Fall guide 2021: 23 must-do fall activities in and around Charlotte

Fall guide 2021: 23 must-do fall activities in and around Charlotte
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Proudly presented by the Charlotte Knights. From baseball games to pumpkin patches, nothing beats fall at the ballpark. Head to charlotteknights.com to stay in the loop.


It may still be warm outside, but the fall season is right around the corner.

Pumpkin carving, pumpkin beer, apple picking, and hayrides are just a few of the activities going on this season.

Here are 23 things to add to your fall bucket list that are both fun and safe.

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(1) Make a day trip to visit Windy Hill Orchard & Cidery.

Details: Windy Hill is less than an hour outside the city, making it the closest orchard to Charlotte. They have apple picking, hayrides, a hard cider bar, and their famous fried apple cider donuts.

Pro tip: Order a flight of hard cider or pick out some hard cider to-go for an at-home tasting. Add in ciders from GoodRoad CiderWorks and Red Clay Ciderworks for a full tasting event.

Cost: Pick-your-own apples cost $7 for a quarter peck bag (4-6 pounds).

Location/hours: Windy Hill is located at 1860 Black Highway in York, South Carolina. Their farm stand is open Thursday through Saturday from 10am to 6pm, and Sunday from noon to 6pm. The cider bar is open Friday from 1-8pm., Saturday from 10am to 6pm, and Sunday from noon to 6pm.

[Related guide: Apple season is upon us: 7 pick-your-own orchards within 2 hours of Charlotte]

windy-hill-4


(2) Get your baklava fix at the Yiasou Greek Festival drive-thru.

Details: Out of an abundance of caution, the Yaisou Greek Festival announced that it would host this year’s festival as a drive-thru event. While the entertainment portion of the festival has been canceled, guests can still expect authentic Greek cuisine and homemade pastries.

Fun fact: “Yiasou” is the Greek word for Hello, Goodbye and Cheers.

When: September 9-12, 2021

Cost: Free

Yiasou Greek Festival


(3) Cheer for the Panthers.

Details: The Panthers have their first regular-season game this Sunday against the New York Jets. Root from the stands or from your living room. If you go to the stadium, be sure to check out some of the new food options on the club level. If you opt for a homegate, Roaring Riot has Homegatin’ boxes with virtual watch party access and goodies curated for each game ($72-$80/box).

[Related guide: Best wings in Charlotte]

Bank of America Stadium, Panthers


(4) Face your fears at SCarowinds.

Details: Every year, Carowinds transforms from “theme park” to “scream park” for its annual SCarowinds Halloween attraction. There are more than 500 monsters, ghosts and goblins roaming the park plus haunted attractions and shows.

When: September 17 through October 31, 2021.

Cost: $39.99. Tickets can be purchased here.

Photo courtesy of Carowinds.


(5) Attend a different kind of Oktoberfest at Olde Mecklenberg Brewery.

Details: The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery is hosting its 13th annual Mecktoberfest — Charlotte’s most popular Oktoberfest celebration. But this year, it’s being divided into two separate weekends. Guests can expect live music in the 10.5-acre Biergarten and authentic German-fare like pork schnitzel, German potato salad, and Bavarian pretzels with Copper bier cheese.

Dates: 

  • Weekend 1 – September 17-19, 2021
  • Weekend 2 – September 24-26, 2021

Cost: Free to attend. A standard Mecktoberfest Märzen Lager is $6.90, but beer prices vary.

Location/hours: 4150 Yancey Rd., Charlotte. Friday and Saturday from 11am to 11pm and Sunday from 11am to 10pm.

Photo courtesy of OMB.


(6) Find your way through the Amazing Maize Maze and other corn mazes.

    Details: Huntersville is home to one of the largest corn mazes in the Southeast called the Amazing Maize Maze at Rural Hill. It’s more than seven acres of corn-filled fun happening now through November.

    Cost: $12

    More corn mazes include Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard in Hendersonville, Country Days Corn Maze in Indian Trail, Hubb’s Farm in Clinton, and Black’s Peaches in York.

    corn-maze-hall-family-farm-charlotte

    Pictured is the Hall Family Farm


    (7) Hike one of the many top-notch trails within a few hours of Charlotte.

