17 Amazing Places to Enjoy Fall Colors + Free Leaf Hunt Download

Awe-Tumn by Douglas Florian
“When summer’s seams
Have come undone,
Then greens to reds
And purples run.
A palette falls
To forest floor,
And autumn leaves
Leave me in awe.”

This poem, by Douglas Florian, is one of my favorite poems about the beautiful season of Autumn. This time of year provides an abundance of natural beauty and is the perfect time to get outside and explore with your family. Simply take a walk around your neighborhood and admire the leaves, sky, flowers, and sounds. Or venture out to one of the many places in the area to view exceptionally beautiful fall colors.

To make it even more of an adventure, we have come up with a leaf guide illustrating common leaves found in Illinois, to take along (kind of like a scavenger hunt). Click here to download the leaf guide and begin your leaf hunt! You can also print out the image below.

Places to See Fall Colors

Blackberry Farm
100 S Barnes Road
Aurora, IL 60506
(630) 892-1550
Ride on the train and hay wagon to scope out fall colors at this living museum showcasing pioneer history. Paid admission.

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve 
See the map with directions to the multiple parking lots
Darien, IL 60439
Vistor Services: (630) 933-7248
Waterfall Glen is a renowned spot for hiking in Illinois, with 2,492 acres and prairies, savannas, and woodlands. When the oaks and maple woods are changing colors, it’s incredible.

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Maple Grove Forest Preserve
See the map with directions to the multiple parking lots
Downers Grove, IL 60515
This smaller woods has a one-mile trail through a magnificent display of colors when the maples begin to change.

Lyman Woods Nature Center
901 31st Street
Downers Grove, IL 60515
Start at the Interpretive Center before trekking through Lyman Woods, which features trails through diverse wildlife.

Patriots Park/Barth Pond
55th & Grand
Downers Grove, IL 60515
A half-mile paved walking trail circles a pond at this local park, with a large playground right nearby.

Morton Arboretum
4100 Illinois 53
Lisle, IL 60532
(630) 968-0074
An incredible assortment of trees dot this 1,700-acre arboretum; check their Bloom and Color Report page for regular updates on which trees are showcasing their colors each week. Paid admission.

LaGrange Park Woods
10 W 31st St
La Grange Park, IL 60526
This smaller woods is connected to the larger Salt Creek and Bemis woods, as well as across the street from Possum Hollow Woods, for those who want to hike a bit further.

Knoch Knolls Nature Center
320 Knoch Knolls Road
Naperville, IL 60565
(630) 864-3964
With a big playground, places to picnic, and educational activities, the nature center is a great place to kick off a hike through the hiking and biking trails of beautiful Knoch Knolls.

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Fullersburg Woods
3609 Spring Road
Oak Brook, IL 60523
(630) 850-8110
Start your trip at the Nature Center to see the 13,000-year-old skeleton of a woolly mammoth before heading out to see the fall colors on the hiking trails.

Mayslake Forest Preserve
1717 West 31st Street
Oak Brook, IL 60523
A one-mile trail goes around the lake and past a slew of historic Mayslake Peabody Estate buildings to check out when you’re done leaf-spotting.

Herrick Lake Forest Preserve
Wheaton, IL 60189
See the map with directions to multiple parking lots.
Herrick Lake is big, with nearly 900 acres of land and 7 miles of trails. Check out the trail map to find a good one for your family, and don’t be intimidated—the shortest trail is less than half a mile long.

Cantigny Park
1S151 Winfield Road
Wheaton, IL 60189
(630) 668-5161
Cantigny combines history and nature, with museums and climbable tanks alongside a 3-mile nature trail and beautifully landscaped grounds. Check out their fall event lineup for events including their fall color hayride tour. Paid admission.

Little Red Schoolhouse
9800 Willow Springs Rd
Willow Springs, IL 60480
(708) 839-6897
A huge nature center with live animals and nature-themed activities makes a great starting point for hiking trails through gorgeously wooded areas with a diverse assortment of trees to spot.

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St. James Farm Forest Preserve
Warrenville, IL 60555
See the map with directions to multiple parking lots.
Follow the 1.6-mile trail to discover fall colors from  woodlands, wetlands, and prairies alike.

Bemis Woods
Wolf Road between 31st Street and Ogden Avenue
Westchester, Illinois 60558
Bemis Woods is a larger wood connected to a series of forest preserves, so you’re free to stay close to your car or wander fairly far for a longer trek. See if you can spot migrating birds, on the move through late October, alongside fall foliage.

Cosley Zoo
1356 North Gary Ave.
Wheaton, IL 60187
(630) 665-5534
This friendly little zoo hosts a pumpkin fest during October, which is a perfect chance to come check out the trees and animals alike. Paid admission (free for Wheaton residents).

Danada Forest Preserve
3S507 Naperville Road
Wheaton, IL 60189
With more than 800 acres of wetlands, woodlands, and prairies, Danada boasts a great variety of fall colors. Check out the Danada Fall Festival for family-friendly activities and an equestrian show, too.

Have a place where your family enjoys fall color? Please share with us and comment below!

Looking for more fall fun? Head over to our Guide to Fall Activities for Kids!

About the Author

Meghan Neill
Meghan and her husband live in Downers Grove with their two sons ages six and seven and their four year old daughter. She is a transplant to the Chicago area and absolutely loves all that the western suburbs have to offer for her young family. One of their favorite places to visit year round is the Morton Arboretum. During the summer months, they love to garden, bike, swim, and play golf together. In the winter, Meghan and her children are happy to be home trying out new kid friendly recipes and being creative. As a former teacher, Meghan believes in a healthy balance of unstructured play and scheduled activities. She is excited to be part of the Kidlist team and wants to help families add fun and laughter to their days!

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