Fall Camping Getaways in Virginia

#36 Virginia Highlands Circuit 1 - Copy (1024x768)

For some outdoor lovers, fall is the time to go camping in Virginia. When the first cool fronts sweep over the Allegheny Mountains, bringing that crisp autumn air, tent and RV campers visualize themselves by a cracking campfire, deep in the woods, up in the mountains, along the lakeshore and beside the coast, overnighting in the beautiful and bountiful landscapes that comprise Virginia.

Virginia boasts a long autumn season, extending the fall camping possibilities. By early October, leaves start peaking in the western part of the state, along the highest mantles of the Appalachians. From there, autumnal glory spreads to lower elevations and easterly across the Piedmont, marching on to the Atlantic Ocean, where color hangs on well into mid-November.

The key component to fall camping in Virginia is setting yourself up where deciduous trees will be losing their chlorophyll and revealing their underlying cornucopia of color, whether they are red maples, yellow tulip trees, orange oaks or maroon sweetgums. A mix of trees is preferred, where the varied shades contrast and complement one another — perhaps with a touch of green pines to set off the vibrant hardwoods.

And that fall smell in Virginia – drying leaves warmed by a golden sun, hot apple cider spiked with cinnamon wafting through the brisk eve and lazy curls of smoke drifting up from wood embers — it’s a clarion call to go camping!

Here are 10 Virginia fall camping destinations that cover the gamut of the state from high to low, from west to east, allowing you to experience the singular pleasure of pitching your tent or parking your RV in the Old Dominion’s autumn splendor. Along with each campground description is a suggested fall color walk you can undertake while at the campground. The campgrounds are listed from earliest fall color to latest fall color.

GRAYSON HIGHLANDS STATE PARK

Nearest Town: Independence

Fall Color Peak: Early October to mid-October

What You Need to Know: This is Virginia’s highest campground

GPS Coordinates: 36.62124, -81.48448

Fall starts early here on Virginia’s rooftop. Perched at 4,250 feet, the campground at Grayson Highlands matches the high standards of the rest of this state park. The campground will suit both tent and RV campers seeking fall’s dramatic color show. The state park has trails galore for campers to enjoy vistas from craggy outcrops or waterfalls from tumbling streams. A relaxed atmosphere here nearly guarantees a welcome respite from the stress of day-to-day life.

The camping area is stretched out in oak-maple woods with a distinct loop for RVs. Bathhouses and reservable campsites make overnighting here even easier. Water spigots are scattered nearby all campsites. A dump station serves RVs. The Country Store, adjacent to the main campground, is open on weekends.

Recommended Fall Color Walk: Take the 1.6-mile Twin Pinnacles Trail, accessing the highest point in the state park. Along the way it passes several interesting environments and caps it off with a fine view from Little Pinnacle, then makes an encore at Big Pinnacle, before looping back to the visitor …read more

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Ten 48-Hour Fall Getaways for October

doukenie winery loudoun

Whether you’re looking for romance, a fun girl’s trip, or a family vacation, we have a 48-hour fall getaway for you! In every corner of Virginia, you can find exciting activities and destinations to create an unforgettable autumn experience. Take a few days off from work to travel or fit an exciting trip into your weekend when you travel to one of these two-day fall getaways.

Northern Virginia Wine Country

Loudoun County is home to 40 world-class wineries, making it a go-to place for D.C. residents and travelers from all over to experience Virginia’s wine scene. Follow our full itinerary for Touring & Tasting D.C.’s Wine Country, or use the Loudoun Wine Trail Guide to start planning your own custom trip.

Explore Natural Tunnel State Park

Deep in the Heart of Appalachia, Natural Tunnel State Park is filled with vibrant fall foliage. Best of all, the park boasts a chair lift that lets you view the changing leaves from above. Stay overnight in one of the park’s ten mountain ridge cabins, which offer an amazing vantage point for fall’s colors. There are also eight walking trails for guests that want to experience the park at their own pace. Plan an outdoor fall getaway in Scott County with this 48-hour itinerary.

Autumn on the Crooked Road

The Crooked Road pays tribute to Virginia’s rich musical history while bringing the region’s harmonic heritage to life with nonstop live entertainment. Make Floyd your starting point as it’s the home of the famed Floyd Country Store and its Friday Night Jamboree. The region is ablaze with the changing leaves in the fall, and they can best be experienced with a ride on the Virginia Creeper Trail. Strike out to southwest Virginia for 48 hours of fall fun.

