It’s official – fall is here. That means that the weather is getting cooler, the leaves are starting to change color, the festivals are getting even more festive and, best of all, the pumpkins and apples are just begging to be picked.
Richmond is jam-packed with fantastic fall activities. And while you can easily fill your weekends with outing and events from September to December, there are some things that should take priority. We’ve put together a bucket list of must-do fall activities for you and your family so that when it comes to making the most of fall in Richmond – you won’t miss a thing.
Virginia is known for her apples. With, literally, hundreds of varieties to choose from right here in our own state, you’ll have no trouble finding the perfect fruit for snacking, baking or anything else you may choose. You may need to take a bit of a drive, but once you have a basket-full of juicy, ripe Virginia-grown apples, you’ll agree, it was well worth the miles. Here are a few top spots to try within an hour or two of Richmond:
Carter Mountain Orchard
Driving Time: 1 to 1 ½ hours
Carter Mountain Orchard is pretty much a straight shot down I-64, making for an easy and enjoyable day out. Set high on top of Carter Mountain overlooking Charlottesville, the orchard offers amazing views – and even better apples. Pick you own from a wide selection, then be sure to stop in the country store or bakery for hot apple cider, fresh-baked pies and their famous apple cider doughnuts. You’ll be glad you did!
Driving Time: About 1 ½ hours
Just north of Lynchburg sits the little town of Lovingston, Virginia. Here you’ll find Drumheller’s Orchard. Featuring a wide variety of vintage heirloom apples, this family farm has been producing top quality fruit since the 1950s. Today, you’ll find more than a dozen varieties and if you time it right, you can join in on their annual fall festival, held the third weekend of October. This year’s festival will be October 15-16, 2016, from 9am – 5pm. Stop by for fresh-pressed apple cider and homemade apple butter, a corn maze, funnel cakes, Virginia-made honey-baked hams, kids activities and much, much more.
Dickie Brothers Orchard
Driving Time: About 1 hour, 45 minutes
Growing apples is more than a family business at Dickie Brothers Orchards – it’s a family tradition. This scenic farm has been in the Dickie family for more than 260 years. Today, they offer 15 different varieties of apples, as well as many other fruits and vegetables. Head out to pick you own apples (and pick up a pumpkin while you’re there!) or try some of their homemade jams, jellies and apple butter. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains less than 10 miles from Crabtree Falls, you’ll find the that views are the only thing that rival the fruit.
Head to the Pumpkin Patch
Image source: Chesterfield Berry Farm and Market / Facebook
With Halloween just around the corner, if you haven’t already picked some pumpkins for carving, then the pumpkin patch needs to be your next stop. I mean, you could get one from the grocery store, but with so many amazing patches nearby, why would you? We recently gave you a list of local pumpkin patches and pick-your-own farms, but check out a few of our favorites below, or see the whole list here.
Chesterfield Berry Farm
26002 Pear Orchard Road
Driving time from Richmond: About 45 minutes
This family-owned and -operated farm has been a local favorite for years. Featuring a 150-acre pumpkin patch, you’ll have no trouble finding the perfect pumpkin. And, to keep kids of all ages entertained (that includes you, mom and dad), the farm offers a wide variety of activities.
Ashland Berry Farm
12607 Old Ridge Rd
Beaverdam, VA 23015
Driving time from Richmond: About 40 minutes
The Fall Season at Ashland Berry Farm officially kicked off on September 24 and is now in full swing. But be sure to bring some muscle with you when you go, because they will be offering All-You-Can-Carry pumpkins for $20 – all season long. Stick around for fall-themed activities like hayrides and kids’ games from now until the end of October.
Holly Fork Farm, Produce and Pumpkin Patch
4901 Holly Fork Road
Barhamsville, VA 23011
Driving time from Richmond: About 50 minutes
The pumpkin patch at Holly Fork Farm offers pumpkins of every size and variety at a range of prices to suit every budget. Simply grab a wagon, find your pumpkin and the friendly staff will tell you a price – with no pumpkin over $21.99. You can also choose pre-picked pumpkins and gourds, as well as mums, straw and hale bays.
Festival, Festivals, Festivals!
Image source: Central Virginia Celtic Festival and Highland Games / Facebook
Nothing says “fall” quite like a good old fashioned festival. From harvest festivals to music festivals, Richmond is full of excuses to get outside and party. Be sure to check RichmondMom.com for a complete list of local festivals and celebrations, but in the meantime, take a peek at just a few of the festivals coming up near you.
