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25 fall experiences for every budget — from food recs to travel destinations

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It’s fall, and that means pumpkin carving, pumpkin beer, apple picking and hay rides galore.

Here are 25 things to add to your fall bucket list, categorized by things to do, where to go and what to eat.


Things to do

(1) Cheer for the Panthers.

Details: Root from the stands or from your living room. There are 10 games in Charlotte, one during preseason and nine during the regular season. 

  • If you opt for a homegate, Roaring Riot has Homegatin’ boxes with virtual watch party access and goodies curated starting at $65 a box.

[Related guide: Where to tailgate, park and more]

Bank of America Stadium, Panthers

Photo: Axios archives


(2) Face your fears at SCarowinds.

Details: Every year, Carowinds transforms from “theme park” to “scream park” for its annual SCarowinds Halloween attraction. There are more than 500 monsters, ghosts and goblins roaming the park plus haunted attractions and shows.

Dates: Sept. 16-Oct. 30, 2022. Friday-Sunday 7pm-midnight.

  • Tickets are $45 and can be purchased here.

Photo courtesy of Carowinds.


(3) Find your way through the Amazing Maize Maze and other corn mazes.

    Details: Huntersville is home to one of the largest corn mazes in the Southeast called the Amazing Maize Maze at Rural Hill. It’s more than seven acres of corn-filled fun happening now through November.

    Cost: $9-$17

    More corn mazes include Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard in Hendersonville, Country Days Corn Maze in Indian Trail, Hubb’s Farm in Clinton, and Black’s Peaches in York.

    corn-maze-hall-family-farm-charlotte

    Pictured is the Hall Family Farm. Photo: Axios archives


    (4) Pick out the perfect pumpkin, then sip a pumpkin ale.

    Details: Pumpkin farms open soon for the season. Some local spots include Simpsons Produce, Phil Simpson Pumpkin Lot, Hunter Farm, Spring Farm Market, Bush-N-Vine Farm and Black’s Peaches.

    After you’ve secured your pumpkins, swing by a local brewery, or grocery store, to grab a pack of pumpkin beer. NoDa Brewing Co., Sycamore Brewing and Catawba Brewing Co. all have variations of pumpkin beer to try out this season.

    [Full guide: 10 must-visit pumpkin patches near Charlotte]

    truist field pumpkins

    Truist Field will turn into a pumpkin patch Saturday, October 15 from 10am to 4pm. Large pumpkins will be $20 and small ones are $10. Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios


    (5) Hearken back to ye olde times at Carolina Renaissance Festival.

    Details: Ren Fest has been a Charlotte-area tradition since 1993. More than 1,000 artists (including 500+ interactive costumed characters) bring the fictional village of Fairhaven to life with performance stages, hands-on games and rides, an artisan marketplace and plenty of food.

    When: Saturdays and Sundays, Oct. 1-Nov. 22 from 9:30am-5:30pm.

    Cost: Day passes are $20 for kids ages 5 to 12 and $32 for adults. Parking is free.

    Photo: Axios archives


    (6) Race on down to the ROVAL 400.

    Details: Get ready for the fifth running of the Bank of America ROVAL™ 400. Expect a pre-race concert featuring Nelly and two weekend concerts with Bret Michaels and 3 Doors Down, all included with your ticket. 

    When: Sunday, Oct. 9 at 2pm.

    Cost: $49

    30 September, 2018: The North Carolina Air National Guard 145th Fighter Wing flies a C-17 over during the Charlotte Motor Speedway during the national anthem for the NASCAR Bank of America Roval 400 in Concord, NC. (Photo:HHP/David Tulis)


    (7) Celebrate Charlotte’s Latin American culture at Hola Charlotte.

    Details: Hola Charlotte is the Queen City’s largest Hispanic Heritage celebration. Festivities include music, food, dancing and art, so join the community in celebrating Latin American culture and all its richness.

    When: Oct. 15.

    Cost: Free

    [Related read: 17 Hispanic- and Latino-owned restaurants to visit for Hispanic Heritage Month]


    (8) Pedal through Charlotte at Biketoberfest.

    Details: This scavenger hunt-style event takes riders along a bike-friendly route through the neighborhoods of Villa Heights, Optimist Park, Midtown, and NoDa. Following the ride will be an after-party at Triple C Brewing Co.

    Date: Sunday, Oct. 30 at 12pm.

    Cost: Tickets are $25-$40. 

    Axios archives


    (9) Marvel at the Great Elizabeth Pumpkin Wall.

    Details: The Great Elizabeth Pumpkin Wall is a Halloween tradition in Charlotte. Each year, community volunteers in the Elizabeth neighborhood build a 60-foot wall lined with jack o’ lanterns galore. The street location of the wall varies from year to year, but the event normally takes place the week leading up to Halloween.

