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Autumn in Tennessee is unmatched. Here, you’ll find every reason to load up your fall itinerary with fun activities and events. Find where to pick a pumpkin or bushel of apples, the best haunts, harvest festivals and more.
Pumpkin Spice Latte or Apple Cider?
Spend a quaint fall day in the small town of Springfield. While you browse the local shops and boutiques, stop into Historic Perk for a crafted pumpkin spice latte. Enjoy your coffee in the overstuffed leather couches or at a table, taking in the small town life as you sip.
When strolling downtown Bristol TN/VA, you’ll want to make a stop at Bristol Bagel & Bakery for a pumpkin spice latte and one of their delicious bagels, made with more than 26 flavors to choose from. Add a schmear like butter, preserves, cream cheese, flavored cream cheese or peanut butter. Soups, salads, sandwiches (cold and hot) round out the menu.
If you’re craving apples, you have to make a visit to The Apple Barn in Sevierville. Head to the Cider Bar where you can stock up on fresh apple cider, homemade fried apple pies, apple cinnamon donuts, pies, apple dumplings and more. Hard cider is available at The Apple Barn Cider House. Make time to experience the Candy Factory, the Winery, the Creamery and grab a meal at the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant and Applewood Farmhouse Grill (each meal comes with apple fritters and a glass of Applewood Julep).
Oren Wooden’s Applehouse has local apple cider along with a pie shop where you can get apple dumplings, fried pies, apple fritters, donuts and cider slushies. If you’re hungry, stop in Oren’s Orchard Café where you can nosh on fried chicken, steak and gravy, daily specials and sides like cheesy macaroni, pasta salad, apple Cole slaw and more.
Pumpkin patch or apple orchard?
The family-run Walden Pumpkin Farm in Smyrna is a seasonal farm that opens for the fall season. Open from late September through Oct. 31, bring your family and friends for fun on the farm with activities like hayrides, meeting farm animals, hay and corn mazes and treats like pumpkin fudge, sliced caramel apples, funnel cakes and hot spiced cider. Browse the country store for fall decorations, gifts, Halloween décor and, of course, pumpkins.
Bring the kids to Falcon Ridge Farm for the annual Harvest Festival. Have a day of fun with a tractor-drawn hayride, pick a pumpkin from the pumpkin patch, find your way through the corn maze and, when you’re hungry, get a chili cheese dog, nachos, barbecue sandwich or slushies at The Market. Feed animals, ride ponies and take three shots at the corn cannon for more family-friendly fun.
Enjoy a day of apple picking in Carver’s Orchard that sits on 70 acres with 40,000 trees and 126 varieties of apples. After picking your favorites, head to the restaurant for a complimentary basket of apple fritters, apple butter and a juice glass of apple cider. Then, dig into Southern-style dishes like catfish, chicken pot pie, fried chicken and more. Stop in the store for apple butter, candies and fried apple pies to take home.
Located in Nolensville, Morning Glory Orchard has a market full of apple varieties, apple cider, cider slushes, preserves, baked goods and local honey. In October, the orchard is open for self-guided tours and picnicking on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. No apple picking is available due to the many young trees in the orchard. Access to the orchard is $5. Enjoy the splendor of the trees and be sure to buy some apples to make fall treats at home.
Fall festival or ghost hunt?
The inaugural Pumpkin Fest takes place in downtown Jonesborough, kicking off a number of fall and Halloween-themed events. Take a stroll and pick up delicious pumpkin treats served by small businesses. There will also be a variety of family-friendly fall activities.
Cheekwood Harvest at Cheekwood Estate & Gardens is a multi-week celebration of autumn filled with mums, a community scarecrow trail, Cheekwood Beer Garden with special performances and Pumpkin Village with three pumpkin houses. Special events include a Japanese Moon Viewing, Halloween Pooch Party and El Dia de los Muertos.
Explore the haunted side of history during the Hermitage Ghost Tours. Embark on a distinctly spooky voyage at Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage as you experience the mansion, grounds and cemetery by lantern light. Along the way, guides in period clothing will explore tragedies that befell the Jackson family, unusual experiences of Andrew Jackson and unexplained incidents at the site. Hear about strange encounters such as the spirits of the Battle of New Orleans and Jackson’s infamous meeting with Tennessee’s Bell Witch. Beware of eerie encounters, possibly even with President Jackson himself.
Historic Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary was a prison started in 1896 as a jail and a coal mine for Tennessee. Some of the nation's most dangerous prisoners came to Brushy including James Earl Ray, Paul Dennis Reid and others. Today, the penitentiary is open for self-guided daytime tours, but also paranormal tours where visitors may hear footsteps, disembodied voices and see apparitions. Though the death penalty was never carried out here, some inmates did die of natural causes or by the hands of their fellow inmates. Tour guests have been shoved, growled at, touched and even scratched by invisible forces.
