20 Festive Fall Photo Ops in Lake County, IL 2021

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” – said French philosopher and Nobel Prize Award-winning, Albert Camus.


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Fall is beautiful in Ryerson Woods

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When the leaves change yellow, orange and brown, it is the viewing party of a lifetime traveling on the best fall hike and bike trails in Lake County. We all can’t get out to New England to see their legendary foliage (and frankly, we don’t need to), but Lake County’s trees pack a kaleidoscopic punch of their own.

When you’re pondering about your fall photo-op, don’t forget Visit Lake County is running its #LetsSnapLakeCountyPhoto Contest. Continue here to learn more.

Fall photo ops are great for a holiday card, an engagement picture, a birth announcement or just capturing a few memories for the scrapbook.

Let’s take a look at the 20 festive fall photo ops Lake County have to offer.

Bowen Park in Waukegan 


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The historic park in the City of Progress is known for its environmental learning stations representing a forest ecosystem, plus playgrounds and spray area for the kiddies. There is also an exercise trail in the park. The Waukegan Park District area has lush trees and sprawling fields and has a cascade of wonderful colors during the autumn season for your festive fall photo.

Chain O’Lakes State Park in Antioch/Spring Grove


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“I came along, I wrote a song for you. And all the things you do, and it was all yellow.”  The Chain O’ Lakes has a slew of locations where you can shoot autumn pictures of the fam, a selfie, you and your significant other or your furry friends.

Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe

All sorts of colors are shifting their appearance during the autumnal equinox at the Chicago Bo. “The falling leaves drift by the window. The autumn leaves of red and gold” are a must-see just south of the Lake County border.

Des Plaines River Trail and Greenway (Passes through Wadsworth, Gurnee, Libertyville, Vernon Hills, Deerfield and Mettawa)


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The Des Plaines River Trail and Greenway protects land along more than 76 percent of the river in Lake County, providing wildlife habitat, natural flood protection and outdoor recreation opportunities. The gravel trail spans nearly the entire length of Lake County for 31.4 miles as it winds through 12 forest preserves. It is open for hiking, bicycling, cross-country skiing, horseback riding and snowmobiling. The trail also connects to the Cook County Forest Preserve trail system

Didier Farms in Lincolnshire

The farm favorite features hayrides, pony rides, camel rides, kiddie rides, an exotic petting zoo, a parakeet exhibit, a corn maze and pig races (the sprinting porkies only gallop on the weekends). Not to mention you can get a sweet pic of that big ole pumpkin you’ve picked.

Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve in the Highland Park/Highwood/Lake Forest Area


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Once upon a time, this defunct post was one of the United States Army named after Civil War Cavalry General Philip Sheridan. The fort located in Highland Park, Highwood and Lake Forest has been closed since 1993 but is a beautiful backdrop to your gram. From the autumn trees to the Lake Michigan scenery, this National Register of Historic Places and U.S. National Historic Landmark is a photo-op gem.

Heinz Apple Orchard in Green Oaks


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Ready to compare apples to apples? Snagging one of these red or green treats at the Green Oaks orchard gives a lot of pop to your fall pics. Don’t forget your pot hat so you can go full Johnny Appleseed.

Heller Nature Center in Highland Park


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Oak-hickory forests, tallgrass prairie, oak savanna and natural wetlands are an oasis for native plants and animals at this 97-acre preserve. Document your fall expedition with a selfie in the Highland Park area.

Heron Creek Forest Preserve in Lake Zurich

Speaking of birds, the waves monikered Lake County Forest Preserve features a rolling landscape of scenic woodlands, open fields and sensitive wetlands. The highest wetland classification in the land of lakes offers views of an array of wildlife habitats and gorgeous plant meadows. Smile for the birdie. Say cheese!

