A highlight to being a Midwesterner is the change of seasons, which brings a dramatic transformation to our landscape and new activities to explore with the munchkins. The vibrant colors, crunchy leaves and smells of autumn almost makes our arctic-like winters acceptable – almost. The best time to view the colors is the first two weeks of October, but the gradual transformation has already begun and ends late fall. Read on to find our favorite spots to frolic in the foliage.

Werner Family Session

photo: TK Photography

North Park Village Nature Center
If you’re looking for a pure nature adventure without leaving the city, you will want to venture to North Park Village Nature Center. Located on Pulaski at Peterson, this nature preserve offers an intimate and peaceful place to visit fall. Walking through the preserve you’ll come across bridges over marsh, trails through wetland, woodland, prairie and savannah and steps up a hill that overlooks the 46-acres of land.  Once the kids have had their fill of the great outdoors, head to the educational center for books, nature-related toys and information on the preserve and the many animals that call it home.

5801 N. Pulaski Rd.
Chicago
Online: chicagoparkdistrict.com

Lincoln Park Zoo Lion in Fall

photo: Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo BoardWalk
The Nature BoardWalk at the Lincoln Park Zoo has been re-done for several years now and each fall its beautiful new landscape explodes in fall color. The tall grasses, trees and pond turn shades of brown, yellow and red. From the bridge that connects the zoo pavilion to the Farm at the Zoo, you can get the full view of the fall foliage of the board walk with the Chicago skyline in the background. With the Lincoln Park Zoo, Conservatory and Farm at the Zoo surrounding it, the kiddos can get a full nature experience right off of the lakefront and get to witness Chicago come into its fall colors.

2001 N. Clark St.
Lincoln Park
Online: lpzoo.org

Gillson Park
Tucked away in Wilmette, Gillson Park is a stellar spot to witness the change in seasons. The tall grasses and trees surrounding the beach creates a beautifully framed view of Lake Michigan. The majority of the park is open field with a playground and tennis courts, which means you get a completely unobstructed view of falling leaves and browning trees. The parking is a little tricky for Gillson Park. Parking for non-residents is on Middle Dr. and on Overlook Dr. for Wilmette residents.

Sheridan Rd. & Michigan Ave.
Wilmette
Online: wilmettepark.org

Morton Arboretum

photo: Morton Arboretum

Morton Arboretum
Morton Arboretum is a favorite spot for families year-round, but its extra special in the fall. Visitors can hike the trails, run through the maze or just sit and admire the brilliant fall colors. In addition to the natural colors of fall, The Arboretum introduces their own exhibits to enhance the beauty of the season. The Glass Pumpkin Patch, Nature Connect art series and the Scarecrow Trail bring the fall season out in a fun and engaging way for your little explorer.

4100 IL Rte. 53
Lisle
Online: mortonarb.org

Chicago Botanic Garden

Photo: Chicago Botanic Garden

Chicago Botanic Garden
With 385 acres of distinctly different gardens, Chicago Botanic Garden provides the most elaborate backdrop for foliage. The Garden also offers children seasonal Bingo cards that can help them spot what is new and different from the last season. If you want to celebrate the fall season and not just view it, visit the Botanic Garden during one of their many festivals and events. Be sure to check out the Fall Bulb Festival, with the kids, and the Autumn Brews: Seasonal Beer Tasting, for the adults!

1000 Lake Cook Rd.
Glencoe
Online: chicagobotanic.org/fall

Promontory Point
Promontory Point, located in Burnham Park on the southside of Chicago, is known for its fairytale appearance. The man-made peninsula gives one of the most awe-inspiring views of the city. Once the leaves and greenery gain their fall palette, this area is easily one of the more peaceful destinations to watch fall in the city take shape.

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5491 S. Shore Dr.
Chicago
Online: chicagoparkdistrict.com

Where is your favorite spot to view the change of seasons?  Tell us in the Comments below.

—Tiana Kubik