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12 Can't-Miss Fall Activities That Will Make You Glad To See Summer Go

By Marielle Shaw in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 22, 2016 2:59PM

Fall. Lake County, IL. Photo by Marielle Shaw

The end of summer doesn't have to be a pumpkin spiced nightmare. For those who love the beaches, festivals and rooftop/patio life, it's hard to accept that fall is on its way, but that crisp fall breeze will blow in a world of great things to do. September and early October are still mild enough that you can keep your patios and add to them pumpkin patches, apple orchards, and cider and ale festivals. We've got some top picks for your fall enjoyment, below.

Richardson Adventure Farms is one of our top picks for fall. While it's a trek at around 60 miles north of the city, it boasts a pretty impressive lineup. You may already know about their giant corn maze, but that's just the beginning, as the farm also features zip lines, wagon rides, pig races and ORBiting, a "ride" of sorts that puts you inside an 11 foot inflatable ball and lets you roll merrily along. The site also features rentable picnic and campfire areas if you'd like to make it a group outing.

The Carrillon at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Photo credit: Meredith112

While a Fall Bulb Festival may not sound particularly exciting, the Chicago Botanic Garden event, which runs Oct. 7 through 9, also offers cider, wine and beer while you take in the fall foliage. Gardeners can stock up on bulbs for spring, there will be plenty of local vendors with fresh produce and baked goods,family activities and a giant gourd mountain to admire or get a selfie in front of. Best of all, this is a non-ticketed event, so drop in to the garden any time that weekend for a look-see.

We also highly recommend you harvest some tickets for the Botanic Garden's "Autumn Brews: Seasonal Beer Tasting at the Garden" event on Thursday, Oct. 13. For $30/33 dollars (depending on membership status) you'll enjoy seasonal tastings from 10 different breweries, including a few of our favorites such as 3 Floyds, Off Color and Half Acre. Tickets for this event go fast, so if a fun fall evening under the stars with brews and views is your style, get tickets quickly.

Morton Arboretum, Fall entrance decor. Photo via Chicago Flickr Pool User Meridith112

The Morton Arboretum is another must-stop in fall. Its forest trails will be absolutely bursting with color soon, and we recommend their Fall Color 5k as a perfect way to get some exercise while you enjoy the scenery. Registration for the race is $30 to $35 depending on your membership status, and there will also be a Kid's Dash for a $10 to $15 fee.

Photo credit: clarkmaxwell

County Line Orchard is a mainstay option for those on the south or east ends of the city. This beautiful NW Indiana spot has 40 acres of U-Pick Apples and are priced at only $1.79 a pound, with some rare varieties like the Arkansas Black available for the adventurous. They also host quite a bit of live music throughout their season, as well as school tours, special admission days for the disabled as well as two dining spots, a bakery full of cider donuts and a full gift shop for picking up some gourmet goodies.

Didier Farms in Lincolnshire is another great apple-picking option during the fall harvest season. This north suburban farm already supplies fresh produce to area Mariano's stores, and has a successful greenhouse and farmstand on site. On Sept. 24 though, they'll transform their focus to all things Pumpkin for their annual Pumpkin Fest. This fest features a huge variety of pumpkins for the connoisseur, as well as rides, kid's activities, food, camel rides, and yes, more pig races.

Chicago Gourmet 2016 at Millennium Park, put on by Bon Appetit, is an adventure in gastronomy. It features celebrity chefs, top mixologists and sommeliers as well as some of the best in food writing. The event list is long, and even though tickets for Saturday are already sold out, events like the Hamburger Hop and Tao of Tacos beckon you to come and get a piece of the action. This festival runs from Sept. 23 to 25, and you can purchase tickets for Sunday or for individually listed events like the ones we mentioned above here.

Photo credit: Marielle Shaw

Open House Chicago: We've already given you a sneak peek of what to expect for this year's Open House Chicago but we couldn't skip a mention for this fantastic architectural event here either. You'll need to gear up with comfy shoes and backup batteries for your camera, but once you do, you'll get unparalleled views of the city and its amazing architecture and history. It's one of our seasonal favorites, and even if you can't dedicate an entire weekend to it, we encourage you to explore at least some of the 200 sites that will be a part of the event, from Englewood to Evanston.

Pullman House Tours: The Pullman neighborhood is a true walk back in time, and while you're always able to explore the Pullman National Monument, Fall brings the unique opportunity to participate in the 42nd annual Historic House Tours on Oct. 8 and 9. This event gives you a closer look at what life has been like in the Pullman community as current residents open up their historic homes as well as hosting garage sales and car shows. This is a hands on history exhibit as well as an opportunity to see how residents are preserving Pullman's heritage today. Get your tickets for the walk here.

Photo credit: ClarkMaxwell

Morton Arboretum is bringing us another excellent fall event on Oct. 22: The Cider and Ale Festival. This event allows you to taste all manner of local favorite craft ciders and beers as well as sampling concessions and food from local restaurant. In between samplings, you'll be able to set up chairs or blankets and take in some live music. Tickets are $40 to $50 depending on membership status and VIP tickets are available for $10 more, allowing a full hour of access before general admission.

Photo credit: Elvis Kennedy

Get Your Wisconsin On: Your summer vacation may have come and gone, but it'd be foolhardy not to consider a weekend getaway in the fall. Door County is one of our absolute favorite spots in any season, offering great shopping, fine dining and enough fall color and shoreline you couldn't possibly explore it all. Another fall favorite of ours is Devil's Lake State Park. This bluff-blessed state park has fantastic hiking, beautiful views and happens to be just under an hour out from Madison, one of our favorite local cities to explore, from food to entertainment and lake life. Whether you camp, rent a cabin, or hole up in a Madison hotel, you will relish fall here.

Photo Credit: Marielle Shaw

Museum Campus: Free days are scattered throughout the year for Chicago, but in the fall they come more often and closer together. For example, the Museum of Science and Industry is free to Illinois residents all weekdays in September and Oct. 4, 5 and 6, the Shedd has free Mondays and Tuesdays throughout October. The Field Museum is also offering a free day Oct. 2. The time is now if you're trying to hit them all, since all too soon the wind off the lake won't be so friendly.