Illinois’ Leaf-Peeping Guide: Top Spots for Breathtaking Fall Foliage


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CHICAGO — Autumn in Illinois is an artist’s palette of colors, drawing leaf-peepers from near and far. Here’s an alphabetical guide to the state’s premier fall foliage spots:

  • Anderson Japanese Gardens – Crimson hues of Japanese maples complement the shimmer of koi scales.
  • Chicago’s Own Backyard – Leaf-peeping havens in the heart of the city include Millennium Park, Chicago Botanic Garden, and the Morton Arboretum.
  • Garden of the Gods – Elevated panoramas showcase the Shawnee National Forest’s autumnal transformation.
  • Great River Road – A 550-mile stretch adorned with ash, maple, and oak, painting a canvas of reds, oranges, and yellows.
  • Matthiessen State Park – A stone’s throw from Starved Rock, it boasts red cedar trees against rugged terrain.
  • Meeting of the Great Rivers – Where the Mississippi, Missouri, and Illinois Rivers converge, offering a vibrant seasonal spectacle.
  • Ohio River Scenic Byway – Sandstone cliffs, scenic hills, and wildflowers like asters and goldenrods line this picturesque route.
  • Quad City Botanical Center – From perennial gardens to the butterfly haven, it’s a riot of autumnal colors.
  • Rim Rock’s Dogwood Cabins – 77 acres of colorful campgrounds, private hiking trails, and breathtaking rock formations.
  • Route 66 – The iconic highway from Chicago to Mississippi, dotted with autumn vistas and colorful roadside attractions.
  • Starved Rock State Park – Mesmerizing canyons and waterfalls set amidst a backdrop of warm autumn hues.

Embrace the season by exploring these alphabetically organized destinations, and indulge in the beauty of Illinois in the fall.


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