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20 Things to Do in the Fall in Knoxville and Surrounding Areas

Fall Foliage, Wildlife Viewing, Apple Picking, Photo Tours -- just the beginning of many things to do in the Fall in Knoxville and surrounding areas.

1. View Fall Foliage
fall foliage
Enjoy Tennessee's beautiful Smoky Mountains in the Fall. Fall foliage viewing begins around the first of October and continues through the second week in November. Either driving in the comfort of your car or hiking to get closer to nature, there are trails for all to enjoy the colorful Fall foliage throughout the Great Smoky Mountains. Looking for brilliant reds, gold, yellow, orange and brown? You will find it seeing yellow birch, American beech, mountain maple, hobblebush and pin cherry among 100 species of native trees here. With over 10 millions visitors each year, it's clear why this land is for those who love the outdoors.
2. Pumpkin Patches & Corn Mazes

Enjoy fall by visiting a pumpkin patch and touring a corn maze. This is a special event for the entire family or a group.

Oakes Farm Corn Maze is a very intricate design. The way the maze is designed, you can spend as much, or as little time as you like in the maze. If you’re up for finding all the checkpoints and solving the Farm Monster Mystery, allow 1 to 1-1/2 hours. But if you’ve got little kids, with a shorter attention span, find as many checkpoints as you can. When they get tired, you can leave the maze and come back later if you like. There is also a Pumpkin Patch! Kids love pumpkins, and this pumpkin patch brings out the kid in all of us. Take a hay-ride through fields and woods to the pumpkin patch and pick your own special pumpkin.

pumpkin patch

• Fifty acres of fun -- at Autumn Acres Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch.

• Get Lost in Maple Lane Farms' 13th Annual Corn Maze. This year at the southeast's oldest corn maze activities include a ten acre corn maze (haunted from mid-October through Halloween), pumpkin patch, hayrides, Country Store with collectible memorabilia, rock wall and kid's activities.

Echo Valley Corn Maze features 3 large mazes, a kid maze, hayrides, outdoor playground, zip line, pumpkin cannon, evening bonfires, pumpkin picking, corn shucking, and more.

Deep Well Farm -- Pumpkin Patch, Hay Rides, Corn Mazes, Hay Maze, Mega Slides, Farm Animals, Tire Swings, Stationary Tractor, Duck Pond, Play Areas, Pavilion, Picnic Areas and Concessions.

Kyker Farms is an authentic farm adventure featuring corn mazes, hayrides, pumpkin patch and much more.

3. Fall Festivals

From Norris to Townsend to Gatlinburg there is a Fall festival. There's the Smoky Mountain Harvest festival which is a county wide celebration that includes craft shows, decorating contests, Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival, Fall Grand Rod Run, Dumplin Valley Bluegrass, Rotary Club Crafts Festival, just to name a few.

fall festivals
Fall decor at the Corner General Store in Wears Valley. Image by Jeaneane Payne.

Clinch River Antique Festival - the 17th annual Clinch River Fall Antiques Festival is October 13th & 14th, 2017 in Historic Downtown Clinton, TN. There will be live entertainment. This is a RAIN OR SHINE event featuring over 90 antique dealers, two food courts, four bands in Hoskins Park, more antique cars, a children’s area with a bounce house, free shuttles and the annual Re-enactment. History will come to life through a re-enactment of the 1804 pistol duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. Burr, first term Vice President of the United States under Thomas Jefferson, shot Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury, in a duel fueled by years of animosity and personal tensions between the two political rivals. Learn what the significance of this duel between national leaders had on Clinton’s history and why a town once named Burrville changed its name to Clinton. The re-enactors from the Anderson County Sons of the Revolution will also have a booth set up on Main Street to display their re-enactment items.

• The Gatlinburg Craftsmen's Fair is one of the largest fall festivals. Over 200 Craftspeople from around the country assemble to exhibit their historic trades at the Gatlinburg Convention Center. This is an event that consistently attracts the country's finest artists and craft people. One of the items that makes the Gatlinburg Craftsmen's Fair so unique is the fact that the artists not only make their art available for viewing and sale, but they also demonstrate their special talents and skills.

