How to Experience Fall with the Five Senses

The sweaters, decor and pumpkin coffees are officially out, which can only mean one thing: fall has arrived. From the colorful leaves to the smell of pumpkin spice, we’re taking it all in. Instead of enjoying fall in a handful of ways, we’re on a mission to experience the season with the five senses.

Whether you prefer to enjoy fall in the great outdoors or in the comfort of your home, we have a list of ways you can experience it to the fullest.


With shades of green, yellow, orange and burnt red, seeing the leaves change is arguably one of the best things about the fall season. Throughout Chicagoland, there are plenty of opportunities to set your sights on whimsical beauty. For starters, you can enjoy ‘leaf peeping’ at beautiful locations such as the Morton Arboretum, Lurie Garden, Maple Grove Forest Preserve or make a trip to Starved Rock.

If an activity-driven experience is more your speed, we have a couple to-dos in mind. The Chicago Botanic Garden will host the Fall Bulb Festival, where you can admire the gourd mountain, listen to live music and purchase bulbs that will explode with color in the spring. For a more city affair, head to Navy Pier for their first-ever Pier Pumpkin Lights. This brand-new pop-up displays nearly 1,000 glowing jack-o’-lanterns along Navy Pier and pairs it with fall activities and fall-inspired food and drinks.


Step outside and take a deep breath to smell the crisp autumn air and the soft scent of dried out leaves. This is the easiest way to experience fall with your sense of smell, but we won’t leave you with just that.

Bring fall aromas into your home by creating your own warm and spicy scent, naturally. In a saucepan or crockpot, simmer water with apples, cloves, orange peels and cinnamon sticks to exude the smell of fall in your home. Now, that may smell so good, you’ll want something to indulge. Enter a freshly baked apple pie or a batch of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.


Perhaps taste is the most important when it comes to experiencing fall with the five senses. Fall invites us to travel to apple orchards, such as Apple Holler, Jonamac Orchard or Kuipers Family Farm, to pick the freshest apples. It also welcomes us to explore open fields to search for the perfect pumpkin.

All of this helps create the most delicious autumnal bites. Nothing beats a crisp bite of an apple, a sip of homemade apple cider or a freshly baked pumpkin cinnamon roll.

Who could forget game-day chili? Nothing screams fall like a warm bowl of chili (maybe some corn bread, too? Go crazy.) and rooting for your team. We found a delicious recipe for sweet potato chili that looks like it would be a total touchdown.


The sound of crunching leaves beneath your boots is a given, but have you embraced a ‘spooktacular’ event lately? Take advantage of local performances and events, such as Dead Poet’s Halloween Party, where you can take part (and listen) to open mic performances of poems and spooky sonnets, or participate in the Drake Hotel’s Nightmare on Walton Street event. Decked out in your finest black-tie attire, you can enjoy live jazz and blues music…masked.

While these are more adult forward events, there is no shortage of family fun concerts. Experience the Music Institute of Chicago’s Spooktacular Concert & Haunted Open House or relish in the beauty of the Auditorium Theater. They will be hosting Disney in Concert: The Nightmare Before Christmas, accompanied by Chicago Philharmonic to perform the movie’s score.


Remember that pumpkin we mentioned earlier? Experience fall to the fullest by digging out the gooiness to carve a jack-o’-lantern and harvesting pumpkin seeds. A two for one! Enjoy the warm glow and a snack.

After an evening filled of carving, take comfort in the cozy fall essentials. Grab your favorite pajamas and knitted blanket to end the night with a warm cup of cider and latest read.

Written by Samantha Shreve
Samantha Shreve is the digital content specialist at @properties.