With summer coming to an end and the Charlottesville landscape transforming into a colorful array of golden and red hues, the numerous fall festivities Virginia has to offer make this the best time of year to explore the Commonwealth! Whether you’re new to the state and experiencing the season’s beauty for the first time on the East Coast or are a lifelong resident, Virginia is home to a variety of outdoor destinations and experiences that will be sure to bring about seasonal fun. Check out The Jeff’s Guide to Fall Festivities in Virginia!
- Visit Carter Mountain for One Last Sunset Series
The perfect way to conclude a busy spring semester, but an even better way to ring in their return to beloved Charlottesville, Sunset Series at Carter Mountain Orchard is a fall favorite for UVA students. The Thursday evening series begins in late April and lasts through the end of September, providing ample opportunities to enjoy spectacular sunsets, live music, hard cider, and a bite to eat from local food trucks. A night at Carter Mountain wouldn’t be complete without indulging in their famous apple cider donuts, so be sure to treat yourself on your way out!
- Catch a Flick at the Goochland Drive-In Theater
Pack your pillows and a blanket and enjoy a movie under the stars. The Goochland Drive-In Theater offers a selection of recently released films for those of all ages to enjoy (even your furry friends!) Tickets must be purchased online in advance, and be sure to arrive early as gates close twenty minutes before showtime. (For all the Swifties out there, tickets are now on sale for the Taylor Swift Eras Tour On-Screen Concert!)
- Check Out the Virginia State Fair
Mosey on over to the Virginia State Fair to get a taste of all the Commonwealth has to offer. Located at the Meadow Event Park in Doswell, Virginia, the fair will span ten days (September 22nd – October 1st). With endless exhibits, amusement rides, animals and livestock, food, competitions, concerts, and more, there’s bound to be something for everyone at this year’s fair. Purchase your tickets here.
- Conquer Your Fears at Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream
Excite your inner thrill-seeker and “fuel your fear” from September 8th to October 31st at Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA. Experience the amusement park at spooky new levels with a variety of haunted houses, live shows, and world-class coasters. Be sure to check out the park’s newest roller coaster, the DarKoaster, North America’s first all-indoors straddle coaster, which takes parkgoers on snowmobiles across 2,454 feet of track in total darkness.
- Hike Hawksbill Loop Trail at Shenandoah National Park
For lovers of the outdoors, one would be remiss not to take advantage of the scenic beauty that comes with hiking Shenandoah National Park in the autumn season. With a multitude of hikes to choose from, the moderate-rated 2.7-mile Hawksbill Loop Trail is a popular trail due to the spectacular views upon reaching the summit. For more experienced hikers looking for a challenge, give Old Rag Mountain Loop Trail or the White Oak Canyon Trail a try! Be sure to check the forecast before you head out – you never know what to expect with Virginia weather!
- Admire the Fall Foliage on Skyline Drive
If hiking isn’t your cup of tea, grab your friends, queue up Zach Bryan’s newest album, and cruise down Skyline Drive. This Virginia scenic byway stretches 105 miles through Shenandoah National Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains. With 75 scenic overlooks and four different access points, watch the Valley transform into an array of reds and yellows before your own eyes. Have your camera ready, and watch for any wildlife along the way!
- Complete the Liberty Mills Farm Corn Maze
Up for a challenge? With four separate trails to explore, find your way out of the largest corn maze in the country at Liberty Mills Farm in Orange County, Virginia. Once you’ve done so, reward yourself with homemade ice cream and fudge at the Farm Market. Complete your trip by picking some pumpkins from the vine at the pumpkin patch!
- Spectate a Polo Match at King Family Vineyards
Having roots originating in ancient Persia, who knew polo had such a presence in Virginia? Lasting from June until mid-October, The Roseland Polo Club holds matches every Sunday beginning at 12pm at King Family Vineyards. With no dress code or ticket/reservation required, this activity is an easy, family-friendly event for those of all ages to enjoy. Bring a picnic spread or set up your own tailgate outside the polo field – the competition is sure to spur an appetite.
- Attend the Virginia Film Festival
Local to Charlottesville, the annual five-day Virginia Film Festival is one of the region’s leading film festivals hosted by the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia. This esteemed cultural event presents a wide range of films, including features, documentaries, and shorts from filmmakers all across the globe. This year’s festival will be held October 25th – 29th. Tickets go on sale Friday, October 6th, but if you’re a UVA student, you’re in luck! Full-time students are eligible to reserve a free ticket!
- Take Part in the Mount Vernon Fall Wine Festival
For all our history buffs – don’t think we forgot about you. From October 6th to 8th at George and Martha Washington’s Mount Vernon, visitors can experience the Fall Wine Festival. Take a trip out to the estate of our nation’s first president to sample wine from various Virginia wineries, tour a piece of lasting history, and enjoy the sunset views on the East Lawn overlooking the Potomac River. Purchase your tickets here!