45 of the Coolest Things to Do This Fall
As we say goodbye to summer, the whispers of pumpkin spice can be heard around the city.
by Amanda Lea Sep 09, 2021
Camp North End
This post is brought to you in partnership with Camp North End, Charlotte's hub for creativity and innovation.
As we say goodbye to another sticky Southern summer, locals and visitors alike will ‘fall’ in love with the Queen City’s autumn offerings. From trail runs and bike tours to patio dates and gallery crawls, we have a full lineup of fall activities for the whole family.
All events and activities are subject to change.
1. Camp North End is the ideal spot for a fall outing. Grab fresh produce and artisanal goods at the North End Farmers Market every Wednesday 4-8pm. Catch local and touring musicians every Friday 6-9pm under the water tower. Or walk through the Immersive Van Gogh exhibit the Historic Ford building. Plus enjoy their 14 food and drink spots, 11 shops and art collectives, and 50+ murals, all connected by 76 acres of of outdoor space to explore.
2. Venture to the U.S. National Whitewater Center for multiple outdoorsy festivities:
- Flow Fest to find a variety of yoga practices and workshops that will help you feel more grounded. When: Sept 18
- Tuck Fest for a weekend packed with nearly 150 clinics, musical performances, races, yoga practices and more. When: Oct. 1-3
4. Celebrate Latin American culture at the Hola Charlotte Festival, the largest Hispanic Heritage event organized in Charlotte. When: Oct. 9
5. Costume party or fun run? Why not both? Sign up for the Running Scared 5 Miler and Monster Mile and enjoy a scenic 5-mile race around Uptown Charlotte. When: Oct. 30
6. Lace up your running (or walking) shoes for the Novant Health Charlotte Marathon. There will be in person and virtual race options to allow people to participate safely. Check the webpage for the latest race updates. When: Nov. 13
7. Keep the momentum going with other run and race options in Charlotte: OrthoCarolina 10K Classic Food Truck and Beer Fest (Sept. 18), the Runway 5K at Charlotte Douglas International Airport (Oct. 23), or the Walk to End Alzheimer’s (Oct. 23).
8. Discover something new around every turn by riding along in Biketoberfest benefitting Sustain Charlotte. There’s even an after party at Triple C. Brewing Co. and a chance to win raffle prizes. When: Oct. 24
9. Scare yourself silly with a scream-worthy trip to SCarowinds. You’ll sleep with the lights on after experiencing fear around every cursed corner. (Plus the world-class thrill rides will invoke a fear of their own). When: Sept. 17-Oct. 31
10. For some fun without the fear, take the kids to The Great Pumpkin Fest at Carowinds. Pint-sized goblins will appreciate the games, activities, entertainment, costume contests, and more. When: Sept. 18-Oct. 31
12. Cruise up to Charlotte Motor Speedway for two unique events:
Breakaway Music Festival featuring an array of EDM, pop and hip-hop headliners and breakthrough artists. When: Oct. 1-2
Bank of America ROVAL™ 400 – NASCAR’s homecoming showcase of championship drama and wheel-to-wheel excitement. When: Oct. 10
15. Sample fare from the Queen City's finest at the annual Taste of Charlotte at Truist Field. When: Oct. 1-3
16. Take a trip back in time at the Carolina Renaissance Festival. Feast like royalty while cheering on the knights on horseback and shopping the artisan market. Huzzah! When: Oct. 2-Nov. 21
17. Celebrate Charlotte Pride’s 2021 season of events, including the highly-anticipated festival, concert and parade. These festivities are slated for October, but keep an eye on the website for the latest updates.
19. Race over to Romare Bearden Park for this year’s Circle K Speed Street. Expect live entertainment, some of racing's brightest stars, fun giveaways and activities for the kids. When: Oct. 7-9
20. Honor Asian culture and traditions at the annual Asian Festival and Dragon Boat Race, organized by the Carolinas Asian-American Chamber of Commerce, Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation and the Charlotte Dragon Boat Association. When: Oct. 16
21. Watch as a sea of colorful hot air balloons take flight at the annual Carolina BalloonFest. Live music, wine and beer tastings, food vendors and an artisan marketplace are also available, so bring some blankets and chairs and make a day of it. When: Oct. 15-17
22. Kick off your holiday with the Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade. There are big plans to commemorate the 75th edition of this beloved community tradition. Keep an eye on the website for all the details.
23. Make plans to meet your friends in South End for monthly activities like Front Porch Sundays (the first Sunday of the month) or First Friday Gallery Crawl. There’s also the South End Wine & Hops Fest (Sept. 30-Oct. 2) and the Fall Craft Brew Crawl (Oct. 30).