For a true taste of Virginia, what could be better than oysters? Head out to St. Thomas’ Church in historic Ginter Park for a Richmond Virginia’s famous oyster roast, held on October 15, 2016. Enjoy live music, activities for kids, beverages, eats, plenty of parking, and most of all . . . oysters!!
Central Virginia Celtic Festival and Highland Games
Oct 22 to Oct 23, 2016
With fiddle and harp competitions, highland dancing, traditional Celtic games, feats of strength and so very much more, the Central Virginia Celtic Festival and Highland Games promises to be fun for the whole family. Click on the link above to learn more!
Powhatan’s Festival of the Grape
October 22, 2016
This year marks the 14th anniversary of Powhatan’s Festival of the Grape. This annual event has become a fall tradition for many – and with good reason. Featuring more than 100 vendors and 30 wineries, the festival offers live music, world-class wines and fun for the whole family. Click on the link above for more information.
Take a Fall Foliage Tour
Image source: Maymont / Facebook
I’ve spent a handful of years living places other than Virginia. But I always seem to come back. And one of the reasons? Fall foliage, hands down. Fall in Virginia rivals some of the most beautiful sites I’ve seen anywhere in the world. Take advantage of the fireworks of fall with the Virginia Department of Forestry’s Fall Foliage Map. According to their website, the best time to catch the peak colors of fall in the Richmond area is coming up October 20-31, 2016. Be sure to head out to places like Maymont and Forest Hill Park for some of the best views.
Or if you’re up for a drive, try one of the Department of Forestry’s recommended driving routes around the state:
Charlottesville area: Greene County.
Lexington area: Bath County tour directions
Staunton area: Highland County tour directions
Enjoy the Harvest
Image source: The Farm Market at Boulevard Flower Gardens / Facebook
Farmer’s markets are winding down, it’s true. But that doesn’t mean the harvest is over yet. Be sure to get out and visit your local farmer’s markets in their final days of the season for fresh fall and winter vegetables. Oftentimes, you can find plenty of fall plants and seasonal gourds, as well, so that you can keep the spirit of fall alive at home. Check out our list of local Farmer’s Markets here.
Celebrate Halloween in Style
Image source: Children’s Museum of Richmond / Facebook
Regardless of how you like to celebrate Halloween – with as many spooks and scares as possible or with kid-friendly costumes and candy – Richmond has something for everyone. From terrifying haunted houses to festive Halloween parties just for little ones, you’ll find plenty of ways to enjoy the holiday. Be sure to check out our Guide to Not-So-Scary Halloween Activities, as well as our ghoulish Guide to Scary Halloween Attractions to find the event that’s just right for your family.
Get into the Spirit of Holiday Giving
Image source: HandsOn RVA / Facebook
Fall is filled with holidays and events. From all of the things we’ve mentioned above to Thanksgiving and pre-planning for Christmas, much of the fall months are centered around friends and family. And while we get so much from the season, it’s also a time to focus on giving. Check out events like HandsOn Day, the Richmond area’s largest day of service. Sponsored by HandsOn of Greater Richmond, this year’s event will be held on October 15, 2016 and will feature more than 1,300 volunteers coming together to complete more than 65 projects throughout the region. Other great places to volunteer this season include:
FeedMore is Central Virginia’s primary hunger-relief organization and includes programs like the Central Virginia Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, Mobile Pantry, Kids Cafe, Hunger Hotline and weekend BackPack Program. Learn how you can volunteer here.
Henrico, VA 23228
Lamb’s Basket is a food pantry supplying food to those in need. If you would like to donate or volunteer, call the Boca Helping Hands hotline at 804-565-8007.
This online service allows you to match your specific skills with local organizations that need volunteer assistance. This is a great way to give back to your community in ways that take advantage of expertise and talent that only you can provide. Click on the link above to learn more.
Get Ready for Some Football!
Image source: Richmond Spiders Football / Facebook
For many of us, fall means one thing – FOOTBALL. Whether you support the University of Richmond Spiders, always cheer your alma mater or just can’t get enough of the Friday night lights at your local high school, fall football is a must. Tailgates, team colors and cheering crowds….there’s just nothing quite like it.
