When fall arrives in the Midwest, there's no better place to see the changing leaves than a short drive from Northwest Indiana.
No matter which direction you head, a day trip within a few hours of the region will provide stunning views of nature's colors.
Experts say now is the time to make plans - recent cold temperatures have propelled trees' leaves to turn from green to oranges, yellows and reds.
Here are some ideas for day trips to take before leaves fall to the ground and cold, winter weather settles.
Illinois & Michigan Canal
Enjoy a beautiful view with lots of history along the Illinois & Michigan Canal. The canal, which connects Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River, was once a major passage for travelers and commodities, said Elly Burrows, who represents the Illinois Office of Tourism through FleishmanHillard.
"Today, trail-goers can explore state parks bursting with fall color, such as Starved Rock State Park and Buffalo Rock State Park, and historic river towns including LaSalle, Lockport, Utica and Joliet," she said.
Visitors can choose to visit the area by car, foot or even aboard an old-fashioned Century LaSalle Boat, still pulled by two mules, she said.
FYI: enjoyillinois.com, lasallecanalboat.org
Brown County, Ind., has long been a favorite location of nature lovers, but with so many things to see, where should you visit first?
Jamie Newton, with the Brown County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said Hesitation Point in Brown County State Park is a great place to start.
"The wide variety of trees on the hills give an awesome, endless view of colors," she said.
Strahl Lake is also a must see, and the lake is open to fishing.
"There are hiking trails and mountain bike trails located all throughout the park, so you can really get in some great views," Newton said.
Love history? Don't miss the Story Inn and the T.C. Steele State Historic Site.
Story Inn is located in Story, Ind., and is a 19th century village in southern Brown County.
"With a restaurant, inn, cottages and cabins, a tavern and no cell reception, guests love to enjoy the foliage, the quiet and the unique surroundings," she said.
The T.C. Steele State Historic Site honors the pioneer behind Brown County as an art colony. The site includes his original home, art studios, gardens and several trails where fall foliage takes center stage.
Other fall foliage tours can be found on the visitor bureau's website.
FYI: browncounty.com, storyinn.com, tcsteele.org
The tree-lined Fox River in Kane County, Ill., connects quaint towns that are perfect for sightseeing during October and November, Burrows said.
The Fox River Trail, in particular, is 32 miles long and features red maples, sugar maples, white ash, green ash and white oak, among others. While in the area, explore antique shops in many of the communities the trail passes through, including Elgin, St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia and Aurora.
Pokagon State Park
Located north of Fort Wayne in Angola, Ind., Pokagon State Park features plenty of summer and winter activities, but it's also a great place to catch the changing leaves while hitting any of the nine trails the park offers.
Need practice catching picturesque snapshots of fall's colors?
The Nature Center at the state park will hold a fall photography workshop from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday. The class is geared toward beginner and intermediate photographers, and is hands-on, with much of class time spent outside.
For more information on the workshop, call (260) 624-2999.
Michigan's state visitors bureau, Travel Michigan, offers several driving tour ideas to catch autumn's hues. Though Michigan is seeing the end of its peak fall colors, there still may be time to catch scenic views on some of southern Michigan's tours.
"That will probably be the best bet to catch peaking fall colors here in Michigan," said Michelle Begnoche, Travel public relations manager.
Some tours she recommends are Hillsdale-Homer-Sturgis, Grand Rapids-Grand Haven-South Haven-Kalamazoo, Jackson-Ann Arbor-Monroe, and New Buffalo-St. Joseph-Benton Harbor-Paw Paw.
More information on these driving tours can be found on the Pure Michigan site.