School might be taking up your kids’ weekdays, but weekends are still fair game! When the homework is finished and the fall weather is too good to be ignored, here are a few family-friendly activities to fill up your weekend calendar. 

Johansen Farms Children’s Zoo and Pumpkin Patch

710 W. Boughton Road, Bolingbrook

Admission: $9.95 weekdays, $14.95 weekends and Columbus Day

You’re sure to find the perfect pumpkin at Johansen Farms – in the past, they’ve had more than 25,000 to choose from. The fall festival runs through Oct. 31 and offers everything from a pumpkin patch to a petting zoo to games. Plus, parking is free.

Dollinger Family Farm

7420 E. Hansel Road, Channahon

Admission: Free

Like many other public farms, Dollinger Family Farm has a pumpkin patch and expansive gift shop. Weekends are chock-full of events. But make note for future reference that unlike other farms, it also offers Revolutionary War reenactments on the weekends, with those living history programs returning in 2021.


Starved Rock State Park

2678 E. 875th Road, Oglesby

Starved Rock’s waterfalls, canyons and views of the Illinois River make it a must-visit location. There’s no shortage of things to do: In addition to hiking, fishing and picnicking, you also can take a trolley ride or boat cruise. If you’re looking to stay the night, the Starved Rock Lodge and its cozy cabins are open for business.

The Morton Arboretum

4100 Route 53, Lisle

Admission: Adults $15, seniors $13 and children $10, discount prices on Wednesdays; advance timed-entry passes or tickets are required.

With over 100 rare and endangered tree species on its campus, The Morton Arboretum is a beautiful place to explore on any day. It also offers a mix of in-person and online events throughout fall. The annual Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum, which runs from Nov. 20 to Jan. 3, is perfect if you’re already counting the days until the holiday season. This year, Illumination will be a drive-thru event. If you want to enjoy the arboretum from the comfort of your living room, check out the Glass Pumpkin Patch to purchase hand-blown glass pumpkins online from Oct. 14 to 18.

Silver Springs State Park

13608 Fox Road, Yorkville

There’s no better time to experience the great outdoors, and Silver Springs State Park is an inviting place to do so. The titular silver spring never freezes, making it an appealing spot for fishing and canoeing. If you’re up for a little backpacking, there’s also a youth group camping area off the beaten path.


Illinois Railway Museum

7000 Olson Road, Union

Admission: $11 adults, $9 seniors, $8 children

If you have a future engineer in your family, the Illinois Railway Museum might be the perfect way to spend a Saturday or Sunday. Executive Director Nick Kallas says about three-fourths of visitors are families. The Illinois Railway Museum has the largest collection of historic railway equipment in America. The museum currently is open weekends, and tickets must be purchased in advance this year. The grounds are open for self-guided tours on days the museum is open.

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