• The Museum of Appalachia's "Fall Homecoming" keeps your toes tappin' and your mouth watering. This festival was selected sixteen times as one of the Top 20 October Events by the Southeast Tourism Society.

Sugarlands MountainFest, a music and outdoor festival (September 28 – October 1, 2017) is a spirited celebration of the great outdoors. For four days, outdoor enthusiasts will gather to enjoy over 30 live musical performances, running, biking, & fishing competitions, craft cocktails, award-winning spirits and brews—all in the breathtaking mountains of East Tennessee.

Foothills Fall Festival is one of the most anticipated events in the southeast. Nestled at the Foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, Maryville, Tennessee hosts three days of amazing world class concerts, juried arts and crafts, and activities, shows, and much more for the whole family.

Mountain Makins Festival: Mountain Makins is a weekend folk life festival celebrating the traditions of Appalachia. More than just a fine art and craft show, visitors to the family-friendly event enjoy a variety of activities including two stages of mountain music & storytelling. 442 W. 2nd North St., Morristown, TN.

Robert A Tino's Smoky Mountain Homecoming - A celebration of fall. Visit Robert A. Tino's art gallery, enjoy live bluegrass music on the grounds, arts and crafts exhibits, and food vendors.

Wears Valley Fall Fest features three full days of family fun. Families will find traditional elements such as pumpkins, crafts, incredible southern food and entertainment!

4. Hayrides

Gatlinburg offers old fashioned hayrides through the streets of downtown Gatlinburg. As fall begins in the Smoky Mountains, take this fun filled hayride and enjoy breath taking views of beautiful mountain foliage. Departure is at traffic light #6 at the Mountain Mall. Rides leave approximately every 45 minutes, November 1 - December 31. Call 865-436-3897 for more information.

hay ride

Cades Cove Riding Stables offers a 1.5 – 2 hour hayride around the Cades Cove Loop Road. Passengers sit on a bed of hay in a trailer pulled by a truck and enjoy an open air view of the scenery of Cades Cove. Reservations are generally required and can be made by calling (865) 448-9009. Rates are $6.00 per person.

Apple Valley Riding Stables has a hayride drawn by a tractor while riding on an old wooden hay wagon.

Life Down on the Farm offers hayrides and a corn maze as well as a firepit for group gatherings on the creek.

5. Smoky Mountain Fall Getaway

Take in some fresh mountain air on the deck of your Smoky Mountain cabin getaway. Sip on your favorite beverage while sitting in a rocking chair or relaxing in your outdoor hot tub overlooking the mountains. After a day of sightseeing, shopping, or visiting attractions, enjoy the evening in front of your cozy fireplace. During the day, take in a hike in the national park. You will also want to shop at the outlet malls in Sevierville, take a tour of the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community in Gatlinburg, and visit some art galleries and unique shops in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.

fall getaway
Find a Cozy Cabin
for your Fall Getaway!

6. Apple Picking
apple picking
At Baxter's Orchard in Cosby, TN you can pick every type of apple you could want; Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Milam, Staymen Winesap, York, Rome Beauty, Granny Smith, Jonathon. Get all you can then take home and make apple crisps, caramel apples, apple pie or anything else apple that makes your taste buds soar. Baxter's also has pumpkins.

Open: Early September to late November; Mondays - Sundays, 8:00am-6:00pm.
Map & Directions

7. Golfing
There are a number of challenging golf courses in Knoxville and in surrounding areas. Enjoy playing at scenic beauty, four-season climate courses while enjoying the views of the Great Smoky Mountains -- from scenic to Championship courses.


Whether you are playing from the par 71, 4,781-yard front tees to the par 70, 5,729-yard back tees, the classic design of Whittle Springs Golf Course has small bent grass greens that vary in undulation, and sloping Bermuda fairways. Bent Creek Golf Course, designed by three time Masters and British Open Championship Winner Gary Player, is a par 72 course. The front nine hugs the valley floor while the back nine offers a challenging mountain course. A beautiful sparkling mountain stream meanders throughout the entire course.

Deadhorse Lake Golf Course offers a par 72 course. The rolling landscape ensures that you never know what to expect on the next hole while Dead Horse Lake appears throughout all 18 holes, keeping you on your toes.

