Sep 17, 2022 - Things to Do

9 must-do fall activities in and around Raleigh

views from the virginia creeper bike trail

Virginia Creeper Trail Photo: Brianna Crane/Axios

We can already hear our sweaters and flannels begging to be released from the closet, which means it's time to work on your fall bucket list. Here are some ideas to get you started.

1. Go apple picking

Apple picking season is in full swing in the Carolinas. Here are some spots worth the drive from Raleigh.

Grandad's Apples: This Hendersonville orchard has 30 different varieties of apples, plus apple cider doughnuts, apple cider slushies, a bakery and family activities.

  • Hours: Open 8am-6pm daily (bakery closes at 5pm)
  • Address: 2951 Chimney Rock Rd., Hendersonville (4 hours from Raleigh)

Sky Top Orchard: Make a day trip to this Flat Rock orchard where you can pick some apples, bring a picnic, meet farm animals and relax with your friends and family.

  • Hours: 9am-6pm daily
  • Address: 3403 Greenville Highway, Flat Rock (4-4.5 hours from Raleigh)

Apple Hill Orchard: After apple picking, stop by the country store and bakery to stock up on cider and sweets (including apple cider doughnuts) before you leave.

  • Hours: Picking passes are available 9am-4:30pm daily here
  • Address: 2075 Pleasant Hill Ave., Morganton (3-3.5 hours from Raleigh)
apple cider donuts and a slushie from Apple Hill Orchard
Apple cider doughnuts and slushie from Apple Hill Orchard, Photo: Emma Way/Axios

2. Fill up on fried food at the N.C. State Fair

Nothing says fall like overindulging in something fried and then getting on a ferris wheel, or some other spinning ride. Even if rides aren't your thing, there's plenty of people watching, exhibits, games and performances to keep you entertained.

  • Details: The fair runs October 13-23. You can buy tickets online now ($5 for kids/seniors, $10 for adults) here.
funnel cake from the nc state fair
Photo: Symphony Webber/Axios

3. Pick a pumpkin

There are dozens of spots to choose from around the Triangle, including:

4. Get lost in a corn maze

Pair it with your pumpkin picking adventure, or make it a separate item on your fall bucket list. Some mazes nearby are:

More ideas here.

5. Go leaf peeping

Take a walk on local trails at William B. Umstead State Park, Yates Mill County Park, Eno River State Park or Lake Johnson.

  • Or take a day trip to hike Hanging Rock State Park, Pilot Mountain, Blue Ridge Parkway, Uwharrie National Forest or Pisgah National Forest.

Of note: Peak foliage in North Carolina should be mid- to late October.

Brevard North Carolina Looking Glass Waterfall near Asheville with Fall Colors in Pisgah National Forest on Blue Ridge Parkway. (Photo by: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Looking Glass Waterfall in Pisgah National Forest. Photo: by Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

6. Spend Halloween on Franklin Street

As a UNC alum and North Carolina native, I feel confident recommending everyone spend at least one Halloween on Franklin Street.

  • In recent years, due to COVID-19, the town has discouraged mass gatherings and hasn't preemptively shut down the street.

7. Celebrate spooky season with a haunted attraction

Lean into the scary side of Halloween by visiting Clayton Fear Farm, which has multiple haunted houses and attractions, including a slaughterhouse.

  • It opens Sept. 30 and you'll be able to find tickets here.

Spookywoods in Archdale, which has been ranked a top five haunted attraction for 38 years, is worth the 1.5-hour drive, too.

8. Catch some college football

There might not be an NFL team in Raleigh (you'll have to visit Charlotte for that) but there are plenty of big college games this fall.

  • Duke hosts UNC in Durham on Oct. 15. Find tickets here.
  • N.C. State hosts Wake Forest on Nov. 5. Find tickets here.
  • N.C. Central hosts Howard University in Durham on Nov. 5. Find tickets here.
  • Shaw University hosts St. Augustine's in the Raleigh Classic on Nov. 5. Find tickets here.
  • UNC hosts N.C. State in Chapel Hill on Nov. 25. Find tickets here.
unc football cheerleaders and mascot posing on the field
Photo: Nicholas Faulkner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

9. Bike the Virginia Creeper Trail

How it works: You'll pick up your bikes from an in-town shop and shuttle brings you to the top of the mountain. From there, you'll leisurely bike down the 34.3-mile trail.

virginia creeper bike trail
Photo: Brianna Crane/Axios

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