The sights, sounds, scents, and flavors of Asheville are enticing throughout the year, but autumn is special. As a refreshing chill takes over, Asheville comes alive with the unique spirit of harvest season. Activities that are appealing all year long take on a newly festive feel, especially as vibrant colors take over to create stunning views. If you’re looking for new sources of excitement this fall, don’t hesitate to check out the following destinations:
1. Discover Haunted Asheville With Asheville Ghost Tours
Discover a spookier side of Asheville during an exclusive ghost tour. Multiple options are available through Asheville Ghost Tours, but the Classic Walking Tour will serve as the perfect introduction to the creepier aspects of the city. During this two-hour expedition, you will hear terrifying stories of the murder at Battery Park Hotel, the suicide at Helen’s Bridge, and the Pink Lady of the Grove Park Inn. The tour also includes a brief overview of the Asheville Mystery Museum.
2. Combine Spooks and Giggles During the Haunted LaZoom Tour
Haunted tours abound in the Asheville area. The Haunted LaZoom Tour, however, looks little like the area’s other spooky expeditions. Inject a little comedy into the tour experience with help from a hilarious guide, who will have you laughing in no time. If nothing else, you can experience the joy of boarding the big purple bus you regularly see winding through Asheville. Departing from 76 Biltmore Avenue, this tour lasts approximately one hour — but you’ll end the experience wanting more.
3. Explore Biltmore Estate’s Gardens And Roads
Enjoy a taste of luxury at the famous Biltmore. As the nation’s largest privately-owned estate, this top destination highlights the luxuries of the Gilded Age. An inside tour of the mansion is available; you’ll see plenty of historic furniture and artwork during this memorable experience. During the fall, however, the grounds are far more impressive than anything you’ll find indoors. Stroll through the gardens, where you’ll witness beautiful fall plantings — including thousands of mums. The fall colors can also be enjoyed during scenic drives along the estate’s back roads.
4. Step on the Swinging Bridge of Grandfather Mountain
Enjoy panoramic views of the region’s fall colors from the beautiful vantage point of Grandfather Mountain. Home to a beloved swinging bridge, this destination also serves as the perfect starting place for a variety of difficult, yet rewarding autumn hikes. Dress in layers; Grandfather Mountain tends to be significantly colder than Asheville, which can already be brisk on an autumn day.
5. Earn Your Views With the Looking Glass Rock Hike
The Looking Glass Rock Hike has long been a fall favorite in the Asheville area. Challenge yourself with a strenuous hike, during which you will ascend 1,700 feet over the course of three miles. Along the way, you will navigate rhododendron thickets and a dense forest, where you can see the brightest colors of fall up close. Set aside at least three hours for this journey — or more if you prefer to maintain a relaxed pace.
6. Witness the Stunning Spectacle of Rainbow Falls
Few outdoor activities match the splendor of an autumn hike through to Rainbow Falls. This thrilling expedition will take you up to the top of the 150-foot Rainbow Falls, where you can enjoy a picturesque view of the area. On sunny days, the autumn colors surrounding the falls may be matched by an equally vibrant rainbow in the mist.
7. Sample the Area’s Best Ciders at Urban Orchard Cider Co.
The selection at Urban Orchard Cider Co. is always impressive, but it’s that much more delightful during the fall months. Crafted from apples harvested in nearby Hendersonville and aged at least eight months, these ciders are nothing short of exquisite. Check out the seasonal options, which are infused with a variety of fruits and herbs. If you hit up the West Asheville location, you can also order apple spice cake topped with a delectable cider glaze.
8. Embrace German Revelry at Asheville’s Oktoberfest
You don’t have to be German to enjoy the sights, sounds, smells, and suds offered up at Asheville’s Oktoberfest at Pack Square Park. Bring a friend and compete in the tighty whities two-person race or the free-range chicken dance. You’re also welcome to dress up in your favorite dirndl and enter the costume contest. Of course, no Oktoberfest celebration would be complete without a large selection of beers — and with more than a dozen local breweries taking part in the festivities, you’ll have no problem finding the perfect drink.
9. Forage the Forest During the No Taste Like Home Tour
Combine your love of the great outdoors and food by participating in an edible walking tour with No Taste Like Home. These excursions are perfect for those who prize education as much as they seek tasty, yet healthy treats. Those looking for a more in-depth experience will definitely want to attend the three-hour foraging tour, which hits the best of the Blue Ridge area and includes in-depth information a guide who knows anything and everything about the area’s wild fruits, mushrooms, and other edibles.
