John Donne says, “No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face.” In Charlottesville, watch the leaves turn rich yellow, orange and red you’ll believe him. Peak leaf season is mid to late October.

“Virginia Oak” by Gordon Vanus

2. Football games

Whether you’re wearing orange or the traditional sundress or coat-and-tie, Scott Stadium is the place to be on Saturday afternoons. The start of the season has been rocky, but the Cavaliers can still turn things around with five more home games.

Check out the schedule and news highlights

3. Skyline Drive

Drive along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Shenandoah National Park. Stop for a picnic among the cardinal flowers, black-eyed susans and goldenrod that bloom right into the fall. Keep an eye out for deer, black bear, wild turkey and a host of other woodland animals that call Shenandoah home.

Skyline Drive on the National Park Service homepage

4. Trick or treating on the Lawn

Ghouls and goblins—and adorable costumed children from the Charlottesville community—wander the Academical Village during the Halloween on the Lawn celebration. Candy for everyone!

5. Soccer games in Klöckner

With midfielder Sinead Farrelly being named to the women’s preseason Hermann Watch List, and the men’s team picked to finish second in the ACC, the soccer action at Klöckner will be brisk this fall.

For schedules and other details:
Men’s Soccer
Women’s Soccer

6. Wine tours

If you have an adventurous palate and a nose for good wine, check out the 22 vintners on the Monticello Wine Trail. Sugarleaf Vineyards is one of several wineries hosting activities in coming weeks and Life Members of the Alumni Association can enjoy free tastings and wine discounts at Jefferson Vineyards any time.

Clockwise from top: Sugarleaf Vineyards on the Monticello Wine Trail; Lauren and Jerry Bias (Col ‘90) who own and operate Sugarleaf; grapes on the vine on the road to Monticello. Michelle Cuevos

Monticello Wine Trail
Read about Lauren and Jerry Bias’ experience starting their vineyard

7. Apple picking at Carter’s Mountain

Pick your own apples with a panoramic view of Charlottesville. You’ll find a dozen varieties of apple including Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Winesap and Fuji. Warm up with a hot apple cider or a home-made apple cider donut.

Website: Carter’s Mountain Orchard

8. Homecomings Weekend

Watch the Virginia vs. Indiana football game. Tailgate. See a lecture by a famous faculty member. Run a 5k race. Eat pancakes for charity. Cheer on the volleyball and field hockey teams. Do some boutique shopping at Martha’s Market in John Paul Jones Arena. Homecoming offers fun for everyone on the weekend of Oct. 10.

Homecomings Schedule

9. Music under the stars

The Decemberists and Lucinda Williams will both play the Downtown Mall’s Pavilion and U2 is trucking a massive, in-the-round stage right into Scott Stadium for the U2 360° Tour’s only stop in Virginia.

Charlottesville Pavilion Photo Jack Looney

10. Hiking in Ragged Mountain Natural Area

Feel like you’re in the wilderness just minutes from Charlottesville on the boulder-studded slopes of the Ragged Mountains. Enjoy a forest of mature oak, pine and maple trees and more than four miles of shoreline. See the landscape that inspired Edgar Allan Poe’s A Tale of the Ragged Mountains.

How to get there

11. Warm days, crisp nights

It’s still warm enough to study under a tree on the Lawn during the day, but crisp enough at night that you’ll start to smell wood smoke in the air. Take that light coat out of the closet, but don’t pack up your shorts quite yet.

12. The Virginia Film Festival

Take advantage of autumn’s extra hours of darkness in a movie theater. The Virginia Film Festival offers big Hollywood films and small independent features Nov. 5-8. This year’s theme? Funny Business.

Clockwise from top: Screening at Culbreth theater; The Paramount Theatre;  Jane Fonda and Sissy Spacek; Reporters interview Sissy Spacek; Discussion with filmmakers after a film screening Virginia Film Festival

13. Watching migration of hawks over Afton Mountain

Want to watch hawks by the score head for their winter homes? Join the flock of birders who participate in the Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch, which is part of the Thomas Jefferson Loop within the Mountain Phase of Virginia’s Birding and Wildlife Trail.

Red-tailed hawk; birders at Rockfish Gap

Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch information

14. Hot air ballooning

Rise though the cool autumn air in a hot air balloon and see the patchwork of the city below. Or enjoy an “aerial nature walk” over the countryside.


15. Foxfield Family Day

Watch the fall running of the Foxfield races. Or a Jack Russell Terrier race, live music and skydivers. Kids will enjoy a dance performance and an activities tent.

16. Marching band practice

On some fall evenings, you can follow the sound of the drumline all the way to Carr’s Hill Field and watch the Cavalier Marching Band prepare for half-time shows. Bring a cup of hot chocolate to keep your hands warm and enjoy a preview.

What’s your favorite thing about Charlottesville in the fall?

Hear what students have to say:

Did we miss something? Tell us your favorite thing about fall in C’ville below!