10 Things You HAVE to Do in Chicago this October

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October is a great month to be a Chicagoan. Between the changing leaves, fall festivals and pumpkin patches popping up all over the city, there’s always something to see and do in the Windy City. Read on for our Editor’s favorite picks for family fun this month.

CCM Boats Exhibit

photo: Chicago Children’s Museum

(1) Seafaring Adventure Aboard Boats 
October is your last chance to set sail on a high-seas adventure at the Chicago Children’s Museum Boats exhibit. Climb aboard lifelike boats of all kinds and don your captain’s garb for a little seafaring on Lake Michigan. Fill a bucket with fake night crawlers at the Bait & Tackle Shop then grab a fishing pole at the Dock. See how many faux fish you catch. Then head off to Ride-the-Wave Word Play, an afternoon event that blends story time and songs.

When: now through Nov. 1
Hours: Fri.-Wed., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thurs., 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Where: Chicago Children’s Museum, 700 E. Grand Ave., Streeterville
Cost: $14; free Thursdays & Oct. 4
Online: chicagochildrensmuseum.org

(2)  Good Night Moon & The Runaway Bunny
Introduce the next generation of theatergoers to Chicago Children’s Theatre’s season opener, Goodnight Moon & The Runaway Bunny. Combining two beloved bedtime books from Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd, this enchanting double-bill delights with innovative puppetry, striking effects and evocative original music.

When: Sept. 30-Oct. 11
Hours:  Tues. & Wed., 10 a.m.; Thurs., 10 a.m. & noon; Fri., 10 a.m. & 6:30 p.m.; Sat., 11 a.m., 2 p.m. & 6 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.; 2 p.m.
Where: Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn, Gold Coast
Cost: $39/adult; $28/children; $10/day-of tickets
Online: chicagochildrenstheatre.org

Lincoln Park Fall Fest

photo: Lincoln Park Zoo

(3) First-Ever Fall Fest at Lincoln Park Zoo
Usher in the harvest season with your animal friends at Lincoln Park Zoo’s first-ever Fall Fest, a family celebration complete with rides, activities and entertainment. An a-maize-ing corn maze, Ferris wheel, hay mountain, a giant 60-ft. burlap sack slide and hay wagon rides round out the fun. Pumpkins will be available for sale at the Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo pumpkin patch daily throughout October.

When: Oct. 2-4, Oct. 9-11, Oct. 12 & Oct. 16-18
Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Where: Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N. Clark St., Lincoln Park
Cost: Free admission; $3/ride tickets
Online: lpzoo.org


Photo: Nature Connects®: Art with LEGO® Bricks 

(4) Nature Connects®: Art with LEGO® Bricks
Enjoy a day built on fun at Nature Connects Art with LEGO Bricks by Sean Kenney, who’s a “professional kid” and the first-ever LEGO Certified Professional. LEGO enthusiasts of all ages will be dazzled as they search for 13 larger-than-life, nature-inspired sculptures throughout the east side of the The Morton Arboretum. See if your kid’s little eyes can spy a 7-foot tall regal peacock, a grandfather and grandchild gardening, a giant corn spider (eeek!), a hummingbird sipping nectar from a colorful trumpet flower, an 8-foot dragonfly and more! Be sure to stop by the play-and-stay area where kids can get creative with LEGO bricks.

When:  now through Nov. 1
Hours:  7 a.m.-sunset
Where:  Morton Arboretum, 4100 IL Rte 53, Lisle
Cost:  $14/adults; $9/ages 2-17; free for children 1 & under
Online: mortonarb.org


photo: Hofbräuhaus Chicago via Kelly Aiglon 

(5) Hofbräuhaus Chicago Oktoberfest
The sister location to the legendary original in Munich is surprisingly family friendly on weekend afternoons. In a grand dining hall packed with communal tables, you can get excited about a rotating array of European musicians that play oompah music on stage (brace yourself for the chicken dance). There are also kids’ parades and games, and you might even see an aplhorn, a long horn used by Swiss mountain dwellers. Come hungry for traditional german fare.

When: now through Oct. 31
Hours: Sun.-Wed., 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Thurs., 11 a.m.-midnight; Fri. & Sat., 11 a.m.-2 a.m.
Where: Hofbräuhaus Chicago, 5500 Park Pl. , Rosemont
Cost: Free
Online: hofbrauhauschicago.com

(6) Trick or Trees
Come in your costume to play tricky games, fashion fall crafts and plant a tree seed to take home as a treat. Small pumpkins to paint will also be available for purchase.

When: Sat. & Sun. in October
Hours: 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Where: Morton Arboretum
Cost: Free with admission
Online: mortonarb.org

Heritage Day

photo: Fischer Farm

(7)  Fabulous Fall Fun at Heritage Day
Welcome the changing leaves and milder temps at Heritage Day, the annual fall celebration at Fischer Farm, where families and history lovers can explore the buildings, touch the artifacts, and connect with history. A $5 wristband will get your child a pumpkin, pony rides and unlimited access to the petting zoo. Along with a pig roast there will be plenty of fun activities like candle making and pumpkin painting, arts and crafts, a Bluegrass band, rug braiding, colonial reenactors and more!

When: Oct. 10
Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Where: Fischer Farm, 16W680 Grand Ave., Bensenville
Cost: $5
Online: bensenvilleparkdistrict.org

Cornbread from the Ground Up: A Family Workshop

Photo: Angelic Organics

(8) Cornbread From the Ground Up
With the help of Angelic Organics, make tasty cornbread from the ground up! Starting with ears of dried corn and eggs from the farm’s chickens, you’ll whip up a tasty snack. Families are welcome to take turns as they shuck, shell, winnow and grind the corn. Learn about the long history of corn, receive recipe tips and seeds and spend a wholesome day with the family.

When: Oct. 24
Hours: 2-4:30 p.m.
Where: Angelic Organics Learning Center, 1547 Rockton Rd., Caledonia
Online: learngrowconnect.org

Morton Arboretum

photo: Morton Arboretum

(9) Splendid Spiders
Scary or spectacular – Morton Arboretum lets you be the judge. Find out where spiders live and how they help our gardens grow. They’ll even have spiders available for viewing.

When: Oct. 1-31
Hours: Mon.-Fri., 1-4 p.m.; Sat. & Sun., 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Where: Morton Arboretum, 4100 IL Rte. 53, Lisle
Cost: Free with admission
Online: mortonarb.org

(10) Siegel’s Cottonwood Farm Pumpkin Fest
Harvest memories with your family with a visit to Siegel’s Pumpkin Fest. Guests will find a petting zoo, hayrack rides to a u-pick pumpkin field, train rides, haunted barn, 2-acre corn maze, pony rides, zombie paintball ride, a climbing wall, gem mining and more! Don’t forget your Siegel’s Suds, homebrewed sodas in a special souvenir cup.

When: now through Nov. 1
Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Where: Siegel’s Cottonwood Farm, 17250 S. Weber Rd., Lockport
Cost: $15
Online: ourpumpkinfarm.com

Tell us in the Comments below what’s on your family’s agenda for October.

—Maria Chambers