See the Full Autumn on the Crooked Road Itinerary

History, Wine, & Fall Colors Meet in Charlottesville

monticello

Another one of the impressive wine regions of Virginia surrounds Charlottesville on the Monticello Wine Trail, known as the Birthplace of American Wine. This is a 48-hour getaway you’ll likely want to extend, adding in a visit to the esteemed University of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, and maybe even a road trip on the scenic Skyline Drive.

Plan a Charlottesville Weekend

Getaway to Southern Style Romance in Lake Country

Kerr Lake

Tranquility reigns supreme in Clarksville, a quiet lake town in Southern Virginia with beautiful foliage, sunrises, and sunsets. Here, tranquility reigns supreme. Spend your 48 hours outdoors on nature trails around Kerr Lake or get out on the water with a rental from Clarksville Marina. After exploring all that nature has to offer in southern Virginia, venture out for some history, scenery, and tasty food using our complete guided to southern style romance.

Natural Beauty: Virginia’s Eastern Shore

Cape Charles Sunset

Spend 48 hours this fall discovering some of the best spots on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. …read more

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Which Scary Virginia Theme Park Experience Suits You?

busch gardens roller coasters at howl o scream

It may be hard to let go of summer and accept that fall is finally here, but with Halloween less than six weeks away, you may want to start considering which spooky spots you plan on visiting in Virginia. The two major theme parks, Busch Gardens and Kings Dominion, pull out all the stops each year to craft a truly terrifying experience that is guaranteed to make your skin crawl and your heart pound. Use our guide to find out which daunting park destination to visit this fall.

Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream—Williamsburg

Dates: Fridays, Saturdays, & Sundays Beginning September 23- October 30

Price: $67 and up

Head to Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream this fall for petrifying scares combined with the endless fun of a theme park. The park’s regular attractions and rides are still available, but starting at 6pm on the weekends, Howl-O-Scream offers seven haunted houses, five “Terror-tories”, three live shows, and two escape rooms.

In the “No Escape” escape rooms, groups of six people will have 30 minutes to solve the riddles and clues of the themed chambers and make it out of the sinister rooms.

The haunted houses all have distinctly scary stories, like the Catacombs, a bloodcurdling trip through the skeleton-filled underground tunnels of 1700’s Paris. Creep through the dark, maze-like walkways as you try to escape the clutches of the mostly dead inhabitants.

busch gardens howl o scream corn maze haunted house

Each of the five “Terror-tories” provide a uniquely chilling experience. Walk down Ripper Row and avoid the infamous killer that once stalked the streets of London, or get through Sideshow Square, where freaks and circus acts terrorize visitors.

Take a break from the fright and hop on one of the six epic coasters, such as Griffon and Apollo’s Chariot, then explore the park’s 12 adventure rides, including Da Vinci’s Cradle and the Curse of Dark Kastle. If taking in the scenery is more your speed, ride the sky lift to view the park grounds from above or traverse the park’s Rhein River on a scenic boat cruise.

When visiting Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream, consider the elevated scare factor when deciding whether the attraction is appropriate for younger children.

For the fear fans, consider purchasing one of their three Insider Tour packages. If you are visiting for the rides, you may want to get a Quick Queue pass, which lets you skip the lines for the coasters. These range in cost from $50-$100 in addition to your ticket price.

Adults with proper identification can stop at the Spirit Bars throughout the property for Halloween-themed adult beverages.

For families traveling with pets, there is a kennel available to board your pet during a visit to Busch Gardens.

Kings Dominion Halloween Haunt—Doswell

Dates: Fridays, Saturdays, & Sundays Beginning September 30- October 30

Price: $40 and up

Kings Dominion Halloween Haunt

Located about 20 minutes north of Richmond, Kings Dominion has 20 roller coaster rides to keep your heart racing, but during their annual Halloween Haunt, the park turns into …read more

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10 Beautiful Fall Hikes near Virginia Wineries

Virginia Creeper Trail

Talk about a pairing. When you combine visiting a Virginia winery with a hike in Virginia’s bountiful natural glory, the sensory delights extend far beyond the palette! Furthermore, touring a winery can be a scenic experience in its own right – viewing the rows of grape arbors, walking wonderfully landscaped grounds on cobblestone paths and soaking in views of the rolling countryside. And let’s not forget the tastings, whether they are indoors or out. The tastings are the raison d’etre as far as winery tours are concerned.

