Red, yellow, orange – the bright hues of fall are now around us in Asheville and Western North Carolina. Over the past few weeks, we’ve welcomed cooler temperatures, which in turn, have transformed our beautiful forests into a canvas full of vibrant colors. Due to above normal temperatures during the summer and early September, experts expect the colors will linger longer than in previous seasons, so there is still ample time to enjoy the fall’s beauty before winter arrives.

Beyond leaf looking, there is a plethora of things to see, do and enjoy during the fall season in Western North Carolina. But where do you begin? Below is a list of our top five reasons why we’re falling in love with Asheville this time of year.

1.) Crafts Galore

Western North Carolina is no stranger to the art and craft scene. In fact, more than 4,000 craftspeople live and work in Asheville and the surrounding region, and the craft economy alone generates more than $206 million per year. In fall, we welcome some of the area’s finest artists at the annual Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands, which hosts nearly 200 juried regional artists of the Southern Highland Craft Guild. This year’s event is scheduled for October 20 – 23 inside the U.S. Cellular Center in downtown Asheville.

BlueRidgeFiberShow_TableclothCan’t make it this weekend? Check out The North Carolina Arboretum’s Blue Ridge Fiber Show now through January 1, 2017, inside the Education Center. This international, biennial competition features fiber arts amateurs, professionals and junior exhibitors working in weaving, spinning and felting. Please click here for more information.

2.) A is for Apple

If you travel just a few miles south of the Arboretum, you will find yourself deep in apple country also known as Hendersonville. Representing one of the most important agricultural crops in Western North Carolina, the apple season kicks off Labor Day weekend at the annual Apple Festival and carries on well into October. Many apple orchards offer a variety of family-friendly activities, including U-pick, hayrides, orchard tours and more. More information on orchards and a suggested self-driving tour can be found here.

3.) P is for Parkway

Jumping down the alphabet some, you will find yourself at “P,” which undoubtedly correlates with the Parkway. Known more officially as the Blue Ridge Parkway, this 469-mile route, which is the most visited site in the National Park System, crosses right through Asheville and ends in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee. As “America’s Favorite Drive,” the Parkway makes a perfect route for drivers, motorcyclists or bicyclists looking to view some of Western North Carolina’s most iconic mountain ranges and landscapes during the fall season.

Do you want to stretch your legs, grab a bite to eat or take a break from your Parkway drive? The North Carolina Arboretum is conveniently located right off the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 393. Stop by and say hello!

4.) “Connect” with Nature

LaborDay_NatureConnectsFor some parents, getting your kids outdoors and enjoying the natural wonders of the world can be challenge – unless there’s an iPad, T.V. or perhaps a tiny little toy involved. But what about more than 370,000 little toys? This is exactly what artist Sean Kenney used as part of his national-traveling exhibit, Nature Connects®, Art with LEGO® Bricks. This special exhibit hosted throughout The North Carolina Arboretum’s gardens features 14 nature-inspired sculptures made entirely out of LEGO bricks. Don’t wait too long – this exhibit closes on Sunday, October 23.

If LEGOs aren’t your child’s cup of tea, then perhaps giant robotic insects are. The Arboretum’s Baker Exhibit Center is currently hosting six giant-sized insect displays, including a praying mantis and caterpillar, as part of The World of Giant Insects exhibit. Featuring robotic insects, interactive displays, larger-than-life magnetic glasses and a “Bug Bytes” quiz box, The World of Giant Insects teaches visitors about familiar bugs and their environments. More details can be found here.

5.) Take a Peek during Peak

fallleaves_rickdaleyOver the next few weeks, areas throughout Western North Carolina will be “at peak” in terms of fall foliage. What better way to view these charismatic colors than outside and on the trail. has compiled a weekly fall foliage report with links to some of the area’s best hiking trails, including The North Carolina Arboretum. Some fan favorites right off the Blue Ridge Parkway include Craggy Gardens, Crabtree Falls and Graveyard Fields.

Don’t go alone; hike with a group! On Tuesdays and Saturdays beginning at 1 p.m., April through November, the Arboretum hosts a free guided trail walk for visitors and members. Trained volunteer guides lead small groups alongGuided_Forest_Walk woodland trails and through a variety of forest types. Walks last 1.5 – 2.5 hours, depending on the interest of the group, and are approximately one to two miles in length. Walks begin in the Baker Exhibit Center lobby, and space is available on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, please click here.

While this blog post just skims of the surface of what to do during the fall in Asheville and Western North Carolina, we hope that our list inspires you to find your own reason to fall in love with the season and region.