Best Things to do in Fall in Asheville—A Local’s Perspective
In Asheville, you see some of the best weather in the fall. It's not as cold as the winter and as ceaselessly moist as the summer and spring. That's not even to mention the leaves, which I'm sure I don't need to tell you about.
And although the leaves might be a downright national attraction, I think enough has been said about them at this point. Its come time to ask ourselves: what are the other things to do in fall in Asheville?
Well, you've got some good choice. Read on.
I touched on apple picking in my previous article, on fall hikes. But if you’re hoping to stay closer to home, so to speak, I suggest Hendersonville. The heart of their orchard country lies about a forty-minute drive out from downtown Asheville, significantly closer than winding up the Parkway. Plus, Hendersonville itself offers all sorts of small-town amusements.
As far as the orchards themselves, many offer the same sort of setup: buy a bag, walk the stands, accumulate apples. But if I had to suggest one in particular, it’d be Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard. Not only do they offer apples, but pumpkin-picking, fresh baked apple paraphernalia, a corn maze, and an apple cannon (operational on the weekends).
Yes, an apple cannon. For shooting apples. You can’t make this stuff up.
Spirit of The Season: Spin in a circle thirteen times before entering the corn maze. It adds an extra layer of challenge.
2: Stroll Through Riverside Cemetery
I find that fall envelops Riverside Cemetery in a particular elegance. If you’re lucky enough to catch the trees in full color, you’ll see what I mean.
Nestled within the Montford historic district, Riverside Cemetery contains the burial-sites of many prominent Ashevilleans, notably William Sidney Porter (author of “The Gift of the Magi”) and Thomas Wolfe (Look Homeward Angel). It’s a great place to immerse yourself in local history, as well as simply enjoy the crisp fall air.
Once you’ve finished your stroll through the headstones, note that Riverside lies close to both the River Arts District and downtown Asheville. I suggest pairing a visit here with a jaunt to one, the other, or both.
Spirit of The Season: Bring paints and an easel. Exclaim in French. Assault the canvas. Engage in Art.
3: Enjoy a Steaming Cup of Coffee
The great thing about fall is it's often warm enough to sit outside, but cold enough that a warm beverage can be truly appreciated. Now Asheville has plenty of cafes to choose from. More and more seem to crop up every time I turn my back, so I figured I’d give a quick rundown of my favorites, distributed wide and far across town.
If you’re in South Asheville, perhaps on the way back from apple-picking, I’d suggest Ivory Road. It may be a little out of the way, but that’s how you know its bona-fide local.
For West Asheville, go to Dobra Tea West. Technically, not a café. No coffee. But if you ask me, coffee is just tea with presumptions; they’re both hot drinks. And a visit to a teahouse is requisite for any traveler to Asheville. Their spiced chais are a seasonal favorite.
Now when it comes to picking a café downtown, you've really got your work cut out for you.
First off, I’d suggest Dobra again, but I did come here promising coffee. So, let me suggest Bebettes New Orleans Coffee, found within the Grove Arcade. Nothing better than some chicory and a beignet or three on a fair fall day.
Finally, for East Asheville, look no further than Filo Pastries. Chic lattes and traditional Greek delicacies.
Spirit of The Season: Shave fresh pumpkin rind into your coffee. That’s the real pumpkin spice.
4: Catch a Performance of Shakespeare in the Park
Asheville’s only free outdoor theater, so far as I know. At the Hazel Robinson Amphitheater, practically next door to Riverside Cemetery, Asheville’s local Montford Park Players put on three shows a week: Friday through Sunday, each starting at 7:30pm. Their season runs from May to the end of October, and I believe this year’s fall show is “Living Dead in Denmark.”
If you can’t tell by the name, Shakespeare didn’t write that. But it is influenced by Shakespeare and demonstrates that the Montford Park Players aren’t afraid to shake things up a little bit.
Lawn-chairs can be rented, or you can bring your own. Ditto for concessions. I suggest getting their early to snatch up the best spots, and to bring a cash donation. And while the shows are free, it may be a good idea to check out their website, simply to get an idea of which nights will be the busiest.
Spirit of The Season: Come in costume. Accept compliments for your performance. See if you can finagle your way into the cast party.
5: Sample Some Local Hard Cider
Approximately five-thousand years ago, an ancient Celt thought to himself, “Sure, apples are delicious, but what if we could drink them?” He then went on to invent apple juice. Meanwhile his brother—who was significantly loonier—invented cider on accident via a misplaced jug. That is the history, as best I know it.
Since then, a lot of opinions have sprouted up about Asheville’s best hard cider. Here, I’d just like to mention the Urban Orchard Cider Company, simply because cider is their specialty. They’ve got a twenty-tap cider-hall in the South Slope brewing district, and a smaller, nine-tap affair in West Asheville. Their rotating selections demonstrate creativity and fruitiness, with brews infused with pineapple, watermelon, blackberry, and passionfruit, among others.
My favorite’s got to be “Disco Tea.” Juniper berry, star anise, lavender, and lemon zest. I just like the name. Urban Orchard suggests that the un-initiated order a cider flight and I agree with them. I can’t think of a better way to sample one of Asheville’s most downright autumnal beverages.
Spirit of The Season: You know, cider’s still a liquid. And what kind of liquid is actually “hard?” It's not possibly, in terms of physics. Science. Only solids can be hard. I think we should start calling hard cider “spunky cider.” It's a more descriptive term.
Stepp's Hillcrest Orchard
170 Stepp Orchard Dr, Hendersonville, NC 28792
53 Birch St, Asheville, NC 28801
Ivory Road Café & Kitchen
1854 Brevard Rd, Arden, NC 28704
Dobra Tea West
707 Haywood Rd, Asheville, NC 28806
Bebettes: A New Orleans Coffehouse
1 Page Ave #111, Asheville, NC 28801
Filo Pastry & Post 70 Indulgence Bar
1155 Tunnel Rd, Asheville, NC 28805
Hazel Robinson Amphitheatre
90 Gay St, Asheville, NC 28801
Urban Orchard Cider Company (South Slope)
24 Buxton Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
Urban Orchard Cider Company (West)
210 Haywood Rd, Asheville, NC 28806