As summer draws to a close, we’re ready for all the traditional fall Virginia experiences–apple picking at a local orchard, riding on hay bales at a pumpkin patch, soaking in the subtle rays of fall sunlight at a Virginia vineyard, hiking under canopies of autumn-hued trees, and attending a fall festival to sample seasonal flavors, peruse artisan crafts, and catch live music performances. To help you plan for this magical season, we’ve compiled a few of our favorites that epitomize fall in Virginia. Choose a few of these top seasonal spots and get ready to make this your best fall yet!
The Best Fall Hikes in Virginia
With thousands of miles of hiking trails winding through some of the most picturesque parts of the state, it’s nearly impossible to choose just a few. These are a few of the most well-known, but whether you’re visiting Central Virginia, the Shenandoah Valley, or the mountains of Southwest Virginia, we guarantee you’ll discover hiking trails that offer views of gorgeous fall foliage close by.
Located outside of Roanoke in Catawba, McAfee Knob is the most photographed spot on the Appalachian Trail, and for good reason. The out-and-back trail is about four miles in length, totalling eight miles of hiking through shaded forests and pristine meadows, and ends with a jutting rock ledge that offers expansive outlooks of the mountains. This hike is extremely popular, so consider planning your hike for a weekday, and bring a friend to capture an Instagram-worthy photo of you at the summit!
Peaks of Otter Hikes
The Peaks of Otter comprise three mountains: Sharp Top, Flat Top, and Harkening Hill. Near Bedford, these mountains have a total of seven hiking trails, but the best for fall views are Sharp Top Trail, a 1.5-mile hike that ends with 360-degree panoramas (for a total of three miles roundtrip), Harkening Hill Loop Trail (3.3 miles), and Flat Top Trail, which is the longest and most difficult at 4.4 miles. Hike all three trails over the course of a weekend when you stay at the Peaks of Otter Lodge, where you’ll be surrounded by the fall foliage-blanketed mountains.
The Visitors Center and parking area for the Humpback Rocks trail sits just off the northern tip of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and this hike is a great one for beginners searching for prime autumn views. The one-mile hike is fairly vertical, gaining about 800 feet in elevation, so still a little challenging, but there are benches along the trail that allow you to rest as you climb. If you want to extend your hike, there is an intersecting trail off the Humpback Rocks trail; after enjoying the scenery at the top, take this route on the way down to add an additional four miles to your journey. This section also ends at the Visitor’s Center parking lot, making it a convenient route for more experienced hikers.
Twin Pinnacles Trail in Grayson Highlands State Park
Hike to two of the tallest peaks in Virginia on the Twin Pinnacles Trail in Grayson Highlands State Park. The park is famous for the wild ponies that roam along Wilburn Ridge Trail, but if fall foliage is on the agenda, Twin Pinnacles Trail is the better option. This 2.1-mile loop is accessible from the Massie Gap parking area, and the Big Pinnacle viewpoint is just .35 miles from the trailhead. After taking in the vast landscape, turn back and connect to the Little Pinnacle section of the hike, which is roughly .9 miles in length. Surprisingly, the peak of Little Pinnacle is actually higher in elevation than Big Pinnacle, so it’s worth trekking both trails to get these views.
The Best Apple Picking Locations in Virginia
Apple orchards are prevalent around areas like Winchester, Front Royal, Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, and Lexington. For even more apple picking spots, visit our Pick-Your-Own Apple page.
Carter Mountain/Chiles Orchard
When Virginians talk about apple picking, Carter Mountain is typically one of the first places mentioned. However, due to the orchard’s popularity, it can frequently get very busy on the weekends. Their sister orchard, Chiles Family Orchard, is a short drive away in Crozet, and is often less crowded than Carter Mountain. If you’re visiting the Charlottesville or Staunton area and are looking to get that classic fall experience of picking apples, head to either Carter Mountain or Chiles Family Orchard.
Not only can you pick your own apples at Showalter’s Orchard in the Shenandoah Valley, but you can also sample cider made from the fruits grown on-site! The orchard grows more than 30 varietals of apples, using many of these to craft ciders that can be sampled at their tasting room, located right beside the orchard. Open seven days a week, Showalter’s Orchard even has several lodging options for visitors who want to spend an epic fall weekend in Virginia’s famed Shenandoah Valley.
Dickie Brothers Orchard
Established in 1752, Dickie Brothers Orchard in Roseland, Virginia is one of the oldest family farms open to visitors in the Commonwealth. The orchard is open on Saturdays and Sundays, and after picking apples, grab a glass of freshly-made apple cider and explore the farm’s corn maze. In addition to the orchard, Dickie Brothers has a farm market about 30 minutes north off of Rockfish Valley Highway, commonly known as Route 151.
The Best Virginia Wineries in Fall
Honestly, you can’t go wrong visiting a Virginia winery in the fall; pairing great views with even better wine is a win no matter which vineyard you choose!
