If you're looking for weekend getaway ideas this fall, come explore the country roads and enjoy one of the Chicago areas best fall escapes. McHenry County is a delightful fall travel destination, filled with charming historic villages and warm, down-home style.
Maybe its fresh fall food on your mind; McHenry County offers several local family farms that are sure to deliver an afternoon of fun. Spend some time picking apples at one of our apple orchards, stop by a farmers market for local produce, or get in the autumn spirit carving a pumpkin from one of our local growers.
Bring quality time back to your family as you adventure through the fall attractions in McHenry County. Enjoy a peaceful afternoon experiencing breath-taking autumn colors from Crystal Lake. Crunch through some leaves as you bike one of our trails around Chain O'Lakes State Park. You can even get a little lost exploring one of our corn mazes. If it's autumn adventure you're seeking for your next fall trip, McHenry County is the place to be.
Get more information about our fall adventures and events.
Bring Back Quality Time. Try this Itinerary.
Quality time can be hard to come by. In McHenry, we bring families of all kinds together to enjoy the beauty of the fall season.
Start your morning with some family time in Chain O'Lakes State Park. Located in Spring Grove, the 2,793 acre state park and adjoining 3,230 acre conservation area borders three natural lakes, and the Fox River which connects another seven lakes. Soak up the chilly fresh morning air as you take a stroll through the nature preserve or hitch a ride with a paddle boat rental.
After a nice morning stretch at the park, get the day started right with a breakfast at the Little Chef. Voted top 5 breakfasts in McHenry County by residents, this local favorite has been going strong for 48 years. Located in McHenry, this hidden treasure offers a British take on U.S. dishes and hasn't changed a bit over the years - right down to the pictures on the walls. The biscuits and gravy are especially tasty. Maybe you're looking for something a little more modern. Benedict's La Strata*, located in Downtown Crystal Lake* - a historic main street community - was voted best of the Fox by residents. This breakfast stop boasts a trendy atmosphere, stellar breakfast options, and warm hometown hospitality.
And don't forget to bring your bicycle. After a nice breakfast, take a ride with the family through one of McHenry County Conservation District's many trails located throughout the county. Enjoy the breath-taking autumn colors as you walk or cycle along the wooded paths of the Prairie Trail*, Hebron Trail, or the H.U.M. trail. You can even hop on the Prairie Trail right from Metra's Union Pacific/Northwest Line stop in Downtown Crystal Lake*. Bicycles are available for rental at The Bike Haven in McHenry. Or you can swing by Royal Oak Farm Orchard in Harvard. Pick some fresh fruit, enjoy a hayride, or just snap a few pictures while the kids enjoy the Royal Oak Carousel and the petting zoo. Royal Oak Farm Orchard now features the country's first apple tree maze with 1.5 miles of walking trails, 9 varieties of apples and activity areas throughout the maze.
Other Must See Fall Attractions:
- Stade's Farm & Market, McHenry. Pick anything from raspberries to snap peas with Stade's Farm & Market's U-Pick offerings. They also host the Shades of Autumn Fall Festival Saturdays and Sundays in September and October. This exciting festival houses plenty of fun autumn events for you and your family!
- Grace Farms Studios, Woodstock. Enjoy U-Pick raspberries and handmade crafts, or pick up a spool of freshly spun Icelandic sheep wool. All organic products produced right in McHenry County.
- Woodstock Farmers Market*, Voted number 1 in Illinois, the Woodstock Farmers Market is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Stop by any Tuesday or Saturday this fall and enjoy fresh products from McHenry County. Located on the historic Woodstock Square and easily accessible from Metra.
- All Seasons Apple Orchard, Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze; Woodstock. All Seasons Apple Orchard was chosen as the go to orchard in Chicagoland by Chicago Tribune's Just Kidding Chicago.
