We’ve got popular and picturesque outdoor settings in the Champaign-Urbana area for your fall family pictures
We put our heads together to make a list of our favorite outdoor photo spots that are at their best when the leaves start turning colors in the fall. These are places worthy of a professional family photo shoot — even if you are just using your phone on a countdown, propped up on a rock.
More and more businesses and parks are setting up picturesque spots where visitors can take cute fall photos (usually for free!) and we have a separate post where we keep track of those. This post lists places where you are in charge of mapping out your own gorgeous backdrop.
Pumpkins: There’s something about the combination of kids and pumpkins that brings out the photographer in all of us. Several area pumpkin vendors have specific locations set up for this classic photo opportunity — think Curtis Orchard, Negangard Pumpkin Patch, or Crowley Pumpkins — but you can always wing it by assembling a few supermarket pumpkins into a group and plopping your kid in the middle.
Hessel Park, Champaign: Hessel Park has a lot of mature trees that are beautiful when they start to turn.
Helms Park, Midtown Champaign: A stone bridge. A waterfall. What more could you want (except maybe for some slightly taller trees)? This is part of what is known as the Boneyard Creek Second Street Basin, and well worth exploring for the perfect photo spot. In Urbana, another picturesque spot to access the Boneyard can be found at the Race Street Bridge south of Silvercreek.
The University of Illinois Arboretum, Urbana: The Arboretum has some beautiful trees in the fall that look like fire in pictures, as well as a few rare hills for interest. The adjacent Japan House and Gardens is another very popular photo location, as well as the nearby Idea Garden.
Other University of Illinois locations: Fall is a gorgeous time on the University of Illinois campus. A few favorite spots: the Main Quad, the Engineering Quad, near the Krannert Center … Just stroll around until you find a view you like.
Brick Streets: Some of the brick streets in old Champaign have amazing tree colors in the fall. A much-photographed neighborhood centers around the intersection of Park Avenue and Prospect Avenue. Don’t miss the wonderful old osage orange tree a block away, anchoring Trevett-Finch Park. The State Street neighborhood in Urbana offers similarly picturesque mature trees and grand old homes.
Crystal Lake Park, Urbana: The Urbana Park District has been working its magic with a multi-year overhaul and rehabilitation of this beloved park. If you haven’t visited in a while, go back and explore it again, either on foot or by taking the perimeter road around the park. For photos, we recommend finding a bridge and posing nearby.
Lake of the Woods, Mahomet: Lake of the Woods is a very popular venue for family photos. From its gazebo to its giant Adirondack chair, from its covered bridge to the Mabery Gelvin Botanical Garden, there’s a lovely backdrop around every corner. (Did we mention there’s a lake?)
Want to include statues in your photos?
Meadowbrook Park, Urbana: for modern art in a prairie setting
Allerton Park, Monticello: for more classic statuary in formal gardens
Want a photo on a bridge?
Besides some of the more well-known pedestrian bridges listed above (at Lake of the Woods, Crystal Lake Park, or Japan House), try a lesser known span like Champaign’s Mattis Park or Scott Park.
Looking for a photographer to take your family photos? We have a guide for that.
Feeling inspired to view area fall foliage? We can help you find the best leaf peeper spots.
What would you add to our list? Email us with your suggestions.