live out your classic fall fantasy with a dash of quirkiness

If you’re the type who likes their fall activities traditional, with pumpkin patches, apple picking, and Oktoberfest beers, then this is your perfect fall itinerary. And if you prefer things out of the ordinary with stargazing, zebra safaris, and reindeer ranches, then Illinois is also your perfect fall itinerary.

Many attractions have reopened with limited capacity or different operating hours. Inquire with attractions ahead of time for up-to-date travel policies and health and safety information.

  • Day 1: Rantoul & Champaign

Your fall adventure starts in Rantoul with an up-close encounter with an Alaskan reindeer at Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch or try navigating through their massive corn maze. For lunch, grab a bite at Ott’s Drive In before heading to Champaign. At Curtis Orchard & Pumpkin Patch, a historic family-run farm, you can pick your own apples and pumpkins while enjoying fall colors and fun activities. Afterward, head to Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery where you can meet a friendly herd of goats and sample some of their award-winning cheeses.  

When you’re ready for dinner, get take out from Wood N’ Hog BBQ, or try some classic deep dish from a local favorite for over 40 years, Papa Del’s Pizza. Don’t forget a sweet treat from one of the best ice cream shops in the area, Jarling’s Custard Cup. When night falls, it’s not time to sleep just yet. Visit Champaign Dark Sky Park, the state’s first and only dark sky park, which offers stunningly clear views of the night sky. After you’ve had enough gazing up at the sky, rest your head at the Hyatt Place Champaign-Urbana in downtown Champaign, or stay at the contemporary I Hotel on the University of Illinois campus.

  • Day 2: Monticello, Arcola, Tuscola, Arthur

Get ready for some small-town fun starting in Monticello. At Prairie Fire Glass, marvel at handcrafted, individually-blown glass pieces, including vases, bowls, jewelry and ornaments. Take in the autumn colors at the beautiful Allerton Park, and then grab a soup and sandwich to-go from The Brown Bag deli.

After lunch, go take a walk – or drive – on the wild side. At Aikman Wildlife Adventure, you can do a walking tour or use your own vehicle for a drive-thru safari where you can get up close with more than 100 free roaming animals – like zebras. Afterward, pick up some hand-dipped chocolates from Flesor’s Candy Kitchen for a little road trip treat (you deserve it!) You’ll need some energy for your visit to the all-new Cucurbit Market at The Great Pumpkin Patch. While the pumpkin patch side of the farm is not open to visitors this year, this smaller-scale market will still give you all the pumpkins, squash, gourds and other fall-themed treats you need – like pumpkin ice cream.  

End your evening with a home-cooked meal nearby at Yoder’s Kitchen. Don’t forget to visit their gift shop filled with Amish goods – you are in the heart of Amish country, after all!

  • Day 3: Champaign, Mahomet, Urbana, Fairmount

Back in Champaign, start the morning with flapjacks from The Original Pancake House. Then, take a stroll through the gorgeous fall foliage at the Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve in Mahomet. Afterward, relax with a cold pint in the beer garden at Riggs Beer Company in Urbana, or head over to Fairmount where you can sip on a refreshing glass of wine at Sleepy Creek Vineyards.