Crimson Lane Vineyards
A newcomer to the Virginia winery scene, Crimson Lane Vineyards is soon to be recognized as one of the best in the entire state. The wines, like the Albarino and Petit Verdot, are world-class, and the tasting room space will have you wishing the winery offered overnight accommodations so you didn’t have to leave. The first property on the East Coast designed by Napa-famed architects Backen & Backen, the winery offers wide open views of the surrounding mountains. Crimson Lane Vineyards is only open to two-legged guests (no dogs, please!) 21 and up and is reservation-only; book in advance to guarantee availability.
Early Mountain Vineyards
East of Shenandoah National Park, Early Mountain Vineyards offers a rare trifecta of loveliness in the fall: stunning vistas of Virginia’s mountains, award-winning wines, and a restaurant that earns countless accolades each year. We’re fond of all the vintages produced at Early Mountain but don’t miss out on the Eluvium red blend and the Cabernet Franc.
Stone Tower Winery
The sprawling grounds of Leesburg’s Stone Tower Winery has something for every visitor; families and pet owners can play and sip at the Harvest Barn Tasting Room, while 21 and up wine lovers head to the Tower View Tasting Room. Both tasting rooms have a full food menu to pair with wines as well as extensive outdoor seating sections for those beautiful, sunny fall days. Take your vineyard visit up a notch by booking one of Stone Tower’s speciality tours, where you can learn all about the winemaking process and how this Northern Virginia vineyard crafts exceptional vintages.
Southwest Virginia is unparalleled when it comes to natural beauty, so it’s no surprise one of the prettiest vineyards would be located here. Nicewonder Vineyards is a mere ten minutes from downtown Bristol, Virginia, but with more than 450 acres, the winery is an idyllic countryside dream. How could it get any better? The winery is part of Nicewonder Farm, a luxury resort property with all the amenities, from a relaxing spa and infinity pool with views of the vines to a upscale restaurant helmed by critically-acclaimed Virginia Chef Travis Milton.
The Best Virginia Resorts & Inns for Autumn
We all need a getaway from time to time, and what could be better than a fall stay complete with the vivid colors of changing foliage and crisp autumn air? From the mountains to the coast, for every type of traveler, and for every budget, there’s a Virginia getaway that is right for you!
The Iris Inn
A 19-acre retreat in Waynesboro, Virginia, The Iris Inn is conveniently located near many award-winning wineries and breweries, notable hiking locations like Crabtree Falls and Humpback Rocks, and iconic outdoor destinations such as Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway. The views from the inn are unparalleled, showcasing the Shenandoah Valley and the Appalachian Mountains beyond.
Blue Rock Inn
The Inn at Little Washington has become well known for its first-class service, especially at the on-site, three-Michelin-starred restaurant, but in comparison, the nearby Blue Rock Inn is a well-kept secret when it comes to luxurious stays in Rappahannock County. 80 acres of rolling landscapes contain vineyards, a koi pond, and outdoor patio spaces from which to take in the views, which are particularly prime in the fall. Make reservations at the on-site restaurant for an unforgettably indulgent four-course meal.
The Omni Homestead Resort
For over 250 years, the Omni Homestead Resort has been a popular destination for Virginia visitors (including 23 former U.S. Presidents!) looking to take in the beauty of the Hot Springs area. And after undergoing a massive $140 million dollar renovation, the Homestead is better than ever! The famous healing waters of the Warm Springs Pools reopened for guests to bathe and relax, and nearly all areas of the resort have been restored to reflect the original glory of the property while also incorporating all the luxurious amenities expected at a four-star resort. Surrounded completely by the Allegheny Mountains, the Omni Homestead Resort is a top-tier destination for fall in Virginia.
Blue Ridge Parkway in Southwest Virginia. Guests can expect the ultimate luxury getaway within some of Virginia’s most pristine mountains, and while the hotel offers every upscale touch imaginable, the property is all about enjoying nature. You’re practically guaranteed to spot local wildlife, such as turkeys and deer, while golfing the Highland Course (ranked as the number one public course in Virginia by GolfDigest), and the lack of light pollution at the remote resort is perfect for the on-site observatory, outfitted with a powerful telescope to peek at stars millions of light-years away. For those special occasions such as anniversaries, honeymoons, and big birthdays, consider booking the luxury treehouses, where private decks afford wide-open vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The Best Virginia Pumpkin Patches
Like apple orchards, you’re most likely within a short drive to a nearby pumpkin patch no matter where you are in Virginia. Explore our complete list of farms to pick your perfect pumpkins.
Liberty Mills Farm
Liberty Mills Farm is famous for having the largest corn maze east of the Mississippi (34 acres!), but the farm has so much more to offer, such as hay rides, fire pits for chillier days, and a pick-your-own pumpkin patch with the incredible backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Once you’ve selected your pumpkins, head back to the Farm Market for some snacks like homemade fudge, ice cream, and gourmet popcorn.
Great Country Farms
If you’re looking for a farm that has all the fall things in the Northern Virginia area, head to Great Country Farms. Located about an hour west of Washington, D.C., the farm has enough family fun to fill a weekend; kids can take a ride on the cow trail, get airborne on the Pumpkin Jumping Pillow, make friends with goats and other farm animals, cast a line at the fishing pond, tee off at the putt putt golf course, get active in the corn maze and ninja course, cheer on their porcine pals at the Derby pig races, and of course, pick fresh apples and pumpkins. Beginning at the end of September, the farm is open for you-pick visitors who want an authentic Virginia fall experience.
