Midday Fix: Fall adventures in Illinois

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Cory Jobe, Director, Illinois Office of Tourism

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Canoe down the Mississippi River in Alton with a backdrop of burnt orange leaves and limestone bluffs. Big Muddy Adventures offers a series of half-day and full-day canoe trips on the river from Pere Marquette State Park to Alton. Trips are suitable for all ages and skill levels.

Zip line through the fall foliage in Southern Illinois. Fly across 83 acres of Shawnee National Forest for a bird’s-eye view of the autumn colors. The Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour is Illinois’ first tree-based, eco-friendly zip line consisting of eight zip lines and three aerial suspension bridges. Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois, where hikers can take in lofty views of sandstone rock formations, cliffs and canyons at Garden of the Gods.

Enjoy an aerial view of fall foliage during a hot air balloon ride in Galena. Galena On The Fly offers hot air balloon rides from sunrise to sunset, year-round. While in the air, families have 360-degree views over three different states.

Horseback ride through Giant City State Park in Makanda and take in the natural sandstone structures and autumn beauty. Riders are guided by experienced wranglers on a 3.2-mile private trail that winds through the beautiful Shawnee Forest.

Bike among the gorgeous trees and riverfront communities down the scenic Great River Trail (GRT) in the Quad Cities. Boasting abundant wildlife and stunning views of the Mississippi River, the trail is a favorite among locals. Afterward, riders can revive themselves with craft brews at the Bent River Brewing Company.

Illinois wineries: Another perfect way to soak in fall colors across the state is to travel to one of Illinois’ wineries. Illinois is home to more than 100 wineries across the state. From Galena Cellars vineyard in Galena and Illinois Sparkling in Utica near Starved Rock State Park to the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail, featuring nearly a dozen family owned wineries, including Alto Vineyards in Alto Pass and Blue Sky Vineyard in Makanda. You can experience tasting events at many of the vineyards along the trail through the fall making it the ideal spot to relax and soak in the fall colors during a fall weekend getaway. Shawnee Hills Wine Trail Food & Wine Weekend is November 4-5th. Annual Nouveau Wine Weekend in Galena is November 17-18.

Pumpkin Farms: For pumpkin picking, take a road trip Richardson’s Adventure Farm in Spring Grove, Ill. The farm is home to the World's Largest Corn Maze! This year’s design celebrates the World Champion Chicago Cubs. Richardson’s offers pumpkin patches, slides, pedal carts, jumping pillows, a carousel, wagon rides, pig races, and a 50-ft tall observation tower. Don’t forget: zorbing, concessions, fresh donuts, fudge, and kettle corn. Fall never tasted so good.

Wind your way through a 10-acre corn maze filled with haunted surprises at Jonamac Orchard in Malta, near DeKalb then unwind with Jonamac’s signature hard apple cider or apple wine.  Jonamac Orchard recently expanded with the opening of its Cider House. Here the apple cider is made from fruit that's grown just a stone’s throw away and pasteurized via ultraviolet light—rather than heat—to retain its amazingly fresh flavor. Though Jonamac grows the apples on site, it relies on Wild Onion Brewery in Lake Barrington and Prairie State Winery in Geno to craft the concoctions—a pair of partnerships that only extends the orchard's influence to other communities in Illinois.