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Asheville has become a hot travel spot in recent years, often found among rankings of the top places to live. In fact, it’s even been called one of America’s happiest cities. It boasts a thriving music, arts and brew scene, while the surrounding area offers a wealth of mountain scenery and outdoor adventure. This fall, there are even more reasons to visit, with everything from vibrant autumn foliage to special events.
Asheville and the surrounding area are renowned for their autumn foliage, some of the most breathtaking in the country, and it also offers one of the longest fall seasons. The sunny days of September lead to trees creating more red pigments resulting in even brighter hues. Enjoy it in the city’s parks or hit the trails, like the 1.2-mile Rough Ridge stretch on the Tanawha Trail off the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, which brings breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape blanketed in vibrant color. Scenic overlooks can also be enjoyed high above via rooftop tour or hot air balloon.
Biltmore Estate is densely forested, boasting some of the region’s oldest and most magnificent trees, while garden plantings include thousands of colorful mums. The chrysanthemums will be bursting in rich hues and a number of exciting special events will be hosted too. Celebrate with food and wine events at The Winery, and enjoy music at Antler Hill Village Bandstand. No matter what you do, you’re guaranteed lots of fabulous fall photo-ops.
Fall is the perfect time for cider, and Urban Orchard Cider produces some great seasonal and year-round ciders. All are made with super fresh ingredients. In fact, the owner uses persimmons, muscadines, spices and herbs that are grown right in her garden. While cider evokes the aromas and tastes of autumn on its own, there are some wonderful flavors ideal for the season like Ginger Campaign, a crisp semi-dry cider infused with ginger, and Sidra Del Diablo, a semi-sweet option with fresh vanilla, habanero and creeper spice. The tasting room has outdoor spaces that are fabulous for sipping.
Looking Glass Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls in the state, cascading from a towering cliff and in autumn, framed by brilliant foliage. The short, but an exceptionally scenic trek to the base of the waterfall begins at the signed trailhead on US 276 near Brevard. An observation deck along the roadside brings beautiful glimpses of the tumbling walls, but by descending the stairs on the trail to a middle and lower viewing platform, you’ll get a better look. While swimming is allowed, it’s at your own risk and may be a bit too chilly later in the season. It’s a perfect place for a picnic, however, and there are many other falls to visit in the area too, including the Moore Cove Falls Trail that leads to a waterfall in a picturesque cove.
For a thrilling bird’s eye view of the canopy of color, hop on a zipline. There are a variety of courses available, including Navitat Canopy Adventures which offers lines as high as 350 feet and as long as nearly three-quarters of a mile.
The Asheville Art Museum is home to a collection of American art of the 20th and 21st centuries. It features an art library, education facilities, the Wells Fargo Art PLAYce for families with children and a rooftop sculpture terrace and café where visitors can take in fabulous views of downtown and the mountains. Not only does the museum have rotating and traveling exhibitions, but it also offers educational programs for adults and children.
Beer and art lovers will be able to take an Art and Beer Tour in the River Arts District, famous for its works of art which span multiple genres found in galleries, studios and in the streets. In fact, there is some brilliant street art like the Foundation Walls, where graffiti artists paint the walls of the old warehouses. The tour will bring guests to artist studios and make stops to enjoy the area’s fabulous concentration of breweries too.
October is a great time to experience some of Asheville’s haunted history with a number of mysterious, haunted guided adventures available. Haunted Asheville Tours is often named among the country’s best. Developed by renowned paranormal expert and TV personality Joshua P. Warren, it includes admission to the Asheville Mystery Museum. Visitors can also hop on one of the Gray Line’s iconic red trolleys for a haunted mystery tour or join Dark Ride Tours aboard a classic hearse that travels around Riverside Cemetery and the French Broad River. Halloween night tours are said to be extra special.
Asheville Wellness Tours will be offering sunset yoga hikes on Saturday evenings from mid-September throughout the season. It’s the perfect time to unwind and breathe in spectacular autumn foliage and fresh, crisp mountain air highlighted by colorful sunsets. It starts with mindful meditation and is followed by yoga practice on a mountain top that’s suitable for everyone from beginners to the advanced.
Every year, Downtown Asheville’s Pack Square Park hosts Oktoberfest. A great way to sample and celebrate the local beer scene, you’ll need to purchase tickets in advance as the event often sells out. Those 21 and over can attend, enjoying an extensive variety of beer and hard cider tastings from 20 different breweries, with many featuring seasonal ales. There will be plenty of Bavarian staples too, like bratwurst, pretzels and traditional sides, along with stein hoisting, costume contests, ax tossing, races and more.
**Oktoberfest is canceled for 2022.