Chicago’s many parks, gardens, and natural areas are gorgeous year round — but they’re particularly stunning in the fall. That’s when you can see stunning red, orange, and gold foliage that turns the city into a picture-perfect autumn scene.
Here are some of the best spots to see fall colors in and near Chicago:
Located along the lakefront, scenic Lincoln Park is a local go-to for fall foliage. Stroll along the Nature Boardwalk at the south of Lincoln Park Zoo, an urban oasis framed with skyline views. Or walk through the manicured gardens outside the Lincoln Park Conservatory before heading to the secluded Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool. And the North Pond area, near Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, stays lush all autumn long.
Can’t get enough of all those autumn leaves? Get your fall fix at Morton Arboretum, a sprawling living museum that’s home to more than 4,000 different types of trees.
The Arboretum also offer tons of cool fall events, like the Scarecrow Trail, Cider and Ale Festival, and the Glass Pumpkin Patch.
Millennium Park and Lurie Garden
See fall splendor right in the heart of downtown. Chicago’s Millennium Park is bursting with color each fall, from the leaves changing color near Cloud Gate (aka “The Bean”) to the hidden Lurie Garden teeming with native plant life.
Just south of Millennium Park, the Art Institute of Chicago is framed by two charming courtyards. The North Garden and the South Garden, located along Michigan Avenue, both feature sculptures, fountains, solitude, and breathtaking fall colors.
One of Chicago’s most historic parks is also one of its most scenic. Nestled on the lakefront edge of the bustling Hyde Park neighborhood, Jackson Park is best known as the site of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Fall is the perfect time to explore the park’s Garden of the Phoenix, an authentic Japanese garden set on a tranquil lagoon.
Located in the vibrant Humboldt Park neighborhood, this sprawling park contains scenic lagoons connected by a prairie river, a sprawling garden, ball fields, soccer fields, and a stunning boat house. Meander the winding paths or bring a blanket and have apicnic in the grass.
Garfield Park Conservatory
The Garfield Park Conservatory is known for its striking greenhouse (dubbed “landscape art under glass”), but the surrounding grounds are just as gorgeous. The 10 acres of outdoor gardens include beautifully manicured themed areas, including the City Garden, Artist’s Garden, Sensory Garden, and more.
Chicago Botanic Garden
The Chicago Botanic Garden is gorgeous in every season — but fall is one of the most popular times to visit. That’s when you can see Chicago Botanic’s 27 gardens, four natural areas, nine islands, and six miles of lake shoreline bursting with autumn splendor. Plus, a fun roster of fall events (like the popular Night of 1,000 Pumpkins) are all the more reason to take the trip out to suburban Glencoe.
An unexpected spot for some excellent leaf-peeping, The 606 is an excellent way to enjoy Chicago’s fall foliage. Not only is the trail itself beautifully landscaped, the elevated path offers the perfect vantage point to admire neighborhood parks and boulevards from above.
North Park Village Nature Center
Explore both woodland, wetland, prairie, and more at the North Park Village Nature Center. This sprawling natural oasis in the heart of the North Park neighborhood is an under-the-radar gem, especially around autumn.