Best Fall Activities in Chicago

September 26, 2021
Food & Drink
jason wolfe
Yelp

There's nothing quite like fall in Chicago. The fantastic colors of leaves. The crisp air. And all of the amazing activities. Chicago is a city of neighborhoods. And those neighborhoods are full of different backgrounds and people who bring their celebrations to life right in the middle of this exciting part of the year.

The kids have just gone back to school. Everyone is gearing up for Halloween and Thanksgiving. And there are plenty of events just waiting. It's a great time to explore the city without the heat and humidity of summer and before the real chill of winter begins. From outdoor fun to themed events, there's a little something for everyone.

If you’re thinking about giving the gift of experience, treat a friend with a virtual GiftYa card that they can use for their next amazing adventure. Or use the gift card for your own fall excursion around the city. Looking for a list of great fall-themed events and things to see in the city. Check out our list below.

Halloween Themed Fun

We can't mention fall in Chicago without the Halloween-themed events. From haunted houses to amusement park fright fests, to scary movies, you can get into the spirit of Halloween for a solid month or more. Of course, there are other activities associated with the fall, but these get their own top billing.

13th Floor Haunted House

Image Courtesy of Thirteenth Floor Chicago

One of the most well-known haunted houses in Chicago. This one is located in Melrose Park. They run the haunted house from the middle of September through the first week of November. This is one of the scarier haunted house adventures so it might not be appropriate for little ones.

It's also been featured on television shows on MTV and the Travel Channel.

Terror in the Timbers

This event is a scream. Hosted at Camp Big Timber in Elgin. There are a few options with this experience. You can put your car in park and the Zombies come to get you. Or you can do that experience AND take a hike on their Trail of Terror Haunted Hike. This is a great interactive Halloween activity for anyone who likes to be spooked in the woods. For the driving option, there are stated rules that you have to follow and all cars must be put in park once you arrive at the set designations.

Six Flag Fright Fest

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A day at the amusement park all dressed up for Halloween. What could be better? Six Flags has been hosting its annual Fright Fest for years. Characters are dressed in costumes and the entire park is decked out with spooky Halloween flair. The waterpark attractions are out but the rest of the rides are open and they have some great shows and events for kids of all ages.

It's a great event that runs until the park closes for the season.

Boo! At the Zoo

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Brookfield Zoo is a great place to be most times of the year. But in the fall, they really pull out the stops in the fall. There are Halloween-themed exhibits to take photos in front of and you can come in costume. Of course, there are the regular exhibits which are always a great treat for animal lovers of all ages. The iconic carousel is decked out in spooky decorations and they have a maze set up for some extra fall fun.

Haunted Chicago Tours

Image Courtesy of Chicago Hauntings

Take a haunted tour. This is a great way to spend an evening. You get the real-life history of some of the most haunted places in Chicago. It's fun for history buffs and ghost hunters alike. There are several types of tours to choose from in the Chicago area. You can take a walking tour, themed tours like the Leopold and Loeb tour or the Ghosts and Gangsters tour, or ones devoted to the Devil in the White City, featuring the history of America's first known serial killer. There are also boat tours, bus tours, and all things ghost hunting.

Fall Boat Tour

The boat tours on Lake Michigan are always a thrill. You might not think of doing one in the fall, but it's a perfect time. Boat tours are less crowded once the weather gets cooler. You get a beautiful view of the city to enjoy any of the tours offered. Most lines close in November, so you have some time to enjoy a few hours out on the lake. Layer up and bring a jacket because it does get chilly fast when the sun goes down. But most years, you'll get some excellent days for a great activity.

Pop Up Experiences - Sleepy Hollow Pop-Up Experience

Image Courtesy of Secret Chicago

Every year, pop-up events, well, pop up. These include pop-up bars and one of the best in 2021 is the Sleepy Hollow Immersive Cocktail Experience. Go back in time to your favorite fall-themed place in literature. Have craft cocktails to fit the theme (actually three... you get three different cocktails with your ticket and you can order virgin drinks if you'd prefer non-alcoholic). This is all about the experience. The staff all stay in character and it's an amazing trip back in time. Experience something a bit out of the ordinary this fall.

Naper Settlement

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Naper Settlement is a walk back in time to the early years of Illinois. It's a wonderful attraction year-round and schools often take their students there so that they can see history first-hand. During October, they host a few events. One is Oktoberfest at the beginning of the month. The other event is called Howlin' at the Moon. It promises many attractions that include music, contortionists, illusionists, and more. There's also food and drinks. It's an adult event hosted October 22-23, 2021.  

Naper Settlement is open year-round with special events on the calendar all the time. If you can't make it in the fall, think about stopping for a regular day out or one of the other seasonal events.

Pier Pumpkin Lights

Image Courtesy of Time Out

There's nothing more Chicago than Navy Pier and during October, the whole place transforms. With nearly 1,000 pumpkins on display, Navy Pier becomes a fall-themed treat for every type of visitor. Stop at the Children's Museum or ride the world-famous Ferris Wheel. Visit all of the great restaurants and bars or check out the seasonal offerings surrounded by the glowing lights of intricately carved Jack-O-Lanterns.

Dia de los Muertos: Love Never Dies Ball

Image Courtesy of The National Museum of Mexican Art

The National Museum of Mexican Art hosts this event. This year, the ball is being held on November 6, 2021. It's a fantastic event that includes music, dancing, some of the best Mexican cuisine, cocktails, and of course the most beautiful scenery. Tickets are available for adults, 21 and over.

Best of all, the cost of tickets goes to help support the National Museum of Mexican Art. It's a beautiful event to celebrate Mexican culture. You don't want to miss out!

Lincoln Park Zoo

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Adults Night Out: The Great Pumpkin Glow

Brookfield isn't the only Zoo in town. Lincoln Park Zoo is hosting this adults-only themed event on October 28, 2021. The event is scheduled for after hours, where adults get to experience the zoo as never seen before. There are seasonally themed cocktails, food, a pumpkin walk, and more. It's a great chance to see the zoo in a new light and a fantastic place to experience with adult friends.

Fall Fest

Lincoln Park Zoo is also hosting a more family-friendly seasonal event. Throughout the month of October, Friday through Sunday you can experience their Fall Fest. They have all sorts of fun fall activities for kids and families during the month. Fall fest walks you through the pumpkin walk, offers pumpkin carving, and there are tons of Halloween and fall-themed activities for the kids and whole family to enjoy. It's a great way to take in some fresh air and see the zoo before the temperatures start dropping into winter.

Richardson Adventure Farm

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This is a great place to visit at other times of the year, but it's especially fun during the fall. They have a pumpkin patch that's very popular during the fall, but the big attraction is the corn maze. In fact, they boast that it's the largest corn maze in the world!

Richardson's decks the place out for fall activities but you'll also find some off-the-wall adventures, like ORBiting (where you get inside a big ball!) or ziplining, or pig races. There's never any shortage of adventure, as the title of the farm would suggest. It's a great time for the family or for adults looking for a little something different to do.

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