Fall weekends in Virginia’s Blue Ridge are incredible. Truly. Yes, we understand that most all destinations will claim to be stunning in autumn, and yes, they probably are.
But in Virginia’s Blue Ridge, you’re always surrounded by or on top of the mountains, and they’re the perfect backdrop for a crisp, foliage-filled weekend. Some might even say it’s the most beautiful place to experience fall in Virginia. We would concur.
First thing first. If you’re a wine or craft beer enthusiast, arm yourself with a Virginia’s Blue Ridge Cheers Trail passport, as you’re certain to encounter plenty of places to stop, taste, and enjoy the scenery as you make your way through our region.
All great fall weekends include scenic mountain drives, and wouldn’t you know it? We have plenty in Virginia’s Blue Ridge! Get started with a ride on Route 311 over Catawba Mountain. Hikers will want to plan their day around two of our favorite fall trails – McAfee Knob and Dragon’s Tooth. One heads north and the other is south of Route 311. For the advantageous, make it a full weekend of hiking by conquering the Triple Crown. All others, onward!
Atop Potts Mountain (still on Route 311) is the Potts Mountain Jeep Trail. If you happen to be cruising in a supped up off-road machine, feel free to hit the dirt. Seriously, you will need plenty of ground clearance to tackle this rutted mountainside road. Afterwards, an excellent bison burger and sweet potato fries await at The Swinging Bridge Restaurant in Paint Bank. On a cold day, opt for a bowl of brown beans and cornbread. The Homeplace is also an excellent option for some of the best comfort food Virginia’s Blue Ridge has to offer.
Backtrack Route 311 to check in to whichever accommodation you have chosen for your stay, then head to Starr Hill Pilot Brewery & Side Stage in Roanoke for some fall-inspired craft beer. You can enjoy seasonal brews like the Last Leaf Maple Brown Ale, Festie Oktoberfest Lager and the Little Red RooStarr Coffee Cream Stout.
Looking for more fall flavors? Check out this list of pumpkin-inspired products you have to try!
Day two should include more foliage, of course. Take scenic Route 220 to Rocky Mount where there’s plenty of great comfort food waiting. Try the biscuits and gravy at Ruth’s Place or The Hub Restaurant. We’ll let you decide which makes it better, but don’t fill up! The next stop is mandatory for any sweet tooth!
Take Route 122 north out of Rocky Mount and keep an eye peeled for The Homestead Creamery. They offer a special pumpkin ice cream this time of year, but of course, you can get the much adored chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry, too. Be sure to meet the moos while you’re there.
Finally, on to Smith Mountain Lake, one of our favorite places to see fall colors reflect off the water. In September, the Smith Mountain Lake Wine Festival is a big draw, but we also love boating during this season. Take advantage of the various options for boat rentals to create your own sightseeing cruise around the lake.
In November the Smith Mountain Lake Chili and Craft Festival is a fun time at Bridgewater Marina. Wrap up the day with a memorable meal on the water at Mango’s Bar & Grill, Mexico Viejo, or The Landing. Route 24 west leads back to Roanoke and your comfortable bed.
Make the last day a great day. Grab a biscuit from Scratch Biscuit Company – one of the best biscuits around - and then take off. We know that any road home is going to be a beautiful drive. If you’re headed south, consider driving the Blue Ridge Parkway for a bit. We love the view (and the wine) at Chateau Morrisette. North? Take 220 for a relaxing, family-friendly hike at Roaring Run. For those traveling east on Route 460, don't miss the pumpkin picking, corn mazes, and great fall activities at both Jeter Farm and Layman Family Farms.
Need a few more grand ideas for enjoying the shades of autumn in Virginia’s Blue Ridge? Check out our Best Fall Color Spots. They’re a sure bet for great photography, special moments, picnics, and more. Show us your view when you share your pics online. Use #BlueRidgeDay and we may just re-share yours!