Even though I love living in LA, there’s something simply magical about the East Coast in the fall. The cooler temps. The farmer’s markets. The foliage. It’s an incredible time to travel, and a big reason why I’m spending most of October on the opposite coast this year.
After living in Charlottesville for a few years, I can safely say that fall is my favorite time of year in town. The Blue Ridge Mountains are stunning this time of year, there are so many farms to visit, and wineries celebrate a successful harvest. Plus, the humidity typically goes away this time of year, and sweater weather in Charlottesville is an absolute treat.
Are you thinking of planning a trip to Charlottesville this fall? Here are a few things to do in town this season!
The Best Things to Do in Charlottesville in the Fall:
Apple Picking at Carter Mountain Orchard
Hot take: but I think I like apples over pumpkins when it comes to fall produce! If you’re an apple fan like I am, head over to Carter Mountain Orchard and go apple picking, visit their country store and pick up some fresh apple cider donuts, or head down to the Bold Rock tasting room and enjoy hard cider and breathtaking mountaintop views.
Tickets are required to go apple picking at Carter Mountain Orchard on Friday-Sunday and holidays; however, they will accept walk-ins during the week. Make sure to get your tickets in advance!
Take A Cruise Down the Blue Ridge Parkway
Generally, the best time to leaf peep in Charlottesville is Mid-Late October. One of the best places to go leaf-peeping is on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I usually enter the parkway in Afton (off exit 99 on I-64) and drive to the Ravens Roost Overlook for a scenic view. There are also some picnic tables here so that you can make an afternoon out of it.
If you’re more into hiking than a scenic overlook, you can also take the Blue Ridge Parkway to the Humpback Rocks and opt for one of these trails: Mountain Farm Trail (easy .25 mi.), a section of the Appalachian Trail (strenuous two mi.), Catoctin Loop Trail (moderate .3 mi.), or the Greenstone Trail (moderate .2 mi.).
Stay At Getaway House
The Getaway House DC location is only ~40 minutes away from Charlottesville, tucked in the Shenandoah Valley. If you’re looking to leaf-peep, this is the ideal lodging for the adventurer. The cabin is located smack dab in the woods, and it’s a great way to unplug and unwind and connect with nature.
You can view my full review of Getaway House DC here.
Visit World Class Wineries
Another great fall activity? Visiting wineries! Fall is my favorite time of year to visit vineyards because it’s harvest season. You can either see the grapes in all of their glory on their vines in September or join one of the many harvest celebrations wineries often host to celebrate their hard work.
My favorite wineries in Charlottesville include Afton Mountain, Early Mountain, Stinson Vineyards, and Gabriele Rausse. However, you can find my complete list of Cville winery recommendations here.
Go On a Hike
If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you’re in luck: the Blue Ridge Mountains are home to some incredible hiking trails!
Easy-Moderate Hikes: If you’re looking for a flat trail (sans mountains), you can opt for the Ivy Creek Natural Area in Albemarle County. Most of the trails in this area are less than a mile and great for beginners or families. For more easy-moderate hikes, you can visit the Rivanna River trails located in the city limits of Charlottesville. These trails have wide paved paths and are great for running and cycling. Lastly, the Saunders-Monticello trail is one of the most popular trails in the area — it’s about two miles and gives you some of the best views of Charlottesville and Albemarle County.
Harder Hikes: If you’re looking for more challenging hikes with scenic views, I would opt for Humpback Rocks off the Blue Ridge Parkway or the Riprap Trail off Skyline Drive. For the Riprap Trail, you will need to pay an entrance fee of $30 to enter the Shenandoah National Park, but trust me: it’s worth every penny!
Looking for more things to do in Charlottesville? Check out my previous travel guides here and here!
Photos by Tom McGovern