Five Family Activities for Fall


Ahh . . . fall in Chicago. Not as good as summer in Chicago, but still pretty darn good. And there is so much good stuff to do — indoors and out. Here are my 5 picks for the activities and events your family won’t want to miss this season.

1. Get your pumpkin from a farm. Don’t get your pumpkin from a guy selling them in an empty lot someplace in the city. Seriously. Don’t. Pumpkins don’t grow in empty parking lots. Take your kid to an actual farm and let him see how pumpkins grow. I like Stade’s Farm in McHenry. 

If pumpkins aren’t your thing, visit an apple farm and pick up a bushel to make your own pie. Visit Pick-Your-Own to get more information on u-pick farms in our area. Get out of the city and take advantage of the beautiful autumn weather with your kiddos. Because it is probably going to start snowing soon.
2. Check out the Crittercam at the Nature Museum. According to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Musem website, the National Geographic Crittercam
is a “scientific video- and data-gathering tool safely worn by wild
animals, offering researchers insights into animal behavior and clues
to protecting animals and the world we share.” Basically you get to see
what life looks like from the perspective of seals, lions, sea turtles
and more. This exhibit opens on September 26th and it sounds pretty

3. Make a trip to the Modern Wing. Many parents
think that the kids don’t really belong at the Art Institute — not
true. This place has tons to offer even young kids. The newly-opened Modern Wing has an expanded family area and the
programming here is top notch. Offerings include everything from story time to art classes for teens. Kids will love the current exhibit called Picture Perfect: Art from Caldecott Award Winners. The website even has a section with tips on planning your family visit. Before you make a trek to the Modern Wing, be sure to check out “Curious Corner,” the newly-launched interactive kid’s website. It is a great introduction to some basic art concepts.

4. See YOU! The Experience at the Museum of Science and Industry. Opening October 8th, this exhibit promises to wow (older) kids and parents alike. You! The Experience offers visitors the chance to examine what makes you uniquely you. This interactive experience in intended to examine health as well as personality issues. Visitors can use their own heartbeat to make the Museum’s new giant “Heart” come alive. I’ve heard lots of good buzz about this exhibit and can’t wait to see it myself. The exhibit says it is for “all ages,” but I think that it looks more appropriate for school-aged children and up.

5.  Take advantage of the free Halloween programming offered by the Chicago Park District.
Even though actual Halloween is still six weeks away, the festivities get going as soon as October arrives. We usually end up
attending so many parties and events that my kids’ costumes are totally
worn out when the big day actually arrives.

The Chicago Park District has some great Halloween offerings — and many of them are totally free (or very inexpensive).

Find a Pumpkin Patch in your neighborhood (crafts, hay rides, petting zoos, etc.). Get in touch with nature and listen to stories told around a campfire. And the brave of heart even have their choice of (scary and not-so-scary) haunted houses.  

Any can’t-miss additions to this list? What local activities or events are on your fall calendar?


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  • Thanks for the tips on the pumpkin patches and pick your own farms-- such a fun idea. We've been to the Oz Park Halloween event in the past which is always fun (but crowded)>

  • Thanks for the tips on the pumpkin patches and pick your own farms-- such a fun idea. We've been to the Oz Park Halloween event in the past which is always fun (but crowded)>

  • Another website to find more Chicagoland pumpkin farms is There are a lot of good choices.

  • Thanks for the link Jane. You are right -- there are a ton of good choices listed on that site. Great addition.

  • Aww, the pumpkin farm! Love it.

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