25. Take a walk through the tranquil Botanical Gardens at UNC Charlotte, which dates back to 1966. One of the most moving experiences in the Gardens is the newly opened Polly Rogers Memorial Sensory Garden (located within Van Landingham Glen). The garden honors Polly Rogers, the UNCC sophomore who died in an auto accident in May 2018. It may sound like a somber experience, but the space is designed to invite individuals of all ages and abilities to embrace their creativity and feel at one with the world around them.
26. Scope out the fall fashions at Charlotte Premium Outlets, the upscale outlet center that features a collection of fashion designers, luxury brands and name brand manufacturers. Refuel after a day of scoring deals at one of the many nearby restaurants, like 37 Sol or MOD Pizza.
27. Take a tour of one of Charlotte’s award-winning museums. Check out North Carolina’s oldest museum at The Mint Museum. Learn about the history of Charlotte and the New South at Levine Museum of the New South. Dive into African American heritage at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. Or explore today’s art trends at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art.
28. For even more art appreciation, connect with local public art and artists through free self-guided neighborhood tours by ArtWalks CLT. Or peruse original paintings, pottery and other unique creations at Carolina Fine Art, the new artist-operated gallery in Dilworth featuring local creators.
29. Show your pup some love at Skiptown, a retreat for dogs and a hangout for their humans. With 24,000-square-feet of indoor space and 15,000-square-feet of outdoor space, there’s plenty of room to romp, roam and run. (Bonus: For more fun and fresh air with your fur pal, try one of these dog-friendly bars and restaurants.)
30. Create your own entertainment adventure with a variety of live events at one of Charlotte’s many venues. Sing along with big names like Dierks Bentley, Jonas Brothers, Zac Brown Band and Florida Georgia Line at PNC Music Pavilion. Enjoy hits from your favorite bands like All Time Low or Surfaces at The Fillmore. Or see world-class performances like “Wicked” at Ovens Auditorium and Charlotte Symphony’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas in Concert.”
31. Step outside the beer scene and give your taste buds something new. Try “Across the Pond” cider at GoodRoad CiderWorks or “Queen City Common” cider at Red Clay Ciderworks. Or savor the flavors of fall with the “Sweet Potato Pie” kombucha at Lenny Boy Brewing Co.
32. Take a walk on the wild side and explore 30 different species of live birds of prey at the Carolina Raptor Center.
33. Dine al fresco at one of Charlotte's best porches, patios or decks. Try Pasta & Provisions on Park Road for an intimate patio where guests can enjoy their dishes paired with a glass of beer or wine. Or graze on a delectable cheese board as you savor a glass of chardonnay and watch the lights twinkle under a graceful canopy of trees at Dilworth Tasting Room.
34. Explore the city on two wheels with Charlotte NC Bike Tours while learning about Charlotte’s rich history. Or snag a Joy Rides bike rental pass to explore the beautiful Johnson C. Smith campus, meander through Uptown, enjoy the scenic views along Little Sugar Creek Greenway or wind your way around Freedom Park.
36. Hike to the top of Crowders Mountain State Park. The 25-mile views of the surrounding Piedmont and the breathtaking fall foliage will make the destination as memorable as the journey.
37. Whether you’re a football fan or just enjoy the mimosas, watching a Carolina Panthers game should definitely be on your fall to-do list. Be the real MVP and plan the perfect Panthers tailgate.
38. Get all the fall feels with festive events at Historic Rural Hill. The Amazing Maize Maze and annual Sheepdog Trials are local legends.
39. Support local growers and artisans at one of the many farmers’ markets in the Charlotte area. Here are a few to get you started:
41. Take apple picking to the next level with Windy Hill Orchard & Cidery’s hard cider flight and apple cider doughnuts. They even have fire pits to keep you cozy when the evenings get a little crisp. (The cider bar is open Friday-Sunday.)
42. It’s not Fall unless you mark several hayrides, corn mazes and pumpkin patches off your list. Not sure where to start? Try Hunter Farm, Hall Family Farm, Wise Acres Organic Farm and Aw Shucks for all the picking, playing and hay riding you can handle. (Be sure to check the farms’ websites for updated hours and reservations).
43. Go full throttle in the realistic racing simulators or challenge your family to a little friendly competition at the Pit Crew Challenge at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
44. Become a member and spend the day exploring Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, Belmont’s 380-acre paradise. You’ll find spectacular blooms, sparkling fountains and a conservatory dedicated to displays of tropical plants and orchids.
45. You don’t have to fly away to escape the daily grind. Pack your overnight bag for a decadent staycation in the Queen City. Escape reality the moment you walk into the Grand Bohemian Hotel Charlotte or Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel in Uptown Charlotte. Both offer breathtaking views of the city.
For more seasonal Queen City happenings, visit our fall in Charlotte page.