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The autumn season is an amazing time to be in Illinois. The temperatures are cool and crisp, the leaves are changing colors, and there are so many fun things to do to keep families entertained. From pumpkin patches to Oktoberfest celebrations, apple picking, and much more, here are some of the very best fall festivals to check out in Illinois this year.
The city of Homewood has a great fall festival. This is a great place for Chicagoans to get out of the city and enjoy some fall fun because it’s just a 40-minute drive from Chicago. The festival features a pumpkin patch, horse wagon, petting zoo, pony rides, and live entertainment. There will be craft vendors onsite and also children’s craft opportunities. The Homewood Fall Fest is fun for the whole family because of the delicious seasonal foods prepared by local eateries, the chili cook-off, and the pumpkin carving contest.
If your idea of fall fun is more like drinking beer and eating bratwursts than ghosts and pumpkins, then definitely check out the Galena Oktoberfest this year. The event welcomes adults and kids of all ages. In addition to that tasty beer, there are plenty of opportunities here for family fun and learning about German heritage with German-style food, polka lessons and dancing, and wiener dog racing. You won’t want to miss out on seeing the popular event of the Beer Stein Endurance Contest and all the festive live polka music. Galena is about three hours from Chicago.
You’ll also love checking out the Apple Festival at Pere Marquette Lodge, which is located about an hour northwest of St. Louis. Admission to this Grafton, Illinois, festival is free, and it has been a local tradition for nine years. A top attraction is the apple pie walk, which gives festival-goers the chance to take home a freshly baked apple pie. Don’t miss the pumpkin roll, which involves participants bringing a pumpkin to decorate and roll down a hill by the lodge. Winners will get gift certificates to the restaurant and historic lodge. Other family-friendly offerings are fresh produce for sale, handmade crafts, and hand-dipped caramel apples.
When the end of September rolls around, head to Warren, which is about 35 minutes from Galena and three hours from Chicago. The Warren Pumpkin Festival has been going on for more than 50 years. This is an old-fashioned pumpkin festival with a parade, pumpkin games, carnival rides, and antique tractor pulls. You and your family will also love the live music for dancing, food and beverage offerings, and the petting zoo.
Not all fall festivals in Illinois are about pumpkins and apples, and a good example of this is the International Route 66 Mother Road Festival. Illinois is a historically important place along the iconic highway of Route 66, and there’s a festival to celebrate this in Springfield. Admission is free, and the 20-year festival is about a 3.5-hour drive from Chicago. Come here for non-stop musical entertainment and to see over 1,000 awesome retro cars along Route 66.
Anyone living or traveling through the St. Louis area will also want to know about the Mt. Vernon Illinois Fall Festival, which is about 1.5 hours from St. Louis. This is a free festival. It’s been going strong for nine years now and is packed with food, fun, and music for the whole family.
Godfrey, Illinois, which is only about 40 minutes from St. Louis, is another wonderful place to be this fall. Admission is free, and the festival has been part of the Godfrey community for over 20 years. Come here to enjoy a fun-filled day at the park with music, pony rides, a petting zoo, inflatables, arts and crafts, and face painting. There’s even a corn-eating contest, so get ready to cheer on the participants!
There are few better places to be in the fall in Illinois than the Morton Arboretum, which is about an hour from Chicago. Not only are the trees gorgeous here in the fall, but there are also several fall festivities planned here, including the Scarecrow Trail, the Cider and Ale Festival, and the Glass Pumpkin Patch. Here, you’ll find over 1,700 acres of seasonal bliss and hundreds of trees from around the world glowing in their red, orange, and yellow glory. Don’t miss the delicious taffy apples, the wonderful children’s garden, and the troll hunt in the park.
The St. Charles’ Scarecrow Fest is a little over an hour from Chicago and has been going on for 36 years. It’s free to attend and lets you make your very own scarecrow and then head to town to vote for your favorite one. Other family fun here includes the carnival, craft show, bands playing at the Arcada Theatre, and artisan dishes served up by the local St. Charles restaurants.