11 Great Places for Leaf Peeping in Chicago

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There are some excellent places for leaf peeping in Chicago. Why not grab some bites and walk in nature’s beauty? We’ve selected some of the best places to do it.

Seeing the leaves change colors from muted greens to vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges will take your breath away.

Luckily, there are many places in Chicago to see the best autumn colors and you can wander the grounds in most places for free.

We’ve also listed some nice places nearby where to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee or dine after your stroll. All are within walking distance unless otherwise noted.

Don’t miss the chance to experience the enchanting beauty of fall by indulging in leaf peeping in Chicago’s serene nature reserves and botanical gardens.

Leaf Peeping in Chicago

Lurie Garden at Millenium Park

📍201 E Randolph St. Chicago IL | 💲Free

Millenium Park is easily the most popular park in all of Chicago.

As the temperatures drop, sneak in some leaf peeping in Chicago, where the changing leaves paint the city in hues of red, orange, and gold, making it the perfect spot to see fall foliage nearby.

It’s home to Cloud Gate, an iconic Chicago landmark, and is filled with gardens, and greenery and is surrounded by the gorgeous skyline.

Places to Eat near Millenium Park

  • Park Grill | 11 N. Michigan | (312) 521-7275 | $$ | American
  • Starbucks | 8 N. Michigan | (312) 750-1454 |$$ | Coffee Shop
  • Wildberry Pancakes & Cafe | (312) 938-9777 | 130 E Randolph St | $$ | Cafe

Graceland Cemetary

📍4001 N Clark St. Chicago IL | 💲Free

Opened in 1860 by urban designer Daniel H. Burnham Graceland Cemetery is the final resting place of several famous Chicagoans, including film critic Roger Ebert and businessman Marshall Field.

You can walk through this beautiful and ornate cemetery on your own. The colors are a beautiful example of the foliage turning in autumn.

Places to Eat near Graceland Cemetary

  • Port and Park Bistro | 4000 N Southport Ave | (312) 773-697-7762 | $$ | American
  • Uncommon Ground | 3800 N Clark St | (773) 929-3680 |$$ | American

Chicago Botanic Garden

📍1000 Lake-Cook Rd Chicago IL | 📞 773-525-1105 | 💲11 – 13

The Chicago Botanic Garden is stunning, especially in the fall for changing leaves. 

It covers just shy of 400 acres and has more than 25 different gardens throughout and the maple leaves in autumn can’t be missed. 

Just walking through the trails will bring visitors to all of the breathtaking views that come when the plants and trees change colors. Except for the Garden View Cafe located at the botanic garden, the restaurants listed below are not within walking distance.

Places to Eat near Chicago Botanic Garden

  • The Garden View Cafe | 1000 Lake-Cook Rd Chicago | (847) 835-5440 | $$ | Cafe
  • Francesco’s Hole in the Wall | 254 Skokie Blvd Northbrook | (847) 272-0155 | $$ | Italian
  • Barnaby’s of Northbrook | 960 Skokie Blvd Northbrook | (847) 498-3900 | $$ | Pizza

Winnemac Park

📍5100 N Leavitt Chicago IL |💲Free

While Winnemac Park is not as top-rated as some other places for leaf-peeping in Chicago on this list, it still deserves a spot.

The park opened in the early twentieth century and has a great trail, lots of flowers, wildlife, and trees for the best fall foliage.

Places to Eat near Winnemac Park

  • Eighty Eight Eggs | 4943 N Damen Ave Chicago | (773) 654-1091 | $$ | Cafe
  • ATX Bodega | 2301 W Foster Ave Chicago | (773) 681-0135 | $$ | Tacos & BBQ
  • Groundswell Coffee Roasters | 4839 N Damen Ave Chicago | (773) 754-7590 | $ | Cafe

Morton Arboretum

📍4100 Illinois Route 53 Lisle IL | 💲Free

Morton Arboretum is not directly located inside Chicago but is still worth visiting if you want to fully experience the best fall foliage in the area. While exploring the scenic trails during the fall season, you’ll understand why a favorite pastime is leaf peeping in Chicago.

The drive takes around a half-hour from Chicago’s city center, but it’s well worth it to be in the middle of tons of trees with colorful crunching leaves beneath your feet.

Places to Eat near Morton Arboretum

  • Gingko Cafe | 4100 Illinois Route 53 Lisle IL | (630) 725-2400 | $$ | American

Lincoln Park

📍Stockton and LaSalle Drives Chicago IL | 💲Free

Lincoln Park is the perfect spot for leaf-peeping in Chicago. It’s located in the northern part of the city, and it’s one of the best places to explore.

