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After one of the hottest North Carolina summers on record, fall is finally here and we couldn’t be happier! As you swap out your tank tops and shorts for sweaters and leggings, your iced cold brews for steamy pumpkin spice lattes and deck out your house with Halloween decorations, get into the fall spirit with our list of local ways to celebrate fall. Though some of Raleigh’s best autumn events have been canceled this year due to COVID, including the NC State Fair and all the downtown music festivals, there are still plenty of ways to safely enjoy the cooling weather. Here are our top 25 suggestions.
- Visit Spring Haven Farm in Chapel Hill for a socially distanced farm visit complete with tractor rides, meet and greets with the animals, a pallet maze and fall-themed eats and drinks. You can also buy tickets to carve pumpkins with goats—they love to nibble on pumpkin flesh as you scoop it out. Schedule a day to visit Wednesday through Sunday. springhaven.farm
- Pick up a pumpkin from the State Farmers Market. There are so many shapes, colors and sizes to choose from, meaning you can get completely creative with your carving. ncagr.gov/markets/facilities/markets/raleigh
- Using whatever pumpkin seeds you have left, wash off the pulp, dry and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika. Then bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, tossing the seeds every five minutes to brown evenly.
- Take a sweeter route and whip up a homemade pumpkin pie with a baking pumpkin, also available from the State Farmers Market.
- Plant a fall garden with help from Logan’s Garden Shop. Vegetables such as carrots, cauliflower, beets, kale, Brussels sprouts and potatoes thrive in the fall when temperatures drop below 70 degrees. Logan’s also offers cozy patio furniture for soaking up those cool fall evenings—dinner al fresco, anyone? logantrd.com
- Make a day out of pumpkin picking at Page Farms, a family favorite in Raleigh for its you-pick pumpkin patch, corn maze, hay rides and cow train. Bring the kids or let your inner child come out on the haystack slide. The whole experience just screams fall. pagefarmsraleigh.com
- If you’re not worried about getting spooked, visit Phillips Farms’ haunted farm in Cary. Four attractions—The Field of Lost Souls, The Rebellion Trail, The Gore House and the Big Top Terror—are designed to haunt you long after you’ve left. For something a little more light-hearted, make your way through the farm’s old-fashioned corn maze or take a wagon ride. phillipsfarmsofcary.com
- Grab your running gear and join in on a local 5K. There’s no better way to enjoy the cool fall weather while contributing to a great cause! runningintheusa.com/classic/list/october/5k/within-25-miles-of-raleigh-nc
- Build your own local pumpkin spice latte hop and visit Raleigh’s many coffee shops for their unique takes on fall’s favorite drink. On the list: Jubala, Sir Walter Coffee, Benelux and Global Village, among others. If you’re not into pumpkin spice, many of these coffee shops offer other delicious seasonal beverages, too!
- Host a socially distanced game day or movie night in your backyard with a 20-foot inflatable screen from Triangle Backyard Cinema. You can stream from Disney+, Hulu, Amazon, Netflix, play a DVD or Blu-Ray, watch the game or the upcoming MMA fight, stream your favorite concert or play your favorite multi-player game. trianglebackyardcinema.com
- If you have a kayak or a canoe, take it for a relaxing float through Robertson Millpond Preserve, the only bald cypress blackwater swamp habitat in Wake County. You’ll also find sheltered picnic tables, a quarter-mile boardwalk and walking path and a fishing platform with benches at the preserve. wakegov.com/parks/robertsonmillpond/Pages/default.aspx
- Kick off red wine season with a virtual wine tasting at Wine Feed, Raleigh Wine Shop or Seaboard Wine & Tasting Bar. You’ll get to taste your way through various wines and learn how best to pair them with certain foods. Some tastings even come with tasty snacks to enjoy with your wine!
