It’s fall, and that means pumpkin carving, pumpkin beer, apple picking and hay rides galore.
Here are 27 things to add to your fall bucket list, categorized by things to do, where to go and what to eat.
Things to do
Cheer for the Panthers.
Details: Root from the stands or from your living room. There are eight games in Charlotte, one during preseason and nine during the regular season.
Key home games:
- Sept. 18 — New Orleans Saints
- Oct. 29 — Houston Texans
- Dec. 24 — Green Bay Packers
Eat baklava at the Yiasou Greek Festival.
Date: Sept. 8-10
Details: The 2023 Yiasou Greek Festival, one of Charlotte’s largest cultural events, returns to Dilworth with ceremonies, performances and exhibits for the church’s 100-year anniversary.
- The food is the highlight of the festival. Popular menu items include Greek pizza and souvlaki, plus desserts like loukoumades (powered Greek doughnuts) and baklava.
Cost: Tickets are $5 and free for children under 12.
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.
Dates: Sept. 15-Oct. 29, 2023. Friday-Sunday 7pm-midnight.
- Tickets are $45 and can be purchased here.
Find your way out of 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 from Sept. 16-Oct. 28.
Cost: Tickets are $9-$18
Go deeper: 8 corn mazes within an hour of Charlotte
Pick out the perfect pumpkin.
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: Saturdays and Sundays, Sept. 30-Nov. 19 from 9:30am-5:30pm.
Cost: Day passes are $20 for kids ages 5 to 12 and $32 for adults. Parking is free.
Race on down to the ROVAL 400.
Details: Get ready for the fifth running of the Bank of America ROVAL™ 400. Expect a pre-race concert featuring Riley Green included with your ticket.
When: Sunday, Oct. 8 at 2pm.
Cost: $49, kinda under 12 get in for $10
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: Oct. 7. 12-6pm.
Pedal through Charlotte at Biketoberfest.
Details: This scavenger hunt-style event takes riders along a bike-friendly route through the neighborhoods of Uptown, South End, and Historic West End. Following the ride will be an after-party at Triple C Brewing Co.
Date: Sunday, Oct. 22 at 12pm.
Cost: Tickets are $30-$40.
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
Surround yourself with local art at Festival In The Park.
Details: Festival In The Park is an annual three-day festival that started in 1964. Thousands of people attend for live music, food, drinks and to view more 150 artist displayed artwork.
When: Sept. 22- 24
Check out the Crossroads Cinema series at Camp North End.
Details: The outdoor movie series near the Ford Building will feature iconic films from the ’80s & ’90s every Thursday evening at 8pm.
- The Last Dragon — Sept. 14
- Bevery Hills Cop — Sept. 21
- My Best Friend’s Wedding — Sept.28
- House Party — Oct. 5
- Nightmare Before Christmas — Oct. 12
- Practical Magic — Oct. 19
- Rocky Horror Picture Show — Oct. 26
Admire art from around the world at the Charlotte International Arts Festival
Details: CIAF will run from September 15–October 1 this year, featuring more than 200 mostly-free events in Uptown and Ballantyne’s Backyard. Expect:
- 150 art installations
- 120 musical acts
- 75+ vendors at the International Bazaar at Founders Hall Sept. 29 and 30
- 15+ venues, including three free outdoor stages
- Fitness classes on Saturdays and Sundays in Ballantyne’s Backyard and Levine Avenue of the Arts
Cost: 170 of the events are free. Ticketed events start at $5.
Pose with your favorite superheroes at Discovery Place.
Details: “Marvel: Universe of Superheroes” features more than 300 costumes, props and art from iconic movies like Spider Man, Black Panther and the Avengers, to name a few.
- You can also pose with life-size statues of your favorite heroes and step into Tony Stark’s lab to see the Iron Man armor up-close.
Cost: Tickets are $44 and $39 for kids 2-13.
Food and drink
Sip on German bier at local Oktoberfest events.
