The Carolinas are known for being two of the few states along the East Coast that truly experience all four seasons, rather than just an extended summer or winter. That’s but one of the reasons why fall is such a beloved time of year here. For those looking to take advantage of fall’s cooler temperatures, stunning scenery, and seasonal flavors, we’ve curated the perfect guide to fall activities.
Read on for places to go and things to do throughout the Carolinas this fall:
Test Your Courage at SCarowinds
Known as the largest Halloween event in the Carolinas, SCarowinds is perfect for those who want to spend this fall chasing thrills and chills. SCarowinds includes many of the same fun rides as Carowinds while also featuring frightening mazes, haunted houses and live entertainment. Add in the park’s terrifying trained actors, and SCarowinds gets just the right balance of freight and fun.
Carve Some Pumpkins
Nothing says “fall” quite like the sight of pumpkins creeping back into homes and stores. For a fun and affordable night in, pick up a few from a local pumpkin patch like Hodges or Hunter Farm and get carving.
Explore Blowing Rock from Chetola Resort
Chetola Resort is the most family-oriented option on this list. While it provides romantic scenery and relaxing activities for couples, everyone will find something to do here. Kids can enjoy the resort’s paddle boats and pickle ball courts, and the older folks can test their aim at the resort’s archery and gun ranges. Outside the resorts, guests can explore the village of Blowing Rock or take a hike through the nearby mountain range.
Attend This Year’s Wilmington, NC Riverfest
Every October, Wilmington hosts Riverfest, a two-day, family-friendly event celebrating the city. Guests can expect to see a wide range of vendors selling everything from handmade crafts and artisan goods to savory turkey legs and sweet desserts. Plus, Riverfest always has a strong lineup of musicians ready to take the stage.
Walk Through the Historical Hart Square Village
Hart Square Village in Vale, NC features the largest collection of historical log structures in the US. They’re also fully furnished with antiques and replicas designed to showcase what was used by those living there during that time. Visitors can learn the area’s history, as well as participate in one of many fall activaties held in the village.
Join a Bar Crawl in Charlotte, North Carolina
Locals know that when it comes to bar crawls, Charlotte doesn’t need much of an excuse to plan one. Bars, pubs and breweries are always happy to join a crawl list, especially during the fall when they can show off their new seasonal flavors. Those who are interested can expect to see a wide range of crawls around Halloween in particular, so don’t forget a costume!
Decorate Some Apples
Fall doesn’t just mean the arrival of pumpkins; it also means the arrival of fresh apples! One way to use up all of those apples from your latest apple-picking adventure is to decorate them. Get some melted caramel and chocolate for dipping, plus your favorite toppings for the decorations. Sure, things might get a little messy, but that’s all part of the fall fun. For local-to-Charlotte options, we love Windy Hill and Carrigan Farms.
Post up at The Black Walnut
The Black Walnut is oddly decadent for a bed and breakfast. Each room has a peculiar beauty that differentiates it from the others. Located in the Historic District of Montford, guests can start their day off with a three-course breakfast before exploring nearby shops or taking a drive through Blue Ridge. They also have pet-friendly rooms if you want to give your furry friend a taste of luxury.
Visit Boone, North Carolina
The Blue Ridge Mountains are beautiful year-round, but there’s something especially stunning when the leaves are painted red and orange. The best time to visit is peak week, which is around mid-October. Spend a weekend in Boone for easy access to drive and hike along the Blue Ridge Parkway to take in the stunning fall scenery.
Hike Through Black Mountain, NC
Right outside of Asheville, NC is a quaint mountain town where time moves a little slower. Discover downtown Black Mountain and shop for unique local art and antiques along the rocking chair littered streets. It’s a true hiker’s paradise; don’t forget to explore the myriad of crisscrossed mountain trails.
Go to a Carolina Panthers Games
Fall means football, and in the Carolinas, football is huge. The first home game is September 11, with tailgating all around the stadium. Gear up in Carolina blue and black, and catch a Panthers game at Bank of America stadium this fall.
