Image source: galverson2
A city that boasts four distinct seasons is a city that can please the eye year-round. If you decide to visit Miami in the fall, it will look a lot like it does in the winter and summer. Not Chicago. Chicago is one of those cities whose fall season is marked by the changing colors of its nature and the cool nights that mark the end of a humid, heavy summer air. Find a Chicago hostel through Hostelbookers and reserve your room mid-September or onward.
Fall in Chicago feels as though America’s third largest metropolis has just begun a drawn-out sigh of relief, or as though the urban landscape is itself taking a full breath of the fresh air that has come down from the north to blanket the place in calm. That’s not to say that the rough edges of the city become any less serrated than before—the parties go on, the traffic bounds and crams, and the noises perpetuate the city’s reputation as an urban conglomeration—but what has changed is subtle and relaxing; and the change is visible.
We might call ‘fall’ in Chicago ‘autumn’, but fall is a far more fitting term to describe what happens in Chicago and its neighborhoods, suburbs, and neighboring cities. From spring, an exciting time when the winter has finally blown itself out, and the colors return to the trees, there comes summer, which is nice for swimming in the lake. But when finally the almost unbearable heat subsides, it does so accompanied by the changing colors in the trees. White, purple, red and green shift to attractive earth tones; scarlet, orange, dust yellow, maroon and a dirty teal. In Chicago proper and beyond, and in its suburbs where there are even more trees, the whole place exchanges its summer dress for an airy autumn gown, and begins to shed its leaves.
Image source: mlehet
Downtown the leaves are collected, but in the parks you can stroll and ruffle the crackling colors beneath your feet. You can still go to the Lincoln Park Zoo and see the animals, and it’s nice when they are bathed in early dusk light, because autumn colors are beautiful at that time of day. You can still promenade at the waterfront, before the flat lake’s winter gusts make that venture difficult. You can shop along the Magnificent Mile, because during the day it’s warm enough for light clothes and in the evening it’s not too cool for walking but chilly enough that arm-in-arm with a significant other is lovely.
Dawn is most wonderful in the fall. If you can book a Chicago hostel with a view over the lake, the autumn dawns are reassuring and invigorating, the colors glancing over the surface of the water and making shapes and light flicker.
Fall in Chicago seems to be the best time to go out on the town as well. In the summer bar crowds, alcohol and heat don’t mix. In the wintertime waiting for a taxi can be something unwittingly memorable, and in the spring it rains the most. Fall sets you up with the best situation for bar hopping; it’s not too hot, not too cold and not too wet.
Chicago’s seasons are all worthy of your visit, but fall is the best season if the climate is your main concern. Even the normally lackluster suburbs, especially the northern ones, become radiant and attractive and it might behoove you even to just hop on the Metra to see Evanston’s tree-lined lanes and parks.