Gatlinburg Golf Course offers the well-seasoned golfer as well as the beginner a challenge on every hole, while its scenic beauty is unsurpassed. The course has been acclaimed as one of the most picturesque courses in America with breathtaking views of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Knoxville Municipal Golf Course is known for its scenic views and for the challenging golfing experience for players of all abilities.

Laurel Valley Golf Course offers beautiful mountain views, an abundance of wildlife, laser leveled tee boxes, and challenging undulating greens.

8. Mountain Train Ride
In autumn, the mountains of Western NC are a dramatic display of fiery sugar maples, buttery poplars and crimson oaks. Enjoy the cool crisp air of fall from an Open Air Gondolas or a First Class Car. The Great Smoky Mountain Railroad provides you with the best seat in the house! Take in ALL the colors of this autumn canvas masterpiece! In the month of October enjoy one these fantastic excursions!

train ride

Nantahala Gorge Excursion: This 4-½ hour westbound excursion carries you 44 miles to the Nantahala Gorge and back again. Travel the Little Tennessee and Nantahala Rivers across Fontana Lake and into the magic of the Nantahala Gorge.

Tuckasegee River Excursion: This 32 mile roundtrip excursion travels eastbound along the Tuckasegee River through old railroad towns and scenic meadows. The train ventures into the historic Cowee Tunnel before passing the movie The Fugitive train wreck. The approximate 4 hour trip includes a 1 ½ hour layover in the town of Dillsboro.

9. View Wildlife
One of the best places to view wildlife is in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You can see black bears, white tailed deer, elk, wild turkey, fox and even barn owls. When you spot wildlife in the National Park, please pull to the side of the road to allow other vehicles to pass and to allow traffic to flow smoothly. For your safety, be sure to stay within 150 feet of wildlife.

wildlife viewing
Wildlife in the national park. Images by Jeaneane Payne.

You can enjoy wildlife a little closer at:
Briarwood Ranch Safari Park (taking a 4 mile safari with animals from 6 continents)
Deer Farm Exotic Petting Zoo (pet and feed the animals from reindeer to kangaroos)
Parrot Mountain (tropical birds from all over the world)
Rainforest Adventures Discovery Zoo (over 400 live animals)
Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies (with over 10,000 exotic sea creatures)
Zoo Knoxville - over 800 animals

10. Enjoy a Tasty Bowl of Soup
Many Knoxville restaurants serve up really tasty homemade soup -- 55 different soups altogether! Colder temperatures bring hearty appetites and a need to stay warm and healthy. A number of area restaurants are serving up homemade soups of all flavors. Whet your appetite with your favorite soup.

soup Restaurants that serve hot soup

11. Farmers Markets
farmers market knoxville
Knoxville has a variety of farmers markets. Market Square Farmers' Market is an open-air farmers' market located on Market Square in the heart of downtown Knoxville. The market is open every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. until mid-November.

The Knoxville Farmers Market operates on Tuesdays and Fridays, 3 to 6 p.m. through late November. Local farmers, growers and bakers bring a wide variety of products to the market located in the lower parking lot of the Laurel Church of Christ, 3457 Kingston Pike at the corner of Cherokee Boulevard.

Dixie Lee Farmers' Market makes it easy to buy fresh locally grown produce. Saturday mornings from 9 am to noon.
12. White Water Rafting
The Little Pigeon River runs through the heart of the Smoky Mountains. If you want heart-stopping sensations while experiencing rapids for the entire family you won't be disappointed. Class 1 and 2 rapids in the Lower Pigeon are an enjoyment for families with small children under 8 (or 70 lbs.), while class 3 and 4 rapids in the Upper Pigeon are for taking it to the edge. Stretches of river also offer you time to enjoy the breath taking scenery and time to relax. Surrounded by Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cherokee National Forest, Martha Sundquist State Forest and the Appalachian Trail, the river has carved its rocky riverbed through some of the most thrilling country in East Tennessee.
13. Pumpkin Cooking
Get pumpkins at local farmers' markets or from a pumpkin patch at a local farm. Make pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin bread, pumpkin butter, and jack-o-lanterns.
14. Tennessee Football
ut vols
The University of Tennessee VOLS serve up some interesting football games during the fall season.

