The season's brilliant orange, red and yellow leaves are proof that fairies exist. Well, maybe not exactly, but the colors certainly are magical. Catch some of that enchantment among the flora-filled expanses of two Chicago area destinations, both accessible by Metra train, and one that we love because of its Halloween-time fun.
Glencoe: Chicago Botanic Garden
The changing colors, the brisk fresh air, the fun Halloween events: These are among the reasons why we like to make a fall visit to this 385-acre love letter to Mother Nature. Opened in 1972, it now sees more than a million annual visitors, who stroll the 26 distinct gardens.
This season's activities include the Fall Bulb Festival (October 4-6) where you can pick up all your seasonal florals, Demonstration Cooking: Pumpkins (October 5) to gain more festive recipes, Living Succulent Pumpkin Centerpiece (October 10) where you can create your own decor, the Spooky Pooch Parade (October 13) just in time for Halloween and the Night of 1,000 Jack-o'-Lanterns (October 16-27) where you can see more than 1,000 pumpkins (some as large as 150 pounds) that have been artfully hand-carved and illuminated with light. 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, IL, 847.835.5440. www.chicagobotanic.org
Lisle: Morton Arboretum
It's hard not to wonder if Morton Salt Company founder Joy Morton was the inspiration for Dr. Seuss’s the Lorax, or “speaker of the trees." His father, Julius Sterling Morton, created national Arbor Day, while Joy himself established the Morton Arboretum, which honors trees every day.
This fall, the 1,700-acre living museum celebrates the season with a few fun activities. Partake in the Fall Color 5k Run and Walk (October 6) where you can run through a forest of changing trees or take the family on a trip through the Scarecrow Trail (through October 31) with dozens of creations form local Boy Scout troops. Then stay for Trick or Trees (weekends in October) to play games, make crafts and paint pumpkins. 4100 IL-53, Lisle, IL, 630.968.0074. www.mortonarb.org
Lincolnshire: Didier Farms
At this beloved family-owned farm northwest of Chicago, fall comes in the form of its annual Pumpkinfest (through October 31). Park and grab a little red wagon to haul your great pumpkins back to the car. Then return for the fun: carnival rides, corn maze, hayrides, petting zoo, bouncy houses, camel and pony rides. When you've done it all, make a stop at the farmstand, stocked with freshly made apple pies, jams and preserves, honey, baked breads and cookies, and spooky-cute autumn decor for inside and out. 16678 W. Aptakisic Rd., Lincolnshire, IL, 847.634.3291, www.didierfarms.com