Chicago has something to offer every season of the year, but fall is particularly magical. The leaves turn golden in Millennium Park, a crisp breeze blows near the lake, and the city is filled with tons of cool activities and events. Whether you want to celebrate Halloween, admire neighborhood architecture, soak in the fall colors, pick a bushel of apples, or hear about the city’s urban legends, fall in Chicago has something for everyone.

Here’s our guide on things to do in Chicago in the fall.

Check out the fall colors

Morton Arboretum in fall
Photo courtesy Morton Arboretum

This city is gorgeous year-round, but it really shines in the fall. Whether you’re wandering a lakefront park or just meandering the leaf-strewn streets of a charming neighborhood, you’ll find pops of fall foliage everywhere you go. Do some serious leaf peeping at these top places to see fall colors in and around Chicago:

Explore more: Read the full fall colors guide to Chicagoland.

Celebrate Halloween

Night of 1,000 Pumpkins at Chicago Botanic Garden
Photo courtesy Chicago Botanic Garden

Chicago celebrates Halloween with its own unique style, with artistic evening spectacles, glowing pumpkin displays, thrilling parades, spooky tours of haunted places, Day of the Dead celebrations, and beyond. Check out the events we’re most excited about this year:

Explore more: Check out our guide to Halloween events and activities for more.

Hop on a fall boat cruise

It’s not too late to get out on the water! Chicago’s boat tours are still setting sail through the autumn season, like the Chicago’s First Lady that offers classic architecture river tours through late fall (weather permitting). Tours are led by the experts at the Chicago Architecture Center, and you can even BYOB (bring your own blanket!).

Explore more: Check out all of Chicago’s lake and river cruise options.

Take a haunted tour

Chicago is a city with plenty of dark history, from the Great Chicago Fire to the sinking of the SS Eastland. These events have led to more than a few urban legends and plenty of alleged hauntings. Decide for yourself on these haunted and ghost tours of the city:

Explore more: See our full guide to haunted Chicago tours. Or create your own DIY walking tour with our list of Chicago’s most haunted places.

Admire iconic architecture

Elks National Memorial
Eric Allix Rogers

Open House Chicago, held each October, is one of the largest architecture events in the world, showcasing architecturally, culturally, and historically significant sites across the city’s unique neighborhoods. Go behind the scenes of the greatest spaces and places in Chicago, including soaring skyscrapers, historic spaces, members-only clubs, private residences, and other areas not normally open to the public.

Discover live theatre

Nothing compares to the thrill of live theatre. And the curtain is rising again on Chicago’s dynamic theatre scene, from our stunning downtown venues to intimate neighborhood storefronts. This fall, you can catch pre-Broadway runs, world premiers, classic favorites, cutting-edge shows, and more.

Explore more: Don’t miss these hot shows now playing in Chicago and find theatre events and shows all over Chicago.

Attend a food festival

Chicago Gourmet

The fall brings an exciting blend of food and drink events to Chicago. Foodies can get their fix at these upcoming events celebrating food, beer, and wine:

Check out more festivals and events this fall.

See an unforgettable museum exhibit

Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit
Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit

Fall is typically a busy season for art lovers in Chicago. This year, there are plenty of must-see exhibits at our amazing museums all around the city, from major exhibitions to under-the-radar finds. Explore everything from world-class art institutions to under-the-radar neighborhood museums, and tons in between.

Explore more: Findexciting museum exhibits in Chicago this fall

Visit a drive-in movie or film fest

Fall in Chicago is an excellent time for movie lovers. In October, the city hosts the longest-running competitive film festival in North America. And drive-in movies are back in a big way. These nostalgic outdoor theatres feature everything from kid-friendly flicks to spine-tingling horror films. Check out where to see film screenings and drive-in movies in Chicago this fall.

Visit a pumpkin patch

Jacks Pumpkin Pop-Up
Jacks Pumpkin Pop-Up; photo courtesy

Whether you want to carve jack-o-lanterns or bake a pie, these pumpkin patches around Chicago have what you need. Head out of town for a full day of fall activities at these pumpkin patches:

Go apple picking

Nothing says fall like walking through an apple orchard. While there aren’t many apple-picking spots within the city limits, these farms are just a short distance outside the city. Stock up on Honeycrisp, Gala, Fuji, and more at these apple-picking spots around Chicago:

Explore more: Fill your basket with apples and other seasonal produce at your nearest Chicago farmers market.