Foliage hike or leaf-peeping drive?
Looking for a magical way to see fall colors? Stroll the longest tree-based skywalk in North America on the Treetop Skywalk at Anakeesta. There are 880 feet of hanging bridges suspended 50-60 feet in the air that lead to platforms constructed around trees’ trunks. You may spot a bear or hear a woodpecker below as you’re surrounded by nature in the treetops. It’s the perfect location to snap Instagram-worthy family moments.
With the purchase of an additional sunrise ticket, enjoy a VIP experience, beginning with boarding the Gatlinburg SkyLift before dawn. Lifted to the SkyDeck, you can start the day with live music and complimentary breakfast and coffee while watching a spectacular sunrise from the Gatlinburg SkyBridge. With an immaculate bird’s eye view, experience the Great Smoky Mountains and downtown Gatlinburg waking up during the fall season.
The Natchez Trace Parkway traverses Middle Tennessee and goes through Williamson County, which has stunning photo opportunities on the Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge. This bridge is surrounded by fall colors toward the end of October and you can see for miles. While in the area, stop by the historic town of Franklin, also located off the Parkway. The quaint, historic architecture here creates a beautiful backdrop for seasonal colors. Franklin is also full of autumn festivities and fall decorations.
Vacationing in the Smokies? Escape the crowds and plan your fall foliage route in Sevierville along the English Mountain Fall Driving Tour. Along the way, you’ll find interesting attractions, local history and plenty of stop-off points to snap photos of the beautiful scenery. Explore points of interest including the Historic Downtown Sevierville to see the Dolly Parton Statue, the scenic Historic Harrisburg covered bridge, journey underground at Forbidden Caverns and the unique Bush Beans Visitors Center which includes the Bush’s Beans interpretive museum, gift shop, café and more. Browse even more fall foliage routes.
Haunted attraction or historic home tour?
If you’re looking for a fun haunted house to scream through with friends, visit Dead Man’s Farm if you dare. The Bludgeon House includes new scenes, scares and characters as you uncover the abominations and gruesome scenes left behind by the Bludgeon family. Face the Clowns of the Corn in the haunted corn maze, scary virtual reality experience, the 2-person coffin simulator in “Buried Alive!” and mini haunted escape rooms. Guests 18 years and older can upgrade their experience with the “Dare to Be Touched!” option where you could be touched, cornered, separated from your group or even become part of the show.
Prepare to have your mind invaded by fear as you enter Death Ridge Haunted Attraction. Death Ridge is an immersive experience in horror featuring dialogue-driven scenes by talented actors. Upon arrival, you will embark on a hayride that takes you deep into the woods, away from lights and civilization. After exiting the hayride, you will then proceeded to travel through their long, winding trail in the woods through scene after scene of horrifying fun. Tickets are available at the gate or online. The not-so-spooky corn maze can also be experienced either as a standalone attraction or an extension of Death Ridge. It's open 7-11 p.m. every Friday and Saturday night in October.
The largest indoor haunted house in Memphis is the Wicked Ways Haunted House. Live actors and actresses roam all areas of the attraction and you’ll see spine-tingling scenes and themes. The lines between horror and reality are blurred to give you a truly terrifying experience. Then, experience the 5-Minute Escape Room, 7-D Horror Motion Theatre and Tormented Extreme Virtual Reality Encounter for added screams.
Prefer your haunts in an historic house? Head to Oaklands Mansion where you can book a Tombstones at Twilight tour and experience the Evergreen Cemetery after dark. Nearly 20,000 individuals are interred on the over 100 acres. Tours depart from the cemetery office entrance at 7 p.m. and last about an hour.
Camping trip or cabin getaway?
Take in the stunning scenery and crisp fall air at Serendipity in Brownsville with a stay in one of the canvas yurts equipped with heat and air conditioning, two queen beds with bedding, a deck, firepit, charcoal grill and picnic table. You’ll love the Bohemian style while having an upscale experience with friends and family. Serendipity also has four cabins and RV and camp sites for rent. Enjoy kayaking, an 18-hole disc golf course, basketball, horseshoes, a lookout tower and more during your stay.
This picturesque mountain cabin is in Gatlinburg, surrounded by the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains. The Lodge at Ski Mountain is equipped with two bedrooms and 1.5 baths, a hot tub, wood-burning grill and built-in seating to enjoy the scenery. The lodge is conveniently close to several Smoky Mountain trailheads, which makes this a perfect getaway for outdoor enthusiasts. Explore even more mountain cabins in Tennessee.
The best times and places to catch fall foliage in full bloom in each region of the state.