Autumn is one of my favorite seasons! I love all that there is to do from the apple picking to pumpkin picking to seeing the leaves change colors. Being in the Midwest during Autumn is one of the main reasons why I would leave sunny Southern California to be here again.
Here are some of our top picks:
Wagner Farm: This is probably the closest to Evanston and my favorite Fall event is actually their Smores and Storytime which is for free! What a fun location and the best part was it was all free (I believe that you pay when the kids are 2+ but adults were free and our son was too little to have to pay). We all got cups of apple cider and smores to sit on the bales on hay to listen to storytime. They have a barn where you learn how to pretend milk a cow, pick eggs, and how to process vegetables that are grown on the farm. Their dairy farm also includes cows, horses, sheep, chicken, and pigs. Definitely a fun family destination for an afternoon. They also offer other fun Fall activities from a Bonfire to Picnic/Barnyard Dance and Ice cream social to building your own scarecrow!
Didier Farms: This place has a little bit of everything but expensive if you actually wanted to do something besides walk around. They had shows, rides, pumpkin patches, hayrides, and even a maze for you to check out. Keep in mind that each thing cost roughly $2 in tickets to enjoy. There is also plenty of food including a section for organic, farm grown food. Their apple and pumpkin donuts are absolutely delicious. It makes for a nice fall outing and the pumpkin donuts really hit the spot.
Jonamac Orchard: To add to the whole Midwest Fall experience with the leaves changing colors, my family and I drove out to Malta, IL – right next to Dekalb and NIU. This is definitely a family experience from the very beginning. For the kids, there is the Barn Yard activity area with huge bales of hay, Apple Train (even adults can fit in these cute little apple shaped seats), Apple Launcher, Petting Zoo (they even have a llama and camel, too!), Pony rides, Hay rides, and to top it all off, there is the apple orchard, pumpkin patch and the corn maze, as well.
For the apple orchard, you have to purchase your own bag – personally, purchase a smaller bag and you’ll have fun running through the rows of the apple trees trying to find the different types of apples. There are three types of bags – $9.00 for a 1/2 peck (5 lbs), $15.00 for a peck (10 lbs) and $27 for a 1/2 bushel (20 lbs). We were greedy and picked a bushel of apples but now, we’re still trying to figure out what else we can make with apples! But if you’re there for a deal – inside of their grocery store are fresh hand-picked apples already in bags that are cheaper than the the one that you’ll pick by yourself. They also have a bakery section that serves fresh hot apple doughnuts and cider – either hot or slushy form.
Also, inside of the store includes homemade jams, jellies, and apple butter. The bakery also has fresh baked breads, apple pies, hand made caramel apples, and apple pizzas. Overall, a fun family experience and we look back to coming again next year.
The Grove: For groups, they have this great guided nature walk and a tour of the Interpretive Center. The Interpretive Center houses a collection of live birds, turtles, snakes and fish as well as specimens for educational purposes, environmental exhibits and historical resources. Children will have the opportunity to touch and feel native animals. The nature trail and the Interpretive Center are stroller accessible. This is a great event for kids of all ages. The nature walk itself was great and a lot of fun! Beautiful and fun for the kids – definitely bring a trail friendly stroller and more geared towards an older child (recommended for 2+)
Morton Arboretum: Go acorn collecting! General Admission applies, unless you are already a member ($11 for adults, $8 for kids, under 2 FREE) ON WEDNESDAYS ONLY $7 for adults and $5 for kids over 2! Here, you can collect acorns and OTHER early autumn treasures (maybe stones and sticks, leaves, pine cones, etc) for a while and then head over to the Childrens Garden area for a picnic lunch, so bring something to snack on. (They do have a restaurant as well)
Apple Holler: Rounding out these recommendations is probably the furthest away – but Apple Holler’s delicious $10.99 brunch buffet includes this amazing quiche, thick slabs of bacon, ham steaks, pancakes which cherry or apple toppings, apple fritter, bread pudding, and more! Other than that, there is a pumpkin farm/apple orchard and there are some farm animals to feed and watch. The kids loved running around and swinging on all the wooden swings and the gazebo. We’ll probably be back again for some apple picking!