Everything You Need to Do in Asheville This Fall
There aren’t many other cities in the US that do fall quite like Asheville -- you can thank the “wow” factor of the leaves changing across the Blue Ridge Mountains, the 20 local breweries, and the city’s crafty atmosphere for that. Unsurprisingly, there’s no shortage of fall-forward events all around Asheville, including enough leaf-peeping excursions, outdoor adventures, and food and drink festivals to fill up your calendar until mid-December. Soak it all up before winter gets here, everyone.
Last Wednesday of every month
Fleetwood’s is part wedding chapel, part vintage clothing shop, and part bar -- so now they’re adding cinema to the resume, too. During Marc’s Monthly Groovy Movie, you can catch a vintage flick carefully selected by local celeb Marc McCloud, owner of Ashevile’s Orbit DVDs. Vintage movie trailers and commercials start at 7:30pm, followed by trivia and the movie at 8pm.
Nothing gets those fall vibes flowing like picking apples and scouring for pumpkins. So, grab a crew and take the 35-minute trip to Henderson, North Carolina, to embrace all the produce the season has to offer at Grandad’s Apples. This 100-acre family farm allows visitors to venture out into their orchard and pick more than 20 different varieties of apples, or select the perfect future jack-o’-lantern in their pumpkin patch. Even if you’re not into physical labor, the trip is worth it solely to score one of Grandad’s apple cider slushies and the bakery’s hot cider donuts -- or to pet a donkey. (Yep, they have those, too.)
Cost: Free to visit, pay for what you pick
As two football greats face off, be right there in the action. Pre-game sideline passes, hospitality access -- all exclusively through Marriott Bonvoy. Marriott Bonvoy offers benefits and endless experiences at more than 7,000 hotels across the globe, so whether you’re into live music, exclusive dining events, or luxury VIP experiences, you’re bound to find a perk that fits your lifestyle. Of course, they’ve got you covered on where to stay after the game, too.
Cost: Starting bid is 100,000 points. Auction terms apply.
Every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
Fall is the time to tackle nightmare-inducing frights, and at speakeasy slash escape room Conundrum, you can sip five types of wine in complete darkness. Called “Le Vine Noire”, this 50-60 minute sensory experience is paired with snacks, along with “one-liners and hilarious hijinks” from your host. If wine isn’t your thing, you can also go on the same, very dark journey at “Bier Noir,” which is a blind taste-testing of local craft beer (for the same price).
Cost: $35 a person
Saturday, October 5 and Saturday, October 19
Thanks to Asheville’s Center of Craft, a non-profit organization dedicated to celebrating unique artists and creators, you can discover some of the city’s best boutique and small-batch products all in one walking tour. Their Craft City Food and Art Tour is led by a local expert who guides guests to galleries, shops, breweries, bars, food tastings, and other uniquely Asheville experiences. And with at least three to four stops for food, you can walk off your meal in the process.
Cost: $75 a person
Thursdays and Fridays through November 8
Pisgah National Forest
Living out everyone’s favorite TLC song is easy at the parks and forests around Asheville, considering there are waterfalls basically everywhere. So put on some cozy fall hiking gear and let the Pisgah Field School staff take you on a 1.5-mile guided hike to five waterfalls in Pisgah National Forest. Besides basking in the beautiful surroundings, all of your physical exertion will be well-rewarded at the end with a wine tasting at Broad Street Wines in downtown Brevard. Pre-registration required, so make sure to check their calendar and sign up because the Appalachians are calling.
Cost: $70 a person
Monday through Saturday through November 15
Ah, Halloween, the perfect time to indulge in “real” ghost stories. The Haunted History and Murder Mystery Tour is a 75-minute trolly ride that sheds light on the spookiest parts of Asheville’s past. This means everything from spirits and spies to ghosts and haunted hospitals. If you want to make a night out of it, book a pre-tour dinner at Pack’s Tavern since that’s where the trolley first picks up at 7pm.
Cost: Adults $25, kids $11
Every Monday through Thursday
Live, local music at The Imperial Life is here for you after a day of annoying email threads and back-to-back meetings. Whether it’s a guitar and violin duo or a jazz band, locals absolutely rave about the music and the mixologists crafting unique libations at the intimate cocktail lounge and bar. Live music starts at 9pm, so make sure to get there early to grab a seat and a charcuterie board prepared by Table, the restaurant below the bar.
