1. Tailgate at a local football game: It's football season and there are plenty of opportunities to support your local team. Rochelle Township High School, DeKalb High School, and Sycamore High School are all options. Looking for college games? You can get some Mac-tion with the NIU Huskies, or head to Evanston for the Northwestern Wildcats. If you want to go further, you can go to Notre Dame, the University of Wisconsin, or Iowa. Wanna hang with the big boys? You can head to Soldier Field for a Bears' game, or Lambeau Field for the Packers.
2. Tour a Winery: Waterman Winery & Vineyards in Waterman, Acquaviva Winery in Maple Park, and Prairie State Winery in Genoa are all local options. If you want to go further south, you can find the Fox Valley Winery in Oswego.
3. Hit the local apple orchard: Jonamac Orchard is in full swing. You can pick your own apples, make a reservation for a private campfire, and participate in activities such as a daytime corn maze, a petting zoo, wagon rides and the Pumpkin House. If you are looking for something more adult, you can visit the Cider House tasting room.
4. Have a Friendsgiving Potluck: Thanksgiving will be here before we know it. Why wait to gather around the table and have a satisfying, hearty meal? Organize a dinner with friends, and invite everyone to bring a dish to pass. You can enjoy great food, great company, and you don't have to do all the work!
5. Spend a day antiquing: This activity might not be for everyone, and I certainly can spend a day antiquing anytime of the year. But with the weather cooling off, antiquing is a great indoor activity that allows you to see into the past and revisit the trends of the past (and some trends are better left in the past). Once in a while, you can even find toys you used to play with as a child, or the lunchbox you used to carry to school as a kid. (I don't really like that part...)
6. Build a bonfire: Did someone say s'mores? Yes, please. You can make them in the microwave, or if you have a gas range, you can toast the marshmallows in your kitchen, but there is nothing like marshmallows roasted over a bonfire and then squished between 2 pieces of chocolate, and 2 graham crackers. Invite your friends, and gather 'round for some scary stories.
7. Take a long weekend road trip: The leaves are starting to turn. It's a good time to hop in the car and look for the best fall foliage. The drive along Route 2 next to the river is stunning on a normal day, but it is much more so once the leaves have turned. Galena is a beautiful place to enjoy fall. If you feel the need to leave the state, there are countless areas you can travel to to enjoy the beauty and fun of fall. Don't forget your pumpkin and apple cider donuts.
8. Take a ghost tour or visit a local cemetery: With Halloween fast approaching, this is the right time of year to tour a cemetery (only during the appropriate hours, please) or take a ghost tour. The Egyptian Theater in DeKalb offers ghost tours. There are also ghost tours in Naperville and Chicago is chock full of opportunities to go to haunted spots and learn the stories of those who linger long after their bodies have left this earthly plane.
9. Take a hike: I love to hike. I know a lot of other people do, too. There are plenty of places to hike in the area. Nachusa Grasslands in Franklin Grove is a wonderful place to go. The prairie is diverse and it looks different every time I go there. White Pines and Lowden State Parks in Oregon are also wonderful places to go. If you want to go a bit further, head south on I-39 toward Starved Rock or Matthiessen State Parks. If you want to go even further, there is Yellowstone in Montana/Wyoming, or Voyageurs in Minnesota, or Isle Royale in Michigan. As the leaves turn, any of these options will give you a wonderful opportunity to get outdoors, get some exercise and marvel at the beauty of nature.
Photo Credit: Jennifer Payton Photography