Sunglow. Mango Tango. Scarlet. This is the time of year that those colors jump straight out of your kids’ crayon boxes and into the trees, creating striking vistas wherever you go.
But you don’t have to trek out to the ‘burbs to get an eyeful of Mother Nature’s colorful show. Fall foliage can be found right here in Chicago … if you just know where to look.
The Nichols Bridgeway
The Nichols Bridgeway (159 E. Monroe St.), which connects Millennium Park to the Art Institute’s Modern Wing, offers a clear view of the changing colors of the park’s popular Lurie Garden below. Or drop in to the Ryan Learning Center to see if you can translate those vivid reds, yellows and oranges into works of art. (Bonus points if you can find the painting entitled “Autumn” in the museum’s impressive collection.)
You can check out the fall colors from the water when you paddle under falling leaves at Columbus Park (500 S. Central Ave.). On Oct. 8, families can learn how to canoe around the lagoon, plus learn a little bit about the natural history of the area at the same time. Or bring along your fishing rod and see if you can catch a fish, city-style (fishing license is required, but is free for kids under 16).
Squeeze in some leaf-peeping on a Chicago staycation: Hotel Lincoln (1816 N. Clark St.) boasts stunning views of Lincoln Park in all of its autumnal beauty. It’s an easy jaunt from the hotel to Lincoln Park Zoo, Oz Park and Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. But if you can find a sitter, you might want to make it an adults-only overnight—the J. Parker bar has a rooftop … and a signature cocktail called Liquid Sunshine.
Palmer Square Park
The leaves in Palmer Square Park (2200 N. Kedzie Ave.) aren’t just above your head; they’re also on the benches. This park, inspired by classic children’s book The Velveteen Rabbit, features seven acres of green space, which turn a little golden in the fall. It’s also a favorite spot for a picnic—as long as you remember to bring along some extra blankets.
Honey Butter Fried Chicken
We honestly didn’t think we could love Honey Butter Fried Chicken (3361 N. Elston Ave.) more—until we visited its patio in autumn. The climbing ivy changes color the same way the leaves do, giving a seasonal thrill to chowing down on the already-delicious fried chicken and waffles. Kids will love playing with the outdoor magnet wall while parents sip a cider or bourbon—perfect fall drinks, imho.
The manmade peninsula of Burnham Park’s Promontory Point (5491 S. Shore Drive) juts into Lake Michigan and is home to a number of leafy trees that put on a show come autumn. Looking to take a memorable family photo for your holiday cards? The castle-like fieldhouse makes for a stunning backdrop/fairytale-come-to-life.