Visit Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina
Fall is one of the best times to visit Mount Pleasant. Stay at the Charleston Harbour Resort and Marina and enjoy the views of the water. Attend the Boone Hall Pumpkin Patch and navigate the corn maze, or eat fresh in-season oysters at The Lowcountry Oyster Festival.
Fall feels at The Lodge at River Run
The Lodge offers the quietness and rustic charm of a cabin with the comforts of a bed and breakfast. Hidden in Banner Elk, the log-cabin interior is warm and cozy, and the surrounding property is littered with relaxing hangout spots. There’s a hot tub, hammocks, fire pits, and even a hanging bed.
Take Some Spooky Ghost Tours
One of America’s most haunted cities is Charleston, South Carolina. If you are in the mood for a spooky adventure this fall, take a ghost tour in the Holy City. You can pick from a variety of tours, from the haunted jail to a haunted bar crawl.
Go to the Taste Of Charlotte Festival
The Taste of Charlotte Festival is the place to be this fall for any foodies. Hosted in Truist Field, the festival offers food samples from hundreds of restaurants in the Charlotte Area. Come and try some food samples the whole family will enjoy!
Get cozy at The Esmeralda Inn
The Esmeralda Inn is the perfect mountain getaway for those wanting to explore North Carolina’s famous Chimney Rock, Lake Lure or the Rocky Broad River. The Inn offers hotel-style rooms with astounding views of the nearby mountain, or guests can book one of the Inn’s three secluded cabin options. The Esmeralda Inn isn’t the most lavish stay on this list, but with its variety of nearby natural wonders, you probably won’t spend much time in your room anyway.
Visit Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
In the Lowcountry of South Carolina, fall is still a little like summer, but cooler. Golfers wait all year for fall to hit, so they can golf on Hilton Head Island in the crisp fall weather. Stay on the Sea Pines property and golf at one of their three immaculate golf courses.
Spend a Weekend in Pickens, South Carolina
Around two and a half hours from Charlotte, Pickens, South Carolina is the perfect mountain town for a quiet weekend away. With its charming downtown and close proximity to hiking at Sassafras Mountain and Table Rock State Park, Pickens is perfect for a lowkey fall getaway to the mountains.
Take the Family to Grandad’s Apples ‘N Such
Grandad’s Apples ‘N Such is perfect for the whole family. Located in Hendersonville, the farm offers apple and pumpkin picking, a corn maze, petting zoo, and a country market and bakery. It offer all of the most iconic fall activities.
Visit Mt. LeConte
If you like hiking and had to do one hike in the Great Smoky Mountains, this is probably the trail you have to do. It’s a long eleven-mile round trip hike with many beautiful, natural features. Hikers can enjoy impressive views from the nearly 6,600 foot high elevation at LeConte’s peak.
You don’t have to go all the way to Germany to celebrate Oktoberfest. Ole Mecklenburg Brewing hosts its very own Mecktoberfest each autumn, with a three-day festival featuring live music, beer tasting, and traditional German food.
Blue Ridge Village
Blue Ridge Village, near Beech Mountain, is a great jumping-off point for exploring the area. In the fall months, it’s an excellent place for hikes and mountain views. The village also has direct access to a lake that’s great for paddle boating and fishing. Guests at the village can expect an understated but luxurious stay and lots of nearby adventures.
Stop By Windy Hill Orchards
Located just outside Charlotte in York, South Carolina is the local favorite, Windy Hill Orchard. Bring the whole family to pick Stayman Winesap apples and enjoy freshly pressed apple cider.
Go Horseback Riding Along the Shore
After summer ends and the crowds clear from North Myrtle Beach, there’s plenty of room to ride horses along the shoreline. Visit one of North Myrtle Beach’s many stables and enjoy a South Carolina sunset while on horseback.
Hike Chimney Tops
This short four-mile round-trip trail is not for the faint of heart but truly offers some of the best views in the Great Smokies which is why it’s one of the most popular hikes in the park. Just be sure to take the final section slowly, as the trail is very rugged and steep. The payoff is worth it though.