Grab your camera and embrace the magic of autumn by capturing stunning photos while leaf peeping in Chicago at one of the most picturesque parks.

With great walkways, playgrounds, and an abundance of trees, there’s no shortage of plants to witness the autumn colors. Fall is the perfect time to experience the charm of leaf peeping in Chicago, where you can stroll through tree-lined streets and witness the stunning transformation of the city’s foliage.

Places to Eat in Lincoln Park

  • RJ Grunts | 2056 N Lincoln Park West Chicago | (773) 929-5363 | $$ | America
  • The Patio at Cafe Brauer (in Lincoln Park Zoo) | 2021 N Stockton Dr Chicago | (312) 788-0256 | $$ | Cafe
  • Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder | 2121 N Clark St Chicago | (773) 248-2570 | $$ | Pizza / Italian

The 606

📍4001 N Clark St. Chicago IL | 💲Free **

The 606 is often not thought of as a place for the best fall foliage, but it is!

It’s filled with walking trails that are high above the ground and is the perfect place for walking, running, or even biking.

If you walk the entire path, it’s just under three miles, and it’s surrounded by beautiful trees that are even more stunning in the fall.

The Art Institute of Chicago

📍4001 N Clark St. Chicago IL |💲Free **

Visit the Art Institute of Chicago to behold its beauty on the inside and the outside.

As you walk along the north and south gardens, you’ll experience awe-inspiring signs of autumn in the Midwest.

The foliage nicely frames your photo and creates a timeless and memorable capture.

Places to Eat near the Art Institute of Chicago

  • Russian Tea Time | 77 E Adams St Chicago | (312) 360-0000 | $$$ | Russian Cuisine
  • The Exchange | 224 S Michigan Ave Chicago | (312) 265-0591 | $$$ | American
  • Goddess & the Baker | 33 S Wabash Ave Chicago | (312) 877-5176 | $$ | Cafe

Jackson Park

📍6401 S Stony Island Ave Chicago IL | 💲Free

This huge park is great for leaf-peeping in Chicago. It covers just under 600 acres and is located right near Lake Michigan.

Despite being so large, the park is breathtaking, with ponds, bridges, trails, and more.

Be sure to find the Japanese garden inside for even more incredible scenery, especially in the fall.

Places to Eat near Jackson Park

  • Piccolo Mondo | 1642 E 56th St Chicago | (773) 643-9171 | $$ | Italian
university of chicago
University of Chicago, Hyde Park

Chicago Riverwalk

📍Chicago River (Michigan and Wacker Streets) Chicago IL | 💲Free

The Chicago Riverwalk is just over a mile long and goes right along the river.

Some trees line the walk, making it an excellent spot for fall leaf-peeping in Chicago.

Don’t forget your camera, because this oasis in the middle of the city is one spot you won’t want to miss out on!

Places to Eat at the Chicago Riverwalk

The University of Chicago

📍Woodland and University Aves Chicago IL | 💲Free

Who would have thought that a university campus would be an excellent spot for leaf peeping in Chicago? Plan a leisurely stroll through the Hyde Park neighborhood, and you’ll be rewarded with the scenes of vibrant colors during the fall months.

This campus opened in the nineteenth century and has lots of outdoor space, including parks, seating areas, and more.

It is a nice and scenic place to see the foliage and soak in the architecture. Plus, walking around campus is free!

Places to Eat near the University of Chicago

  • Medici on 57th | 1327 E 57th St Chicago | (773) 667-7394 | $$ | Pizza & Burgers
  • Salonica | 1440 E 57th St Chicago | (773) 752-3899 | $ | Greek
  • Seoul Taco | 1321 E 57th St Chicago | (312) 265-1607 | $ | Asian Fusion

Final Thoughts on Leaf Peeping in Chicago

You can’t help but fall in love with the jewel-toned colors of autumn by going leaf peeping in Chicago. The city’s parks and gardens come alive with breathtaking foliage.

From Lincoln Park to the Garfield Park Conservatory, there are plenty of spots to go leaf peeping in Chicago and savor the seasonal charm.

Now you know all of the top places to see the best fall foliage while visiting Chicago.

Whether you visit all of the sites on this list or just one, you’ll truly have an unforgettable trip to this highly rated city located in the United States.

And if you are ready for a road trip, pack up the family and hop in the car for fall hikes near Chicago.

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  1. Rebecca McKellips says:

    So amazing, I love seeing all the beautiful fall foliage!

    1. Tanya Taylor says:

      Same! The northeast has gorgeous foliage too 🙂