Best Places For A Fall Getaway Near Chicago

Sure you'll miss summer's dogwood and daisies roaring yellow, but autumn is the king of color as sunbeams dance amid a circus of scarlet, ginger, gold and plum-colored leaves. Buoy the spirit and sneak away to feast on the visuals because fall is certainly the most fleeting of seasons.

Sevierville, Tennessee
(865) 453-6411

A mere 90 minutes by air, Seiverville is 10 miles north of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. To say that the nation's most visited National Park, free to enter by the way, is a color-packed joy in autumn is a certain understatement. Yes, the birthplace of Dolly Parton has its outlet malls and flashy tourist attractions, but you can also have a quiet, quaint getaway here in a mountain cabin or home. Spend time meandering in the Park by car or foot or sky (Scenic Helicopter Tours allow a breathtaking aerial view of the mountains). Traverse the longest swinging bridge in the country and hike along Prosperity Mountain (Foxfire Mountain Adventures). Visit the Apple Barn Cider Mill, built in 1910, an orchard with over 4,000 trees and a place to taste fruit-based wine and an ice creamery featuring apple ice creams. Southern barbecue? Lord. Have. Mercy. You've arrived.

Brown County, Indiana
(800) 753-3255

The "Art Colony of the Midwest" presents The Backroads of Brown County Fall Tour through the end of October when dozens of artisans open their studios to visitors. You take a free, self-guided tour through the county's rolling hills, watch artists at work and can even pick up trinkets for unusual holiday gifts. Artists work in fiber arts, photography, pottery, glass, jewelry, furniture and paint. Meander between stops and take in the heavenly palette of the season on the area's twisting country back roads or consider a visit to Brown County State Park which offers miles of hiking and horseback trails.

Indiana Dunes, Indiana
(219) 926-2255

The dunes are not just for post-prom shenanigans anymore. Fall is the perfect time for a beach stroll or hike at Indiana Dunes State Park (tip – Trail 9 was named the best place to hike in the state by USA Today) with more than 2,000 acres of beach, marshes and forests in addition to the dunes. Visit Taltree Arboretum and its 2.5-acre model railway garden, Valpo Velvet ice cream shop and consider a Saturday tour at Broken Wagon Bison Farm in Hobart to eye more than 100 bison. Lodging is plentiful and especially appealing are the furnished cottages at Inspiration Wood and many of the B&Bs such as Songbird Prairie and Inn at Aberdeen. Riley's Railhouse rocks for train buffs and At Home in the Woods has National Park-themed lodging.

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Grand Rapids, Michigan
(616) 459-8287

Grand Rapids, Michigan is home to the world's largest art competition, one of the world's most-visited art museums and an art scene that rivals larger cities. Around a two-hour drive from Chicago, the town is also known as Beer City USA and you can be sipping local craft beers from 15 breweries in no time flat. JW Marriott Grand Rapids has "Brew and Renew" spa specials with treatments that use local hops and barley to exfoliate the skin while you get tastings of local craft beers. The hotel's Beer City USA package snags you overnight accommodations, local beers served to your room upon arrival, a Beer City Passport with brewery map, a Beer City T-Shirt (upon completion of the passport), two breakfast vouchers for restaurant, 20-percent off at The Spa and JW Marketplace and complimentary valet or self-parking. Michigan is known for apples, too, and the JW has a Cider Mill package including tours of local cider mills and tastings. Or, you might choose to snooze at the historic Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, turning 100 in 2016, which is known for its historic gold leaf ceiling.

Heidel House Resort & Spa
643 Illinois Ave.
Green Lake, WI 54941
(920) 294-3344

Just the name, Heidel House Resort & Spa, sounds like a perfect hideaway to drink in autumn's color show. The central Wisconsin resort offers yacht cruises, lakeside dining and the 5th Annual Oktoberfest. Hop aboard the Escapade, a custom-built, 60-foot catamaran-style yacht, to tour Green Lake weekends through October 26. You'll learn about Green Lake, Wisconsin's deepest inland lake, amid picturesque, autumn scenery. The property offers a festive Oktoberfest celebration on Saturday, October 18, full of frauleins serving beer and schnitzel. Enter Klement's Sausage Races, a polka dancing contest or the Das Boot Relay. Treat yourself to a spa service at the award-winning Evensong Spa. Selected as the 2014 Best Honeymoon Location in Wisconsin by Wisconsin Bride magazine, you know Heidel House must be a good bet for couples. There is great antiquing in nearby communities, too.

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Jacky Runice has been a columnist with the Daily Herald Chicago since grunge music and flannel was the new black. Her fingers and gray matter have been busy as travel editor of Reunions Magazine; penning a column that was syndicated around the nation via Tribune Media Services. Her work can be found at