    Location: Elizabeth Neighborhood

    elizabeth-pumpkin-wall

    Axios archives


    (10) Shop truckloads of discounted kitchenware at Le Creuset’s Factory-to-Table Sale.

    For the first time since 2019, Le Creuset‘s popular Factory to Table sale returns to Charlotte Oct. 20-23 at The Park Expo and Conference Center.

    Details: At the four-day shopping event you’ll find premium cookware including “limited-edition colors and rare shapes and styles not typically found in the U.S.,” according to a press release from the French cookware brand.

    Driving the news: Tickets, which are required, are available now.

    • For $30 you’ll get access to VIP shopping starting Oct. 20 at 2pm.
    • 2-hour general admission shopping sessions are $10 and begin Oct. 21.
    • Ticket sales benefit Meals on Wheels America.

    Go deeper: Tickets and more info are available here.

     


    Food and drink

    (11) Attend a different kind of Oktoberfest

    Details: Two local breweries are hosting their versions of Oktoberfest.

    • Olde Mecklenberg Brewery is hosting its 14th annual Mecktoberfest at their Brauhaus on Yancey on two weekends: Sept. 16-18 and Sept. 23-25.
    • Gilde is hosting three weekends of authentic German festivities on Sept. 23-25, Sept. 30-Oct. 2, and Oct. 7-10.

    Photo courtesy of OMB.


    (12) Get your fill of Pumpkin-flavored treats.

    Details: Nothing says fall like pumpkin pie, but you’d be surprised by how many other pumpkin-flavored foods you can find around this time of year. You ever heard of pumpkin pizza? Me neither — until now. Inizio has pumpkin pizza, but if you’re in the mood for something sweet, go big with Ninety’s pumpkin cheesecake milkshake.

    Pumpkin Pie Milkshake

    Axios archives


    (13) Get a taste of Charlotte’s food scene at Taste of Charlotte.

    Details: Make your way to Truist Field to sample delicious food from hundreds of Charlotte-area restaurants at the three-day Taste of Charlotte food festival.

    When: Sept. 30-Oct. 2.

    Cost: Free to attend. Festival coins for food samples can be purchased on-site at the various booths or pre-purchased for pick up.


    (14) Fall calls for oysters.

    Details: Whether they’re raw, grilled, or roasted, oysters are available at many restaurants throughout the area, including Sea Level, ROCKSALT, and The Crunkleton.

    Oyster deals:

    • RockSalt has $1.25 oysters Tuesday-Friday from 4-6pm and Saturday-Sunday from opening to 6pm.
    • Sea Level has $1.50 oysters Monday-Friday from 2-6pm 
    • The Waterman has $1.50 oysters from 2-7 pm, Monday-Friday.

    [Related guide: The 10 best places to eat oysters in Charlotte]

    raw oysters at the crunkleton

    Raw oysters at The Crunkleton. Photo: Axios archives


    (15) Catch performances from top artists at the Breakaway Music Festival.

    Details: Breakaway Music Festival has an epic lineup of artists including headliners Tiësto and Kygo.

    When: Sept. 30-Oct. 1. The zMAX Dragway at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, 6570 Bruton Smith Blvd.

    Cost: Two-day passes start at $114 and single-day passes start at $79. Tickets can be purchased here.

    Photo courtesy of Prime Social Group


    (16) Bring your appetite for the Bay Haven Food & Wine Festival.

    Details: Nearly 100 Black chefs and mixologists from across the country will participate in the BayHaven Food & Wine Festival, including local restauranteurs Greg and Subrina Collire, chef/author Zoe Adjonyoh and 2022 James Beard Foundation finalist for emerging chef Cleophus Hethington.

    When: Oct. 19-23. Camp North End, 301 Camp Road.

    Cost: $75-$640, tickets available here.


    (17) Go to Rich and Bennett’s Halloween Bar Crawl.

    Details: Charlotte’s legendary bar crawl is back with 25+ locations involved throughout Uptown Charlotte and drink specials at each of the bars.

    When: Oct. 29.

    Cost:$10-$25 (depending when you purchase tickets) and includes drink specials, event koozie, giveaways, fun swag, costume contest, and automatically enters you into a raffle to win prizes.

    [Related story: What’s next for Rich & Bennett’s world-famous pub crawls]


    (18) Ring in the holiday season at the Thanksgiving Day Parade.

    Details: One thing we’ll be thankful for this Turkey Day is the return of beloved traditions, like the Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade, which dates back to the 1940s.

    • Details for this year’s celebration are still being firmed up. Tickets and more information will be available closer to the event.
    thanksgiving day parade

    Axios archives


    Travel

    (19) Hike one of the many top-notch trails within a few hours of Charlotte.

    Details: The closest hikes to Charlotte are Crowders Mountain and Morrow Mountain, but venture west a couple of hours for the best views. Here are our top three recommendations:

    • Roan Highlands – Straddling the Tennessee border, you’re treated to a feast of 360-degree views within a mile of parking.
    • South Mountains State Park – It’s hard to beat waterfall views, and South Mountains State Park has plenty. The High Shoal Falls Loop Trail will take you past increasingly large cascades over its 2.5-mile course.
    • Grayson Highlands – Criss-crossed by the Appalachian Trail and a half-dozen well-maintained, easy-to-follow connecting trails, the area is a hiker’s paradise, with ample backcountry and developed campsites for overnight stays as well. Plus, wild ponies (!).

    [Full guide: Definitive hiking guide: The 16 best hikes around Charlotte]

    Pony at Grayson Highlands

    On a hike at Grayson Highlands, you’ll run into a different kind of regular camper. (Photo by Ely Portillo)


    (20) Sit outside at a vineyard.

    Details: As the weather cools down, now is the perfect opportunity to enjoy a glass of wine while overlooking a vineyard. Douglas Vineyards and Rocky River Vineyards are Charlotte’s closest vineyards, located about 30 minutes outside of the city. Cauble Creek Vineyard, Treehouse Vineyards, Davasté Vineyards, and Veronét Vineyards & Winery are about 40 minutes outside of the city.

    [Related guide: 7 vineyards within an hour of Uptown]

    veronet vineyards

    Veronét Vineyards & Winery is about 40 minutes outside the city.


    (21) Take a road trip to the mountains.

    Details: A mountain getaway is always a great idea, but the views during the fall are especially breathtaking. The fall foliage is just one of many attractions in the popular mountain towns of Asheville and Boone.

    Timeline: Leaves start changing color in late September and continue on through early November.

    [Related guides: Driving Distance: 10 things to do in Boone, Travel guide to 28 of the best things to eat, drink and do in Asheville]

    asheville glamping

    Pro tip: Go glamping in Asheville. [Read more: Sleep under the stars in a geodesic dome 2.5 hours from Charlotte]


    (22) Make a day trip to visit Windy Hill Orchard & Cidery.

    Details: Windy Hill is less than an hour outside the city, making it the closest orchard to Charlotte. They have apple picking, hayrides, a hard cider bar, and their famous fried apple cider donuts.

    Pro tip: Order a flight of hard cider or pick out some hard cider to go for an at-home tasting. Add in ciders from GoodRoad CiderWorks and Red Clay Ciderworks for a full tasting event.

    Cost: Pick-your-own apples cost $7 for a quarter peck bag (4-6 pounds).

    • Of note: To pick apples, everyone must have their own reservation and pre-purchased bag to enter the orchard. 

    Location/hours: Windy Hill is located at 1860 Black Highway in York, South Carolina. Their farm stand is open Thursday through Sunday 10am-6pm. The cider bar is open Friday from 12-7pm and Saturday and Sunday 10am-6pm.

    [Related guide: Apple season is upon us: 7 pick-your-own orchards within 2 hours of Charlotte]

    windy-hill-4

    Axios archives


    (23) Ease on down the yellow brick road at Autumn of Oz 

    Autumn at Oz flying monkey

    Photo: Brianna Crane/Axios Charlotte

    Beech Mountain is a 2.5-hour drive from Charlotte but a trip to Autumn at Oz will take you to a land far away.

    Details: The Wizard of Oz theme park opens for a short period of time each year and this is the last weekend. It has vendors, food and performances.

    • Dates: September 23-25.
    • Tickets are $55

    Related story: Everything you need to know about the ‘Wizard of Oz’ theme park in Beech Mountain


    (24) Head to Raleigh for the N.C. State Fair

    Details: The event is ranked among the top 25 fairs in the country and features live music, carnival games, rides, agricultural exhibitors and competitions.

    Date: Oct. 13-23

    Address: 1025 Blue Ridge Road, Raleigh

    Tickets: $10-$13 for adults.

    Related story: Our guide for navigating the N.C. State Fair

    NC State Fair

    Photo: Symphony Webber/Axios


    (25) Watch hot air balloons take to the sky at the 2022 Carolina Balloonfest.

    Details: Head over to Statesville for the second-oldest balloon festival in the country. Dozens of colorful balloons will take to the sky Oct. 14-16.

    Tickets$15-$45

    Address: 260 Hangar Dr., Statesville 


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    The post 25 fall experiences for every budget — from food recs to travel destinations appeared first on Axios Charlotte.





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