Sip apple cider. Set up your scarecrow. Take a bumbling hayride. Get lost in a corn maze. Fall calls for fun family festivals that celebrate the best of the season. From apple mania in Lincoln Square to a Native American harvest pow wow in Naperville, we have you covered for the best places to get an awesome taste of autumn. Read on to find out why you’ll fall for these festivals.
photo: Lincoln Square Apple Fest
Harvest Day at Garfield Park Conservatory
The autumn harvest in the city is celebrated with a focus on the simple and sustainable steps that urban famers are taking as they keep bees, care for goats, make compost and harvest organic fruits and vegetables to feed their families – in the heart of the city. Taste Chicago-style honey, learn how to compost at home, meet and greet friendly goats and chickens. Lawn games and a celebration of Jens Jensen’s Birthday with mud cakes and cards make for an especially festive day.
Sept. 13, noon–4 p.m.
Cost: $5/person suggested donation; free for children under 3 & GPCA members
300 N. Central Park Ave.
East Garfield Park
Fall Fest at Lincoln Park Zoo
Usher in the harvest season with your animal friends at Lincoln Park Zoo’s first-ever Fall Fest, a family celebration complete with rides, activities and entertainment. An a-maize-ing corn maze, Ferris wheel, hay mountain, a giant 60-ft. burlap sack slide on the zoo’s Main Mall and hay wagon rides throughout Farm-in-the-Zoo round out the fun. Pumpkins will be available for sale at the Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo pumpkin patch daily throughout October. Pumpkins vary in price depending on size.
Oct. 2-4, 9-12 & 16-18; 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: Free admission; $3/ride ticket
2001 N. Clark St.
Lincoln Square Apple Fest
Apples stand as everyone’s favorite fall fruit, and this Lincoln Square festival celebrates them all – from Akanes to Zestas. Dozens of vendors will be selling apples in all shapes and forms – apple cider, candy apples, apple pie, apple strudel – as well as handcrafted items. There is also a kid zone full of children’s activities and live music by local singers and instrumentalists throughout the day.
Oct. 3; 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Lincoln Ave., between Leland & Lawrence Avenues
Cornucopia Fall Fest at Eugene Field
This isn’t your typical day at the park, but rather one filled with pony rides, pumpkins, a petting zoo and plenty of bouncy toys. If tummies start rumbling, don’t worry! Food trucks will be rolling by throughout the day.
Oct. 3; 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
5100 N. Ridgeway Ave.
Harvest Festival at North Park Village Nature Center
This beloved forest in the city celebrates the harvest with by focusing on the animals that begin to prepare for the long winter ahead after gathering their fall goodies. Do nature-centric crafts, stroll the farmers market, listen to storytellers and jam out to live music. If you’re looking for a slice of peace, the nature preserve offers trails that wind through woodland, wetland, prairie and savanna.
Oct. 10 & Oct. 11; 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
5801 N. Pulaski Rd.
IN THE ‘BURBS
photo: St. Charles Scarecrow Fest
Homewood Fall Fest and Annual Chili Cook-Off
Welcome the cooler temps with a warm bowl of chili. From outdoor movies to horse-drawn wagons, and pumpkin patches to pony rides, there’s something for the whole family at this fun fall fest. The chili cook-off guarantees the best chili in the area from both professional and home chefs.
Sept. 19; 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Martin Ave., from Hickory to Ridge Roads
Harvest Pow Wow at Naper Settlement
Gain insight into the Native American heritage as you celebrate the harvest with dancing, cultural demonstrations, children’s games and crafts, special presentations and more. The special guest this year is Robert Mirabalo, a Pueblo musician and Native American flute player.
Sept. 21 & 22; 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Cost: $8.50/adult, $5.50/ages 3-12
523 S. Webster St.
Long Grove Apple Festival
Expect bushels of fun at Historic Downtown Long Grove’s 23rd annual Apple Festival. Take in the beautiful fall outdoor ambiance of the charming village and participate in the many activities offered, including free live music, apple pie eating contests and more.
Sept. 25-27; 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Cost: $5/person; free for kids 12 & under
Near Route 83 & Old Route 53
photo: Donley’s Wild West Town
Donley’s Wild West Town Annual Fall Festival
Don your best cowboy boots and get ready for an autumn Wild West adventure via Donley’s Wild West Town, a family themed park with loads of things to see and do. Pan for faux gold, take a vintage canoe ride and see an old Wild West show. The fall is especially fun with added bonuses like a spooky yet not-so-scary tunnel train ride, a pumpkin painting station, hot chocolate and kids’ karaoke.
Weekends only: Sept. 26-Oct. 25; 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Cost: $17; free for children 2 & under
8512 S. Union Rd.
photo: Fall Fest at Rehm Park
Fall Fest at Rehm Park
Horse-drawn hayrides, games and a pumpkin patch make this festival one of the best in the near west ‘burbs. Kids can hop aboard the hand-cranked Rehm Trains, enjoy yummy fall favorites from local food vendors or take part in a Fall Scavenger Hunt, which invites families to explore fall landscapes by looking for items outdoors.
Sept. 27; 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
515 Garfield St.
Harvest Days at Garfield Farm
Head back to the 1840’s at the Garfield Farm & Tavern Museum’s Harvest Days. This only historically intact Illinois prairie farmstead and former teamsters’ inn now serves as a family-friendly 1840s living history farm and inn museum. Learn more about the farm’s harvesting days in the 19th century via demonstrations of farm and household skills, period music and old fashioned treats.
Oct. 4; 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Cost: $6/adults; $3/children
Illinois 38/Garfield Rd.
Autumn Fall Festival at Heritage Farm
See Schaumburg as it was during the 1800’s at this living history outdoor farm. Enjoy 19th century games, crafts, string music and demonstrations of the work of the frontier era (think cider pressing and blacksmithing). Save room for taffy apples and roasted ears of corn.
Oct. 4; noon-5 p.m.
Cost: $5/person; $20/family of six or fewer, with additional members $5/person; free for children 3 & under
201 S. Plum Grove Rd.
St. Charles Scarecrow Fest
Over 50 handcrafted scarecrows compete for the best in show at this unique fall fest. You can even make a scarecrow of your very own to protect and defend your garden. The arts and crafts show, petting zoo and carnival extend the fun, making for a full day of autumn merriment.
Oct. 9-11; Fri. & Sat., 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Route 64 & the Fox River
photo: Fall Festival at Cantigny Park
Fall Festival at Cantigny Park
Roam this 500-acre park as it puts on its very best fall colors. At the annual Fall Festival. You’ll enjoy music, games, hayrides and more. Stop by Bertie’s, the coffee shop adjacent to the onsite First Division military history museum for a taste of autumn with a cup of hot cider or hot chocolate.
Oct. 11; 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Cost: Free with $5/car parking ($2/car after 4 p.m.)
1 S. 151 Winfield Rd.
Which fall festival are you headed to? Let us know in the Comments!
— Amy Bizzarri