Are you looking for things to do in Asheville, NC this fall? Check out these 14 cozy bucket list items in order to experience the perfect Asheville fall.
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It’s no secret that we lived in Florida for the past 8 years. As a CT and MA resident for most of my life, every year the fall beckons to me. I crave the cold weather, vibrant fall foliage, and apple picking. Did you know that you cannot apple pick in FL? Oranges, sure. I guess mimosas are nice too?! Hot apple cider is my favorite, though.
When we moved to North Carolina, I knew our first Asheville fall would be ballz to the wallz with all of the autumn activities. Like the good American yuppie that I am, I NEEDED everything pumpkin. Asheville in the fall = all of the pumpkins and apples you could ever desire.
Bring on the cider donuts and pumpkin spice lattes. I cannot even begin to tell you how many apple crisps we have made so far. Plus, Asheville’s mountains look like they are breathing in the fall with all of that angsty mist swirling in a rainbow of color.
So what are the best things that you can do in Asheville, NC in the fall?
Below, find fall activities in and near Asheville for tourists, leaf chasers, and residents. Discover family-friendly things to do in Asheville as well as more adult adventures like boozy ghost tours and wine tastings.
These are our Asheville fall bucket list activities and traditions. I hope that you find your Asheville, NC fall favorites, too. Let’s get started.
Ultimate Asheville Fall Bucket List: 14 Things We Love To Do
Sit in front of a cozy fireplace at the Omni Grove Park Inn sipping seasonal cocktails & watching a gorgeous sunset.
The Omni Grove Park Inn sits on Sunset Mountain in North Asheville. Located in the lobby and next to the Great Hall Bar, be sure to check out the jaw-dropping floor-to-ceiling fireplaces.
Literary quotes flank these massive gas and stone fireplaces, which is fitting since F. Scott Fitzgerald once stayed here. Grab a seasonal cocktail, munch on a charcuterie board, and gently glide back and forth in one of their rocking chairs.
The dark lobby opens up to windows that look out upon Sunset Terrace. Of course, the wide patio lives up to its namesake. If you have time, catch a vibrant and famous Grove Park Inn sunset. If you want to treat yourself, make a dinner reservation here, too – I just love the scallops.
Don’t miss the Edison, either, which overlooks downtown Asheville and its beautiful fall leaves. The Edison at the Grove Park Inn is perfect for lighter fare along with drinks on a covered patio filled with blazing fireplaces.
Pumpkin pick at a quaint popup stand
Of course, you can pumpkin pick at almost all of the orchards around Asheville, NC. And yes, Ingles sells some pretty perfectly shaped pumpkins for carving that our bears would love to eat.
However, I cannot resist those side of the road pumpkin stands or even better, ones that are the epitome of an Asheville fall. Don’t skip Grace Episcopal Church in Asheville. Whether or not religion is your jam, the church is stunning, especially when its bright red doors contrast those glowing orange pumpkins.
Located right before Beaverdam Road on Merrimon Ave. in North Asheville, find an array of colored pumpkins: orange, white, BLUE, and light orange. Personally, I love Dr. Seuss-like pumpkins.
P.S. My friend, Tara from Hammer and a Headband, has some cute pumpkin carving ideas and free templates here.
Road trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway
No Asheville fall would be complete without a drive down some part of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Parkway is about 469-miles long and follows the ridge of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
I love the area just beyond North Asheville with endless overlooks and Craggy Pinnacle and Craggy Gardens. Be sure to check out our favorite Asheville fall leaf hikes along the Blue Ridge Parkway here.
Don’t let bears and wildlife crossing the road surprise you, and please watch for bikers. If it is foggy, you might end up driving right into a cloud with limited to no views; definitely pick a clearer or sunnier day unless you have an amazing sense of humor.
We always somehow miss our mile markers, but they are truly how you find your destination on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
A few Asheville fall overlooks we love include:
- Milepost 364.1: Craggy Dome Parking Lot; also where you can pick up the short Craggy Pinnacle hike
- Milepost 364.4: Craggy Gardens Visitor Center; yes, there are real bathrooms, and you can pick up one side of the Craggy Gardens Trail
- Milepost 375: Tanbark Ridge Overlook
If you are heading south on the Blue Ridge Parkway, you cannot go wrong with anywhere around the Mount Pisgah area.
Walk the Biltmore gardens
Fall activities in Asheville almost always include a visit to Biltmore. And how can they not?
One of the most iconic and largest houses in the nation, the Biltmore is 8,000 acres of sheer beauty. We traded in our annual Disney passes for Biltmore ones.
George Vanderbilt and his wife, Edith, put their heart and soul into this home. Community-driven, the Vanderbilts gave back to Asheville in areas of forestry, agriculture, and education.
Enjoy the morning on a self-guided or audio tour of Biltmore House. With spanning views of the forest and Deer Park, you’ll love the Biltmore and Asheville fall foliage. Head to the gardens designed by the one and only Frederick Law Olmsted.