10. Enjoy a Treetop Adventure With Navitat Canopy Adventures
There’s no better way to take in the fall colors of the Asheville region than from a zip line. Head to nearby Barnardsville for an exciting treetop tour of the Blue Ridge Mountains. In addition to zooming from one tree to the next on the zip line, you’ll navigate sky bridges, and finally, rappel to the forest floor. There’s also plenty of fun to be had for those who hate heights; guided RTV tours bring Moody Cove to life.
11. Learn About Local Beer Culture With Asheville Brewery Tours
Craft beer culture is a big deal in Asheville, which is home to some of the nation’s finest breweries. These can be explored at any time of the year, but something about the fall season makes them especially appealing. Asheville Brewery Tours will grant you a new appreciation for the city’s top craft beer destinations by providing insider info and plenty of tastings. Bring your pooch along for the dog-friendly walking tour, or explore the best breweries at sunset during one of the popular Saturday tours.
12. Marvel at Panoramic Views and Waterfalls While Hiking the Graveyard Fields Loop
Don’t let the name of this hike fool you; the Graveyard Fields Loop is not nearly as spooky as you might think. Rather, it’s a visual feast, named long ago for the stumps that reminded visitors of gravestones. Today, the hike is known for its gorgeous boardwalk, which offers one of the region’s best autumn views. A brief hike will take you to lovely waterfalls; continue walking for a few extra miles to reach equally impressive falls. This trail — especially the first portion — attracts crowds on fall weekends, so visit on a weekday or early in the morning if possible.
13. Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway
Get behind the wheel and experience some of the best scenery the Smokies have to offer while driving along the famed Blue Ridge Parkway. Weaving through the best of Appalachia, this scenic drive examines regional traditions while also offering memorable views. Best of all, you need not be confined to your vehicle for the duration of the drive. Get out from time to time to stretch your legs and hit up top tourist attractions along the way. Key stops include Moses H. Cone Memorial Park and the North Carolina Arboretum.
14. Hit Up the Fall Festival at Hickory Nut Gap Farm
Hickory Nut Gap Farm’s Fall Festival is not to be missed. Beginning in September and continuing through November, this annual event brings the best of whimsical fall activities to Fairview’s fifth-generation family farm. A small admission fee will grant you and your loved ones access to a corn maze, a pumpkin patch, hayrides, and more. Other Hickory Nut Gap Farm events worth checking out during the fall include biweekly concerts and monthly stargazing.
15. Savor World Coffee Cafe’s Pumpkin Spice Latte
Forget Starbucks; if you’re craving your fix of pumpkin spice, hit up World Coffee Cafe for a delectable latte. This drink puts the standard pumpkin spice latte we all know and love to shame. Grab a table in this cozy coffee shop and relax with your new favorite beverage. Don’t forget to grab a muffin or one of the many other baked goods on display.
16. Sample the Autumn Pies at Buxton Hall
Nothing says fall like a fresh-baked apple, pumpkin, or sweet potato pie. Several Asheville restaurants and bakeries offer excellent pies, but the best can arguably be found at Buxton Hall. Fall favorites include Buxton’s Ultimate Apple, Yum Yum Pumpkin Gingersnap, and Sweet Potato Cream Pies. Sample several to determine which pie will be the best fit for your upcoming Thanksgiving celebration.
17. Navigate the Eliada Corn Maze For a Good Cause
Open between mid-September and late October, the Eliada Corn Maze encourages you to partake in traditional fall activities for the sake of a good cause. All proceeds from the event are dedicated to the children of Eliada — a local non-profit organization committed to assisting families in need throughout Western North Carolina.
18. Hit Up the WNC Farmers Market
Asheville is home to several excellent farmers markets, but the Western North Carolina (WNC) Farmers Market is especially worth checking out during the fall season. There, you’ll find plenty of fresh produce from local farmers. Options abound, but fall visitors especially enjoy checking out the wide selection of pumpkins on display.
19. Browse the Arts and Crafts on Display at Weaverville’s Art in Autumn Event
For well over a decade, Art in Autumn has brought the best of local talent to the lovely town of Weaverville. A variety of disciplines and niches are represented at this juried festival, including ceramics, wood, jewelry, photography, and more. When you’re not marveling at the talent of Appalachia, you’ll find yourself enjoying the live music or shopping for souvenirs.
20. Hit the Waters Around Asheville With a Hunter Banks Guided Fly Fishing Tour
Experience the excitement of fly fishing alongside the friendly guides of Hunter Banks, who offer several thrilling tours in early fall. As the guides will gladly explain, many of the region’s best fishing locations are actually ideal for expeditions in the fall. This is especially true of the Davidson River and the Watauga River. Whether you prefer to float or wade, you will appreciate the extensive information provided by the tour’s knowledgeable guides.
With so much to do and see around Asheville, there really is no excuse to huddle up inside during the fall months. This is when Asheville is at its best, so don’t hesitate to get out and explore.