Champaign, Ill. (WCIA)

Illinois Office of Tourism Releases New Interactive 2022 Fall Colors Trip Planner

Discover the best places to see fall colors in every region of the state with new interactive map-based tracker and weekly reports

Just in time for the start of fall, (Sept. 22), the Illinois Office of Tourism, in partnership with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), has released the 2022 Fall Colors Trip Planner, a new online guide to make finding the best time to spot peak fall foliage across the state easier than ever. The Fall Colors Trip Planner features the new Illinois Fall Color Tracker, an interactive state map for desktop and mobile that allows users to track fall colors by region within a specific time frame throughout the season.

Illinois’ Fall Colors Trip Planner will serve as a useful trip planning resource featuring regional road trip itineraries, weekly fall color reports and the top fall activities across the state. Travelers are also encouraged to share their fall color photos all season long using the #EnjoyIllinois hashtag to be featured on EnjoyIllinois.com.

“Fall in Illinois is magical, with beautiful leaves, spooky sites and the perfect sweater weather,” said Sylvia I. Garcia, Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). “The new Illinois Fall Colors Trip Planner and Fall Color Tracker are great tools for anyone looking to plan a fall getaway, whether they live in Illinois or are visiting from another state or country. This fall, we encourage folks to get out and explore the beautiful Illinois foliage while enjoying our one-of-a-kind small businesses and unique attractions across Illinois.”

To view the Illinois Fall Colors Trip Planner and new Fall Color Tracker, click here.

The annual Illinois Fall Colors Trip Planner will be updated weekly, offering a real-time look at where to spot fall foliage during peak times in the following regions of Illinois.

● Northern Illinois – Second week of October

● Central Illinois – Middle of October

● Southern Illinois – Last week of October

“Each region of Illinois offers breathtaking fall scenery and our state parks in particular will be bursting with changing colors in the weeks to come,” said Colleen Callahan, Director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. “Take your family on a fall colors drive or hike to enjoy the show in the woodlands, along the river bluffs, lakes and picturesque hiking and biking trails.”

The new Fall Colors Trip Planner also includes a variety of fall travel trip itineraries created to highlight must-visit sights and attractions that are unique to Illinois. A few highlights include:

 Spellbound in the Suburbs – Experience all you love about fall just outside Chicago where city skyscrapers quickly give way to apple orchards & pumpkin patches. Make a visit to Bengston’s Pumpkin Farm in Homer Glen, Richardson Adventure Farm in Spring Grove or the Morton Arboretum in Lisle – all truly spectacular in the autumn.

Destination Shawnee – Trek across thousands of acres of majestic natural landscapes that emit colors of fall foliage resembling sunrises and sunsets. With majestic rock formations, picturesque hills, lush woodlands and scenic bluffs, there’s no better place to experience fall than the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois.

 Frights & Delights in Illinois– Featuring local haunts in the southwest region of the state along the Great River Road, including the McPike Mansion in Alton, the Ruebel Hotel in Grafton and Alton Hauntings Tours, winner of a 2021 Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice Award.

● Great Pumpkin Country –Discover some of central Illinois’ fun-filled agritourism destinations for families to enjoy like the Great Pumpkin Patch in Arthur, picking apples at Curtis Orchard and a visit to the state’s only Dark Sky Park in Champaign.

More seasonal trip itineraries can be found here

Illinois’ tourism campaign, ‘Illinois. The Middle of Everything’ directed by and starring actress and Illinois native Jane Lynch, will feature two new ads showcasing the best of fall in Illinois. The ads were filmed at Skydeck Chicago and Starved Rock State Park. To view the new ads and all media assets for the “Middle of Everything,” click here.

The Illinois Office of Tourism also recently released the fall/winter issue of Enjoy Illinois magazine. The new magazine issue, which highlights Galena’s Chestnut Mountain Resort on its cover, includes features on Illinois’ wine trails, The Great Chicago Fire, 10 Reasons to Love Winter in Illinois and more. To subscribe to the free travel magazine, view it online or download, click here.

To view the 2022 Falls Colors Trip Planner and learn more about planning a fall getaway in Illinois, visit EnjoyIllinois.com.

Fall in Illinois is the perfect time of year to get outside and soak in the beautiful weather and fall colors. The Illinois Office of Tourism just launched a new Fall Colors Trip Planner online – tell us about that?

The new Illinois’ Fall Colors Trip Planner is a fantastic online resource on our website, EnjoyIllinois.com – for anyone to use to plan a fall getaway right here in Illinois. Not only does it serve as a useful trip planning tool, featuring the top fall attractions and seasonal road trip itineraries, it also features an interactive Fall Color Tracker and weekly Fall Color Reports provided by the Illinois Dept of Natural Resources. Both will show you where to find peak fall colors throughout the state, broken down by region – including northern, central and southern Illinois. Travelers are encouraged to share their fall color photos all season long using the #EnjoyIllinois hashtag for a chance to be featured on Enjoy Illinois social channels and EnjoyIllinois.com.

