With Labor Day behind us, fall is quickly approaching in North Carolina. That doesn’t mean it’s time to stay indoors. We’ve gathered the Top 5 things to do in N.C. this fall across the state, from an oyster festival on the beach to catching autumn leaves in the mountains.


Photo credit: Romantic Asheville

Apple or Pumpkin Picking, Hendersonville, N.C.

Nothing says fall like a crisp red apple picked straight from an orchard branch, or the warm weight of a golden orange pumpkin right off the vine. North Carolina has multiple locations to get your Instagram-worthy fall shots of apples and pumpkins, but Hendersonville, N.C., has the triple whammy of fall colors, rolling mountains, and farms for your picking pleasure. There’s Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard, a 70-acre working farm that offers 21 varieties of apples and pumpkins for picking, a 5-acre corn maze, and a Country Market for apple cider or pumpkin doughnuts. Or there’s Grandad’s Apples N’ Such, that features a barnyard corral with farm animals to say hello to on your way to picking apples or a future jack-o’-lantern. Their on-site bakery offers apple cider doughnuts, apple ice cream, and apple pies to take home to enjoy.

Carolina Renaissance Festival, Charlotte, N.C.

The Queen City earns its royal status with the annual Carolina Renaissance Festival starting Sept. 29 through Nov. 18. The weekend-only event offers crafts, food, music, art, and multiple live shows including jousting knights on horseback. This year, mermaids have been added to the mix, with pirates, fairies, and a royal court of king, queen, princesses and princes already included. The artisan marketplace allows for early Christmas shopping, and the games and rides (plus a petting zoo, and a camel or elephant or two) for children and adults make it a family affair.

38th Annual N.C. Oyster Festival, Ocean Isle, N.C.

The N.C. Oyster Festival is a tradition for both locals and tourists who flock to the seaside town of Ocean Isle in Brunswick County for food, music, and shopping. The walkable festival offers arts and crafts, live musical performances, contests (for any competitive oyster eaters or shuckers out there, this is the place to be!), and, of course, sampling seafood made of oysters, oyster stew, and oyster dishes. You can even join in on the judging – the annual oyster stew competition between N.C. restaurants allows for 350 lucky “People’s Choice” judges to sample and name the best dish in North Carolina, and award the highly coveted title of North Carolina Oyster Stew Champion.

North Carolina State Fair, Raleigh, N.C.

Nothing could be finer than to be at the North Carolina State Fair Oct. 11 – 21. The largest event in the state of N.C., the State Fair draws in a million visitors from across the Tar Heel State for music performances, culinary experiences, rides and games, a historical village of yesteryear, arts and craft competitions, a folk festival, and the single largest 11-day agriculture event in the nation. There’s over 100 concerts performed, and multiple competitions for agriculture and livestock. There’s a flower and garden show that offers demonstrations on how to grow roses, garden year-round and raise bonsai, as well as the State Fair Ark with over 60 animals on display. And that’s not even reaching the midway, with carnival games, rides, and prizes. It’s a truly unique event, and even with 11 days to explore it, you still may miss something!

Catch Fall Foliage, Asheville, N.C.

The Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains are ready to put on their autumn best. Our autumn color season lasts longer than other areas, spanning five weeks at its peak. This is due to a different kind of peak – the height of the mountains indicates how soon the colors will change. The 6,000-foot peaks of our mountains experience their color changes first, and over the weeks the colors will descend down the mountains to the valleys. This site offers a Peak Foliage Color Timeline for 2018, showcasing mountain sites to visit from September through early November. The leaves on Mount Mitchell and Rough Ridge at Grandfather Mountains will begin to change in late September, and in October, peaks at 5,000 feet like Beech Mountain and Roan Mountain will start to show their colors.

What’s your favorite autumn must-do in N.C.? Share your fave in the comments or on our Facebook page.

How to Take Action

Our Coalition is only as strong as our advocates. Grassroots support is how we effect change. Take Action for lower healthcare costs.

Take Action