It’s not easy to say “so-long” to summer, with its cookouts and fireflies and family time galore. But there’s still plenty of falltastic fun just waiting to be found, from forest hikes to football to fall fests. So grab the kids and explore some new autumn escapes right in your neck of the woods.
Bemis Woods-South, 1100 Ogden Ave., Western Springs
Take a more daring approach to enjoying the fall colors … topside. Older kids will truly go ape as they swing, zip, balance and climb along 39 suspended crossings. Tarzan swing, zip lines, rope ladders, spider webs, rail tracks and flying carpets—not the Aladdin type—will surely get your adrenaline pumping. The course is designed for all skill levels, and each section offers “easier” alternatives if the advanced path is too extreme for your taste. You’ll even get a certificate upon completion—bragging rights included! Kids must be 10 years old and 55 inches tall.
200 S. County Line Road, Hobart, Ind.
Pack up your little dumplings and do some apple picking. At County Line Orchard, you can hop a tractor ride to the orchards and pluck fresh, juicy fruits right off the trees. There are corn mazes and a petting zoo, too. You can’t leave without tasting the pumpkin or apple spice doughnuts. Try one, but be prepared to take home a dozen (at least). Fall weekends feature toe-tappin’ live music at the Barnyard Jam. Open through Oct. 30.
13341 W. 151st St., Homer Glen
Hello, Halloween! Start your Halloween happenings a little early with a fest that is more fun than fright. There are kiddie carnival rides, a petting zoo, a pumpkin launcher, camel rides, food trucks, hayrides and more. A real treat is the Jimmy Cracked Corn Box; think a giant sandbox filled with corn, perfect for jumping, digging and making “corn angels” (the kids will need to perfect their form for winter). A Haunted Barn awaits those who dare; for those who don’t, check out the Fun Barn and the Halloween Gift Shop. Open through Oct. 30.
9800 Willow Springs Road, Willow Springs
Autumn is rich in gold, bronze and copper—foliage, that is. The Little Red Schoolhouse is a treasure trove of fun every weekend in October, including an Acorn Scavenger Hunt (Oct. 16) and Colorful Fall Hike (Oct. 22.). Need a date night? The New Moon Hike (Oct. 28) and Starry, Starry Night (Nov. 18) are adults-only starlight hikes that end with a toasty campfire. Romance will be in the air, guaranteed. Registration is required.
Karbers Ridge, Ill.
Embrace your inner child and head downstate for a treehouse slumber party. We’re not talking sleeping bags on a dusty floor; these treehouses take camping to new heights. They are cabins nestled among towering tree branches, and each one has comfy beds, heat/AC, fridge, microwave, shower and toilet and more. Not into heights? You can keep your feet planted on the ground in a traditional cabin. During the day, explore nearby Shawnee National Forest. Or try the latest craze, archery golf, which is similar to Frisbee golf, but with a bow and arrow. Advance reservations are a must!
1410 S. Museum Campus Drive, Chicago
Are you ready for some football? Then dash on over to Soldier Field for a behind-the-scenes stadium tour. You’ll score big with your kids as they wander the hallowed halls of the famed Chicago Bears. Let your football fans, young and old, charge the field, relax on the sidelines and celebrate in the endzone. Snap a photo with the patriotic Doughboy Statue and catch some bird’s-eye views of the stadium and Chicago lakefront in the Skyline Suite. After the tour, huddle up the team for a walk along the lakefront and museum campus. Check website for details and tour availability.