What are some scenic road trips that you really encourage folks to take for a fall getaway?

Galena is a picturesque historic river town along the Mississippi River, at the northern end of the Great River Road, making it the ideal destination for a fall getaway. (4 hrs from Champaign)

● Galena’s Main Street looks like a town straight from a Hallmark movie and is the perfect small town for a fall getaway. Enjoy more than 125 boutiques, eateries,and galleries along historic Main Street. Voted #1 Bed and Breakfast in Illinois by Tripadvisor, stay the night at the historic Aldrich Guest House where Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant have both stayed and dined.
● Soar above the trees by zipline through the fall foliage on a zipline tour with Long Hollow Canopy Tour.
● Hoof it & Sip It – Join in on a goat trek paired with a wine tasting while overlooking incredible views of Galena Country. Stroll with a glass of wine in hand and a goat by your side. Return from the walk to enjoy tastings from a local vineyard and winery.

I’ve also heard great things about the fall getaways to Southern Illinois – can you tell me a little more about that?

Absolutely, Southern Illinois is home to some of the best fall foliage views in the state. Experience stunning fall colors at Shawnee National Forest (3 hrs. from Champaign)

● Start your day off with a hike through the Garden of the Gods, where you can bask in nature and incredible fall foliage overlooking the Mississippi and Ohio rivers.
● Experience the trees from above, the Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour will have you flying high through the changing colors of Southern Illinois on a thrilling zipline ride.
● A must-do fall experience includes picking your pumpkins or flowers at the family-owned Rendleman Orchards in Alto Pass.
● Celebrate Illinois Wine Month (during Sept.) at The Shawnee Hills Wine Trail featuring 11 award-winning wineries. Along the way, have a picnic, go on a hike, and experience the beauty of southern Illinois.

Alton/Grafton is perfect for a fall weekend getaway. What are some new fall experiences there ?

Travel to the southern end of the Great River Road where you’ll find the historic towns of Alton and Grafton (3 hrs. from Champaign)
● NEW Fall Foliage and History Tour on the Great River Road (starting Oct. 2022)
○ Marvel over one of the most scenic fall color drives and views, the Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway where the Mississippi and Illinois rivers intersect.
● NEW Grafton’s Alpine Coaster (opening Oct. 2022) – This thrilling new ride – the first of its kind in Illinois – will feature two-person sleds that will travel down the hillside over 3,000 feet of track at speeds up to 25 miles per hour. Visitors can travel through the seasonal foliage that Grafton is known for, and twist and turn around the landscape.
● Rise to new heights with Grafton Sky Tour soaring up to 300 feet high to enjoy the breathtaking views where the Mississippi and Illinois rivers combine.
● Take a scenic bike ride along the Great River Road, bordering the Mississippi River and soak in some of the best fall foliage views in the state along the way.

What’s one destination you’d recommend for a quick fall getaway?

Embrace the best of fall in Starved Rock Country (2 hrs. from Champaign)

● Soak in fall colors while sipping on award-winning wine from Illinois Sparkling Co, located in downtown Utica.
● Hike through Starved Rock State Park or nearby Matthiessen State Park or Buffalo Rock State Park and explore nature trails, enjoy waterfalls, awe-inspiring bluffs and rugged canyons through towering trees and scenic overlooks along the Illinois River. The state park offers free guided fall color tours throughout the season.
● Spend the night surrounded by breathtaking waterfront views at the Heritage Harbor – these are vacation rentals – located near the Illinois River in historic Ottawa.

We can’t mention fall fun without talking about Chicago. Tell our viewers about some of the best fall attractions in the Chicago area?

Chicago’s cooler fall weather puts you right in the middle of amazing autumn activities, delicious foods and gorgeous colors.

● Attend Night of 1,000 Jack-o’-Lanterns at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. More than 1,000 hand-carved pumpkins—some as large as 150 pounds—will light up the night at our Halloween event. Night of 1,000 Jack-o’-Lanterns takes advantage of the Garden’s glorious fall setting, and features only real pumpkins. (Oct 12-16 and 19-23)
● Fall Fest at the Lincoln Park Zoo is a free, family-friendly celebration that brings harvest-time fun to the heart of Chicago each year. This year’s festival features ticketed attractions throughout the zoo, including the Ferris wheel, harvest maze, pumpkin walk, super-sized slide, pirate ship ride and more.
● It’s thrills by day and fright by night at this year’s Fright Fest at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee running select days Sept. 17- Oct. 31. All new this year is Kids Boo Fest, a family-friendly day-time event on Saturdays and Sundays for younger children.