Best time to travel to Chicago

Chicago Fall Colors

Absorb the bright season without leaving the Windy City

Chicago Fall Colors
Chicago Fall Colors

If you visit Chicago in the middle of October, you'll be treated to the splendor of scarlet, orange, and yellow. The city offers a number of lush parks, gardens, cemeteries, and old tree-lined streets packed with resplendent colors. You can soak in the vibrant foliage in the downtown area, where the colors will contrast with cityscape vistas. But if you're more into serene natural areas, make your way to the outskirts.

Fall colors in Chicago

Feel the fall vibes in the heart of the concrete jungle at the iconic Millennium Park. The famous Cloud Gate, or "The Bean," is especially enchanting when surrounded with glorious shades of fall. To the north, you'll find Lincoln Park, the largest one in Chicago, with red maples, birches, ashes, and elms aplenty. For unique backgrounds, head to the University of Chicago and view fall colors against the English Gothic architecture. Or choose the historic Graceland Cemetery with a wide variety of trees, featuring red oak, black walnut, sycamore, Ohio buckeye, and Norway spruce.

Fall colors near Chicago

If you prefer to escape urban sceneries, yet remain close to the city, there are plenty of spots within a 30-min drive from Chicago. Check out vivid foliage at the famous Chicago Botanic Garden and the nearby Potawatomi Woods, both located in Northbrook, just north of the city. Go hiking among the 4,200 types of trees in Morton Arboretum, Lisle, west of Chicago. Or explore the trails of Swallow Cliff Woods, south-west of Chicago.

Chicago Botanic Garden fall colors

Folks flock to Chicago Botanic Garden in all seasons, but especially in fall. Leaf-peepers have plenty of magic to see across the 27 gardens. You can start absorbing fall colors right from the Visitor Center—take a leisurely stroll to the Plant Science Center and you'll see bursting colors to the left and to the right.

Best time to see fall colors in Chicago

Usually, the peak fall colors develop in the first two weeks of October or around mid-October, but we recommend checking up with the latest forecast while planning your getaway.

See also fall foliage spots across the state of Illinois.

Practical info

When is the ideal time for admiring fall colors in Chicago?

Early to mid-October is the perfect time for enjoying fall colors in Chicago when the leaves are at their peak in most areas. Visitors should confirm the current conditions before planning their visit to avoid being disappointed. Show more

What are some places near Chicago for experiencing fall foliage within a short drive?

Within 30 minutes' drive from Chicago, visitors can explore the beautiful fall colors in various nearby areas. Northbrook's famous Chicago Botanic Garden and the Potawatomi Woods offer stunning views of colorful leaves, whereas Morton Arboretum, Lisle, and Swallow Cliff Woods, southwest of Chicago, allow visitors to hike while enjoying autumn's splendor. Show more

Which locations in Chicago can provide a scenic view of autumnal colors?

For autumnal colors in the downtown area of the city, Millennium Park and Lincoln Park are good choices. Visitors can admire the beautiful hues of fall around Cloud Gate, the English Gothic architecture of the University of Chicago, or the historic Graceland Cemetery. Each location provides a unique background to experience the fall colors. Show more

What is the most visited destination for leaf-gazing in Chicago?

The Chicago Botanic Garden is the most famous destination for leaf-peeping in Chicago. The Garden is open year-round and features 27 gardens, but it is particularly beautiful in the fall as the leaves start changing hues. Visitors can start at the Visitor Center, which is itself quite beautiful during the fall season, and then walk over to the Plant Science Center to view the stunning colors. Show more

During fall, which kinds of trees can be seen at the Graceland Cemetery?

Graceland Cemetery houses a unique variety of trees during fall, including black walnut, Ohio buckeye, Norway spruce, sycamore, and red oak. While exploring the cemetery's history with a serene atmosphere that's perfect for viewing autumn foliage, visitors can enjoy walking tours and embrace the fall colors. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin