6 Most Charming Fall Destinations in North Carolina

Fall is in full swing, and the best way to appreciate the season is to embrace the breathtaking outdoors of North Carolina. For residents and visitors alike, NC has got some incredible sights to behold and fun activities to participate in to get into the spirit of the spooky season. Whether it is observing the magical changing colors of the Appalachian Mountains, stocking up on apples and pumpkins, or visiting corn mazes, fall might be one of the best times to visit North Carolina. The climate is cooperative, with minimal rainfall and moderate temperatures, it is perfect sweater weather. 

Blue Ridge Parkway

Fall on the Blue Ridge Parkway Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian Mountains, North Carolina

Known as America’s Favorite Drive, millions visit the Blue Ridge Parkway every year. The rich biodiversity as well as scenic view of the Appalachians spans a generous 469 miles of protected natural habitat for numerous plants and animals. Naturally, it is a breathtaking visit during the fall months when the leaves begin changing colors in September, to their peak season in mid-October. The highest mountain peak in the eastern US, Mount Mitchell, is located in the Parkway, and the leaves start changing there first because of the high elevation and cooler temperatures. Blue Ridge Parkway is also home to the deepest gorge east of the Grand Canyon, Linville Gorge, as well as the oldest river in North America, New River.

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad Fall Foliage Ride

A woman taking a photo from the Smoky Mountains Railroad Scenic Train, adjacent to the Tuckasegee River

Possibly one of the most visually pleasing and relaxing ways to experience the fall season is by going on a train ride through the Great Smoky Mountains. There are three different trips to choose from, each is about a 3 or 4 hour round-trip train ride through the North Carolina countryside. Enjoy the best views with the open-air gondola tickets, but there are also indoor heated seats available. Each tour includes a layover in a historic town or location  for your to soak up the sights. The Tuckasegee River Excursion even stops at a the old movie set for The Fugitive.

Pumpkin Flotilla at Bond Lake

Bond Park Lake Boat Dock on a Summer Morning in Cary, NC

If you are a fan of pumpkin carving, the Pumpkin Flotilla in the town of Cary, North Carolina is a must. Every year in October, the town puts together an event where people gather around the dock (some in Halloween costumes) with their carved jack-o-lanterns that are ready to get lit and set sail via floats on the lake. Pumpkins are taken at a first-come, first served basis because of the finite amount of floats. Those that haven’t followed to flotilla pumpkin guidelines will be used to decorate the dock but cannot be released into the water. The pumpkins are left to float for the next few days, and are relit for those who could not attend the original ceremony.

Orchard at Altapass

View of the Orchard at Altapass on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Picking succulent apples at the historic Altapass Orchard is just another great way to enjoy the fall season in North Carolina. The 100-year-old non-profit orchard is a stop on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and has tons of activities such as heyrides, music, gifts, fall desserts, and a variety of over 20 different kinds of delicious heirloom apples. Each variety have slightly differing ripening seasons, with some blooming earlier than others. The orchard’s website gives information on their flavor profiles, availability and best uses for each type of apple.  

Navitat Canopy Adventures

A photo from the Navitat Sunset Tour via

An immersive way to enjoy the fall colors in North Carolina is by ziplining over the treetops. Book a Treetop Tour or a Mountaintop Tour at Navitat Canopy Adventures for the perfect way to experience the fall foliage up close while having an adventure. The three hour Treetop tour includes three scenic trails to hike across, ziplines up to 1,250 feet long with heights reaching up to 200 feet high. The Mountaintop Tour lets you enjoy side-by-side ziplining from mountain top to mountain top at speeds of up to 65 miles per hour while taking in the colorful scenery.

Maize Adventures at Kersey Valley

Pumpkin patch in Maize Adventures at Kersey Valley via

What better way to experience the season than getting lost in a corn maze while breathing in the crisp fall North Carolina air? Maize Adventures at Kersey Valley is the perfect way to spend a sunny autumn afternoon with loved ones, including pets, which are also allowed to join while on a leash. Their corn maze features miles of pathways and trails that are a different design every season. Make sure to bring durable walking shoes, snacks, bug spray and water on the adventure. Once you’ve mastered the corn maze, there are other activities to partake in, such as wagon rides, pumpkin patches, trampolining fossil digging, and more.


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