This 1 Virginia Town Offers 5 Ways to See Fall Color

And it’s only three hours from Charlotte, making for a refreshing and easy autumn weekend.

There’s only one way to get the best fall photo: Go where the leaves are.

While Charlotte sees her fair share of color changes, there are only so many skyline photos one can take and so many greenways one can stroll before the scenes we love begin to feel too familiar. Sometimes, we want a fresh take on fall—one with a mountainous backdrop and a cooler crisp in the air.

For fall color (and photo opportunities) everywhere you look, head three short hours northwest to Abingdon, Virginia. This Appalachian highland town boasts many ways to see autumn color, so if leaf-peeping is on your list this fall, Abingdon is the fantasy fall destination you’ve been looking for.

 In Abingdon, you can see the fall color…

…On a bike

SAM DEAN

Whether you’re on a family trip or a romantic getaway, the 34-mile-long Virginia Creeper Trail offers an easy access point and varying levels of difficulty to suit every kind of rider. Once a railroad track, the trail was converted in 1987, providing all the scenic vistas you could ask for.

Begin your leaf peeping bike ride at the Creeper Trail Welcome Center in Abingdon (Mile 0), where you’ll find free parking and the Creeper Trail Bike Shop just two blocks away. Feast your eyes on the changing leaves and rolling farmland as you approach Mile 15.5. From there, the Virginia Creeper Trail winds up to Whitetop Station, its highest point, with amenities and activities to discover along the way.

…With a glass of wine in your hand

SARAH LAUGHLAND

Imagine this: You’re sitting riverside on a crisp fall day, surrounded by colorful foliage. You pause from taking Instagram photos to crunch into a cracker with salami and cheese, and you wash it down with a delicious red wine. Sounds pretty ideal, right?

Making this vision a reality is luckily quite simple—the family-owned Abingdon Vineyards is accessible by car, boat, bike, or horseback, just a half-mile off the Virginia Creeper Trail. Click here to learn more about visiting the winery.

…At the dam

Though perhaps a surprising spot to catch fall colors, the South Holston Dam is a must-see if you want the prettiest panoramic views. About 60 percent of South Holston Lake’s shoreline is bordered by the Cherokee National Forest (much of which is undeveloped), which makes it one of the most scenic lakes in Virginia. Once you arrive to the dam, get ready to pick up your jaw—the breathtaking vista of the lake surrounded by fall colors makes you feel like you’re living in a Bob Ross painting.

…Without leaving your car

Charlotteans know that one of the best ways to see fall leaves is with a scenic mountain drive. This year, trade in the Blue Ridge Parkway for the Mount Rogers Scenic Byway—you’ll catch a variety of picturesque vistas as you coast and curve through the landscape’s changing terrain.

There are two sections to discover along this byway, both paved and two lanes wide. The first, beginning at Troutdale, V.A., is 13.2-mile drive west over Virginia Route 603 to the town of Konnarock, where you’ll climb through the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. The second section of Mount Rogers Byway will lead you 32.5 miles east, from Damascus to Volney, V.A. This section follows US Route 58—the easiest access to High Country—so amazing views are guaranteed.

…Right downtown on Main Street

If you’re staying in the charming and historic downtown Abingdon, you don’t have to go far to see beautiful burnt orange, red, and yellow hues. Simply head to Morgan’s restaurant on Main Street and snag a patio table for a front row seat to Abingdon’s enchanting fall foliage.

While you’re in town, check out a production at Barter Theatre—their fall season always includes something appropriately spooky such as a thriller or murder mystery. You can also pick up some in-season treats at the Abingdon Farmers Market for a truly refreshing fall getaway. All of this sits just three hours northwest of Charlotte, waiting for you to discover it. Enjoy the best of the season with this three-day Abingdon itinerary.

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