Break out the booties: fall is officially upon the Lowcountry. From sipping pumpkin spice lattes and apple cider ale to indulging in sweet potato souffle and sugar-packed candy corn, Charlestonians cordially welcome the brisk fall season. Not only is it a climatic relief after the sweltering hot summer, but fall is also a fun time for families to explore events in Charleston or take a road trip to the Great Smoky Mountains. From football games and oyster roasts to bluegrass bands and apple farms, here are a few fun this to do this fall:
Visit Boone Hall Pumpkin Patch - The mother of all pumpkin patches, Boone Hall Plantation in Mt. Pleasant is a premier annual event that will surely delight, surprise, and scare people of all ages. This year, the festival features two corn mazes (for beginners and advanced explorers), a hayride through “monster” alley, tire and sandpit play area, cornhole toss, giant slide tower, jump pillow, and more. Pumpkins are priced by the pound, and locally-made jams, pies, and produce are available for purchase as well. Admission cost is $12, and children ages two and under are free.
For adults and teens who desire a terrifying time, mosey over to Boone Hall Fright Nights. A separate event from the pumpkin patch, Boone Hall Fright Nights features three ghastly attractions: The Playground, The Undertaker, and Scary Tales on the Haunted Hayride. Brave patrons may purchase a “Scream Pass” for $30, which includes admission to all four attractions. For $45, VIP guests will get a “fast pass” to avoid long wait times. This event is intended for teenagers and adults; it is not recommended for children under the age of 12.
Go Apple Picking -- If you’ve never had a ripe, freshly-picked apple from an orchard, you are missing out. Although Charleston’s topography is not conducive for apple crops, a short trip to the foothills of the upstate or mountain terrain in North Carolina, and you and your family can select a wide array of crisp, delicious apples.
Many Charlestonians recommend Sky Top Orchard in Flat Rock, North Carolina, a U-pick farm that features panoramic views of the Smoky Mountains, animals, tractor pull rides, and a picnic area. Another favorite farm is Justus Orchard in Hendersonville, North Carolina. This family-run orchard features apples, blackberries, and pumpkins. Children enjoy taking the cow train through the orchard, and parents delight in the assorted, homemade desserts at the on-site market and bakery.
Closer to home, Bryson’s Apple Orchard in Mountain Rest, SC; Chattooga Belle Farm in Long Creek, SC; and Windy Hill Orchard and Cider Mill in York, SC all offer fresh, u-pick apples as well as apple cider, apple juice, apple pie, apple butter, apple jams, and...well, just about anything else made with apples!
Visit an Amusement Park -- Less crowded and more tolerable than the humid summer months, amusement parks in the fall are the perfect way for families to spend quality time together away from electronics and televisions. In less than three hours, Charlestonians can be at Carowinds in Charlotte, North Carolina. With a collection of coasters that challenge even the bravest thrill-seeker, guests will scream with exhilaration. Famous rides such as the Fury 325, Hurler, Copperhead Strike, Intimidator, and Carolina Cyclone offer fast speeds, unexpected drops, upside turns, and a rush of adrenaline. Younger children and milder adults enjoy age-appropriate rides, splash areas, and variety shows. This fall, Carowinds features Halloween-inspired shows and concerts.
Further down the Blue Ridge Parkway, Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee is another spectacular place for thrill-seekers, music-lovers, and craft enthusiasts. Like Carowinds, Dollywood features a plethora of exuberant roller coasters as well live gospel shows, designated children’s wilderness area, and a train ride through the Smoky Mountains. During the fall, Dollywood hosts a sensational Harvest Festival that showcases thousands of decorated and artistically designed pumpkins. Each evening at 7 p.m., the pumpkins light up, gifting guests with a one-of-kind experience.
Hike a Mountain Trail -- If amusement parks aren’t your thing but you want to be outside, lace up your tennis shoes and hit the trails. Locally, residents can meander through the Awendaw Passage - Palmetto Trail, the Francis Marion Forest, and the Edisto Nature Trail. For those who want a more mountainous terrain, the upstate has numerous trails throughout its state parks including Table Rock State Park, Paris Mountain State Park, and Jones Gap State Park.
Of course, nearby Asheville has a plethora of nearby nature trails for beginners and advanced hikers. These trails often feature waterfalls and sensational views of the western North Carolina mountains. Be sure to check the duration and difficulty of the trail as some require a great deal of stamina.
Sing and Dance at the Harvest Festival - The hallmark of local bluegrass music, the Charleston Harvest Festival takes place on Saturday, November 2nd from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. at the Mullet Hall Equestrian Center on John’s Island.
This year, the line-up includes well known bands and local favorites Blue Plantation, Gravel Road, Yeehaw Junction, Marshgrass Mamas, and Red Cedar Review. Besides hoedown dancing, the event will feature a non-turkey turkey shoot, hayride, pumpkin decorating, archery, crafts, and plenty of delicious Carolina BBQ, savory sweet tea, and a wide array of festival food. Admission is only $8 per person and children ages 12 and under are admitted free.
Sip Southern Libations at Steeplechase -- Switching from jeans and flannels to dresses and bowties, Steeplechase of Charleston is a premier horse race event held November 17th at the Plantation at Stono Ferry Race Track in Hollywood.
The event, which is a Charleston tradition since 1792, features five races, and patrons enjoy socializing, tailgating, and cheering for their favorite horse. General admission is $45 per person or $85 per couple, and children ages 12 and under are free. Many friends opt for a VIP Chalet, Trackside Tailgate, or Home Stretch Tailgate packages, which include varying amenities such as parking, admission, tents, tables, chairs, food and beverages. In addition to the race, guests peruse the Holiday gift market, frequent the food trucks, and watch the children play at the designated kids’ zone. Proceeds from the event benefit the Good Cheer Fund, a local organization that provides shelter, clothes, and food to neighbors in need.
Apart from these favorite festivals, Charleston has many more scheduled events this fall. Be sure to take advantage of the pleasant temperatures and spend time outdoors with friends and family.
And from our NV family to yours...happy fall, y’all!