shenandoah national park. photo credit: Nicholas Moore IG account: @nicholasmoorephoto
It’s hard to choose a favorite season for traveling in Virginia, but with bright leaves covering the rolling mountains, a crisp feeling in the air, and delicious autumn flavors available at every restaurant, craft brewery, and cider, we can’t help but feel like Fall in Virginia is a top contender. Read on for our favorite things to do in Virginia in the fall!
1. Taking in The Colorful Foliage
photo credit: Sam Dean IG: @sdeanphotos
The fall foliage in Virginia is spectacular, blanketing the Commonwealth in fiery hues of orange, red, and yellow. You’ll catch these colors earlier in the fall in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, but as the days advance, the foliage begins to move eastward, eventually ending along the coastlines of Virginia. Keep an eye on the Fall Foliage Report to get an idea of where the best leaf-peeping is happening.
Where to Go: The Virginia Creeper Trail in Abingdon flaunts extraordinary colors in the fall, and cycling the 34-mile paved trail gives you the chance to pause along the way to take in the vibrant foliage. To experience the fall colors on foot, head to one of the hiking trails in Shenandoah National Park, where you’ll get expansive views of the storied Blue Ridge Mountains. Finally, if it’s a little too chilly for outdoor activities, hop in the car and travel along Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway to get a peek at the changing leaves.
2. Tackling the Challenge of a Corn Maze
photo credit: Kent Woods
Puzzle lovers will enjoy conquering a corn maze at a Virginia farm during the fall. With varying difficulties, you can find a corn maze that suits your skill, from the easiest routes with the kids to the most challenging field labyrinths that take 4-5 hours to complete.
Where to Go: The largest corn maze east of the Mississippi River, Liberty Mills Farm Corn Maze spans 32 acres and contains four different trails of increasing difficulty, making the corn maze ideal for visitors of all ages. Each year, the maze has a unique theme that can be seen from above; the 2018 theme is dinosaurs. Complete one or all four of the corn maze trails, then jump on to the hay wagon for a ride to the pumpkin patch, where you can pick your own pumpkin to take home and carve into a frightful Jack-o’-lantern.
3. Celebrating Halloween at a Virginia Theme Park
image courtesy of Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Virginia’s theme parks are all decked out during fall for their signature Halloween events. Spend the day riding roller coasters, eating seasonal fare, and browsing spooky Halloween shops at Busch Gardens or Kings Dominion. For family-friendly Halloween fun, visit Busch Gardens before 6pm and Kings Dominion on weekends until October 28, 2018.
Where to Go: The European countries of Busch Gardens Williamsburg are transformed for Howl-O-Scream, turning into fear-themed Terror-tories like Ripper Row and Sideshow Square. In addition to terrifying creatures lurking around the grounds, the park offers seven haunted houses, two party zones, six bars with Halloween-themed beverages, and two escape rooms.
Kings Dominion’s Halloween Haunt features eight haunted mazes with themes like the Cornstalkers, Zombie High, and Blood on the Bayou, five scare zones including Nercopolis, The Lair, and Cleaver Brothers Carnival, and four horrifying live shows.
4. Picking-Your-Own at An Orchard or Pumpkin Patch
Photo credit: Bradley Reid
Pack up the family for a fall adventure to a local pumpkin patch, where they can pick their own from the vines or purchase already-picked pumpkins directly from the farmers, or head to an apple orchard to pluck fresh fruit that can be used in homemade apple cider, pie, or a variety of other fall treats.
Where to Go: Located next to historic Monticello and Michie Tavern in Charlottesville, Carter Mountain Orchard has everything apple, including pick-your-own orchards, apple cider for the kids and Bold Rock cider for the adults, fresh-baked pies and cookies, and of course their famous Apple Cider Donuts. After exploring the orchard and sampling some of the apple foods and drinks, peruse their country store for jams and jellies, local crafts, and gourmet food products. The weekends are always busy at Carter Mountain, so consider visiting during a weekday for a more relaxing experience.
5. Getting Spooked at Countless Historically Haunted Destinations
St. Albans Sanatorium
There isn’t a corner in the Commonwealth that doesn’t have some historical significance, so it’s no surprise that there are dozens of supposedly “haunted” destinations. And what better time to visit these spirited spots than around All Hallows’ Eve?
Where to Go: As one of the oldest settlement areas in America, Colonial Williamsburg is packed with creepy history that comes to life during the Colonial Ghosts Tour, ranked one of the top 10 “Bone-Chilling Haunted Tours in the US”. The walking tour takes you to over a dozen haunted locations in the Williamsburg area, and for the bravest visitors, they offer an extended tour with six additional locations, including haunted sites within William & Mary College, the second oldest college in America.
6. Tasting the Delicious Results of Harvest Season
photo credit: Ashley Covington
Fall is harvest time in Virginia, and from vineyards releasing their annual vintages to farms gathering the last produce of the growing season, you’ll find fresh flavors throughout the Commonwealth. Sample these Virginia-grown products at a farm-to-table restaurant, winery or cidery, or from a local farmer’s market.
Where to Go: One of the leaders of the farm-to-table movement of Virginia, Harvest Table Restaurant in Meadowview serves Neo-Appalachian Cuisine that is made from local produce, grass-fed meats, and handmade cheeses. In addition to buying these ingredients from nearby farms, Harvest Table also has their own four-acre farm, ensuring that everything they serve is fresh and only the highest quality.
7. Attending Fall Festivals That Combine the Best Parts of Autumn
Hayrides, corn mazes, apples, cider, and pumpkin patches all in one place…need we say more?
Where to Go: Cox Farms Fall Festival in Centreville is Northern Virginia’s largest fall festival, so you’ll get all of the above and more at this annual autumn event.
8. Relaxing on a Quiet Coastal Getaway
Virginia’s coasts bring thousands of visitors during the peak season of summer, but the beaches are just as enjoyable during the fall. In addition to less crowds, many of the beaches are dog-friendly during the fall, and Virginia Beach even has guided horseback riding available in the off-season. With milder temperatures, affordable prices, and peaceful scenery, Virginia’s beaches are our favorite hidden gems when it comes to travel in the fall.
Where to Go: Stay at the recently renovated Cavalier in Virginia Beach for a luxury fall getaway at a fraction of the peak-season price. The iconic hotel was built in 1926 and was one of the most renowned hotels of the eastern seaboard during the era, bringing famous guests like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Judy Garland, Elizabeth Taylor…the list goes on and on. Learn about the glamorous history while experiencing the modern luxuries at this lavishly renovated coastal hotel.
What makes you most excited for Fall in Virginia? Share your autumn activities with us!