Orange and black may be the official colors of October, but they’re making an early appearance this year. Head to the Monarch Butterfly Fest, where the striking insects take center stage ahead of migrating for the winter. Before nestling into your own seasonal cocoon, try some outdoor activities like hayrides, renting canoes or kayaks and making a scarecrow. Or get a jump on Halloween by getting your faces painted in that iconic orange and black pattern. $6, free kids 3 and under. 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Sept. 13. Lake Katherine Nature Center and Botanic Gardens, 7402 Lake Katherine Drive, Palos Heights. (708) 361-1873.
Say so long to summer at Last Fling, Naperville’s annual salute to fun in the sun. There are contests for all ages, from a diaper derby and a kids’ slam dunk contest to pie – and spaghetti – eating contests and bed races and water balloon dodges for maximum family bonding. The event celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Find ways to fill all four days with fun, because if we have to kiss summer goodbye, we might as well do it in style! Check website for cost. Sept. 4-7. Naperville Central High School, 440 W. Aurora Ave., Naperville. (630) 961-4143. Fill all four days with fun
Tree huggers unite! To celebrate 100 years of the Forest Preserves of Cook County, they’re organizing a group hug of truly epic proportions. Join a corporate effort to set a new county record for the largest tree hug, then stick around for some music, games and giveaways. The Tree Hug Finale is the last of 100 events scheduled for Sept. 20-27 to help residents see the forest and the trees. Free. 3:30-6:30 p.m. Sept. 27. Caldwell Woods, 6350 W. Devon, Chicago. (800) 870-3666.
Visit our Weekend Picks page for more not-to-miss events.