    Details: The closest hikes to Charlotte are Crowders Mountain and Morrow Mountain, but venture west a couple of hours for the best views. Here are our top three recommendations:

    • Roan Highlands – Straddling the Tennessee border, you’re treated to a feast of 360-degree views within a mile of parking.
    • South Mountains State Park – It’s hard to beat waterfall views, and South Mountains State Park has plenty. The High Shoal Falls Loop Trail will take you past increasingly large cascades over its 2.5-mile course.
    • Grayson Highlands – Criss-crossed by the Appalachian Trail and a half-dozen well-maintained, easy-to-follow connecting trails, the area is a hiker’s paradise, with ample backcountry and developed campsites for overnight stays as well. Plus, wild ponies (!).

    [Full guide: Definitive hiking guide: The 16 best hikes around Charlotte]

    Pony at Grayson Highlands

    On a hike at Grayson Highlands, you’ll run into a different kind of regular camper. (Photo by Ely Portillo)


    (8) Pick out the perfect pumpkin, then sip a pumpkin ale.

    Details: Pumpkin farms open soon for the season. Some places to pick out pumpkins are Simpsons Produce, Phil Simpson Pumpkin Lot, Hunter Farm, Spring Farm Market, Bush-N-Vine Farm, and Black’s Peaches.

    After you’ve secured your pumpkins, swing by a local brewery, or grocery store, to pick up a pack of pumpkin beer. NoDa Brewing Co., Sycamore Brewing, and Catawba Brewing Co. all have variations of pumpkin beer to try out this season.

    [Full guide: 10 must-visit pumpkin patches near Charlotte]


    (9) Get your fill of Pumpkin-flavored foods and drinks.

    Details: Nothing says fall like pumpkin pie, but you’d be surprised by how many other pumpkin-flavored foods you can find around this time of year. You ever heard of pumpkin pizza? Me neither — until now. Inizio has a crema de Zucca pizza for the month of October, but if you’re in the mood for something sweet, go big with Ninety’s pumpkin pie milkshake.

    Pumpkin Pie Milkshake


    (10) Sit outside at a vineyard.

    Details: As the weather cools down, now is the perfect opportunity to enjoy a glass of wine while overlooking a vineyard. Douglas Vineyards and Rocky River Vineyards are Charlotte’s closest vineyards, located about 30 minutes outside of the city. Cauble Creek Vineyard, Treehouse Vineyards, Davasté Vineyards, and Veronét Vineyards & Winery are about 40 minutes outside of the city.

    [Related guide: 7 vineyards within an hour of Uptown]

    veronet vineyards

    Veronét Vineyards & Winery is about 40 minutes outside the city.


    (11) Take a road trip to the mountains.

    Details: A mountain getaway is always a great idea, but the views during the fall are especially breathtaking. The fall foliage is just one of many attractions in the popular mountain towns of Asheville and Boone.

    Timeline: Leaves start changing color in late September and continue on through early November.

    [Related guides: Driving Distance: 10 things to do in Boone, Travel guide to 28 of the best things to eat, drink and do in Asheville]

    asheville glamping

    Pro tip: Go glamping in Asheville. [Read more: Sleep under the stars in a geodesic dome 2.5 hours from Charlotte]


    (12) Fall calls for oysters.

    Details: Whether they’re raw, grilled, or roasted, oysters are available at many restaurants throughout the area, including Sea Level, ROCKSALT, and The Crunkleton.

    $1 oyster deals:

    • RockSalt has $1 oysters from 4-6 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.
    • Sea Level has $1 oysters from 4-7 p.m., Monday through Friday.
    • The Waterman has $1 oysters from 2-7 p.m., weekdays.

    [Related guide: The 10 best places to eat oysters in Charlotte]

    raw oysters at the crunkleton

    Raw oysters at The Crunkleton (half-dozen for $18).


    (13) Catch performances from top artists at the Breakaway Music Festival.

    Details: After more than a year of very few live and in-person music performances, Breakaway Music Festival is making up for lost time with an epic lineup of artists including headlining group The Chainsmokers, plus Martin Garrix, G-Eazy and Blackbear among others.

    When: October 1-2. The zMAX Dragway at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, 6570 Bruton Smith Blvd.

    Cost: Two-day passes start at $104.99 and single-day passes start at $69.99. Tickets can be purchased here.

    Photo courtesy of Prime Social Group.


