Stretch Your Midwestern Summer Into Fall

Summer may be winding down, but there is still plenty of time to get outside and enjoy the outdoors. In fact, the onset of fall in the Midwest delivers flawless weather and ample activities to take advantage of the beautiful surroundings. So grab an extra layer as the humidity breaks and join us as we extend your summer fun into September and beyond!

Parks, Forests and Preserves – Oh My!

Less than 100 miles southwest from Chicago, Starved Rock State Park is an Illinois gem that shines through November. Voted the number one attraction in Illinois, the topography of the region is unlike anything found in the state. Visitors can experience 13 miles of hiking trails through various elevations and terrain along the Illinois River. A guided color tour and “ghost tour” are two adventures available in October, among other highlights including hotels, camping, dining and live music at the lodge.

If you’re looking to trek north, Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine State Forest covers more than 22,000 acres of glacial hills, kettle lakes and prairies along with 100+ miles of mountain biking, horseback riding, hiking and nature trails. Boating, fishing, hunting and camping opportunities are all available into autumn. Activities abound all year in this rustic enclave, but temperate weather and vivid colors make late summer and early fall a perfect time to soak in a little more Vitamin D.

Meanwhile, with 27 forest preserves in Cook County alone, there is ample opportunity for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. These protected spaces are biologically diverse featuring forests, wetlands, savannas and prairies with spaces for hiking, biking, golfing or even ziplining!

Curated Beauty

Chicagoland is home to a botanical garden and arboretum that provide another way to maximize the great outdoors as the days grow shorter. Through September 25, the Chicago Botanic Gardens will be celebrating its 50th birthday with various artwork displayed through the gardens and pop-up events every other weekend. The Morton Arboretum has been inspiring people to appreciate, learn and protect trees for over 100 years and features a variety of special events for all ages.

The Fernwood Botanic Garden in Niles, Michigan has 105 acres of gardens and natural areas along the St. Joseph River. In addition to the picturesque surroundings, locals can enjoy occasional live music or a monthly book club that runs through November.

Take Your Pick

You certainly can’t beat this time of year in the Midwest for picking crisp, juicy apples. From Wisconsin to Michigan, you’ll find trees bursting with apples – Apple Holler, Royal Oak Farm and Twin Maple Orchards are just a few farms that offer apple picking and other seasonal events. But did you know you there are a variety of crops that can be harvested even after the first frost? Most area farmers markets run through the end of October with not only an abundance of apples, but squash, beans, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, green onions and more. If you fancy yourself a gardener, seeds for most of these veggies can be sown now for a late fall harvest. And while the window is closing for fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and berries, by investing in some mason jars and trying your hand at canning, pickling and jams, these summertime riches can last you all year.

Fall temperatures can remain moderate into October and even early November, so reframe your end-of-summer doldrums and take that sunshine right into the fall!

Written by Angie Sell