Image courtesy of

15. Photography Tours
Some of the best photography spots include:

View of Mt. LeConte from Newfound Gap Road. Image by Jeaneane Payne.

1. Newfound Gap Road -- This road runs between Sugarlands Visitor Center (just outside of Gatlinburg) and takes you all the way to Cherokee NC. Along the way you will discover many photographic opportunities -- mountain peaks, overlooks, hiking trails amidst the fall foliage, rivers, wildlife, and more.
2. Cades Cove with white tailed deer, wild turkey, fox and bear are seen along the 11-mile one-way loop around the cove which features a grist mill, a variety of barns, three churches, and an interesting collection of log homes and out buildings.
3. Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail - This is a driving trail which provides spectacular scenic views of the Smoky Mountains. There are several overlooks, waterfalls, mountain streams, hiking trails, and historic structures.
4. Clingman's Dome offers magnificent views of the Smoky Mountains.
5. Ramsey Cascades. Being the highest waterfall in the Smokies, Ramsey Cascades follows rushing rivers and streams for most of its length.
6. The Sinks -- Located on Little River Road (Between Sugarlands Visitor Center and Townsend), the views of The Sinks are incomparable. There is also a hiking trail which provides additional views.
7. Morton Overlook - This overlook is located on Newfound Gap Road in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is one of the best spots to capture a sunset, morning mist, or a daytime view.

16. Smoky Mountain Fall Harvest Festival
The Smoky Mountain Fall Harvest Festival begins the last of September and runs through the end of October.

fall harvest festival
Fall display at The Island in Pigeon Forge. Image by Jeaneane Payne.

Throughout the cities of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, Townsend, and Wears Valley you will see beautiful fall decor at businesses, attractions, theme parks, shopping malls, arts and crafts communities, and along roadways.

There are many special events, including arts & crafts festivals, gospel music, bluegrass music, and much more.

17. Tennessee Fall Homecoming
There's nothing better than attending a festival in the fall. The crisp air is refreshing, the aroma of food smells better, and the mountain music makes you want to kick up your heels.

The Tennessee Fall Homecoming is one of America's largest and most authentic music and folk festivals. Each day, all day, musicians perform on rustic outdoor stages; filling the air with the sounds of traditional mountain, folk, Bluegrass, Gospel, old-time and Americana music throughout the grounds. The weekend includes demonstrations of pioneer skills, a large craft fair with authentic Appalachian artisans, and traditional Southern foods. The Museum offers a picturesque backdrop for this annual festival, with its dozens of historic log buildings, display halls filled with authentic artifacts, and gardens and farm animals surrounded by split-rail fences.

18. Apple Barn
The Apple Barn Cider Mill & General Store in Sevierville, TN -- It really is a barn that was built in 1910 and has over 4,000 apple trees.

apple barn

You can experience the Cider Room, Apple Pie Kitchen, Candy Factory, The Creamery, Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant, Apple Barn Winery and The Applewood Farmhouse Grill. The apple fritters with apple butter will melt in your mouth. Taste some apple cobbler, apple cake or applewood chicken salad croissant. You can enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner at either restaurant.

19. Zip Lines
What a way to enjoy the beauty of fall foliage than on a zip line in the Smoky Mountains! You'll find ziplines in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, Townsend, and Sevierville. Flying through the trees at up to 40 miles per hour is an exhilarating experience you'll never forget.

Ziplines is the fastest growing attraction in the Great Smoky Mountains, where awe inspiring panoramic views meet heart-pounding excitement!

Have you ever wondered what the treetops looked like from the same view that birds and squirrels have? The amazing expanse of branches, the lushness of the leaves as they wave in the wind. What would you give to soar through the forest the same way that a gliding blue jay does?

20. Go Hiking in the Smokies

Great Smoky Mountains National Park provides many opportunities for walking and hiking. Much of the interest and mood presented in the park depends on finding subtle variations in nature not seen from automobiles. Wildflowers, cascading streams, the scent of evergreens, and the sounds of birds are best seen and experienced away from roads. The National Park Service maintains 800 miles of trails here.

Published September 23, 2017

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