However, just because we love wine tastings and touring wineries doesn’t mean we can’t add a walk or hike to the adventure. Hiking to a nearby waterfall, overlook or historic site just might build up an appreciation for the great outdoors and perhaps a thirst for the harvest of the grape — wine produced in Virginia.

Here are 10 Virginia hikes paired with nearby wineries. Cheers!

– THE HIKE: VIRGINIA CREEPER TRAIL –

The Winery: Abingdon Vineyard & Winery

GPS Hike Location: 36.65158, -81.88726

GPS Winery Location: 36.65787, -81.88827

Nearest Town: Abingdon

The Pairing: This winery is located on a 50-acre tract astride the South Fork Holston River. Moreover, just across the river lies the famed Virginia Creeper Trail, the railroad grade turned hiking, bicycling and equestrian path stretching 34 miles between the town of Abingdon through Damascus and high into the mountains, to end at Whitetop Station and the North Carolina state line. You can access the Creeper Trail at the South Holston bridge in Alvarado, very near the winery. Or pick your own trail segment. The section of the Creeper near Abingdon is pastoral, whereas, if you start at Damascus, you can follow crashing Whitetop Laurel Creek through montane scenery. Alternatively, you might want to rent a bicycle in Damascus to pedal the gravel track.

– THE HIKE: BOTTOM CREEK GORGE –

The Winery: AMRhein’s Wine Cellars

GPS Hike Location: 37.13183, -80.18059

GPS Winery Location: 37.11996, -80.152

Nearest Town: Bent Mountain

The Pairing: This estate covers over 40 acres and features 20 varieties of grapes and 15 styles of red and white wine. The family has a two-decade tradition of wine making and nearly a century in the jewelry business. In addition to touring the ground of AmRhein’s, take a hike to one of Virginia’s tallest waterfalls and special swaths of nature – Bottom Creek Gorge.

Make a 4.6-mile loop using a network of old settler roads and newer foot trails to explore the Bottom Creek valley. First, climb to a ridgetop plateau and enter a formerly settled area with evidence of the past from chimneys to fence posts and more. Next, enjoy natural features such as 200-foot Bent Mountain Falls, then finally visit Bottom Creek, where pools and cascades form an area known as The Kettles.

– THE HIKE: DANVILLE RIVERWALK –

The Winery: Two Witches Winery and Brewery

GPS Hike Location: 36.59086, -79.38858

GPS Winery Location: 36.58564, -79.42101

Nearest Town: Danville

The Pairing: Two Witches lays claim to being the only combination winery and brewery in …read more

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14 Breakfast Spots near Scenic Fall Destinations

Scenic Salem, near Roanoke, in the fall.

September is National Breakfast Month, and while ordering a stack of pancakes somewhere may satisfy your craving for a delicious breakfast, it won’t let you get the most out of one of Virginia’s most enchanting seasons. Head to some of these great breakfast restaurants located near scenic fall destinations to add a side of autumn charm to your plate.

L’Dee’s Pancake House—Front Royal

Nearby Fall Attractions: Scenic drives down Route 522 and Skyline Drive, Shenandoah River

Helpful Tip: The restaurant does not accept credit cards, although there is an ATM on-site.

A favorite of tourists and locals alike, L’Dee’s Pancake House is decorated like an old-fashioned diner, with spinning counter chairs and vinyl booths. Many of the locals visit this restaurant almost every day, but instead of being wary of tourists, the restaurant welcomes them with open arms. In addition to a friendly environment, you’ll find reasonable prices and hearty breakfast options, like the Egg Platters and the Specialty Pancakes. Breakfast is served all day long, so if you have a hankering for waffles at dinner, L’Dees is the place to go.

Red Truck Bakery—Warrenton & Marshall Locations

Nearby Fall Attractions: Scenic drives on Route 211 and Route 17

Helpful Tip: Both serve pastries, but only the Marshall location has hot biscuits and more substantial breakfast items.

