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From foliage to food: How to experience Asheville in the fall

The WNC Farmers Market in October 2017. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

Whether you're a tourist or a life-long local, fall is a great time to be in Asheville. Here are some ideas to make the most of the season.

Visit the WNC Farmers Market

If you're looking for fresh produce, spices, cider, a pumpkin to carve, fall decorations or handmade crafts -- you need to stop by the WNC Farmers Market.

The seasonal decorations and produce all over the market are sure to put you in a festive mood. Not to mention, you're supporting local farmers.

Take a Drive

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a popular destination for visitors and locals year round, but it's the fall months that can give you some of the most spectacular views.

The weekend of Oct. 20-22 is expected to be the busiest of the year for the Blue Ridge Parkway. So, bring your patience and plan to see packed overlooks and parking areas.

Click here for tips on when and where to view fall foliage along the parkway.

Other cruising options include the Elk Mountain Scenic Highway and the Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway.

Take a Hike

There's nothing like being in the woods, hearing the crunch of leaves under your feet and inhaling the cool air, to really experience the beauty of the season.

If you're driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway, you have plenty of hiking options. If you're heading south of Asheville, you could check out Mount Pisgah at Mile Post 408. If you're heading north of Asheville, look out for Craggy Gardens/Pinnacle. Parking for both trail heads is located at Mile Post 364.

Other options in town include the Botanical Gardens at Asheville, near UNC Asheville. Admission and parking are free, but note that pets are not allowed. The North Carolina Arboretum has some some wooded walking trails, along with special exhibits. Admission price is $14 per personal vehicle.

Ride in a Hot Air Balloon

If you want to splurge on a unique experience of the mountains in fall, consider getting a bird's eye view of the leaves from a hot air balloon.

Autumn is a very popular time for hot air balloon rides, so if you want in on this experience, you'll need to act quickly. Asheville Hot Air Balloons operates out of Candler and offers shared flights at $235 per person and private flights for $600 per couple.

Sample Local Tastes of Fall

Starbucks isn't the only place to get pumpkin-flavored products. Many local businesses are celebrating the changing seasons with their own take on fall flavors. Here are some things to try if you have a craving for something festive:

  • Vortex Doughnuts is serving several odes to autumn, like apple butter cappuccino, a Mexican-style mocha called La Lucha, and pumpkin cake doughnuts.

  • Baked Pie Company can give you a slice of fall with flavors like pumpkin creme cheese and maple bourbon walnut. Baked Pie Company is known for their pie flights, but they are also offering a long list of pies you can take home for the holidays.

  • Edna's of Asheville: Are you really craving that pumpkin spice latte? You can get it here at this north Asheville coffee shop.

  • High Five Coffee is offering several seasonal treats, including a Spiced Pumpkin Latte that's made with organic pumpkin pie mix, maple syrup, brown sugar, nutmeg and clove. Their Caramel Chai Cider is made with organic apple-ginger juice, house-made chai concentrate. They also have a house-made browned-butter caramel made with Farm-to-Home cream and Madagascar vanilla bean.

Try Seasonal Beers/Ciders

Asheville is known for its craft beer scene and many of those breweries are known for their special and seasonal releases. Here are a few options if you're looking for a drink with a kick of fall.

  • Highland Brewing teamed up with Urban Orchard for their Apple Molasses Brown Ale. It's described as "a brown ale brewed with handmade apple molasses and fresh apple juice from Urban Orchard." Available at Highland's brewery and Urban Orchard Cider Bar on Oct. 27.

  • Wicked Weed's Pumpkin Up the Volume, "a traditional Pumpkin beer with pumpkin spicing & vanilla," is available on tap at Wicked Weed's pub location downtown.

  • Catawba Brewing recently teamed up with Dunkin' Donuts to make a "old-brew, pumpkin-flavored beer, utilizing the Dunkin’ ingredients." It's available exclusively at their four tasting rooms. Catawba is also offering their seasonal pumpkin ale called King Don's. It's described as an "orange-hued beer" flavored with "spices normally used for baking, and fresh pumpkin." Available on tap and in 12 oz. cans.

  • Noble Cider offers The Journeyman as a seasonal release. It's described as a mix of "cranberry, citrus and habanero."

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