Find the Best Brunswick Stew – and Start Stocking up for Winter
Image source: addapinch.com / website
Watching my grandfather cook Brunswick Stew in a giant iron kettle in the backyard was one of my favorite fall memories as a kid. Fortunately, this is the time of year that those kettles start popping up everywhere – for fundraisers, festivals and, if you’re lucky, in your own grandfather’s backyard. Keep an eye out for places that sell this savory stew and be sure to grab a few extra quarts for the freezer. When winter hits, it will be your go-to for cozy comfort. Not sure where to find a good ol’ fashioned Brunswick Stew? Make your own. Check out recipes like this one on some of your favorite food sites.
Wind Your Way Through a Corn Maze…
Image source: Lloyd Family Farm / Facebook
…Or in my case, get completely lost and hope that your kids are better at reading maps than you are. Either way, corn mazes are iconic fall fun. From small mazes at some of the area’s pumpkin patches to epic mazes that draw visitors from all over the state, you’ll love spending time with your family as you work together to find your way out. Check out a few of our (relatively) local favorites:
Lloyd Family Farms
12204 Pinhook Road
Rockville, VA 23146
Driving time from Richmond: About 30 minutes
Located in Hanover County, Lloyd Family Farms offers a legendary corn maze that is perfect for a day time activity – or if you want to spice things up, visit them on October 21, 2106 from 6:30pm – 9:30pm to experience the corn maze after dark. Bring the family and some flashlights…and good luck to you! (Admission is $10.00).
Green Hand Farm Park
5000 Nursery Ln
Driving time from Richmond: Just over an hour
The Giant Corn Maze at Green Hand Farm Park serves up an 8-acre dose of pure family fun. This year, their maze theme celebrates the 50th anniversary of Charlie Brown’s Great Pumpkin. The maze offers an interactive course that includes photo ops, clues and trivia along the way. You can also visit the maze at night or take advantage of a smaller 1-acre maze for younger kids. Visit Green Hand Farm Park online for hours and admission or check them out on Facebook to find out how you can win free tickets!
Liberty Mills Farm
9166 Liberty Mills Rd
Somerset, VA 22972
Driving time from Richmond: About 1 hour, 20 minutes
Although this farm is a little farther out, it’s worth every mile. Known for having the largest corn maze in Virginia, Liberty Mills outdoes itself every year with increasingly creative themes and trails. This year’s theme is “One Small World,” but this maze is anything but small, offering four different trails over 25 acres. Learn more about admission, hours and directions at Liberty Mills Farm.
Play in the Leaves
Image source: lecates / Flickr
For fall fun that doesn’t require travel, money or anything but a little bit of family yardwork, everything you need is in your own backyard…or it will be soon! There are few of us that don’t have memories of playing in the leaf piles as a kid. And for whatever reason, despite the dirt and debris and inevitable dust clouds, there were few things more fun than getting a running start and making that leap. Arm your kids with rakes once the leaves start falling and make some unforgettable fall memories by simply making piles and letting them go wild. Sure, you’ll have to re-rake, but I think we can all agree, it is SO worth the effort.
Image source: Virginia State Parks / Flickr
Summer camping is fun…but hot. Winter camping…well, that’s just crazy. But fall? Fall was made for starry nights around a campfire, cozy sleeping bags and early morning nature walks. Try a nearby state park or venture a little farther out if you’re up for it. Just don’t let fall pass you by without experiencing as much of Virginia’s outdoor beauty as possible. Here are few spots worth trying:
Powhatan State Park
4616 Powhatan State Park Rd
Powhatan, VA 23139
Driving time from Richmond: 45 minutes
Located along the shores of the James River, Powhatan State Park offers a diverse landscape with wildlife, open fields and hardwood forests. The park offers boating, multi-use trails, picnic shelters, a playground and overnight camping. For you more adventurous types, Powhatan State Park even provides a campground with canoe-in access. Check the link above to learn about reserving a campsite.
Bear Creek Lake State Park
22 Bear Creek Lake Rd
Cumberland, VA 23040
Driving time from Richmond: Just over an hour
About an hour west of Richmond in the Cumberland State Forest, you’ll find Bear Creek Lake State Park. This beautiful, secluded park offers cabins, campsites, picnic sites, hiking, playgrounds and an archery range, as well as plenty of water sports like boating and fishing. With miles of hiking and multi-use trails available, you and your family will also have access to the 329-acre park, as well as the adjoining Cumberland State Forest. Go to the link above for more information about how to get there or how to reserve a campsite or cabin.
