More Midwest Family Friendly Travel Destinations

Fall is my favorite time of year. This surprises most people given that I was born and raised in Hawaii (but now live in the Midwest). Typically, they guess that summer is my favorite time of year. I do enjoy the summer months, but since I never got to experience the change of seasons as a child, I appreciate them more as an adult. (Save for the switch to winter.)

Each year I make a concerted effort to visit as many seasonal attractions as possible. I target the outdoor ones, but have found some exceptional indoor ones as well.

Here are a couple more of my favorite family friendly travel destinations that really shine this time of year:

The Morton Arboretum

Located in Lisle, Illinois, the Morton Arboretum is an outdoor wonderland that bursts with fall’s brilliant colors each year. My family’s favorite spot is the Firefly Pond Picnic Area. It is the perfect place to enjoy a late lunch amongst nature’s finest. The large grassy area is also ideal for kids to run free or play a game of touch football. The Arboretum is also home to exceptional attractions such as the Maze Garden and interactive Children’s Garden. The latter is a 4-acre parcel designed to entertain, educate, and stimulate kids about the benefits of growing their own flowers and produce.

Garfield Park Conservatory

It is often referred to as one of Chicago’s most under-patronized cultural gems. Located on the city’s West Side (a 15-minute drive from downtown Chicago), the Garfield Park Conservatory is home to one of the largest indoor gardens on the planet. I especially appreciate the way the conservatory is laid out. There are a series of paths which wind and meander through the expansive collection of foliage and flowers, and those same paths are the ones that lead to the five thematic plant houses—Palm House, Fern Room, Desert House, Aroid House and Sweet House. The Garfield Park Conservatory is also regarded as one of the first of its kind to display plants in a naturalistic setting rather than in pots. If you are visiting with young ones, don’t leave without taking a tour of the Elizabeth Morse Genius Children’s Garden. It is an interactive organic playground complete with larger-than-life plants, a slide and a giant seed model. The Garfield Park Conservatory is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and Thursdays until 8 p.m. And, the best part–admission is free.

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.