoy the fresh fall air at Kettle Moraine–hiking, boating, fishing, and biking are just some ideas. You might also enjoy embarking upon all or part of the Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive, which traverses all five units over its 115-mile course. From downtown Chicago, Kettle Moraine State Forest is about a two-hour drive.