9 must-do fall activities in and around Raleigh
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)
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.
3. Pick a pumpkin
There are dozens of spots to choose from around the Triangle, including:
- Smith's Family Fun Farm (1715 St. Marys Rd., Hillsborough)
- Jean's Neighborhood Market (38 Lewter Shop Rd., Apex)
- Page Farms (6100 Mount Herman Rd., Raleigh)
- Naylor Family Farm & Corn Maze (6016 US 401 North, Fuquay Varina)
- The Family Farm on Avent Ferry (1719 Avent Ferry Rd., Holly Springs)
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:
- Ken's Korny Corn Maze (3175 Benson Rd., Garner)
- Phillips Farm Corn Maze (6701 Good Hope Church Rd., Cary)
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.
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.
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.
- There are eight bike shops/shuttle services to choose from. Call for availability.
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