Admit it, a not-so teensy part of you is jonesing for Fall; the cozy sweaters and new boots, crispness in the air, and infusion of apple and pumpkin into just about everything edible. Here are a few Must Dos to help you embrace this lightning-fast season.

Pick some fruit! I don’t care if you’re two or a hundred and two; the sheer act of picking crunchy Jonagolds makes everyone feel like they’ve stepped straight out of a J. Crew catalog. Just a skip away from downtown Chicago in Hobart, IN, is CountyLine Orchard, where the fam can get lost in a corn maze, fraternize with adorable animals in the Kids Farm and, of course, pick some glossy apples. Or if you’d prefer to head north, Sturtevant, WI’s Apple Holler is a favorite for apple picking and their famed Red Barn dinner theater. And for pick your own pumpkin patches, it’s hard to beat Susie’s Garden Patch for great produce (grown by organic practices) in Garden Prairie, IL.

Skip the middleman! Sure, gathering your own food is great, but you know what’s even better? Tasting the fruits of someone else’s labor. Indulge in some prize-winning apple pie slices as big as your head at Lincoln Square’s Apple Fest. Feeling competitive? Make sure to pencil in Bucktown’s 9th Annual Apple PieContest, a.k.a. their Clash of the Pietans. And downtown’s Berghoff Oktoberfest is a must for the Germanophiles (or just bratwurstophiles) among us.

Take it outside! Chicagoland has some pretty spectacular venues for admiring the beauty of the season. The northwest city of the city houses the North Park Village NaturePreserve, where you can spy some deer (and rainbow-hued foliage) on some downright lovely trails. Nearby Lisle, IL, is the home of the impressive MortonArboretum, with 1700 acres of vibrant Fall foliage. Or if you’re feeling really active, register the whole family for Lincoln Park’s Pumpkins in the Park 5k, a family-friendly race and Halloween festival.

Revel in this season and go make some terrific new memories! (You’ll need ‘em once it starts getting dark again at 4pm.)

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