Next it's lunch-time. Pick up some good eats at Port Edward Restaurant, located in Algonquin. This place has a koi pond and a sailboat inside! Port Edward features a menu packed with delicious seafood, from lobster, to bacon wrapped scallops. It's the perfect stop to wow the kids, or impress that special someone. If you're looking for a modern lunch, stop by Duke's Ale House and Kitchen*, in Downtown Crystal Lake*. This trendy stop offers a variety of contemporary and traditional meals to suit visitors, and a frequently changing craft beer line-up. Order one of the seasonal autumn craft beers on tap while you enjoy anything from a grass-fed burger, to meat loaf, to a flat bread margherita pizza or chorizo with goat cheese. And because this restaurant sources from local farmers, a fall visit is a great time to taste some of McHenry County's best homegrown flavor.
Now it's time for a bit of down-home autumn fun.
Swing by Richardson Adventure Farm in Spring Grove! The kids will have a blast on the 50 foot slide, play areas, pumpkin patches, and so much more. But the fun isn't just for the kids. The farm features adult sized attractions, including adult sized pedal carts and jumping pillows, an 850 foot zip line and ORB rides. And you certainly won't want to miss the world's largest corn maze, spanning an impressive 28 acres of the farm. Make sure the whole family sticks around into the early evening to enjoy the campfires that adorn the farm at night.
Great Eats for Dinner
- Epic Deli, McHenry: Voted Chicago's best for sweets, this local favorite is known for some crazy huge, and crazy awesome sandwiches.
- Tapas Calpe*, Cary: Experience some local flavor with an old world flair. From the moment you step inside, your nose is filled with the smell of delicious Spanish tapas.
- Georgio's Chicago Pizzeria & Pub*, Downtown Crystal Lake: Not only was this hidden wonder voted best pizza in McHenry County, but it was voted one of the top 100 independent pizzerias in the country!
- 1776, Crystal Lake: Voted Best of the Fox for fine dining, this elegant stop sources its food from local growers and also offers historical meal options. So, if you're curious what Abraham Lincoln might have ordered on his first date with Mary Todd, this restaurant's for you.
After dinner, grab a snack as you enjoy a movie under the stars at McHenry Outdoor Theater. This hidden gem features all the nostalgia of a classic drive-in theater. Thru the end of October, you will be able to enjoy their "fall throw-back series." You and your family will venture back to the 1950's as you're entertained by movie favorites of the past, like a Back to the Future marathon or the original Psycho. This unique cinema experience is worth the trip in itself. So get the kids in their pjs, pack a blanket and snuggle up under the stars, at this local favorite in McHenry County. McHenry Outdoor Theater suggests arriving no later than 7:30 to ensure quality parking spots.
Too much to do all in one day? No worries! Make it a weekend with one of our charming bed and breakfasts or chain hotels. Click here to see a full list of available lodging.
Download our Visitors Guide for more great McHenry County attractions!
Fall Events in McHenry County
To say that McHenry County has some exciting things to do in the fall is an understatement. Here is a list of just a few of the exciting events you can enjoy during the fall season.
Autumn Drive: Third weekend in October. Located on the back-roads of Woodstock, spend an afternoon venturing through family farms; each stop offering antiques, fall produce, jewlery and other local arts and crafts. Don't miss the best kettle corn in McHenry County!
Pub in the Park - Oct. 15. What's the ideal fall beverage? We say it's craft beer! The second annual Pub in the Park Craft Beer Festival takes place Oct. 15. VIP admission is 3-4 p.m. and general admission is 4-7:30 p.m. at Sunset Park in the Village of Lake in the Hills. Great beers from more than 40 breweries, food trucks and live music will give an afternoon in the park a whole new meaning, and the proceeds go toward purchasing a People for Parks Foundation bus. Non-alcoholic drinks are also available.
Cider Fest - First Sunday in October. Hosted by the McHenry County Historical Society in Union, this popular event features musical entertainment, a barn raising demo, old fashion cider making and an apple goodies bakery.
*Located right off Metra's Union Pacific/Northwest Line.