Get lost at Boone Hall Corn Maze
The Boone Hall Corn Maze in Mt. Pleasant, in conjunction with the Pumpkin Patch, is a go-to event for the whole family. Each year, the maze has a new design; there’s a shorter maze and a longer maze that covers the majority of the corn field and is full of complicated twists and turns that present quite a challenge for the more adventurous explorers.
Ride the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad
Hop aboard a vintage steam train departing from Bryson City, NC and take a scenic tour of the countryside of Western North Carolina. Enjoy beautiful Smoky Mountain views in their autumn prime.
Take in the season at Grand Bohemian Asheville
The Grand Bohemian Asheville takes a different route to luxury mountain vacations. While most mountain resorts will place you in nature, the Grand Bohemian elevates you above it. The hotel celebrates the beauty of the great outdoors through its rustic yet modern architecture. Even if you’re not staying there, it’s worth the visit for its eclectic art gallery or a cocktail at Red Stag Grill.
Tour Veronét Vineyards & Winery
The fall season is one of the best times to visit a winery. Veronét Vineyards & Winery in Kings Mountain pairs great wine with a panoramic mountain landscape, making it a fall favorite.
Take a trip to Deep Creek Trail and Waterfalls
This beautiful area on the Bryson City side of the park is a must-visit. It can be a little crowded if you don’t get here early but the trail is well worth it. There is an easy trail to walk with all ages. It offers three wonderful waterfalls: Juney Whank Falls, Tom Branch Falls, and Indian Creek Falls.
Enjoy the Statesville Pumpkin Festival
On November 5, head over to Statesville for the ultimate fall experience. Expect a full day of activities such as the classic car cruise-in, live music, local brewery and food vendors, and lots of pumpkins—of course.
Go to the Hot Air Balloon Festival
The third weekend in October hosts one of the most unique experiences in the Carolinas. Watch a colorful balloon dotted skyline while enjoying live music, craft beer and wine, a marketplace, and artisan village. You can also book a ride in one of the hot air balloons and take in the scenery from above the clouds.
Visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park
A trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park will give you the reinvigoration we’ve all been needing. Spend some time with family and friends while sightseeing at some of the most beautiful spots in North Carolina. Great Smoky Mountains National Park has you covered with endless things to do and see.
Host a Potluck
Nothing is better than sharing comfort food with friends. Grab your group and everybody’s best homemade fall recipes for a Friendsgiving potluck. Pro tip: Grab a charcuterie spread from the Loyalist Market or Babe & Butcher and some wine to go from Dilworth Tasting Room.
Visit Outer Banks, NC
Camp out on a cool fall evening right on the beach shore. Explore the museums and historic sites like the Wright Brothers Museum, and indulge in local seafood at OBX. This East Coast landmark is full of rich history and beautiful scenery that the brisk fall weather compliments well.
Take in the View at Lake James, NC
Clear blue lake water against a rugged mountain backdrop makes for one of the most stunning towns in the Carolinas. The lake boasts 150 miles of shoreline and lots of outdoor activities at the base of Linville Gorge. Enjoy the cool mountain waters and take advantage of the fishing, hiking, swimming, camping, and boating offerings.
Visit Bald Head Island, NC
The ultimate beachy fall getaway is at one of the East Coast’s most intimate and private islands, Bald Head. Hop aboard the ferry to the island, leaving your car and worries on the mainland (only golf carts permitted). Explore the island’s Championship golf course, Thomas Jefferson’s commissioned lighthouse, and the island’s protected creeks and maritime forest.
Get scared at “Boo in the Zoo”
Every October, Greenville Zoo hosts “boo in the zoo” for kids and adults alike to don their favorite Halloween costumes and trick-or-treat through the different event areas. Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in Columbia hosts a “boo in the zoo” event, as well.
Watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade
Novant Health hosts Charlotte’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thanksgiving Day Eve in the streets of Uptown Charlotte. Stay tuned for the full lineup and grab your tickets early.
Pull off the Parkway at Laurel Falls
One of the most popular spots to stop at is Laurel Falls. The scenic 80-foot tall waterfall is a sight to behold and attracts some of the largest crowds. Laurel Falls is named after the mountain laurel, an evergreen shrub that grows in the area in May. Visitors can take the 2.6 mile hike up to the waterfall and take some beautiful shots on the walkway. The area, known for having active black bears, allows for great wildlife sightings (so long as done safely).
Hike Abrams Falls
This moderately strenuous trail takes hikers on a beautiful five mile round trip trek through pines and oak to a 20-foot high and very powerful waterfall. Here, visitors can escape the crowds and take in the serenity of this truly gorgeous park. Be sure to enjoy the calm pools below the waterfall as well.
Stay at The Omni Grove Park Inn
The Omni Grove Park Inn is just far enough from Asheville to explore the city while still enjoying the quiet bliss of the mountains. Although, once you step foot into the inn’s 43,000-square-foot subterranean spa, you probably won’t want to leave. And with the inn’s excellent restaurants and bars, you won’t have to. This place is for travelers who will spare no expense for relaxation.
Hike Ramsey Cascades
Experience the Smokies with this eight-mile round trip trail to the park’s largest waterfall. This waterfall is over 100 feet tall and is surrounded by old growth forest. There are plenty of opportunities on this trail to enjoy a cold mountain stream and take in wildlife. As far as fall activities in North Carolina go, hiking is top of the list.
Enjoy Old Edwards Inn and Spa
Located on the southern plateau of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Old Edwards Inn and Spa is iconic. Guests can stay in one of the lodge’s beautifully furnished suites or a luxurious cabin. Grab a drink at the Inn’s rooftop terrace bar and take in the serene mountain views. Or hike to one of the nearby waterfalls. The nearby shops of historic downtown Highlands are also worth visiting during your stay.
The Swag is a spectacular balance of luxury and rusticity. The entire property sits atop a mountain and has a variety of unique lodging options. While on the property, guests can take a stroll through the seasonal garden or go for a chilling swim in the pond. There’s also a variety of games available to the guests like croquet, badminton and corn hole. If guests want to venture away from their cabin, they can explore the nearby mountains through the Swag’s exclusive entrance into Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Rest up at The 1927 Lake Lure Inn and Spa
Lake Lure Inn was known for its romantic scenery and intimate lodging well before Dirty Dancing was filmed there. Surrounded by mountains, the lake-front hotel is a timeless luxury. This hotel might be short of a few modern amenities. But, the rooms are still incredibly comfortable, and the property has a distinctive charm. It’s a great place to take your partner for a weekend getaway.
Take the family to Mingus Mill
One of the gems of the park is located less than a mile from the entrance of the park. The Mingus Mill, a historic grit mill dating back to 1886, uses a water powered turbine. The grounds are really interesting. Their is staff on location to demonstrate how the mill works, and you can also purchase cornmeal.
See the Elk In Cataloochee Valley
The wildlife in the park is absolutely amazing, and probably your best chance to see both black bear and elk on the East Coast. The elk herds tend to stay in several places in the area including the Cataloochee Valley and the fields by the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. You won’t want to miss the elk on your trip. Please respect the animals and do not get close to them. Bull elk can be especially aggressive.
Take a Weekend Trip to Banner Elk, NC
Nestled in the Blue Ridge, this breathtaking mountain town is known for its ski resorts at Beech and Sugar Mountains. Hit the slopes or ride North Carolina’s first alpine roller coaster. Then head to Artisanal for a fine dining experience in a rustic converted barn.
Experience the Serenity of Edisto Beach, SC
Known for its wildlife, this remote beach town offers a tranquil escape from busy city life. Limited development brings less tourists and means no fighting for a spot on the shore. Explore the hiking and bike trails at Edisto Beach State Park and pack a picnic for sunset.