Outdoor fun continues to reign supreme this fall for Champaign-Urbana area families
Throw on a hooded sweatshirt, shuffle your feet through the leaves and get ready to enjoy everything outdoors with your kids
Champaign-Urbana is filled with and surrounded by picturesque nature escapes. Spending time together in nature as a family is great for mental and physical health, and we think you will experience the benefits first-hand rather quickly as you head out with your family. So pick those apples, take those walks and enjoy the crisp fall air.
Thanks to the Champaign Park District for presenting our ultimate guide to outdoor fun in Champaign-Urbana.
OCTOBER 1 — OCTOBER 31: THE GREAT PUMPKIN HUNT
Are you ready to solve clues to find pumpkins all over Champaign-Urbana? Champaign Park District has teamed up with Urbana Park District to hide pumpkins in the parks throughout October. Get the details here.
Enjoy the Fall Colors
It’s one of our favorite fall activities: heading out to look at the beautiful changing colors. We give you some ideas on where to head, but really if you have any trees in your vicinity, you can’t miss the fall colors.
Walk, Bike or Hike
Start with the basics when you take a walk as a family. We round up all our favorite walking paths in Champaign and Urbana and give you the distance of the path in most cases.
When you’re biking as a family, you probably have two goals for your journey: somewhere out of the way of major traffic, and somewhere that’s not too strenuous for little peddlers. We take you to some of our favorite riding spots in the area, including the Kickapoo Rail Trail. Fall is great biking weather!
Different than a walk, hikes will take you into the woods and off the beaten path, so to speak (though near Champaign-Urbana, we have a lot of beautifully paved paths you can hike). Nonetheless, find out how and where to start hiking near town with a handy legend showing you the varying levels of difficulty you’ll encounter as you tackle the trails with your kids.
Play at a Park
Champaign-Urbana has so many wonderful playgrounds! We provide a round-up of the ones we love to visit.
Outdoorsy Fun for Nature-Loving Families
Generally speaking, we’ve got the cream of the crop to choose from when it comes to fall fun nearby. Check out the BIG list of where to find apple picking, pumpkin patches and corn mazes nearby (and scroll down to get a closer look at a few of our favorite attractions for these activities, too).
Sometimes heading outdoors is simply to enjoy and experience nature. Falling leaves and changing trees make it all the more enjoyable. We give you the scoop on the closest places to C-U that have you feeling like you’ve retreated to a nature oasis.
Did you know that autumn is one of the best seasons for stargazers? It’s also more family-friendly as the night skies get darker earlier. For optimal star gazing away from city lights, head to the Dark Park at Middle Fork Forest Preserve.
Fishing may sound intimidating but it’s a fairly easy family activity to pick up and start to do together. Spending a little to get a fishing rod and reel and making sure you have an applicable fishing license pays off rather quickly when you see how much fun you can have casting into the water at convenient locations close to C-U.
If we’re being honest, picnicking in the fall is grand. Better temps, (typically) fewer bugs, and not as much demand for picnic tables. Add in some yummy fall foods (pumpkin, anyone?) for good measure.
Fall is our favorite season to go camping; bonfires, warm sweatshirts and hot dogs. So make it a night or two and dodge the summer heat and crazy bugs by camping during the fall! There are a number of spots to camp as a family throughout Central Illinois, so choose the location that sounds most ideal for you.
Fall Traditions: Champaign-Urbana Area Attractions You Don’t Want to Miss
When we think of enjoying the outdoors during fall, we think of some of those annual family traditions that we just can’t wait to do this fall … like apple picking! Head to Curtis Orchard (the closest place to C-U to pick apples) or venture a bit farther if you like to one of the other locations on our “where to pick apples” list. We love strolling around Curtis Orchard while kids chase kittens and warm up with apple cider. There’s no admission to enter the orchard so you can stop by just to wander.
Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch near Rantoul has long been a Champaign-Urbana destination for all things fall. Plan an outing to do the corn maze (super popular with older kids and teens); this year’s theme is “Day of the Dead.” Experiencing the maze under the moonlight (after 5 p.m.) is an adventure to remember, too! Climb on the massive stacks of hay and wave to the reindeer. There’s no admission fee.
There are tons of places you can pick out a pumpkin throughout Champaign-Urbana. A “best kept secret” we want to make sure you know about is Negangard Pumpkin Patch. Located in rural Sidney, this pumpkin patch is all about the pumpkins — and pumpkins there are! The prices are pretty awesome and families are known to load up a wagon for a great price. Don’t miss the GIANT pumpkins while you’re there and take a picture on your way out. This is close to Sidney Dairy Barn, so if you’d like to grab some ice cream before heading back to Champaign-Urbana, you might even find pumpkin ice cream on the menu.
Find everything related to fall in Champaign-Urbana:
- Where to Take Fall Family Photos in Champaign-Urbana
- Champaign-Urbana Area Trick-or-Treat Hours
- Fall Leaf and Yard Waste Collection in Champaign-Urbana and Beyond
- 10+ Places to See Fall Foliage in Champaign-Urbana — Plus a Map
- Say Cheese: Champaign-Urbana Area Sites to Take Cute Fall-Themed Pics
- Have the Ultimate Outdoor Fall with Kids in the Champaign-Urbana Area
- Champaign-Urbana Area Fall Events and Activities
- Haunted Houses and Where to Get Scared in Champaign-Urbana
- Champaign-Urbana Area Halloween Events and Activities
- Our Favorite Fall Parades in Champaign-Urbana and Beyond
- 21 Things to Do in the Fall on a Budget in Champaign-Urbana
- Fall Fun in Chicago: Free Days at the Best Museums
- Fantastic Fall Festivals a Short Drive from Champaign-Urbana
- Fall Festivals in the Champaign-Urbana Area and Beyond
- Apples, Pumpkins and Corn Mazes in Champaign-Urbana and Beyond
- Where to Pick Apples Near Champaign-Urbana
More Posts on Enjoying the Outdoors at Different Times of the Year
- Best Sledding Hills in Champaign-Urbana
- Where to Ice Skate in Central Illinois
- Slide on your Snowshoes and Hit Central Illinois Trails
- Where to Rent Canoes, Kayaks and Boats Near Champaign-Urbana
- Creek Stomping Your Way Around Champaign-Urbana
- Beaches Within a Short Driving Distance of Champaign-Urbana
Top spots for outdoor recreation near Champaign-Urbana
- Visiting Clinton Lake With Your Family
- Visiting Imagination Grove Near Bloomington-Normal
- Meet Me Halfway: Kankakee River State Park
- Hidden Treasure in Central Illinois: Weldon Springs State Park
- The Perfect Family Hike: Explore the Sangamon River Forest Preserve near Fisher
- Best Kept Secret: Buffalo Trace Prairie in Mahomet
- Getaway for a Day: Matthiessen State Park
- Best Kept Secret: Forest Glen Preserve
- Hiking the Sangamon River Corridor Reserve in Monticello with your Family
- What to Do at Kickapoo State Recreation Area
- What To Do At Turkey Run State Park With Your Family
- Everything You Need To Know about Visiting Homer Lake Forest Preserve with Your Family
- What To Do At Moraine View State Recreation Area With Your Family
- Visiting Lake of the Woods in Mahomet with Children
- What To Do At Clinton Lake With Your Family
- 8 Reasons You’ll Love Visiting Allerton Park with Your Family
- At Middle Fork River Forest Preserve, Darkness is the Star
- Parent’s Guide to Busey Woods in Urbana
- River Bend Forest Preserve in Mahomet a Great Escape