20 Things to Do This Fall in Chicago (to Help You Get Over Summer's Ending)
Summer is breaking up with us. It’s sad, but we’ve got the perfect rebound: fall. Between the city’s myriad cultural events (museums, movies, art and… um, pumpkins?), we have a feeling we’ll move on in no time. Here’s everything you need to do this fall in Chicago.
1. GO LEAF PEEPING AT LAKE GENEVAThis summer, when everyone else sat in traffic to visit Lake Geneva for the weekend, you knew better. You waited for fall, when the trees around the lake burst with color. And you can have the lake’s walking path all to yourself. Ahh.
2. SEE HUBBARD STREET DANCE
If social media has ruined your attention span, catch the fall engagement of this modern dance group (November 7, 9 and 10 at Harris Theatre). The sometimes-sweeping, sometimes-staccato, always mind-bending movements of the dancers—including recent Princess Grace Award winner Rena Butler—will have you rapt.
3. EXPLORE OPEN HOUSE CHICAGO
Raise your hand if you’re guilty of creeping on amazing houses on Redfin. We’ve got a better option: This annual event (October 19 and 20) lets you take a rare look inside some of Chicago’s most gorgeous places (including some you haven’t heard of).
4. TRY VIBRATING MEDITATION AT LULULEMONThis summer Lululemon opened the store to end all stores in Lincoln Park. Only here can you lunch on yummy salads and kombucha, perfect your Warrior 2 in a yoga class and zen out on a vibrating meditation bed. They’ll even let you try new clothes in a class before you decide to buy.
5. GET INSPIRED DURING CHICAGO IDEAS WEEK
If you got a ticket to Jonathan Van Ness’s Chicago Ideas talk, brava. But if you were one of the many who missed it before it sold out, we’ve got good news. This year’s full Chicago Ideas Week event (October 12 to 17) has plenty more to get excited about, from Liz Phair to Saeed Jones.
6. GET SEASONAL AT JACK’S PUMPKIN NIGHTS
Can’t make it to a suburban pumpkin patch this year? Head to Goose Island. Starting in October, two acres of Goose Island will be dedicated to pumpkin carving, nightly entertainment, a nighttime lights display and a corn maze complete with a hidden bar (sounds like you won’t be making it out).
7. COZY UP BY THE FIREPLACE AT ELSKEOn a fall evening, we don’t mind if there’s a wait at Elske. The outdoor fire is at its best when there’s a chill in the air. Cozy up with a glass of red as you anticipate your hearth-smoked carrots and chicken confit.
8. SEE THE CITY THROUGH NEW EYES AT THE CHICAGO ARCHITECTURE BIENNIAL
This year, the Chicago Architectural Biennial (September 19 to January 5) highlights the diverse influences that have shaped our city. Case in point: Events include conversations with the Forensic Architecture and Invisible Institute as well as the American Indian Center and the Settler Colonial City Project.
9. SIP A 2019 BOURBON COUNTY STOUT
For some Chicagoans, life can be divided into two eras: Before Bourbon County Stout and After Bourbon County Stout. If you’re one of the limited-edition brew’s stans (or just interested in seeing what all the fuss is about), look for this year’s launch of eight special variants (including a two-year reserve) on November 29.
10. SEE ‘THE BARBER OF SEVILLE’ AT LYRIC OPERAFor its 65th season, Lyric opens with a classic. (Does “Figaro! Figaro!” ring a bell?) Catch Rossini’s best-known comic masterpiece from September 28 through October 7. Tickets start at $39 and the dress code is flexible, so no need to be intimidated by this icon.
11. JOIN THE HALLOWEEN PARADE OF ARTISTS
Love Halloween, loathe wearing a costume? Let someone else dress up at this family-friendly parade (
12. LEARN SOMETHING DURING THE CHICAGO HUMANITIES FESTIVAL
The Chicago Humanities Festival (October 26 to November 10) has dubbed its 30th anniversary year the Year of Power. It’s only fitting then that power players Ta-Nehisi Coates, Rachel Maddow, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey head the lineup. With Alison Cuddy as artistic director, there’s sure to be more in store.
13. CHANNEL YOUR INNER CHEF WITH THIS LITTLE GOAT MEAL KITSCan’t get a table at Little Goat? Stephanie Izard recently unleashed a line of globally inspired meal kits at Peapod. Everything is pre-measured and precut, so you can reach Top Chef status in no time.
14. WATCH CUTTING-EDGE FLICKS AT THE CHICAGO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
Here’s another reason to be proud of Chicago: It’s home to the longest-running competitive film festival, and its 55th installment is happening October 16 to 27. Peep the schedule and buy your pass now.
15. GET ARTSY AT EXPO CHICAGO
Every year since 1980, this exposition has brought together some of the world’s best contemporary and modern galleries at Navy Pier. This year’s event (September 19 to 22) is no exception, but we have to confess: The people-watching might be our favorite aspect.
16. SEE ‘THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR SHOW’Playing at Chicago Children’s Theatre just in time for the 50th anniversary of the book. Invite your favorite little caterpillar to see 75 larger-than-life puppets acting out Eric Carle’s classic stories The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Very Lonely Firefly, Ten Little Rubber Ducks and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
17. GO FOR A RUN
We don’t all love running, but think of all the good reasons to try: the crisp fall air, the feeling of accomplishment, the Lakefront Trail, the 606, so many 5Ks every weekend...we could go on. If you need a little extra reason, check out Nike’s fall collection in autumnal golds and greens.
18. SOAK UP JAPANESE CULTURE AT KIZUKI CHICAGO JAPANESE MATSURI
Take a trip to Japan without the jet lag. Kizuki Ramen & Izakaya and the Japanese Culture Center are hosting a fall festival at NEWCITY Plaza, September 20 to 22. Japanese calligraphy, martial arts, painting and, yes, delicious ramen, gyoza and more.
19. CELEBRATE OKTOBERFEST AT FUNKENHAUSENWest Town’s Funkenhausen puts a Southern spin on German fare, so it’s only fitting that it adds its own twist to Oktoberfest. For this year’s fest, the restaurant will release a special-edition Märzen-style beer, which you can drink from a boot as you feast on pretzels and dumplings.
20. EAT UP AT THE CHICAGO GOURMET FESTIVAL
Take Restaurant Week, put it in the middle of fall and in one centralized location, and you have Bon Appétit’s Chicago Gourmet. For the 12th year in a row, it will take over Millennium Park, September 24 to 29. In between cooking demos from the likes of Rick Bayless, Tony Mantuano and Sarah Grueneberg, you can wander the tents, where food and drink samples abound.