• Virginia's fall foliage transforms the region into a breathtaking canvas, attracting photographers and nature lovers from far and wide.
  • Visitors can even enjoy the autumn in Virginia on a budget, with several free outdoor activities available, such as hiking in iconic destinations like Shenandoah National Park.
  • Virginia offers a range of experiences in the fall, from apple picking at charming orchards to attending harvest festivals and exploring historic sites like Colonial Williamsburg.

From drinks and foods to special events and breathtaking natural landscapes, Virginia in the fall lets travel enthusiasts have the experience of a lifetime. Virginia's fall foliage that blankets its landscapes transforms this region into a painter's masterpiece. The lush forests, rolling hills, and scenic byways become a breathtaking canvas, attracting photographers and nature lovers from far and wide.

With several free things to do outdoors in the fall in Virginia, even tourists on a budget can enjoy the autumn in this state, from embarking on hikes and nature walks to cruising on scenic drives that offer unrivaled vistas of nature's magnificence. Travel enthusiasts are mostly drawn to iconic destinations such as Shenandoah National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and Jefferson National Forests.

Visitors can also meander through charming small towns and attend harvest festivals to sample regional wines, ciders, and craft beers. Here are some of the best trips in Virginia to take in the fall season, from weekend getaways to day excursions.

Related: 10 Reasons To Visit Virginia Beach This Fall Season

10 Hike In Shenandoah National Park

An Orange Haze Over Shenandoah Valley National Park
Image by radford wine from Pixabay
An Orange Haze Over Shenandoah Valley National Park

Shenandoah National Park is an absolute must-visit for travelers seeking an awe-inspiring adventure amid the fall foliage. This natural gem in Virginia transforms into a breathtaking wonderland during autumn.

The park boasts over 500 miles of trails, providing ample opportunities for exploration. Hikers can traverse the famous Appalachian Trail, which winds through the park, or opt for shorter day hikes that offer stunning vistas. There are many trails for advanced trekkers, but even Shenandoah National Park’s easiest hikes that offer scenic views are nothing short of spectacular. This makes them ideal spots for capturing nature's artwork through the lens.

What's more, there are also plenty of dog-friendly hikes in Shenandoah National Park that travelers with furry friends can enjoy, so there's no need to leave dogs at home during a fall vacation in this part of Virginia.

  • Entry Fee: $15–$30
  • Location: 3655 US Highway 211 East Luray, VA

Be aware of the potential to encounter wildlife, such as black bears. Follow all safety guidelines provided.

9 Go Apple Picking At Orchards In Virginia

Three Green Apples In An Orchard In Bluemont, Virginia, USA
Photo by Diane Helentjaris on Unsplash
Three Green Apples In An Orchard In Bluemont, Virginia, USA

Embracing the fall spirit in Virginia wouldn't be complete without a visit to one of the state's charming orchards for apple picking. From crisp Gala apples to juicy Honeycrisps, Virginia orchards offer a bountiful harvest of fruit varieties.

The experience lets visitors hand-select their favorite apples, ensuring the freshest and tastiest picks. Many orchards go beyond apple picking, offering a range of family-friendly activities such as hayrides, corn mazes, and petting zoos. It's also an opportunity to savor the essence of rural Virginia and enjoy farm-fresh treats like apple cider and warm apple pies.

  • Entry Fee: Varies, with some being free
  • Locations: Carter Mountain Orchard, Hollin Farms, Morris Orchard, Crooked Run Orchard

Bring bags or containers for the apples. Consider a cooler for storing perishable items like cider.

8 Visit The Luray Caverns And Witness The Geological History Of The Shenandoah Valley

Luray Caverns In Cave Hill Road, Luray, VA, USA
Photo by Robert Thiemann on Unsplash
Luray Caverns In Cave Hill Road, Luray, VA, USA

Carved over millions of years by nature's hand, these limestone caverns reveal an otherworldly landscape of stalactites, stalagmites, and intricate calcite formations. Guided tours lead tourists through illuminated chambers, highlighting the stunning geologic wonders hidden beneath the Shenandoah Valley.

The Luray Caverns' Great Stalacpipe Organ is a one-of-a-kind attraction that adds an auditory dimension to the experience. Tourists who explore the caverns are serenaded by beautiful music created by striking rubber-tipped mallets against stalactites of varying sizes. This fusion of natural beauty and man-made artistry creates an unforgettable sensory journey.

  • Entry Fee: $32 for adults, $29 for seniors, $16 for children
  • Location: 101 Cave Hill Rd, Luray, VA

Related: A Guide To The Best Fall Foliage Spots In West Virginia For Leaf Lovers

7 Catch A Show At The Barter Theatre

Barter Theatre In Virginia, USA
RebelAtWikimedia Commons, Public Domain
Barter Theatre In Virginia, USA

Situated in the charming town of Abingdon, this historic theatre offers a unique and captivating experience. Travel enthusiasts can witness top-notch live performances in a setting that exudes old-world charm.

The Barter Theatre's history is as compelling as its shows. It was originally founded during the Great Depression when patrons could barter food for admission. Today, visitors can enjoy a diverse lineup of plays, musicals, and special events in a venue that has hosted legendary actors. The intimate atmosphere ensures that every seat in the house provides an excellent view of the stage.