50 miles west of Washington, D.C., Red Truck Bakery is a quaint rural bakery that serves up delectable sweet treats at the Warrenton location, but head only 15 minutes north on Route 17 to the Marshall location if you’re craving an equally tasty breakfast. The biscuit sandwiches are heavenly, and they offer several other hot breakfast specials in addition to a multitude of freshly baked pastries, muffins, and croissants. After breakfast, get on Route 211 and head west towards the picturesque town of Washington.

The Little Grill Collective—Harrisonburg

little grill collective harrisonburg

Nearby Fall Attractions: Massanutten, scenic drive on Route 33

Helpful Tip: Cash or check only.

Since the 1940’s, the Little Grill Collective has been a staple of the Harrisonburg dining scene. There are many vegetarian and vegan items on the menu at the restaurant, but they also have dishes that cater to the meat lovers, with almost everything on the breakfast menu made from scratch. Prices are more than reasonable at the Little Grill Collective, with no dish exceeding $10. Some favorite menu choices are the Hueves Rancheros, Blue Monkey Pancakes, made with blueberries and bananas, and the Cinnamon Sourdough French Toast, but you really can’t go wrong at this Harrisonburg gem.

Bob & Edith’s—Arlington

Nearby Fall Attractions: George Washington Memorial Parkway for a scenic drive, Mount Vernon,

Helpful Tip: Because of its popularity, getting refills isn’t always easy. Consider ordering two drinks and asking for the check early if you are in a hurry.

Don’t let the basic diner décor at Bob & Edith’s Diner fool you; this place knows how to cook up a seriously delicious breakfast. This Arlington restaurant is extremely popular with the locals, and although the menu is …read more

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10 Great Virginia Hikes for Viewing Fall Foliage

Natural Tunnel

The end of summer would be sad if it weren’t for the arrival of autumn in Virginia. It is that time of year when the green forests of the Appalachians, Piedmont and Coastal Plain turn to vibrant reds, glowing yellows, fiery oranges and deep maroons, all contrasting against a crystalline blue sky. It is time to get out and see fall’s kaleidoscope of color, to smell the drying leaves and take in that crisp air.

It is time to go on a fall foliage hike in Virginia.

Fall color chasers want certain elements in their hike this time of year: variety of color, places to see the color both up close and in the distance. We want to hike through a colorful forest, to be in the mix, yet be able to look upon other distant woodlands where reds, yellows and oranges create a contrasting palette that will astound you.

Here are 10 Virginia fall foliage hikes that will leave you reaching for your camera or phone time and time again, to capture another moment of autumn splendor.

Below, you will see the hike, the nearest town to where the hike is located, the fall color peak time, an essential fact about the hike, then the GPS coordinates of the trailhead. With this information, you can head out and create your own fall foliage experience in Virginia.

NATURAL TUNNEL PARK

Nearest Town: Weber City

Hike Distance: 1.8-mile loop including a side trip

Fall Color Peak: Late October to November 1

What You Need to Know: Don’t miss the side trip to the historic Carter Cabin.

GPS Coordinates: 36.70219, -82.74565

This is one of those hikes so full of must-visit highlights that it is hard to get a head of steam going. For starters, you hike down to the Natural Tunnel. Well, you actually don’t have to hike down there, since a park sky lift can take you down to Stock Creek and the Natural Tunnel for a fee. More importantly, it will take you back up again.

Even if you use the skylift, you will still hike to other features. Visit the highs and lows of Virginia’s famed Natural Tunnel, woods along Stock Creek, and more distant panoramas from Lovers Leap. First, leave the visitor center, then head down into a rock amphitheater to view the cave-like tunnel entrance, then trek along Stock Creek to see the 220-year-old Carter Cabin. Generations of the Carter Family dwelt in this log structure, just a few hollows over in Rye Valley. It was reconstructed here in the park, and makes an excellent fall color backdrop. After that, climb from the Stock Creek gorge then walk along its rim, gaining rewarding views, culminating with a trip to Lovers Leap, where autumn’s glory reigns.

LEESYLVANIA STATE PARK

Nearest Town: Dumfries

Hike Distance: 2 miles of trails

Fall Color Peak: End of October through early to mid-November

What You Need to Know: View from Freestone Point will reflect autumn color off Occoquan Bay and the Potomac River

GPS Coordinates: 38.5896, -77.25632

This hike travels hills above the …read more

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