    (14) Soak up the great outdoors at the Whitewater Center’s Tuck Fest.

    Details: Tuck Fest is a multi-day festival that celebrates the outdoor lifestyle through competitions like trail running and kayaking, exhibitions, demos, and live music.

    Fun fact: “Tuck Fest” was coined from the historical Tuckaseegee Ford and Trail landmark located at the Whitewater Center.

    When: October 1-3

    Cost: Tuck Fest is free to attend; parking is $6. If you would like to participate in a race/competition or all 35+ events, Tuck Fest race registration is a one-time flat fee that grants access to all races and competitions throughout the three-day festival.

    Whitewater Center Rafting


    (15) Get a taste of Charlotte’s food scene at Taste of Charlotte.

    Details: Make your way to Truist Field to sample delicious food from hundreds of Charlotte-area restaurants at the three-day Taste of Charlotte food festival.

    When: October 1-3

    Cost: Free to attend. Festival coins for food samples can be purchased on-site at the various booths or pre-purchased for pick up.


    (16) Hearken back to ye olde times at Carolina Renaissance Festival.

    Details: Ren Fest has been a Charlotte-area tradition since 1993. More than 1,000 artists (including 500+ interactive costumed characters) bring the fictional village of Fairhaven to life with performance stages, hands-on games and rides, an artisan marketplace and plenty of food.

    When: October 2 to November 21, 2021

    Cost: Day passes are $17 for kids and $27 for adults. Season passes are on sale now and are $90 for kids, $160 for adults.


    (17) Race on down to Speed Street.

    Details: Expect live performances, giveaways, interactive displays, kid-friendly activities and access to some of racing’s biggest stars.

    When: October 7-9, 2021

    Cost: Free

    Photo courtesy of Speed Street.


    (18) Celebrate Charlotte’s Latin American culture at Hola Charlotte.

    Details: Hola Charlotte is the Queen City’s largest Hispanic Heritage celebration. Festivities include music, food, dancing and art, so join the community in celebrating Latin American culture and all its richness.

    When: October 9, 2021

    Cost: Free.

    [Related read: 17 Hispanic- and Latino-owned restaurants to visit for Hispanic Heritage Month]


    (19) Bring your appetite for the Bay Haven Food & Wine Festival.

    Details: More than 75 Black chefs, artisans, farmers, brewers and distillers from the region and across the country will come together for one epic food festival. The three-day event is meant to celebrate Charlotte’s diversity in the food and beverage space with vendors like two-time James Beard-nominated chef Gregory Collier of Leah & Louise and “Top Chef” alum chef Tiffany Derry of Roots Chicken Shak and Roots Southern Table.

    When: Oct. 22-24, 2021. Camp North End, 301 Camp Road.

    Cost: $10-$900


    (20) Pedal through Charlotte at Biketoberfest.

    Details: This scavenger hunt-style event takes riders along a bike-friendly route through the neighborhoods of Villa Heights, Optimist Park, Midtown, and NoDa. Following the ride will be an after-party at Triple C Brewing Co.

    Date/time: Sunday, October 24 from 11:30am to 6:30pm.

    Cost: Tickets are $35 (the first 250 registered will receive an official Biketoberfest shirt).


    (21) Marvel at the Great Elizabeth Pumpkin Wall.

    Details: The Great Elizabeth Pumpkin Wall is a Halloween tradition in Charlotte. Each year, community volunteers in the Elizabeth neighborhood build a 60-foot wall lined with jack o’ lanterns galore. The street location of the wall varies from year to year, but the event normally takes place the week leading up to Halloween.

    Location: Elizabeth Neighborhood

    elizabeth-pumpkin-wall


    (22) Go to Rich and Bennett’s Halloween Bar Crawl.

    Details: Charlotte’s legendary bar crawl is back — this time for Halloween. Dress in your costume and make your way through Uptown’s bar scene.

    When: October 30, 2021.

    Cost: TBD.

    [Related story: What’s next for Rich & Bennett’s world-famous pub crawls]


    (23) Ring in the holiday season at the Thanksgiving Day Parade.

    Details: One thing we’ll be thankful for this Turkey Day is the return of beloved traditions, like the Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade, which dates back to the 1940s.

    • Details for this year’s celebration are still being firmed up. Tickets and more information will be available closer to the event.

    When: November 25, 2021

    thanksgiving day parade


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