Best Things to Do with Kids This Fall in Chicagoland

Photo Credit: iStock/Sean Pavone

The brutal summer temps are cooling down, school is back in full swing and the leaves are bound to start changing colors any day now. Fall is officially here in Chicagoland, and we couldn’t be more excited to help your family get into the spirit of the colorful, crisp (and sometimes spooky!) season. 

We’ve put together this guide to help you plan out your fall events, activities and holidays for 2023. We’ve rounded up some of the best seasonal activities for families around the city and the suburbs, and included our family guides to celebrating fall holidays with the kids. Don’t worry, we also included plenty of ideas for indoor activities, because this time of year, you never know if you’ll be OK with just a sweatshirt or need to pull your winter coat out of the closet. 

Take a look below to find our suggestions for things to do with your family in Chicagoland this fall. Also, be sure to bookmark or come back to this guide regularly because we’ll be adding more autumn activities, events and ideas all season long!

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FALL ACTIVITIES AND DESTINATIONS

Photo credit: iStock/onepony

From apple picking and pumpkin patches to planning out Halloween costumes and prepping for the holidays, fall seems to fly by every year. Make the most of your family time this season with these kid-approved picks.

Explore the outdoors 

You don’t have to go far from home to appreciate the beautiful colors of autumn. Find gorgeous fall colors at these spots in and around Chicago. Outdoor enthusiasts can also explore the fall colors with these kid-friendly hiking trails, bike paths and local nature centers

Go apple picking

Apples are a delicious fall treat and picking them yourself can be a whole day of family fun! These apple orchards near Chicago offer u-pick opportunities; cider, scrumptious apple treats and fresh farm goodies; and kids activities like corn mazes, pony rides, photo ops and more. 

Pick out a pumpkin

Sure, you can get a pumpkin at the grocery store, but why not turn a fun tradition into an entire day of fall memories by visiting a pumpkin patch? From small patches in the city to amazing pumpkin farms that are worth the drive, we found some of the best pumpkin patches for Chicagoland families. Pick out a pumpkin, go for a hayride, enjoy cider and dougnuts and so much more! 

Get lost in a corn maze

Challenge your child’s navigation and memory skills with a trip to an a-maze-ing corn maze. Walk miles through themed mazes with your big kids, or opt for shorter, easier mazes designed just for littles. Some of these mazes even offer night flashlight sessions or — for the brave of heart — haunted mazes! 

Attend a fall festival

Who says summer gets to have all the fun? Here in Chicago, festival season continues into the fall with cultural festivals, art fests, harvest fests and more. 

Get spooked at a haunted house 

Boo! Did we scare you? If not, then you may be ready for these kid-friendly haunted houses and trails in Chicagoland. From haunted houses to spooky hayrides and trails, find an age-appropriate outing that has just the right amount of spooks and thrills for your family.  

Try forest foraging

Who doesn’t love a scavenger hunt? Turn nature into an epic adventure game by foraging for wild mushrooms. Kids will love the hunt, but they’ll also learn valuable lessons about nature and where our food comes from. Use these 5 tips for families to get started on your foraging journey. 

Get your game on

For sports fans, nothing says fall like the return of the Chicago Bears! Catch a game as a family and get our best tips for bringing the kiddos to Soldier Field

Tour a new neighborhood

You may think you know all there is to know about a community, but there’s something special about exploring a town or neighborhood when it’s decked out in fall foliage. Our family neighborhood guides make exploring new communities a breeze with suggestions on where to eat, shop, play and explore with your kids. Check out our latest family guides to Evanston, Bronzeville, Tinley Park and Beverly

Learn something new 

There are so many museums located on stunning campuses around Chicagoland. Take a family field trip and learn something new through immersive exhibits and hands-on activities. These new exhibits are great for families, and most offer free admission days

Where to Go Apple Picking Near Chicago

These apple orchards near Chicago offer apple picking, cider and lots of scrumptious sweets.

Chicagoland Museums Families Should Visit At Least Once

There are so many fascinating exhibitions for kids of all ages.

Where to See Fall Colors in and Around Chicago

Take a drive and snap some photos of this beautiful fall foliage this autumn.

Family-Friendly Fall Getaways Worth the Drive from Chicago

These fun vacay spots make us so excited for fall.

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AT-HOME FALL ACTIVITIES

Photo credit: Lauren Jeziorski

Whether your family is a clan of cozy introverts or you just need a day off from being on the go, these at-home activities are just what you need to celebrate the season in the comfort of your home. 