Back Home on the Farm
Outside of downtown Harrisonburg in the Shenandoah Valley, Back Home on the Farm is a family-friendly destination for pumpkin picking. In addition to picking huge pumpkins in the seven-acre patch, the farm has many other activities to round out your visit, including a corn maze, carousel, miniature golf, greenhouse filled with a variety of plants, a “fairy garden” (very Instagram-worthy!), the sweetest farm animals that will line up for pets and scratches, an expansive playground, and so much more. After exploring the farm, head up to the market and take home some homemade sweet treats and souvenirs to remember your perfect fall day.
Cox Farms is another Northern Virginia gem for pumpkin picking, approximately 30 miles west of Washington, D.C. off of Route 66. Snag tickets to their fall festival, which is open most days from mid-September through early November. In addition to the pumpkin patch, admission gets you a bevy of entertainment, including access to hayrides, farm animals, cornfield maze, Kiddie Zone, goat village, live music, and their signature attraction–Foamhenge, a giant Stonehenge replica made from styrofoam.
The Best Iconic Fall Drives Through Virginia
Hiking can provide some pretty showstopping views of the foliage, but a road trip offers more miles worth of scenery! Plan your next road trip this fall and discover why Virginia is for lovers.
Meandering through the heart of Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive runs 105 miles along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The route takes about three hours to complete due to slower speed limits, but if fall foliage is peaking, it’s best to plan for at least a full day in the park. There are many incredible hikes accessible right off Skyline Drive, as well, so we highly encourage making a weekend of it and staying at Skyland, Big Meadows Lodge, or one of the lodging locations near the park’s four entrances.
Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway is well-known for travelers from all around the world searching for awe-inspiring scenery, and there’s arguably no better time to plan your drive than in the fall. Traversing a total of 469 miles from the southern end of Shenandoah National Park all the way through Roanoke and leaving Virginia at the North Carolina border, the Parkway contains dozens of scenic viewpoints that allow you to take in the majestic beauty of Virginia’s mountains. If you need more reasons to stop, we’ve got them! Mabry Mill, one of the most photographed spots on the Blue Ridge Parkway, is a great place to snap a quick picture and grab a bite to eat at the restaurant (open seasonally through October). Explore Park is a great stop for families interested in outdoor adventure; the 1,100-acre property offers hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and campgrounds and cabins for overnight guests.
Route 151 is more than just a scenic stretch of road. This highway, called the Nelson 151, runs through Nelson County and has nearly two dozen wineries, cideries, distilleries, and craft breweries along the road, making it a dream destination for travelers interested in sampling Virginia’s adult beverages. Make sure to be responsible and travel with a designated driver if you plan on tasting the drinks made along this route!
Back of the Dragon
Running 32 miles through the Appalachian Mountains in Southwest Virginia, the Back of the Dragon is a thrilling route for leaf peepers. The road includes 438 hairpin curves and an elevation gain of 3,500 feet, providing endless opportunities to take in the bright autumnal hues of the changing trees. The route is one of the best for all transportation types, but is a particular favorite for motorcycle enthusiasts. Don’t have your own “chopper”? Consider renting a Slingshot at the entrance to the route for a once-in-a-lifetime ride.
The Best Fall Festivals in Virginia
There are dozens of fall festivals happening throughout the Commonwealth each weekend; Add more of these local events to your calendar for an unforgettable autumn in Virginia.
Urbanna Oyster Festival
For more than six decades, the Urbanna Oyster Festival has been drawing thousands of visitors who can’t get enough of the locally-harvested bivalves. There is no admission cost to attend the festival; instead, attendees can pay for oysters, wine, and beer tastings as they go. If the luxury oyster experience is what you’re after, snag a few VIP tickets, which include admission to three hospitality tents, reserved tables, private restrooms, six oysters, beer, and wine tastings, two oyster shooters, and much more.
Richmond Folk Festival
A free, three-day event in Virginia’s capital city, the Richmond Folk Festival is one of the biggest and best festivals in the Commonwealth. Featuring performing groups from all around the world, the festival is a deep dive into other cultures, providing a unique experience for festival-goers every year.
State Fair of Virginia
The State Fair of Virginia is one of the most iconic fall festivals to attend. Held in Doswell right down the road from Kings Dominion amusement park, the State Fair has endless entertainment for the whole family. Kids can learn about agriculture and visit with farm animals at the petting zoo, parents and adults can browse artisan crafts and handmade goods while sipping local craft beers and wines, and visitors of all ages can enjoy the festival rides, games, and abundant fair food.
Anthem Go Outside Festival in Roanoke
Outdoor lovers shouldn’t miss the Anthem Go Outside Festival, called GoFest for short, in Roanoke, Virginia. From rock climbing and paddling to fly fishing and mountain biking, this festival lets you try out new outdoor activities all in one place without spending a fortune on gear. This is a festival for all ages, and also features live music, film premieres, lumberjack competitions, food vendors, and more.
Share your go-to spots for unforgettable fall memories with us in the comments below!