Rake it All in: Top Things to Do in Fall

As the weather turns cooler, Greater Williamsburg bursts with autumn colors and a host of exciting events — from arts and culture to theme parks and the outdoors.

Yorktown Wine Festival
An Occasion for the Arts
Williamsburg Harvest Celebration

Autumn is the perfect time to visit Greater Williamsburg with its cooler temperatures and calendar chock full of lively events. And don’t forget the spectacular changing of the leaves, which usually reaches its peak in mid-October.

Here are some highlights of the season.

Williamsburg Fall Arts is a water-themed celebration that begins on Labor Day and runs through late October. It is heaven for culture fans. View America’s greatest painters of water life, the American Society of Marine Artists (ASMA), at the Muscarelle Museum of Art at the College of William & Mary.  The Virginia Symphony Orchestra presents water-inspired programs at Yorktown’s Riverwalk Landing and the Lake Matoaka Amphitheatre at William & Mary. The Williamsburg Art Gallery is hosting "Making Waves: An Exploration of the Maritime World of Art," an invitational art exhibition consisting of works by America's foremost marine artists and sculptors from ASMA.

In Yorktown, the Celebrate Yorktown Committee’s opening-night art show is "Art of the Water" and set against the backdrop of the scenic York River. 

Blues, Beach Music and Appalachian Tunes

The fall music calendar is eclectic and entertaining. The Big Bluesy: a Blues Music Festival takes place Sept. 17 and 18 at the Jamestown Beach Event Park and features the best of Virginia blues from the beach to Richmond for 12 hours both days.

At the Lake Matoaka Amphitheater at the College of William & Mary on Sept. 17 there’s the annual Salute to Jimmy Buffett. Yes, the Parrotheads will be dancing fools. 

On Oct. 8, the Miller-Rowe Consort, a duo playing hammer dulcimer and guitar, performs in the Hennage Auditorium at the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg. The show will be a tour of Appalachian music from its founding to the present. 

Throughout September, Water Street Grille at Riverwalk Landing hosts live music every Friday and Saturday night.

Take a Hike

Take in the dazzling fall foliage with a hike. The Greensprings Greenway Interpretative Trail links history and nature over more than five miles (with several loop options) close to Jamestown Settlement. Explore a different landscape by hiking the dozen short trails of the coastal estuary at York River State Park.

Spend Sunset or Sunrise on the Water

Head to the James City County Marina in Jamestown for an early morning kayak paddle with the Chesapeake Experience at 9 a.m. on Oct. 2 or watch the sun fade over the water with a sunset paddle beginning at 5 p.m. on Oct. 22. The paddle begins in Powhatan Creek, a tributary of the James River, and winds up the creek. Expect to see bald eagles, osprey, great blue herons and water marsh plants.

Find Your Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Orange rules the day in Pumpkinville in Toano. There, you can pick your own pumpkin or choose from those already-plucked and showcased in the yard of the family farm. There's plenty more than pumpkins to purchase, including gourds, winter squash, flowers, arts and crafts and fall decorations, such as bundles of cornstalks and bales of straw. A free hayride during the Halloween season circles the field and there's a corn maze to explore.

Scream Therapy

Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream is shock therapy on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from Sept. 25 to October 30. This year, brave new scare zones, terrifying shows and gruesome creatures jumping from the shadows. For the young or the faint of heart, check out the tamer entertainment at the Sesame Street Forest of Fun.

Swing Your Partner

Put on those dancing shoes the third Monday of the month through Dec. 19 for swing dances at the Watermen’s Museum in Yorktown. Don't know how? It doesn't matter. You can take a lesson starting at 7:30 p.m. before the steps get a little more serious at 8 p.m.

Do Some Book Learning

New York Times best-selling author Rita Mae Brown headlines the Williamsburg Book Festival on Oct. 1, a free event at The Stryker Center.

Sample the Bounty of the Season

The Yorktown Market Days and Fall Festival Celebration on Oct. 10 features produce, meat and seafood, baked goods, cut flowers, art and free entertainment at Riverwalk Landing. Don’t miss the hayrides and the hay maze, especially fun for kids.

The Williamsburg Harvest Celebration returns for a second year Nov. 4-13 centered on the story of America's love of farm- and sea-to-table cuisine. After all, farm-to-table was not a trend in 1607; it was a way to survive. Enjoy more than 35 events throughout the Greater Williamsburg area highlighting the top chefs, brewers, winemakers, foragers, and farmers in the region. 

Sample the best Virginia wines, oysters and barbecue at the annual Yorktown Wine Festival on Oct. 1.

Thanksgiving, the Colonial Way

From Nov. 24 to 26, Jamestown Settlement will feature Foods and Feasts of Colonial Virginia, a special event showcasing how food was gathered, preserved and prepared on land and sea by the British colonists and the Powhatan Indians. Meanwhile, at the Yorktown Victory Center, visitors will learn about the typical grub served to soldiers during the Revolution. Transport your palate back two centuries.

Take advantage of fabulous weather, a wealth of things to do, Fall deals and packages and plan your trip to Greater Williamsburg today.