Cook County North

Best Pumpkin Patches for Kids Near Chicago

Did you know that Illinois is the number one pumpkin-growing state in the country? So it should come as no surprise that the Chicago suburbs and exurbs boast dozens of locations for intrepid jack-o'-lantern enthusiasts and pie bakers to pick their own pumpkins. Many pumpkin patches also offer an array of additional autumn-themed activities like apple orchards and corn mazes for kids.

Before selecting a pumpkin farm, families should decide how far they want to travel, whether they want to pick their own or choose from preselected pumpkins, and what other attractions they might want to visit while on their pumpkin picking excursion. Many farms offer hay rides to their pumpkin patch, but the patch itself may be muddy or vine-covered, so parents with young children should check to see if the pumpkin patch is stroller-friendly. Some pumpkin patches also offer late night activities for bigger kids.

Here are a few of our favorite pumpkin patches within a two-hour drive of the Loop.

Amazing Corn Mazes for Kids Near Chicago

Getting lost is never as much fun as when you’re in a corn maze, and farms around Chicagoland offer a cornucopia of opportunities for fall fun on the farm. Mazes throughout Illinois and Indiana present creative themes and different ways to navigate the twists and turns, so children of varying ages can join in the challenge. Some corn mazes even host 5K races or flashlight corn maze nights.

Before or after your corn maze adventure, families can enjoy plenty of harvest time fun, including apple picking, pumpkin patching, corn bins, and even Halloween-themed outdoor movies. Many of the farms listed on our corn maze list also host fall festivals throughout the season. Read on for our top picks for corn mazes near Chicago. 

Best Orchards for Apple Picking with Kids Near Chicago

The Chicago school year has hardly begun, but fall harvest season is already in full swing at several orchards throughout Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan. Families willing to take a one- or two-hour drive can get away to enjoy country life for a day, with hay rides, petting zoos, corn mazes, and apple picking. Some orchards even offer pumpkin picking and other fruits throughout the season.

We’ve picked out a baker’s dozen of the best apple orchards within a two-hour drive of Chicago for your picking (and, perhaps, pie-baking) enjoyment. Kids can play farmer for a day without breaking the bank at these 13 orchards.

25 Things to Do With Chicago Kids Before School Starts

Summer days, driftin' away...If seeing school supply lists is sending you and your kids into a panic over the impending end of summer, stay calm, and summer on! We've done the research (not a bad gig, honestly), and rounded up the ultimate Chicago Summer Bucket List, complete with all the outdoor movies, festivals, and FREE summer activities for families in Chicago that you'll want to fit in before school starts up again on Tuesday, September 3.

Best Chicago Beaches for Families

Who says you need an ocean to go to the beach? Chicago families can get their swimming fix at a good old-fashioned beach by taking advantage of the “Midwest Coast” of Lake Michigan, or the many smaller lakes and even repurposed former quarries dotted throughout the suburbs.

The best beaches for families include easy parking, bathrooms with changing facilities, concession stands for little snackers, and maybe a playground or other attraction for when kids get tired of the water. Many of the Chicago Park District beaches are accessible by bus for families who prefer public transit.

Here are some of our favorite family-friendly beaches in Chicago and the suburbs.

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