  • Entry Fee: Tickets start at $20
  • Location: 127 W Main St, Abingdon, VA

Popular shows can sell out quickly, so book tickets in advance.

6 Attend The Virginia Fall Festival

People At A Fall Festival In Virginia, USA
Virginia State Parks staffWikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0
People At A Fall Festival In Virginia, USA

As autumn sweeps across Virginia, visitors looking for an alluring cultural experience should mark their calendars for the Virginia Fall Festival. Celebrated in various towns and cities throughout the state, this event embodies the season's essence.

Travel enthusiasts can indulge in a vibrant tapestry of activities, including traditional harvest fairs, craft markets, and lively parades. Local artisans showcase their talents, offering handcrafted goods for unique souvenirs and gifts. Visitors can also savor classic fall treats like caramel apples, pumpkin pies, and hot apple cider while discovering innovative culinary delights that showcase the region's rich culinary heritage.

  • Entry Fee: $5 for adults and 15 for children
  • Location: Roanoke Region in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains

Related: Discovering Virginia's Great Outdoors: A Road Trip Through The Great Falls Scenic Drive

5 Go Camping In Virginia's Campgrounds

Grayson Highlands State Park In Virginia, USA
Photo by Zach Camp on Unsplash
Grayson Highlands State Park In Virginia, USA

Camping in Virginia's scenic wilderness during the fall is an unbeatable experience. Travel enthusiasts can choose from various campgrounds, each offering its unique charm. Whether tourists prefer tent camping, RV camping, or even glamping, the options are abundant.

Campers can gather around crackling campfires, toast marshmallows, and gaze at the star-filled sky. Many campgrounds are situated near hiking trails, rivers, and lakes, providing ample opportunities for outdoor adventures during the day. With the vibrant fall foliage as a backdrop, camping in Virginia is a memorable way to embrace the season's natural beauty.

  • Camping Rental Fee: From $15
  • Ideal Fall Camping Spots In Virginia: Grayson Highlands State Park Campground, Christopher Run Campground, Camp Karma Campground

4 Participate In Wine Tasting At The Many Vineyards In Virginia

Virginia Dare Winery Office Park In Virginia, USA
Jordan WWikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0
Virginia Dare Winery Office Park In Virginia, USA

Virginia's fall season not only showcases its natural beauty but also its thriving wine culture. Travel enthusiasts and wine connoisseurs can embark on a delightful journey through the state's picturesque vineyards and wineries.

Visitors can meander through rolling vineyard landscapes, sip some wine along the wine trail in Northern Virginia’s wine country, or learn about the winemaking process. Many wineries offer tastings in charming rooms or outdoor patios with stunning views of the surrounding countryside. This experience allows tourists to savor the flavors of Virginia's terroir while enjoying the crisp autumn air.

  • Wine Tasting Fee: From $5
  • Location: Ankida Ridge Vineyards, Barboursville, Blenheim Vineyards, Boxwood Estate

3 Visit Colonial Williamsburg And Travel Back To The 18th Century

Governor's Mansion, Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia,USA
Photo by Christian Alvarez on Unsplash
Governor's Mansion, Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia,USA

This living history museum and historic district transports visitors back to the 18th century. Travel enthusiasts can explore meticulously restored colonial buildings, interact with costumed interpreters, and immerse themselves in the daily life of early American settlers.

During the fall, Colonial Williamsburg takes on a special charm as the leaves change colors, creating a picturesque backdrop for historical reenactments and events. Besides witnessing demonstrations of traditional crafts, there are also many places to eat while visiting the historic Colonial Williamsburg.

  • Entry Fee: From $59.99 for adults, 33.99 for children
  • Location: 101 Visitor Center Dr, Williamsburg, VA

2 Go Whitewater Rafting On The Rivers Of Virginia

Metal Bridge Over The Shenandoah River, Virginia
Photo by Loren Biser on Unsplash
Metal Bridge Over The Shenandoah River, Virginia

The state is blessed with an array of rivers and rapids, providing an adrenaline rush against the backdrop of autumn's beauty. Travel enthusiasts can choose from various levels of rapids, which makes rafting suitable for both beginners and experienced rafters.

Whether navigating the roaring rapids of the Shenandoah River or the James River, the fall season adds an extra layer of excitement to the experience. Moreover, the colorful foliage along the riverbanks creates a breathtaking contrast to the rushing waters. Guided rafting tours are readily available, ensuring a safe and exhilarating adventure for visitors.

  • Rafting Fee: From $88
  • Location: Shenandoah River, James River, Clinch River, Maury River

Related: Virginia Is For Lovers (And Fall Lovers): The Perfect 3-Day Weekend Itinerary In Richmond

1 Enjoy Scenic Viewpoints And Stunning Hikes In Natural Bridge State Park

Part Of Natural Bridge State Park In Virginia, USA
James St. John, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0
Part Of Natural Bridge State Park In Virginia, USA

This iconic natural wonder is a geological marvel, with a massive natural limestone bridge spanning 215 feet in height and 90 feet in width. Travel enthusiasts can explore the park's network of trails, which lead to stunning viewpoints of the bridge and surrounding forest.

Visitors can also take guided tours to learn about the bridge's fascinating history, including its connection to Thomas Jefferson.

  • Entry fee: $9 for adults, $6 for children
  • Location: 6477 South Lee Highway Natural Bridge, VA