Have lunch in the former horse stables at the Stable Cafe and don’t miss wine tasting at the winery. We also love cocktails and pickles at Cedric’s Tavern, an ode to the beloved Biltmore pooch. Did I mention that Biltmore has 22-miles of nature and hiking trails? Discover all of the things that you can do at Biltmore here→
If you are traveling with kids, check out these family-friendly Biltmore activities.
Attend one of the many Asheville fall festivals
Both Hendersonville and Asheville host a wide variety of fall festivals.
You’ll find endless Oktoberfests, craft fairs, art fests, vintage flea markets, block parties, and Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations.
Where Should You Stay During An Asheville Fall?
Aloft – Downtown Asheville – We are always fans of modern hotel brands. If you are looking to stay in downtown Asheville, the Aloft hotel is newly renovated as of 2020 with vibrant local murals, updated rooms, and hipster public areas. They host live music, have a sleek new bar, and the patio space overlooks bustling downtown AVL, perfect for people-watching.
Hampton Inn And Suites Asheville Biltmore Area – Although this hotel is on busy Brevard Road – NC-191 – across from the Asheville Outlets, it’s one of our favorites before moving to Asheville. Clean, updated, and in the middle of everything, you can access downtown, Biltmore, and the Blue Ridge Parkway fairly quickly.
1898 Waverly Inn Bed and Breakfast — We loved their social happy hour and friendly hosts. You can walk into downtown Hendersonville, NC from here.
Don’t forget to search for properties around Mount Pisgah on Airbnb, too!
Take a haunted ghost tour on the LaZoom Bus (bus tours are postponed for 2020, but walking tours are available)
If you are looking for fall things to do in downtown Asheville, check out the wild and crazy LaZoom bus. Think about it: how many times have you spied a purple bus tearing down the streets of Asheville full of giggling and rowdy people?! That’s LaZoom.
This shit show looks literally AMAZING to me, especially as my other persona, The Uncorked Librarian.
Full disclosure: a LaZoom tour is on my to-do list, especially since we found ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic. Walk into a funky, kitschy bar full of eccentric tour guides and staff before hopping on the bus. For 2020, the bus is not operating for safety, but there are walking ghost tours.
Typically, you can purchase tickets for haunted, booze, and comedy tours. Be sure to check the age limit on each tour before you book since some are 17+. Others are family-oriented.
Head to downtown Asheville for fall beer
For me, an Asheville fall has to involve some sort of beer flight tasting or mug of foamy love. I live for ambers, stouts, reds, and anything infused with spice.
I cannot even begin to keep up with the Asheville breweries and their wild Count Chocula concoctions.
Everyone has their personal favorites for the Asheville fall beer scene, and this beer passion gets a bit contentious. If you want to see a massive beer factory, head to Sierra Nevada for their Oktoberfest or even New Belgium for a pumpkin brew. Those are both more touristy.
For local Asheville craft breweries try:
- Thirsty Monk (the bottom level specializes in Belgium flights and the rooftop serves craft cocktails)
- Bhramari Brewing Company
- Asheville Brewing Company (can we also say PIZZA!!)
- Hi-Wire Brewing
- Wicked Weed Brewing Company
- One World Brewing
- Zillicoah (along the French Broad River)
- Ginger’s Revenge (gluten-free ginger beer)
- Green Man
- Wedge Brewing
Get lost in a corn maze
I’m not going to lie: Growing up in Connecticut, Lyman Orchards still has the best corn maze that I’ve ever been to. I live for corn mazes, and I compare everything to Lyman’s.
We love heading to Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard and Farm to pick apples, grab some fresh salsa and jam, and get super lost in their corn maze. AND I MEAN SUPER LOST.
The 5-acre corn maze is wickedly large and confusing. You have to try it. Stepp’s corn maze will take you AT LEAST 30 to 45-minutes and costs $5 for adults and $3 for children.
I highly recommend peeing before you enter but also making sure that you are well-hydrated. Buncombe and Henderson counties may still be quite warm weather-wise.
Take a picture of the map on the wall for when you get desperate. There are no clues along the way, and if you go during a quiet weekday, you might be one of the only ones out there.
Grandad’s Apples also has a fun corn maze with maps spread throughout the corn stalks.
Pick apples along ‘Apple Alley’
Did you know: North Carolina is in the top 10 producers of America’s apples? It’s why we moved here. Well, no, not really, but I did MISS apple picking that much.
Along Highway 64 (near I-26) in Henderson County, find “Apple Alley.” I think it’s wine alley too, but let’s talk about family-friendly fall things to do near Asheville first.