Details: Several local spots are hosting their versions of Oktoberfest.
- Enjoy traditional German fare with live music and stein-holding contests at Olde Mecklenburg Brewery’s annual Mecktoberfest happening two weekends: Sept. 15-17 and Sept. 22-24.
- Gilde is hosting several weekends of authentic German festivities Sept. 22- Oct. 8.
- Grab your lederhosen and wear it to Sugar Creek Brewing Company’s Oktoberfest soirée Sept. 15-16.
- Shop from local vendors at Truist Field at Mecklenburg Oktoberfest on Oct. 7 at 11am, followed by the third annual Pink Cupcake Walk.
- Play German games and listen to live music at The Music Yard on Sept. 29. Buy tickets here.
- Grab your bratwursts and brews at Slingshot on Sept. 30. Tickets are $13.
- Taster over 150 beers at Ballantyne’s Backyard on Oct. 21. Tickets start at $39.
Get your fill of Pumpkin-flavored treats.
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.
- For breakfast, try the Pumpkin Pancakes at Original Pancake House.
- For dessert, go big with Not Your Mama’s Pumpkin Pie ice cream at Two Scoops Creamery.
Catch performances from top artists at the Breakaway Music Festival.
Details: Breakaway Music Festival has an epic lineup of artists including headliners Porter Robinson and Flume.
When: Sept. 29-30. The zMAX Dragway at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, 6570 Bruton Smith Blvd.
Cost: Two-day passes start at $154. Tickets can be purchased here.
Bring your appetite for the Bay Haven Food & Wine Festival.
Details: The BayHaven Food & Wine Festival will return for a third year Oct. 4-8 to celebrate Black chefs and industry experts from Charlotte and beyond.
Cost: There are five ticketed events, each offering unique culinary experiences at different venues in Uptown and west Charlotte.
- Tickets range from $100-$190, depending on the event. Multi-event tickets start at $202.
Go to Rich and Bennett’s Halloween Bar Crawl.
Details: Charlotte’s legendary bar crawl is back with 25+ locations involved throughout Uptown Charlotte and drink specials at each of the bars.
When: Oct. 28.
Cost:$10-$25 (depending when you purchase tickets) and includes drink specials, event koozie, giveaways, fun swag, costume contest, and automatically enters you into a raffle to win prizes.
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.
When: Wednesday, Nov. 22 at 5:30pm on Tryon Street in Uptown
Hike one of the many top-notch trails within a few hours of Charlotte.
- 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 (!).
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.
Go deeper: 7 vineyards within an hour of Uptown
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.
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.
Cost: Pick-your-own apples cost $7 for a quarter peck bag (4-6 pounds).
- Of note: To pick apples, everyone must have their own reservation and pre-purchased bag to enter the orchard.
Location/hours: Windy Hill is located at 1860 Black Highway in York, South Carolina. Their farm stand is open Thursday through Sunday 10am-6pm. The cider bar is open Friday from 12-7pm and Saturday and Sunday 10am-6pm.
Ease on down the yellow brick road at Autumn of Oz
Beech Mountain is a 2.5-hour drive from Charlotte but a trip to Autumn at Oz will take you to a land far away.
Details: The Wizard of Oz theme park opens for a short period of time each year and this is the last weekend. It has vendors, food and performances.
- Dates: Sept. 8-24.
- Tickets are $55
Head to Raleigh for the N.C. State Fair
Details: The event is ranked among the top 25 fairs in the country and features live music, carnival games, rides, agricultural exhibitors and competitions.
Date: Oct. 12-22
Address: 1025 Blue Ridge Road, Raleigh
Tickets: $10-$13 for adults.
Watch hot air balloons take to the sky at Carolina Balloonfest.
Details: Head over to Statesville for the second-oldest balloon festival in the country. Dozens of colorful balloons will take to the sky Oct. 20-22.
Address: 260 Hangar Dr., Statesville