Fall’s blue skies, crisp temperatures, and vibrant foliage create the urge to head outside, and fresh activities across North Carolina add ways to enjoy the season. With six weeks of prime leaf looking, events that relish the harvest, and festivals energized by fall breezes, travelers find boundless rewards for exploring the state.
To help autumn lovers make the most of the splendid season, superintendents from North Carolina’s state parks and other local experts will post photos and reports on fall color and activities at VisitNC.com. The website’s Fall for Fall in North Carolina section adds notes of inspiration for those seeking events with music, seafood, family activities, wine, and beer.
Get started here with seven ideas for relishing fall in a new way.
1. Use your feet. Banjo tunes send runners on their way at the Rhythm & Roots Run, and more music awaits along the route. Run, stroll or walk your dog through the 5K or 10K course and get a free pass to the new Earl Scruggs Center, an innovative attraction that celebrates the place that shaped the premier picker’s life.
2. Paddle a creek. If you love true stories of derring-do, it’s hard to top the one about William B. Cushing, a 21-year-old Union officer who sneaked up the Roanoke River and torpedoed a Confederate ironclad. Learn all about it as you paddle the getaway route at Cushing’s Escape: 150th Anniversary Paddle, which includes lunch, music and more. October in Plymouth.
3. Sow seeds of imagination. A new children’s garden adds magic to the fall transformation at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden. The three-acre Lost Hollow, designed by W. Gary Smith, invites young minds to wander through areas fit for fairy tales— a mysterious Fireplace Cave, a Sunken Pond, an Aviary and the castle-like Moon Keep. Opening October, in Belmont.
4. Blaze a trail. Countless trails afford stunning views amid North Carolina’s ancient mountains and old growth forests. This fall, hikers, bikers and horseback riders can enjoy the blazing mountain colors along the newly completed Santeelah Lake Trail, which hugs the shore of a sparkling reservoir in the Nantahala National Forest. Time a visit to the Fall Hike Week at Fontana Village Resort or the Harvest Festival at the Stecoah Valley Cultural Arts Center. In Robbinsville.
5. Raise a pint. Innovation flows through the state of Southern beer, which leads the region in the number of breweries (about 110) and award-winning styles. Plan a beer trek that leads to the heart of the state for the inaugural Beericana festival, featuring food trucks, bluegrass, and beer from dozens of the region’s best breweries. September in Holly Springs.
6. Drink in the scenery. Even designated drivers can enjoy North Carolina wineries in the fall. Take the Pilot Mountain Parkway to the new JOLO Winery & Vineyards, where you can linger at the lake, follow nature trails and toss bocce balls. Or check out newly designated Upper Hiwassee Highlands wine region in the mountains of southwestern North Carolina.
7. Find an old favorite. With all the signature festivals that take place in the fall, you’re bound to find something that’s new to you. And classics events such as Lexington’s Barbecue Festival, the North Carolina Seafood Festival, the Woolly Worm Festival and Mayberry Days never grow old.
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