You have to go apple picking, especially with views of those gorgeous blue mountains. Personally, Fujis sing to me for apple crisps. Find Pink Ladies, Galas, Honeycrisps, and Golden Delicious to name just a few more apples out there. Don’t miss all five of our favorite apple orchards around Hendersonville here→
Eat a steaming hot cinnamon cider donut at Sky Top Orchard
I’ve always been obsessed with fall donuts, but quite frankly, donuts make me feel like BLAH after I eat them. Still: EAT THEM, I MUST.
I also have been around the donut block, and I have to say, Sky Top Orchard makes my favorite donuts, ever. Our first time there, I had no idea why literally everyone was sitting around gorging on donuts instead of playing. Now I get it.
Walk-up to their window to watch as staff makes fresh-out-of-the-oven donuts. Yup, they shake those steamy bad boys in cinnamon and sugar, and they land straight in your mou…container.
Fair warning: the donuts are beyond popular, and they do run out on weekends. Also, there is hard cider as well as cider slushies to wash down that clump of delicious gooey goodness. Get the ultimate sugar rush. Sky Top is officially one of my new Asheville fall traditions. I’m a living cliche.
Even on the weekdays, Sky Top stays pretty busy. The weekends fill with crazed orchard-goers in October and November.
Hike along the Asheville fall foliage trails and waterfall spy
As a boozy and literary traveler, I am obsessed with DuPont State Forest. While only seen in a few short minutes of The Hunger Games, Triple Falls is both gorgeous and famous.
Remember the scene where Katniss almost steps on Peeta’s face in the falls? That’s Triple Falls. Further in the forest, find Bridal Veil Falls where Katniss cools her burning leg from the fireballs.
I’m not kidding when I say that DuPont gets overly busy, though. A few more fall foliage hikes near Asheville that we love include Graveyard Fields, Mount Pisgah, Craggy Gardens, and Craggy Pinnacle.
Of course, don’t miss more Asheville waterfalls, either, including Douglas Falls, Catawba Falls, and Linville Falls.
Sip oaky wine at one of the Hendersonville wineries
If you follow me anywhere else online, you know that I love my wine. Plus, if you are looking for more adult fall activities to do near Asheville, Hendersonville has two of my favorite wineries for you:
Burntshirt Vineyards– Named North Carolina’s winery of the year, Burntshirt has my favorite French oaked Chardonnay — they also have an American barrel-aged one. Burntshirt has two locations in Hendersonville and Chimney Rock.
We tasted outside at the gazebo in Hendersonville. The wine bottle tree instantly stole my heart, and on the weekend, you can sit on the patio listening to the fountain and live music.
St. Paul Mountain Vineyards– Prior to moving to Asheville, we headed to St. Paul after a day at DuPont and lunch at Postero in downtown Hendersonville. St. Paul grows 14 varieties of grapes, and their tasting room stays open year-round. You can grab a glass of wine and sit on the patio overlooking the vineyards.
If you are headed to Flat Rock, don’t miss its newest winery, Marked Tree Vineyards, too. The views are stellar here.
Read a fall book
Wait, what?!?! YESSSS! Whether you are a local, visitor, or snowbird, I highly recommend getting cozy and warm with a blanket and fall book in front of a fireplace during your evenings. Grab that donut, warm up that cider while dumping in butterscotch schnapps, and pick up a book. Did you know Asheville is all about literary tourism?
Transform into a ‘leafer’
Lastly, Asheville falls turn visitors and even locals into leafers. I, for one, just literally want to drive around all day looking at leaves. This pretty much makes me a leafer. Back in my Florida days, I’d fly home every October just to see the leaf-crack.
If you do nothing else this fall in Asheville, go see the leaves, even if that involves a walk outside or through a creepy cemetery. Can you find where Thomas Wolfe is buried…
A Few Final Notes About The Asheville Fall Weather & Foliage
The weather for an Asheville fall is a tad wild. This is the mountains, after all. One day, the sun blazes down on you and it’s 90-degrees outside. The next, a cold front pushes through and you wake up to temperatures in the 40s. Asheville in October usually starts to *mildly* cool down.
The end of September into early October is also when the leaves start to change. You’ll see leaves burst into colors in the higher elevations at the end of September. Asheville soon follows. The Asheville fall foliage may go as late as the end of October.
Asheville days generally waiver in the 70s and 80s in September and mid-October — although 60s is not uncommon. For Asheville in November, expect daytime temps around 60 with cooler nights in the 40s.
I recommend wearing layers, carrying sunscreen and bug spray, and having a light jacket or fleece at the beginning of Asheville’s fall season. Umbrellas are needed for the occasional shower. Some of the hiking trails get extremely muddy.
So, are you ready to visit Asheville in the fall?
What are you favorite parts about an Asheville, NC fall?
What activities to do love to do in Asheville in the fall? Do you have a favorite apple orchard or waterfall hike? Who has the best donuts, and where do you catch the prettiest sunset? Tell us about your Asheville fall traditions in the comments.
This Asheville fall bucket list originally published on October 17, 2019 and has been updated for 2020.
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