You can’t help but get excited for the upcoming autumn season. There is less than a month until the first official day of fall, and that means that some of your favorite fall traditions are just around the corner. Whether you prefer a quiet drive through the countryside to view the changing leaves or an exciting harvest festival, we’ve got a few ideas for getting the most out of this year’s fall season throughout Virginia.
Hit the Road for Fall Foliage
The fiery reds and burnt oranges of the fall leaves make for some gorgeous road trips this time of year. A few of the most famous routes on the East Coast, Virginia’s Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway, traverse the ancient mountain ranges, winding through rocky slopes that are punctuated with quiet streams and scenic overlooks. Roll down the windows and enjoy the crisp smell of fall as you journey through the rolling mountains of Virginia.
Luxury Resort Lodging Option: Salamander Resort & Spa
Rustic Cabin Rental: Bella Vista Mountain Cottages & River Log Cabins
A Variety of Fall Festivals
There are dozens of harvest festivals happening around the Commonwealth, focusing on seasonal foods, music, outdoor events, and everything in between. One such festival is the Graves’ Mountain Apple Harvest Festival in Syria. Happening every weekend in October, the festival has been bringing live music, homemade foods, and family-friendly fun to the region for more than 40 years. Pick your own apples, navigate through the hay maze, and try a bowl of Virginia’s famous Brunswick stew at this annual autumn event.
Luxury Resort Lodging Option: Skyland
Rustic Cabin Rental: Lewis Mountain Cabins
Where to Dine: Bonanno’s Restaurant in Madison
Leisurely Trail Trips
Fall brings the ultimate weather for biking and hiking. Without the blistering summer heat, your outdoor adventures are much more relaxing, and you can spend longer discovering the beauty of Virginia’s backwoods. The Virginia Capital Trail goes from Richmond to Jamestown, and the roughly 60 miles between the current and former capital are a rural paradise. The trail travels along Route 5, providing 52 miles of paved pedestrian and biking pathways that showcase the beauty of autumn in the Central and Coastal Virginia regions.
Luxury Resort Lodging Option: The Jefferson
Rustic Cabin Rental: Chippokes Plantation State Park Cottages (8 miles off of the Capital Trail)
Where to Dine: Millie’s Diner
Historic Destinations for Fall
Virginia’s history is unquestionably one of the most interesting in the nation, and visitors can trace the beginning of America through the historic destinations found in every region. A national icon, George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate comes alive in the fall with vibrantly colored trees that line the bowling green. In the rear of the home, the Potomac cuts a stark line through the bordering forests, and the cool fall air sweeping the sunny slope is best experienced from the wood chairs arranged on the back veranda.
Luxury Resort Lodging Option: Lorien Hotel and Spa
Rustic Cabin Rental: Primitive Cabin Camps in Prince William Forest
Where to Dine: BRABO in Alexandria
Off-Season Coastal Vacations
Summer may be the prime time to visit the beach, but it is also the busiest season, leading to higher room rates and crowded beaches. Travel to the coastal areas of Virginia during the fall for a more peaceful vacation experience. Less than 15 miles from Williamsburg, Yorktown Beach is a scenic alternative to the more well-known Virginia Beach, and visiting during the fall means you’re there for peak oyster season. Situated between the York River and the Chesapeake Bay, this beach destination sits in the heart of Virginia oyster country. If you want to get a firsthand look at how oysters are cultivated (and maybe taste a few while you’re at it), schedule a tour at nearby Pleasure House Oyster Farms.
Luxury Resort Lodging Option: Kingsmill Resort
Rustic Cabin Rental: Chesapeake Bay Camp Resort
Where to Dine: Chesapeake Restaurant at the Tides Inn
Savoring a glass of Virginia wine is an enjoyable experience all year round, but something about visiting a winery during the fall makes it a special treat, especially when the vineyard is surrounded by gorgeous scenery. Right off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Floyd, Chateau Morrisette provides the perfect pairing of panoramic views and fantastic wines. If the fall days turn from crisp to chilly, head inside to their restaurant and warm up beside the classic fireplace.
Luxury Resort Lodging Option: Primland Resort
Rustic Cabin Rental: Willow Creek Cottages
Where to Dine: Mabry Mill Restaurant
Photo Credit: Aaron Watson Photography
There is something so essentially autumn about picking your own apples from an orchard. The experience of harvesting fall fruits directly from Carter Mountain Orchard is an iconic fall festivity, connecting you directly to the pastoral countryside. The orchard’s mountaintop location affords spectacular views of nearby Charlottesville and the Blue Ridge Mountains. During your visit to Carter Mountain, stop by the bakery to pick up fresh apple pies, hand-dipped ice cream, and at least a dozen of their famous Apple Cider Donuts. You can purchase other fall staples at the orchard’s country store, like apple butter, jams, jellies, and pumpkins. After Carter Mountain, head to Monticello and Michie Tavern, two historic locations only a few miles down the road.
Luxury Resort Lodging Option: Boar’s Head
Rustic Cabin Rental: The Cottages at Montfair Resort Farm
Where to Dine: Michie Tavern Dining Room
Plan a memorable vacation this fall around one of these iconic autumn destinations for an unforgettable getaway. Where is your favorite place to experience fall in Virginia?