Fall in Love with the Deep South: 10 Autumn Activities to Add to Your Calendar
As the sun sets a little earlier and the breeze carries with it the faint scent of burning wood, there’s no denying that autumn is upon us. There’s something magical about this time of year—the way the trees adorn themselves in vibrant hues of red, orange and gold, the way the air seems to crackle with anticipation. But in the Deep South, fall takes on an entirely different character. It’s not just about the changing leaves; it’s about the rich tapestry of experiences waiting to be discovered.
We’ll guide you through a Southern journey like no other. From giant pumpkins to spooky woods, indigenous celebrations and food festivals, we’ve curated a list of activities that will make you fall head over heels for the Deep South. So, grab a warm drink, sit back, and let us paint for you a picture of autumn in the South that will leave you yearning for more.
The Great Pumpkin Pursuit and Watermelon Weigh-Off
Nestled in the charming town of Guston, Kentucky, The Great Pumpkin Pursuit and Watermelon Weigh-Off is a festival that celebrates the grandeur of nature’s bounty most uniquely. This festival, known for hosting the world’s largest giant watermelon-growing contest, is a spectacle to behold. It also showcases an impressive array of 1,000-pound pumpkins, destined for grand autumnal displays at events like Dollywood’s Great Pumpkin Luminights and The Great Pumpkin Spooktacular.
Growers from across the country journey to this event, their vehicles laden with mammoth gourds, all vying for the title of “the biggest.” Some of these gargantuan fruits have even made state records and dared to challenge the Guinness Book of World Records. The excitement peaks at noon when the weigh-in starts. The grower of the heaviest watermelon and pumpkin walk away with not just a $1,000 prize each, but also coveted bragging rights.
But the fun doesn’t stop at the weigh-off. The festival is hosted at Roberts Family Farm, which is a treasure trove of fall activities. You can lose yourself in the intricate corn maze, pick your perfect pumpkin from the patch, shop for unique items at the store, enjoy fresh-baked goods from the bakery or make some furry friends at the petting zoo.
Cox Farms Fall Festival
Situated in Centreville, Virginia, Cox Farms Fall Festival is a cornucopia of autumnal fun and adventures. Among its many attractions, the Cornundrum Cornfield Adventure stands out as a highlight. This intricate maze, filled with unexpected twists and turns, promises an exciting journey. As you navigate your way through, you’ll dodge imaginary monsters, traverse a make-believe jungle, uncover pirate caves and be delighted by funhouse mirrors.
But the fun doesn’t end at the corn maze. If you find yourself mastering the Cornundrum with ease, there are countless other activities to engage in. You can witness the traditional process of milking a cow or even try your hand at it while partaking in other farm chores. For thrill-seekers, there are towering slides that emerge from imaginative structures like castles, volcanoes and mountains.
Take a leisurely hayride around the farm, explore the tractor museum, try gem mining or pay a visit to the friendly inhabitants of the goat village. Amid all these activities, remember to refuel with some delicious kettle corn or fresh apple cider donuts, accompanied by a cup of Starbucks coffee or a refreshing root beer float. To top it off, live entertainment graces the festival almost every day, adding an extra layer of excitement to your visit. Cox Farms Fall Festival truly embodies the spirit of autumn, offering an unforgettable experience for all.
In the heart of the United States, a slice of authentic German culture comes alive in Helen, Georgia. Known for its Bavarian-style architecture, this charming town hosts the nation’s longest-running Oktoberfest celebration every year.
Oktoberfest originated in the early 1800s in Munich, Germany, as a festivity to honor the wedding of a prince and princess. Today, this tradition has found a home in the mountains of Georgia. The streets of Helen come alive with locals and visitors alike donning traditional lederhosen and dirndls, ready to sway to the rhythm of polka music played on accordions in dancehalls.
Weekends during Oktoberfest are marked by the ceremonial tapping of kegs, followed by a joyous celebration with an array of German beers. Authentic German cuisine, including wurst, sauerkraut and other traditional delicacies, adds to the festive atmosphere. The spirit of Oktoberfest truly resonates throughout Helen, making it a must-visit destination for an unforgettable Oom-pah experience.
Kersey Valley Spooky Woods
Dare to be scared at Kersey Valley Spooky Woods, located in Archdale, North Carolina. This 92-acre farm transforms into an epicenter of horror and thrills, offering a truly immersive haunted experience. The Spooky Woods spread across an impressive 50,000 square feet is reached via a spine-chilling haunted train ride teeming with monsters and horror-themed spectacles.
There’s more to explore with multiple haunted houses and a spooky midway that keep the adrenaline pumping. The cornfield laser maze adds a twist of adventure, challenging visitors to find their way out while dodging eerie characters. These characters roam around the park, injecting unexpected frights and keeping everyone on edge.
But it’s not all about scares. For a balanced evening of entertainment, there are various concessions, escape rooms, laser tag and even axe throwing. And for the bravest of souls, a night-time zipline ride offers a thrilling perspective of the Spooky Woods.
Ocmulgee Indigenous Celebration
The Ocmulgee Indigenous Celebration in Macon, Georgia, is a vibrant tribute to Southeastern Native American heritage. Each year, hundreds of artisans, dancers and storytellers from various nations, including Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, Seminole and more, assemble in Macon to showcase their art, celebrate their traditions and perform songs and dances unique to their cultures.
Beyond being a grand spectacle, the festival is also an educational journey into Native customs, crafts and cuisine. Visitors can explore the park’s structures and learn about the Indigenous way of life. The highlight of the festival is the Great Temple Mound, a structure that dates back to 1015 CE. Towering 55 feet high, it provides a fascinating peek into ancient history. The Ocmulgee Indigenous Celebration is not just a festival, but a living, breathing narrative of a rich and diverse cultural legacy.