Get crafty with DIY decor ideas and fall-themed projects, or curl up with a seasonal treat and kick back at a family movie night. Find even more suggestions for at-home activities to get you in the spooky fall spirit below. 

Decorate pumpkins

Need tips for carving pumpkins? We’ve got you covered with one dad’s guide to pumpkin carving. If you’d prefer to skip using sharp utensils with the kiddos, try one of these easy, no-carve pumpkin decorating ideas

Make Halloween costumes

Store-bought costumes can be expensive, and that’s assuming your child only needs one costume for the many school events, Halloween parties and trick-or-treat events they’ll want to attend. 

Make costume-making an event of its own (and save a few bucks) with these budget-friendly costumes you can make at home. Plus, the kids can even help with some of these simple ideas. 

Make apple treats

Whether you pick apples at a nearby orchard or buy them at the store, turn your delicious fall apples into scrumptious apple treats with these apple recipes and activities. Bake these melt-in-your-mouth cinnamon sugar apple cider donuts or make your own apple cider. 

Read a spooky story 

Get into the spooky spirit with a Halloween book. These spooktacular Halloween titles have cute Halloween stories and mild scares for kids of all ages.

Get crafty

Pumpkin pie play dough, paper bag monster puppets, popsicle stick scarecrows and more await your creative family in our fall craft roundup. Display your fall crafts all season long, or go all out and elevate your Thanksgiving festivities with these creative kids table decor ideas

Host a family movie night 

Cozy movie nights are great any time of year, but why not enjoy a frightening family film or an adorable Halloween-themed kids movie this fall? Check out these classic 90s Halloween flicks for families, including Disney channel originals like “Halloweentown” and “Don’t Look Under the Bed.” 

Make a decadent dessert

Ditch the store-bought candy bars and create a homemade Halloween dessert your kids will love. Try these candy apples or over-the-top milkshakes. Plus, we have some great ways to use up that leftover Halloween candy

Drink hot chocolate

A good cup of cocoa can make the falling temps and gray skies melt away. Elevate your family’s hot chocolate with these delicious additions and recipes.

Apple Recipes and Activities to Try this Fall

Make the most of your apple-picking weekend with these apple recipes and activities that are perfect for welcoming the fall season.

Fall Books for Kids to Celebrate the Season

Read children's books about pumpkins, apples, football and more.

Things to Do with Leftover Halloween Candy

You'll burn through that Halloween candy in no time with these fun ideas.

Easy No-Carve Pumpkin Ideas to Make with Your Kids

No knives (or mess!) needed for this fun craft.
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FALL HOLIDAYS

halloween-for-kids-with-autism
Photo credit: iStock

Before the holiday season kicks in, enjoy fall holidays including Halloween, Dia de Los Muertos, Veterans Day, Diwali and Thanksgiving.

That’s a lot of fun to pack in such a short time and you can find all the activities and events you need.

Plus, score books, crafts and other activities in our at-home guides, so that you can celebrate even if you don’t want to leave your home.

Oktoberfest – September and October

Oktoberfest is celebrated in Germany from Sept. 16-Oct. 3. Chicagoland families can get in on the fun by attending these family-friendly Oktoberfest events. Parents looking to sample local Oktoberfest brews can head to a kid-friendly brewery for craft beers and family fun. 

Halloween – Oct. 31, 2023

Get in on the spooky spirit of the season with local Halloween events, budget-friendly costume ideas and decadent Halloween treats. Plus, we found some of the best events for trick-or-treating in Chicagoland.  

Dia de Los Muertos – Nov. 1-2, 2023

Celebrate the Day of the Dead with these events in the city and suburbs that include dancing, ofrendas, face painting, candy and other festivities. 

Veterans Day – Nov. 11, 2023

Support our veterans at these local parades, activities and events that celebrate the brave men and women who serve our country. 

Diwali – Nov. 12, 2023

Celebrate the five-day festival of lights with our Diwali Guide for Chicagoland Families. Get recipes, ideas for festive activities and more. 

Thanksgiving – Nov. 23, 2023

Enjoy a day of gratitude, thanksgiving and, of course, food with your family. Find Thanksgiving events and activities in our Thanksgiving Guide for Chicagoland Families, or try these creative ideas for sharing thankfulness with your family.

Veterans Day Events for Chicago Families

Here are some ways to show your support for our veterans.

Diwali Guide for Chicagoland Families

The main celebration for Diwali occurs on Nov. 12, 2023. Here are some fun ways you and your family can celebrate.

Día de los Muertos Events in Chicagoland

Learn more about the Day of the Dead with these local events.

Best Halloween Events for Kids in Chicagoland

Have a spooktacular time with your family thanks to these local events.