As local communities continue to update Covid-19 regulations, local destinations for outdoor recreation may be closed. Please visit official websites for the latest information.

8 Best Outdoor Fall Activities in Illinois

By Trent Jonas

8 Best Outdoor Fall Activities in Illinois

In a state with one of the nation’s great cities and a deep-rooted agricultural history, fall is a time of year to celebrate. That’s why folks in Illinois get outside and look for some action in the crisp, cool autumn months. If you’re looking for something to do this autumn, check out some of these ideas—they’re our favorite fall activities in Illinois.

Compete for a trophy muskie

When the water temperatures cool down, the muskie bite heats up in Illinois. And if you’re a muskie hunter, you won’t want to miss November’s IMTT Championship Tournament on the Fox Chain of Lakes. Launch for the tournament (or quench your thirst and wait for the weigh-in) at the Thirsty Turtle Bew & View Pub.

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Kick up the gravel on a Cannonball Ride

The Cannonball Ride fall off-road cycling series, including the Fat Tire Fest, takes place throughout October and November at various locations, with the last two races taking place in the Chester area. The distances are 50-plus miles, with plenty of climbing, gravel and cross-country racing. Race headquarters and the newest Cannonball sponsor is St. Nicholas Landmark restaurant on the banks of the Mississippi, in Chester.

Take a fall hike among the Starved Rock

Starved Rock State Park, carved into the bluffs of the Illinois River is one of the state’s most dramatically beautiful. Hike the carved canyons and ravines, surrounded by the colors and scents of autumn, the sounds small cascades rushing in the background. Hike to the edge of the bluff to see the foliage’s bursting with color up and down the river valley. Eat, drink or stay at the Starved Rock Lodge, located right in the park.

Enjoy the autumn from a Riverboat

What better way to enjoy fall than from the deck of an historic riverboat? Head to the Quad Cities and step aboard the Celebration Belle for an authentic sternwheel experience, as you take in the crisp autumn air and enjoy the gorgeous fall colors of the tree-lined Mississippi River valley.

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Run like a Hero, Mascoutah, IL

Hit the roads for a 5K or half-marathon at the annual Hero Run in Mascoutah. Not only is it an awesome event, it is was founded to honor veterans and service members who are on active duty, as well to raise money to assist those who are struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). After the run, stay for Braktoberfest, where you can recover from the run with plenty of beer and all the food you need.

Get lost in the world’s largest corn maze

If you like corn mazes, whether for the zen of getting lost, the thrill of solving the puzzle, or even the corn itself, you kinda have to visit the World’s Largest Corn Maze, which is right here in Illinois. More specifically, you can find it at Richardson Adventure Farm in Spring Grove.

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Hit the Kickapoo MTB Trails

Kickapoo State Park is home to some of the best singletrack in Illinois. The 13 miles of trails are maintained by the Kickapoo Mountain Bike Club and offer awesome experiences for all levels of riders. If you need gear or repairs, Cycles Plus in Danville is a great choice that’s close to the park.

Pull a monster from the deep

The Sangamon River, a tributary of the Illinois in the central part of the state, is an excellent all-around fishery but is particularly good for flathead catfish. These leviathans easily grow to sizes in excess of 50 pounds. In the fall, these cats are feeding a sheltering in deep holes and other structure. Tailwaters below dams, such as the one at Petersburg, are often excellent spots to find flatheads. If you’re looking for bait, gear or local advice, stop into Big Red’s Bait and Tackle in nearby Springfield.

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As local communities continue to update Covid-19 regulations, local destinations for outdoor recreation may be closed. Please visit official websites for the latest information.

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