Christopher Run Campground
6478 Zachary Taylor Hwy
Mineral, VA 23117
Driving time from Richmond: Just over an hour
Christopher Run Campground sits on the shores of Lake Anna in Louisa County. The grounds feature nearly 200 campsites, most with water and electric hookups. The campsites offer access to a playground, volleyball and basketball courts, as well as horseshoes and shuffleboard. Plus, you can rent canoes, rowboats, and paddleboats or bring your own boat to launch at one of the site’s six boat ramps. Settle in for a weekend of family time, or get out and explore nearby sites like Montpelier, the James Madison Museum, Monticello, Ash Lawn or the Shenandoah National Park. Learn more by clicking the link above.
Explore Richmond’s Many Hiking Trails
Image source: James River Park / Facebook
With the temperatures dropping just a little, a fall hike can be the perfect way to spend an afternoon. Fortunately, Richmond offers amazing trails right within the city limits. The James River Park System Loop is a combined five-trail loop that can cover anywhere from eight to thirteen miles. Meandering along the banks of the James River, you can see iconic views of the river and city as you hike, climb and walk across trails, rocks and bridges. Head to Belle Isle via the pedestrian suspension bridge, sit on the rocks at Texas Beach or explore Maymont Park. Ideal for dogwalkers, family hikes and trail runs, the James River trails provide options for everyone from advanced hikers to beginners.
For a complete listing of parking, trails and maps, visit The James River Park System.
Relax on a Patio with Some Good Food, Good Friends and Richmond’s Scenic Views
Image source: The Boathouse at Rockett’s Landing
We’ve talked a lot about the beauty of fall, but you don’t have to go far or do much to enjoy fall scenery or weather. One of the best ways to appreciate fall beauty in Richmond is right here in the city at one of your favorite patio restaurants. It won’t be long before it’s too cold to eat outside, so here are a few places you won’t want to miss before the weather turns:
Boathouse at Rocketts Landing
4708 Old E. Main St
Richmond, Virginia 23231
The Boathouse at Rocketts Landing not only offers delicious food and a wine list with plenty of Virginia wines, it also offers nearly unrivaled river views. Sit on the balcony with a comforting fall meal and enjoy the scenery as boats float by.
12506 River Road
Richmond, VA 23238
With a large stone patio complete with a built-in fireplace, the setting at Portico is as relaxing as it is lush. Take in lunch or dinner on a fall day and you’ll feel like you’re in another world. The Italian-inspired cuisine offers plenty of rich, comforting dishes to keep you warm even as the temperatures drop.
Sedona Taphouse Midlothian
15732 WC Main St
Midlothian, VA 23113
If happy hour, a good beer and a fire pit are more your style, then the Sedona Taphouse in Midlothian is a perfect fit. Relax on the patio after a long day and warm your toes by the fire while trying one of the Taphouse’s craft beers – you’ll have a few hundred to choose from, so don’t worry if you have a picky palate. Try a Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest, a Shake Chocolate Porter or, if pumpkin is your thing, a Heavy Seas Great’er Pumpkin beer.
Try a Little Stargazing
Image source: George Thomas / Flickr
With fall nights full of crisp air, there’s no better time to grab a blanket and head to an open field or hilltop for a little stargazing. Bring along a book of constellations or try stargazing apps on your phone like SkyViewÒ (a free app for iPhones) or SkySafari for Apple or Android devices. If you’re looking for a recommendation on where to go, try the Powhatan Wildlife Management Area. Visit their site here for directions and more information.
Make Your Own Bonfire
Image source: cyrusbulsara / Flickr
No need to go farther than your own backyard to warm up on a cool fall night. Grab some sticks and marshmallows while you’re at it, and you’ll have a party the whole family will enjoy. Of course, you’ll want to make sure that you know your neighborhood’s fire codes because open air fires aren’t allowed in some places. But a chiminea or fire pit (available at most hardware stores or online at retail hubs like Amazon) will help you keep you fire contained without taking away any of the fun.
Try one or all of these classic fall activities in Richmond and make the most of the season. We would love to hear about your favorite fall activities in the meantime! Is there anything you have on your fall bucket list that we left off of ours?