Hiram Buttrick Sawmill in Antioch

Relish in the rich history of Antioch at the Hiram Buttrick Sawmill Tour. During the tour, visitors will learn about the economic importance of sawmills in the 1800s and will tour the replica facility. Constructed in 1976, the sawmill was built 500 feet downstream of the original site and made of abandoned sawmill material. During the construction of the replica, builders salvaged existing pilings from the original structure.

Illinois Beach State Park in Zion


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Right by scenic Lake Michigan, the greens start to change yellow, orange, red and gold. A snap of autumn with the backdrop of the drink provides all of the seasonal feels you need.

Independence Grove Forest Preserve in Libertyville

This scenic 1,135-acre preserve offers a wide range of outdoor recreation and education opportunities centered around a 115-acre lake reclaimed from a gravel quarry. Visitors can experience fishing and boating, a Marina with boat and bike rentals, a native garden and nearly seven miles of trails. The red, yellow, brown and green pyrotechnic nature explosion is a sight to see and snap a shot.

Lakefront Park in Fox Lake

Connects to the Chain O’Lakes  – this wonderful lakeside park has a picture-perfect dichotomy of views and fall foliage across the Fox Lake. You may even be able to see a pelican before they take off before winter.

North Point Marina in Winthrop Harbor


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This quiet, serene and safe area along the panoramic Lake Michigan, offers the relaxation you expect and the nurturing you need in a natural and lush recreational setting. You can stop by Harbor Brewing Lakefront Biergarten to a libation to further bask in the autumn glory.

Richardson Adventure Farm & Corn Maze in Spring Grove


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A gigantic maze of maize, pumpkins galore, friendly farm animals and fall photo ops to match at the Spring Grove farm. We have yet to see a person frowning while ZORBing.

Rollins Savanna Forest Preserve in Grayslake 


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Rollins Savanna is named an “Important Bird Area” by the National Audubon Society due to the large number of endangered yellow-headed blackbirds that have found refuge here. Shutterbugs can take a festive fall photo there. Maybe Tweety will photobomb you.

Rosewood Beach in Highland Park 


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Before you lay out your yoga mats, just chillax on the shores of the Highland Park beach to see the sun come up. Tucked away on the east side of Sheridan Road, Rosewood Beach’s sunrise is a perfect place to soul search and meditate before beginning your day along Lake Michigan. Leading up to the Lake Michigan shoreline, there is a ton of vegetation that pops all the right colors as you approach Rosewood.

Ryerson Conservation Area in Riverwoods


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Ryerson Conservation Area and the Brushwood Center take fall very seriously. Not only can you snap a magnificent fall photo op in the Lake County forest preserve, but you can also peruse the grounds on their Halloween Hikes (October 22-23) and get the daylights spooked out of you. Check back in the winter for their annual maple syrup hikes.

The University of St. Mary of the Lake (USML/Mundelein Seminary) in Mundelein


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USML is the quintessential nature haven. The variety of trees species complemented by the serene lake makes for the perfect fall photo op.

Volo Bog State Natural Area in Ingleside


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View all the fascinating natural activity by taking a tour of Illinois’s only remaining open-water quaking bog. The National Natural Landmark in Ingleside is a perfect venue for a festive fall photo op.

Honorable Mention Festive Fall Photo Ops


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  • Tempel Farms in Old Mill Creek INFO»
  • Historic Downtown Long Grove INFO»
  • Lambs Farm in Libertyville INFO»
  • Waukegan Light House INFO»
  • Lehmann Mansion in Lake Villa INFO»
  • Vigneto del bino in Antioch INFO»
  • Valentino Vineyards in Long Grove INFO»
  • Other Lake County Forest Preserves INFO»
  • Lincolnshire Marriott Resort INFO»
  • Corrine J. Rose Park in Waukegan INFO»
  • Bangs Lake in Wauconda INFO»
  • Gander Mountain in Antioch INFO»

For more festive fall photo op opportunities, continue here. To submit your grams to the #LetsSnapLakeCounty Photo Contest, click here.

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