10/07/2011 05:58 pm ET | Updated Nov 27, 2011

Illinois Fall Foliage: A MapQuest Guide

Illinois fall foliage features brilliant hues and spectacular scenery. The changing colors of leaves in autumn is one of nature’s most beloved rites of passage -- and makes for one of the most popular and inexpensive getaways for families. As part of LeafQuest -- a MapQuest series helping leaf peepers across North America find easy and rewarding destinations -- here are three recommended spots for viewing Illinois fall foliage. — Andres Jauregui

Morton Arboretum & Naperville Riverwalk

Chicagoland suburbs might not possess the inherent quaintness of New England towns, but neither are they devoid of opportunities for viewing fall foliage. The Morton Arboretum in Lisle is a 1,700-acre preserve devoted to collections of plants and trees as well as educational programming. Its manicured landscape of ginkgos, sugar maples and oaks are ideal for autumn strolls -- look for weekly fall color reports issued by the arboretum's plant manager during the season. Fall visitors to nearby Naperville can enjoy the bright colors -- particularly of the yellow-golden ash trees -- along the town's famous riverwalk.

Morton Arboretum, 4100 Lincoln Ave., Lisle, IL 60532 | Get Directions

Shawnee National Forest

Originally heavily forested, southern Illinois was dramatically cleared for farmland by settlers during the 19th century. The Shawnee National Forest is the result of both extensive replanting and conservation efforts by the state and federal governments. Make sure to get out of the car at the must-see Garden of the Gods -- 320-million-year-old sandstone rock formations that are punctuated in fall by the colorful leaves of hickory, walnut and oak trees.

Garden of the Gods, Equality, IL 62934 | Get Directions

Douglas-Hart Nature Center

The nonprofit Douglas-Hart Nature Center in east-central Illinois was established by Helen Douglas-Hart in 1960. Today, its 70-plus acres and more than 60-tree species feature such must-see fall trees as the glorious sugar maple, ash and sycamore. The center boasts an education center as well as a network of trails through forest and prairie land. Migratory bird walks are held throughout the fall, as are fall-foliage field trips for children and teens.

2204 Dewitt Ave. E., Mattoon, IL 61938-3538 | Get Directions

A photo slideshow of fall foliage in Ottawa, Illinois.

Did we miss an Illinois fall-foliage spot? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

Want other great fall-foliage destinations? Check out more LeafQuest.

Interested in more stories about Illinois? Go to Patch and scroll the list of states to get great local coverage of your neighborhood.