Cooler temperatures and shorter days in Charlotte bring with them changing leaves and beautiful North Carolina scenery. Walk along local routes, or drive across the Virginia state line to the Blue Ridge Parkway to view the colorful change the right way: surrounded by nature.
Drive an hour and a half north via I-77 to exit 6 across the Virginia state line to the Blue Ridge Parkway back in time through a scenic route. The Blue Ridge Parkway is about 1.5 miles from I-77 exit 6, and connects near Fancy Gap at mile marker 199.5. Continue on the parkway to the Visitor Center in Roanoke, Va., for an 85-mile, or about 3-hour, drive each way.
Known for its historic towns and natural beauty, there’s no mystery as to why this is “America’s Favorite Drive” and the perfect way to view changing leaves. The 469-mile parkway connects the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina to the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, and offers ample hiking, camping and attractions along the way.
266 Mabry Mill Road Southeast
Meadows of Dan, VA 24120
The restaurant serving renowned buckwheat cakes and country ham has earned rights to being known as the parkway’s most famous attraction. Mabry Mill Gift Shop offers drivers the opportunity to get out of the car and stretch their legs with a self-guided tour and exhibits. Relax in the only cabins for rent on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Rocky Knob Cabins, and take in the most-photographed structure on the parkway.
Pine Spur Parking Overlook
Mile post 144.8
Named after the tree on the parkway emblem, Pine Spur Overlook allows tourists to take in the best scenery the drive has to offer. Walk around, take pictures and enjoy a second stretch break with views of Virginia’s beautiful scenery at this overlook.
Roanoke Discovery Center and trails
120 Mill Mountain Discovery Center
Roanoke, VA 24018
Get a glimpse of what the Roanoke Valley has to offer at the visitor’s center and trails along Mill Mountain. Attractions include environmental education, hiking and biking paths along with the Roanoke Star that illuminates the valley. Enjoy the overlook and Blue Ridge Mountain map while taking in the scenery and learning about the parkway.
Blue Ridge Music Center
700 Foothills Road
Galax, VA 24333
Old-time and bluegrass music bring the mountains to life. Scheduled performances allow patrons to get off the beaten path and dance to the beat of the country hills with free shows daily from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. The outdoor stage sets the scene for seasonal change to the sounds of a unique Blue Ridge music. The Roots of American Music Museum is free and open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Visit the calendar for a full list of scheduled performances.
Alton’s Kitchen and Cocktails
19918 N. Cove Road
Cornelius, NC 28031
After a long day of driving, visit Alton’s off of I-77 on the return back home. Located in the Lake Norman community, Alton’s offers a casual and welcoming patio dining experience to view falling leaves from. Daily specials include a three-course meal for $14 from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., and two-for-one happy hour deals served at the bar. Check out other daily specials and menu selections.
Mallard Creek and Clark Creek’s Greenway
Clarks Creek Greenway
9729 Mallard Creek Road
Charlotte, NC 28267
Walk off the car ride with a stroll through University City. The paved greenway stretches roughly six miles, and the gravel trail stretches about 1.2 miles. Take a bike, rollerblades or a dog to walk across bridges that connect North Charlotte neighborhoods. A multitude of trees line the greenway and water stream, making it an ideal place for watching leaves change. For directions and maps, visit the website.
Kate Heaton has literally lived up to her college mascot the Soaring Seahawk, as a flight attendant and graduate of UNC Wilmington, with a degree in Sociology and Communication Studies. When she is not soaring above clouds or at her base assignment in Roanoke, she resides in her hometown of Charlotte. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.