Antique Alley Texas, Grandview
The Antique Alley Texas event is a sprawling flea market extravaganza that stretches across Johnson and Ellis Counties, embodying the Texan spirit that “everything is bigger in Texas.” This event transforms the towns of Grandview, Cleburne, Maypearl, Alvarado, Keene, Venus and Waxahachie into a massive treasure hunt spanning approximately 30 miles.
From one-of-a-kind art pieces to vintage collectibles, antiques and unique finds, this event is a paradise for bargain hunters and collectors. The event takes place over the weekend of the third Friday in September, adding a festive vibe to the early autumn days in Texas.
But it’s not just about shopping. Along this vast trail of treasures, you’ll find food trucks offering a variety of culinary delights, including homemade pies that are a must-try. The Antique Alley Texas event is more than a flea market; it’s a community celebration packed with memorable experiences.
Fall For Greenville
Fall For Greenville in South Carolina is a renowned food festival that encapsulates the vibrant culinary scene of Greenville in a single weekend. Over 50 restaurants, ranging from esteemed James Beard-nominated establishments to homely Southern eateries, set up shop along the city’s downtown streets, offering an array of small-plate delicacies. The event is a gastronomic delight, allowing attendees to sample the best of Greenville’s food scene.
But it’s not just about food; Fall For Greenville is also a celebration of music and community spirit. Throughout the weekend, visitors can enjoy over 80 free musical performances across six stages, turning downtown Greenville into a lively concert venue. From rock to country to jazz, there’s something for every music lover.
Fall For Greenville is also more than just a food festival. It’s a comprehensive cultural experience that showcases the city’s culinary talent, local music and community charm.
National Storytelling Festival
The National Storytelling Festival, held annually in Jonesborough, Tennessee, since 1973, is a unique event that celebrates the tradition of theatrical storytelling. The festival features a diverse and talented lineup of storytellers, including actors, TV personalities, children’s book authors, Grammy-nominated artists and even a five-time champion of the West Virginia Liar’s Contest. These performers bring to life an array of stories ranging from tall tales and fairy tales to ghost stories and folk tales.
In addition to the main performances, the festival also offers pre-event workshops and concerts. A notable highlight includes a talk by Kevin Kling, a commentator from NPR’s “All Things Considered,” who shares his insights on transforming hardships into healing through the power of engaging and entertaining storytelling.
But the excitement doesn’t end when the sun sets. On Friday and Saturday nights, the festival takes a thrilling turn with spine-chilling ghost stories, adding a touch of eerie October fun to the event. Immersive, educational and entertaining, the National Storytelling Festival is a testament to the enduring power and appeal of storytelling.
Giant Omelette Celebration
The Giant Omelette Celebration, held annually in Abbeville, Louisiana, is a delightful festival that honors a cherished tradition rooted in French history. According to legend, Napoleon and his army were once treated to an omelet by a local innkeeper while traveling through Southern France. So impressed was Napoleon with the dish that he ordered the townspeople to gather all their eggs and prepare a massive omelet for his entire army the following day. This act of communal cooking became known as Confrerie and evolved into a symbol of friendship, tradition and cultural exchange.
Abbeville, with its strong French heritage, serves as the proud host of Louisiana’s Confrerie. The Giant Omelette Celebration spans an entire weekend and features a variety of activities such as Cajun sing-a-longs, an egg cracking competition, a 2-mile fun walk, games and arts and crafts.
The highlight of the festival is undoubtedly on Sunday afternoon when chefs march through the streets to a 12-foot skillet. Here, they cook an enormous omelet made from over 5,000 eggs, which is then shared with festival-goers. Adding a touch of authentic French flavor, each plate is served with lauded French bread from Poupart’s Bakery.
Incredible Casino Destinations
If you’re seeking the thrill of gambling activities in the Deep South this fall, there are plenty of top-rated casinos to explore. Start your journey at Fitz Tunica Casino & Hotel in Mississippi. Known for its high-stakes gaming and Southern charm, it offers a variety of games and top-notch service, making it a must-visit destination. Next is Horseshoe Bossier Casino & Hotel in Louisiana. This upscale casino offers over 1,500 slot machines and 60 table games, promising a thrilling gambling experience for everyone.
Harrah’s Gulf Coast in Biloxi, Mississippi, boasts a vibrant casino floor and a stunning view of the Gulf of Mexico, providing an unforgettable gambling experience. Palace Casino Resort, also in Biloxi, is Mississippi’s only smoke-free casino. It offers high-end accommodations and an extensive gaming floor, perfect for those seeking a luxurious gambling getaway. Gold Strike Casino Resort in Tunica, Mississippi, combines Southern hospitality with high-stakes gambling. With a wide variety of games and top-notch service, it’s a standout choice for any casino-goer. Golden Nugget Biloxi, located on the beautiful Gulf of Mexico, is renowned for its opulent interiors and a wide array of gaming options.
Mardi Gras Casino & Resort in West Virginia offers a festive atmosphere and diverse gaming options, ensuring a fun-filled gambling experience. Lastly, Margaritaville Resort Casino in Bossier City, Louisiana, provides a tropical escape with its island-themed decor and relaxed atmosphere. It’s the perfect place to unwind while enjoying your favorite casino games. For those who prefer online gambling, Kentucky, West Virginia and Louisiana are among the few places in the Deep South where online gambling is legal. You can enjoy popular casino games like online blackjack, roulette, and poker from the comfort of your hotel room. Remember to check local laws and regulations before participating in online gambling to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.