Best Fall Color Road Trips From Chicago

Why a road trip to view the Fall Foliage?
There’s something captivating about the vivacious remnants of once Chlorophyll rich leaves of the summer season and how they succumb to the ground. It draws millions across the country to head out and savor the spectacle. 

Taken at Door County

When is the peak this year for Chicago area? 
Oct 17 – Oct 24.

Where is my fall foliage prediction map?
Check out the widely followed national Fall Foliage prediction map here.

Fall Color Road Trips

1. Door County Wisconsin
3.5 hours from Chicago

For every Chicago dweller, Door County is the most sought-after destination when it comes to Fall Colors.
Activities? There are aplenty –
Sister Bay Fall Fest – Being held on Oct 14 – 16 this year, attracts swarms of crowd due to innumerous festivities for kids and adults.
Peninsula State Park – Offers hiking and biking trails (you can rent the bikes there), Eagle Tower scenic overlook, light-house, golf course.
Washington Island – Take the ferry to reach the island and enjoy a plethora of activities and the Lookout Tower.

DSC_0137 (1)
View atop Washington Island Lookout Tower

Last but not the least, the Fall Foliage is arguably Midwest’s best. Here’s the post detailing our Door County Fall Color road trip from Chicago.

2. Starved Rock State Park
1.5 hours from Chicago

With 13 miles of trails and close proximity to Naperville, this would be one the best options for a day trip. Looks like the Fall Colors would peak around October 17 weekend this year. Considering the massive crowd Starved Rock draws each year, you gotta watch out.

22378693768_ae76db5fd6_kFall colors at Starved Rock (Gabe)

3. Matthiessen State Park
1.5 hours from Chicago

This is a lesser know cousin of Starved Rock with slightly muted footfall since the primary attraction is the waterfall during the summer season (see my summer trip here) and not the fall colors. It has around 6 miles of hikes and exhibits great fall foliage. This might be a preferred option, especially if you are going to take on the Oct 17 weekend crowd (peak time for colors this year).

So, set your GPS here and enjoy.

2990760664_6a9dc02210_kFall Colors at Matthiessen (Pete)

4. Turkey Run State Park, Indiana
3.5 hours from Chicago

About 3 hours from Naperville, Turkey Run is one of the most sought after State parks and looks glam during the Autumn vista. Be it hikes, historical sites, activities, campgrounds, Fall Colors, bridges, gorges – this one has it all!

4067743933_01f6ef016e_bFall Colors at Turkey Run (Josh)

5. Great River Road (Scenic Drive)
4 hours from Chicago

The Great Rivers Country area, composed of 30+ counties in Illinois West and Central, also boasts of a 30 mile scenic mile from Ashton to Grafton which attracts thousands of Fall Color aficionados every year.


                Great River Road (

Along the way, you could also visit Pere Marquette State Park in Grafton which offers a ton of activities for nature lovers and great foliage this time of the year.

6. Holy Hill Basilica at Hubertus, Wisconsin
2 hours from Chicago
Set your GPS here

Holy Hill basilica is quite a novelty – a religious shrine perched atop a picturesque hill, drawing thousands of Fall Foliage lovers every year. 

Check here to see the live view from the scenic tower.

The majestic views at Holy Hill

Tip: The scenic tower is only specific for a specific time. Check the hours here.

7. Michigan – Lower and Upper Peninsula
3-5 hours from Chicago

My favorite in Lower Peninsula is the acclaimed scenic route on M119, also called Tunnel of Trees.

You can read all about it here.

24d_tunnel156Tunnel of trees,

M119 can be accessed from just outside Petoskey. You can find the map below – the yellow line highlights tunnel of trees route, red is an extension covering equally exquisite MI State Park.

Take the yellow route (mlive)

As for Upper Peninsula, Pictured Rock is a great option as well. The distance from Naperville (6 hours+) makes it a bit of a stretch though, if you are going just for the Fall colors.

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4 thoughts on “Best Fall Color Road Trips From Chicago

  1. Amazing picturesAmit! They beat all screensavers one ever sees in ads. Keep up the passion and your trips 👏🏼

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