Fall is truly a stunning season to visit Virginia, bringing seasonal foods, drinks, and special events that the entire family can enjoy. Plan a romantic getaway to Virginia wine, country, take the kids to a fall festival, enjoy the Great Outdoors with a hike through an iconic Virginia park…there are countless options for memorable autumn getaways, but here are five fall trip ideas that every traveler will love.
1. Solve the Corn Maze at Liberty Mills Farm in Somerset
Each year, Liberty Mills Farm comes up with a new theme for their 32-acre corn maze, the largest corn maze east of the Mississippi River. The maze has four different trails, offering a variety of difficulty for all ages. After solving your chosen trail (or all four if you’re a puzzle master!), pick out the perfect pumpkin from the farm’s 8-acre pumpkin patch.
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Travel just down the road to Montpelier, the historic estate of fourth President of the United States James Madison and his wife Dolley, America’s “First Lady”. Take a guided tour of the home to hear about Madison’s accomplishments and struggles, then head outside to see the reconstructed enslaved community sites followed by the special exhibit “A Mere Distinction of Color”, which brings to life the powerful true stories of several individuals that were enslaved at Montpelier.
Both wine and history enthusiasts alike will enjoy a stop at Barboursville Vineyards, located just across the street from the Barboursville ruins. The winery has over 25 wines available for daily tastings and offers guided tours of the winery to the public.
Continue south to Charlottesville, an historic city filled with great restaurants for the foodie travelers. Stay at the newly-opened Draftsman, a pet-friendly boutique hotel conveniently located in downtown Charlottesville.
Before heading home, stop at Carter Mountain Orchard outside of Charlottesville for their famous apple donuts and hot cider, a fitting end to your fall getaway.
2. Take in the Sights & Sounds of Southwest Virginia in Bristol, the Birthplace of Country Music
Bristol is known as the “Birthplace of Country Music”, hosting countless music events and live performances throughout the year, but fall combines the storied mountain music with the brilliant colors of autumn blanketing the rolling terrain. Visit the Birthplace of Country Music Museum to learn about how the legendary 1927 Bristol Sessions recordings forever changed the music industry in America.
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The region is also home to the Carter Family Fold, a museum and performance space dedicated to the talented country music stars. If you’re interested in learning more about the region’s musical history, continue along the Crooked Road, Virginia’s Music Heritage Trail, and take in the beautiful fall foliage as you drive through some of Virginia’s most awe-inspiring landscapes. Stop at Grayson Highlands State Park to see the wild ponies graze along the mountains, and follow the pathways up the mountain to do a section hike along the renowned Appalachian Trail.
Travel Route 16, nicknamed the Back of the Dragon, through Southwest Virginia’s prettiest mountain terrain. This scenic roadway packs 438 curves into just 32 miles of asphalt, making it a favorite route for motorcyclists and fall foliage seekers.
For even more adventure, rent ATVs at Southern Gap Outdoor Adventure and head out on the Spearhead Trails, five multi-use trail systems that afford hundreds of miles of riding through the rural mountains of Southwest Virginia.
Spend the evening at the Western Front Hotel in Saint Paul, a boutique hotel featuring a rooftop bar and an on-site restaurant that cooks up local Appalachian cuisine.
3. Experience Harvest Season in Northern Virginia’s Wine Country
October is the official Wine Month of Virginia, celebrating the bountiful harvest of the vineyards and the world-class products made from the grapes. Plan a trip through Loudoun and DC’s Wine Country to taste your way through some of the finest examples of Virginia wines. With over forty wineries in Loudoun County, you can create a wine-filled itinerary to suit your vacation time, whether you’re looking to fill a fall afternoon or plan a week-long trip through Northern Virginia’s bucolic wine country.
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Explore a few of Loudoun’s charming small towns during your visit to Northern Virginia. Downtown Leesburg has several impressive dining spots, including King Street Oyster Bar, The Wine Kitchen, and Tuscarora Mill. In Northern Virginia’s Horse Country, Middleburg affords a wide array of shopping, from small local boutique shops to upscale antique emporiums. After shopping, grab lunch at Market Salamander or the historic Red Fox Inn & Tavern, which dates to 1728.
For a luxury stay in Middleburg, book a room at Salamander Resort & Spa, a peaceful resort in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. If you’re thinking of staying closer to Leesburg, head to Lansdowne Resort & Spa, an upscale hotel in the heart of Loudoun Wine Country.
4. Hike the Picturesque Trails of Shenandoah National Park
With 300 square miles of protected lands, Shenandoah National Park has seemingly endless trails for you to discover the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. A few of the most popular hikes include Hawksbill Summit, a 2.2-mile hike that ends with a 360-degree view at the summit, Lewis Spring Falls Loop, a 3.3-mile trail that borders roaring waterfalls, and Old Rag Loop, a 9-mile classic for the more experienced hiker that offers expansive panoramic views. The park also contains 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail, allowing you to journey along one of the most famous hiking trails in the world.
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See Shenandoah National Park from your car as you travel along Skyline Drive, an historic 105-mile National Scenic Byway that traverses the park. The highway meanders along the mountaintops, providing exceptional views of the terrain. During the fall, the mountains are blanketed with fiery hues of yellows, reds, and oranges, coming alive with the bright autumn foliage.
Plan a few pit stops during your trip in the small towns bordering Shenandoah National Park, such as Front Royal, Luray, and Waynesboro. These hidden gems have tons of character and photo-worthy Main Streets lined with boutique shops and can’t-miss restaurants that give you a true taste of Virginia’s mountain regions.
If staying within Shenandoah National Park overnight, consider making reservations at Skyland. Situated at 3,680 feet, Skyland sits at the highest point along Skyline Drive, with incredible views of the Shenandoah Valley right outside your windows.
5. Enjoy a Quiet Coastal Vacation to Virginia Beach in the Off-Season
Relax on Virginia’s shores without the crowds when you travel to Virginia Beach in the fall. While the air may be a bit cooler, the idyllic shores are still suitable for a cozy picnic, and you’ll find more affordable rates for beachfront rentals and hotels. Stroll the beaches at sunrise for a refreshing and peaceful morning walk; if you’re lucky, you may even spot some dolphins frolicking in the Atlantic waters.
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For a once-in-a-lifetime experience, book a horseback ride along the beach in the fall. The guided tours take you past several prime coastal landmarks, including the Virginia Beach Pier and the iconic Boardwalk.
Add a little luxury to your beachfront vacation with a stay at The Cavalier, a quintessential Virginia Beach hotel that was recently renovated. Don’t miss out on visiting the hotel’s private beach club, available only to guests and residents living in the neighborhood surrounding the hotel.
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