Best Activities Around Chicago in Fall 2023

Field Museum ChicagoThough summer is a beloved period for Chicagoans, fall can be just as exciting. As the leaves change and the cooler weather sets in, autumnal activities like visiting pumpkin patches or going apple picking rise in popularity. While not every city resident has time to drive an hour away to visit an orchard, some great fall activities are happening inside city limits this year. 

Navy Pier’s Pier Pumpkin Lights  

Navy Pier is almost as iconic as the city itself. With its Ferris wheel and lakeside boardwalk, it’s a quintessential stop for any Chicago visitor. For the third year, Navy Pier will host its Pier Pumpkin Lights event.

Starting October 1st, Pier Pumpkin Lights will be in full effect. The spooky installation includes jack-o-lantern towers, festive light displays, and Halloween-inspired statues. The visual experience spans the entirety of the 50-acre peer, starting from the entrance all the way to the Ferris wheel. Though there aren’t concrete details about this year’s event yet, one can expect various Halloween installations with gargoyles, pumpkins, and graveyard scenes. 

Pier Pumpkin Lights lasts the entirety of October, with haunted pop-up events occurring every Saturday of the month. 

The Field Museum     

The Field Museum of National History is one of the largest history museums in the world. Located right off of Lake Shore Drive, its gargantuan pillars and Greek-inspired architecture is just a preview of the marvels the museum holds inside. Lucky for Illinois residents, the museum has plenty of free days for kids and adults to enjoy this fall. 

For October, there are eight different days that’ll be free to the public. Upcoming exhibits include Native Voices, an exhibition documenting Native American and indigenous peoples’ history through art, music, and poetry. Another new exhibit is Wild Colors, a collection of the Field Museum’s colorful artifacts documenting the color spectrum in nature. Of course, the prized possession is the T-Rex Sue, whose bones are prominently displayed at the museum’s entrance. 

Check out the Field Museum’s website for all their upcoming free days. 

Lincoln Park Zoo 

Roaming around the zoo is a beautiful summer afternoon activity. But Lincoln Park Zoo is also a great place to explore during the fall. With countless autumnal events, this Chicago zoo will be the place to visit this October. 

Before the Christmas lights are strung up around the zoo’s perimeter, Lincoln Park Zoo will host numerous fall events for families to enjoy. Starting at the end of September, every weekend up to December will have the zoo’s well-known fall fest. Activities include pumpkin picking, a harvest maze, children’s slides, rides, and free musical entertainment. Other upcoming events include Spooky Zoo, Haunted History Tours, and a spooky adult’s night before Halloween. 

Museum of Science and Industry

Another renowned museum hosting free days this fall is the Museum of Science and Industry. Located in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, the museum showcases man’s innovations and inventions throughout the years. 

The museum holds some of humankind’s most marvelous creations, like the U-505 submarine and the Pioneer Zephyr, the first diesel-electric hybrid train. Comprehensive exhibits like the Baby Chick Hatchery showcases life’s evolutionary process, documenting the life cycle from egg to adult. There are also incredible photography exhibits, like the Extreme Ice display, which features one photographer chasing the disappearing ice caps. 

Look at the Museum of Science and Industry website for all free dates between October and November. 

Chicago Ghost Tours with Nightly Spirits

There are many thrilling ghost tours in the city of Chicago. One of the premier tours is the Chicago Ghost Tours by Nightly Spirits, which brings guests to haunted hangouts of the city’s iconic gangsters and robbers. 

Take a trip through prohibition-era America, where you’ll find spooky pubs and restaurants with rumored ghostly tales of the past. Alongside a history tour, the experience doubles as a pub crawl, taste-testing drinks and spirits from each bar you encounter. The tour begins in Lincoln Park’s historic Red Lion Pub, which is consistently regarded as a ghost domain since its inception.

Though many might be sad that summer has come to a close, Chicago thankfully has plenty of fall activities for families to attend. Whether you’re a spooky aficionado or a local historian, these events are perfect for autumnal-style fun.