Cost: Price varies based on food and drink order
Thursday, October 3
It’s slow cooker season, and there’s no better way to get inspired than learning all about meat from a butcher. And there are no better butchers to learn from than the experts at The Chop Shop Butchery, Asheville’s only all-natural, whole-animal butcher shop. During the class, you’ll watch as their head butcher expertly breaks down a front quarter of dry-aged apple brandy beef. (That’s the part where fall-ready cuts like chuck steaks, chuck roasts, and short ribs come from.) You’ll then learn different cooking techniques and even get the proper nomenclature down. There will also be plenty of local beer and charcuterie to munch on throughout the class, plus you’ll take home recipes and get 10% off your purchase from the shop.
Saturday, October 5
River Arts District
Thanks to Asheville’s Brewgrass Music Festival, you can once again dance to live bluegrass with a beer in your hand along the French Broad River. The festival is back for its 23rd annual celebration at Salvage Station, bringing with it nine straight hours of good music, good people, and very good local brews. The music lineup includes national and local acts like Sam Bush and Sanctum Sully, but (more importantly) the drink lineup consists of more than 100 beers and ciders from nine different bars around the city.
Cost: $35 a person
Saturday, October 5
Exploring a garlic trail all in the name of collecting (and trying) whacky garlic samples is probably not how you’ve ever spent a Saturday before... so there’s no time like the present, right? At the sixth annual WNC Garlic Fest, guests are given a custom trail map that lays out all the vendors participating. Along the way, get advice from local farmers about how to plant garlic seeds, grab garlicky treats from a food truck, and participate in various activities for just about everyone. Just don’t forget to bring some mints.
Friday, October 11
Get out of town (and out of your comfort zone) with a full moon yoga hike on the scenic Bearwallow Mountain Trail. Inner Wild Yoga is ready to help yogis find their breath on a sunset hike through the woods toward the mountain. Close out the evening with a gentle lunar yoga practice and steaming cup of hot tea, and soak in all those positive, self-care vibes.
Cost: $29-$49 suggested donation
Saturday, October 12
Fall means apples, and apples mean hard cider. Celebrate with a ticket to Ciderfest 2019 and sample national and local cider and mead varieties while dancing to live music and snacking on artisanal bites. Admission includes your very own Cider Fest tasting glass and four hours of unlimited access to the entire event. To sweeten the deal, the festival takes place along the French Broad River during peak leaf-peeping time -- so keep your phone charged for plenty of enviable Instagram pics.
Cost: General admission tickets are $33
Thursday, October 24
River Arts District
After a hard day’s work, get a few belly laughs in with international comedian Deanne Smith. She’s been featured on Last Comic Standing and has her own comedy special on Netflix, so now is the time to see her before her ticket prices skyrocket. She’ll be performing at The Grey Eagle, Asheville’s longest-running music venue and home to The Gray Eagle Taqueria -- one of the best spots in the city for a pre-show bite. Get your fill of arepas and tortas, sip on one of the rotating craft brews, and be prepared to finish out the workweek strong.
Through Wednesday, October 30th
Riverside Arts District
Whether you choose the four-mile paddle through the River Arts District or the seven-mile tour admiring the Biltmore Estate, there’s no bad way to see Asheville from the water thanks to Wai Mauna Asheville SUP tours. Along the way, you’ll peep chestnut oaks, dogwoods, and sourwood trees as they reach peak autumnal colors. How intense the colors are in a given year largely depends on the weather, so keep a close eye on temperatures and patterns to help guide you on the best time to book a tour.
Friday, November 1 to Sunday, January 5
Historic Biltmore Village
Speaking of the Biltmore Estate, the 8,000-square-foot historical site and winery goes all out for the holidays every year. Built by George W. Vanderbuilt in 1895 as a “country home” near the Blue Ridge Mountains, this 250-room lavish structure decks the halls (and gardens) with massive trees, garlands, lights, and other festive decor. Choose from two tour holiday times: one during the day, and a special candlelight evening celebration.
Saturday, December 14
Love it or hate it, it’s not really the holidays unless you’re partying in your mom’s tacky sweater. And while the concept may seem overplayed, we fully support this kind of theme when Asheville craft beer is involved. Kick off the crawl at Wild Wing between 2-5pm, then make your way to six-plus other breweries and pubs around the city. So start rifling through the bargain bin at Goodwill now.