- The State Fair may be cancelled this year, but you can still get your hands on all the guilty pleasure goodies you get to indulge in once a year with Grazin’ Gals’ State Fair charcuterie board. It contains cotton candy, caramel apples with bacon from Kandy Apples By K, chocolate-covered marshmallows from Elevated Chocolates, apple cider doughnuts, Carolina Kettle Chips, stuffed buttercream cookies and spiced nuts from Joy Filled Foods. grazingals.com
- On rainy fall days, visit Raleigh’s renowned museums, many of which have finally reopened. The Museum of Natural Sciences celebrates women scientists such as Marie Curie in a new exhibition. The Museum of History’s Beach Music exhibit explores the history of beach music in the Carolinas and the NCMA opened several unique exhibitions when it reopened last month. Marbles, the COR Museum and The Gregg are also open.
- Take up a new hobby, like embroidery, with the help of the Craft Habit. The locally owned store offers embroidery and cross stitch kits and supplies as well as punch needle kits, an alcohol inks starter kit, a DIY soap kit, terrarium kits and more. On the website you’ll also find embroidery how-to videos with helpful tips and tricks for making your very own designs at home. crafthabitraleigh.com
- With pumpkin season comes pumpkin beer season, something that we can all get behind. Make a day out of trying all the pumpkin beers from local breweries. Big Boss Brewing has a Harvest Time pumpkin/yam beer on tap, Sycamore Brewing’s Pumpkin Latte blonde ale is on tap at House of Hops Glenwood and Aviator Brewing Company released a seasonal Pumpkin Beast ale in September.
- Uncover the City of Oaks’ haunted past on the Raleigh Haunted Footsteps Ghost Tour hosted by Tobacco Road Tours. Along the tour, you’ll hear spooky ghost stories, centuries-old folklore passed down from generations and maybe even get a glimpse of some real-life paranormal action. This scary tour is not for the faint of heart! tobaccoroadtours.com/tours/raleigh-haunted-footsteps-ghost-tour
- Before it gets too chilly, head out to the NC coast for one last beach trip. Wrightsville Beach is a little over two hours away and the Outer Banks and the Crystal Coast are three hours away. Fall at the coast is beautiful and the prices on rentals are cheaper than in the summer!
- Get away from the city for awhile and take a trip to one of North Carolina’s coolest Airbnbs. This list of once-in-a-lifetime stays covers Weaverville, Charlotte, Concord, Castle Hayne, Asheville and the coast. narcity.com/travel/us/nc/unique-airbnbs-in-north-carolina-are-affordable-but-crazy-rentals
- Make the most out of the cool weather and take a hike, bike ride or run at one of Raleigh’s many trails. Lake Johnson, Umstead State Park and the Neuse River Greenway Trail are just some of our go-to spots, but there are more trails in the area that are also worth exploring. visitraleigh.com/plan-a-trip/visitraleigh-insider-blog/post/seven-of-the-best-trails-to-hike-bike-and-run-in-raleigh-nc
- Deck out your house in spooky decorations that will scare anyone who happens to drive past. Zest Cafe & Home Art sells both cute and eerie decorations as well as themed tableware for your socially distanced Halloween get-togethers. zestcafehomeart.com
- Bend and stretch as the leaves fall around you at one of Raleigh’s outdoor yoga classes. YOGA SOUL•LEC•TIVE, Raleigh Outdoor Yoga, Current Wellness, Midtown Yoga and many other studios have been hosting outdoor classes since the pandemic started.
- Enjoy a cozy dinner in with chef Sean Fowler’s Mandolin Farmhouse Meals. The fall menu lineup includes comforting classics such as pot roast, chicken pot pie, New Orleans-style gumbo and chicken and dumplings. Just order online and everything will be delivered right to your door. mandolinraleigh.com/store/catering
- With fall weather comes fall baked goods and we couldn’t be more excited about all of the seasonal offerings at local bakeries! Union Special’s produce-filled slices are great for breakfast, lunch or dinner, Yellow Dog Bread’s apple turnover is a fall must-have and you will get addicted to Boulted Bread’s currant and lemon zest scones.
- Get in the Halloween spirit with Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre’s Halloween Spook-Fest. There will be trunk-or-treating, a costume contest with prizes awarded for the scariest, most creative and best duo/trio costumes, as well as a car costume contest with prizes awarded to the best decorated vehicle. raleighroaddrivein.com
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