I always try and save a few vacation days for Fall, particularly October when fall foliage colors are at their peak and temperatures are, well, perfect.  Unfortunately, this year, due to summer’s drought, color is coming early and fleeting at best.  With that being said, this weekend and perhaps next, we should see fall colors at their peak, depending, of course, where you live.

Last weekend, we took a trip to Chain-O-Lakes State Park in Spring Grove, IL.  It’s about an hour drive and a pleasant one at that.  The park boasts 2,793 acres and an adjoining 3,230 acre conservation area.  The park borders three natural lakes, Grass, Marie and Nippersink and the Fox River that connects the other seven lakes – Bluff, Fox, Pistakee, Channel, Petite, Catherine and Redhead, which make up the chain of lakes.  With almost 6,500 acres of water and nearly 500 miles of shoreline, there is no shortage of things to see and do.  In addition to hiking and boating, there’s horseback riding, camping, fishing, hunting and picnicking.  It is truly one of the cleanest and more pristine state parks I have visited.  The Girl Scouts introduced me to the park last Spring when the troop went horseback riding and geo-caching.

Just a few miles to the north, I believe 6 to be exact, is the Wisconsin border.  We found two family owned apple orchards where we were able to pluck them right off the trees.  If you’ve never self-picked, I highly recommend it.  Not only is it a great experience, but I swear the apples taste that much better.  In addition to apples, you could pick pumpkins, eat freshly made cider donuts or visit the smokehouse for some tasty meats and cheeses.  A great fall adventure you’ll not soon forget.

So, if you’ve got a few vacation days to spare or a free weekend, I highly recommend you get out there and check out Fall’s bounty before she disappears into the wintry abyss.  By no means do you need to travel far or spend any money.  Check out your local parks or fall festivals.  If you don’t mind an hour drive, I suggest you take a drive up to Chain-O-Lakes.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.

“Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.”  ~Stanley Horowitz

Best wishes,

Kim Sweeney