Chattanooga’s 2021 fall bucket list

Raccoon Mountain Reservoir Loop is 1 of our favorite places to check out the foliage | Photo via NOOGAtoday

The day — 1 day after the Autumn Equinox

The high — 70º

The vibe — 🍁🌰🥧🥾🎃☕

Bust out your sweaters, hiking boots, pumpkin spice creamer + calendars — we’re back with the ultimate Chattanooga Fall Bucket List. Whether your favorite autumn activities include scenic sights, comfort food, or getting spooked, we’ve got you covered.

🍂 Activities

  • Take a drive to see fall foliage | If you’re in need of some help, check out last year’s foliage guide
  • Go on a hike | There’s nothing more Chattanooga than taking a scenic hike during the fall — our favorite fall hikes are Point Park + Craven’s House loop, Fiery Gizzard Trail, and Falling Waterfalls (which is less of a hike and more of a quick jaunt to see gorgeous views)
  • Bike around the city | Summer bike rides along the riverwalk are hard to beat, but there’s something about a crisp bike ride to your favorite coffee shop in the fall that’s really special. Pro Tip: Rent a bike for the day via Bike Chattanooga, or go on a full bike tour with Bike The South.
  • Go on a ghost tour | Chattanooga Ghost Tours offers its services year-round, but they’re particularly spooky + appropriate when the weather gets cooler and the sun sets earlier.
  • Find a cozy spot to read | Take a trip to the Chattanooga library, pick up a good book, and start reading. Bonus: Pumpkin spice lattes are back at the library’s Shush Cafe.

🎃 Farms + orchards 

Apple Valley Orchard, 351 Weese Road SE, Cleveland | Various dates + times | While not a U-pick orchard, Apple Valley provides wagon ride tours complete with an apple + cup of cider at the end. Due to rising COVID-19 numbers, the orchard will not be doing weekend wagon rides.

Crabtree Farms, 1000 E 30th St. | Check Facebook for U-pick availability | Crabtree Farms is currently in the midst of its online fall plant sale, but they also provide seasonal U-pick pumpkin days that you can stay updated on via Facebook.

Bonus: The farm will host a pumpkin carving event on Oct. 2, Oct. 9, Oct. 16 + Oct. 23.

Guthrie’s Pumpkin Farm, 490 County Rd. 67, Riceville | Friday-Saturday, starting Sept. 24 | $15+ | This pumpkin farm located about ~1 hour from downtown features various activities to make it worth the drive, including a corn maze, wagon ride, animal petting barn, and pumpkins costing $0.50 a pound.

Red Apple Barn, 3379 Tails Creek Rd., GA | Weekday by appt., Saturday + Sunday | Sat., 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. + Sun., 1-4 p.m. | $9.50 | Located ~1 hour away, admission to the barn includes a tractor ride, an apple from the Orchard, a cup of apple cider, an apple cider doughnut, 2 flowers, rock + pumpkin painting, games, picnic areas and playground access. U-pick apples + pumpkins are available.

Smith Perry Berries, 9626 Ooltewah Georgetown Rd. | Weekends, starting Sept. 25 | 10 a.m.-6 p.m. | Well-known for their summer sunflowers, Smith Perry also has pumpkins, kettlecorn, and games available in the fall. Check Facebook for additional hours as the season continues.

Weaver Tree Farms, 308 Signal Mountain Rd. | Daily, starting Sept. 24 | 9 a.m.-9 p.m. | Price of purchase | Opening day is tomorrow for this popular pop-up “pumpkin patch” with the large, inflatable pumpkin lining the side of the road. 

Pro Tip: If you’re a sucker for tiny pumpkins + gourds, this place is your dream patch.

🎪 Fall festivals

Apple Festival | Sept. 26 | 11 a.m.-4 p.m. | Chattanooga Market, First Horizon Pavilion | Free | The Chattanooga Market, but more hard-core — apple cake, apple jelly, apple pie, apple candles + more. 

Boo in the Zoo | Fridays + Saturdays in October, starting Oct. 15 | 4-8 p.m. | Chattanooga Zoo | $15 | This family-friendly event features decorations, trick-or-treat stations, a scavenger hunt, costume contests, and more.

Chattanooga Oktoberfest | Oct. 9-10 | Oct. 9, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. + Oct. 10, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. | Chattanooga Market, First Horizon Pavilion | Free | Enjoy a full Biergarten, local vendors, the Wurstbrats Oompah Band, and Oktoberfest foods.

Rock City’s Rocktoberfest | Weekends in October | 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. | Rock City, 1400 Patten Rd. | $14.95+ | This yearly event features live German music, German food, specialty beer, birds of prey shows, costumed characters, and more.

Soddy-Daisy Fall Festival | Oct. 2 | 9 a.m. | Soddy-Daisy Farmer’s Market, 9817 Dayton Park | Free | Celebrate the reopening of the Soddy-Daisy market with a full fall festival — more details coming soon.

3 Sisters Bluegrass Festival | Oct. 1-2 | Oct. 1, 6-11 p.m. + Oct. 2, 12-10 p.m. | Ross’s Landing, 201 Riverfront Pkwy. | Free | Because fall is prime time for Bluegrass music — featuring artists like Ricky Skaggs, Fireside Collective, and more.

☕ Food + drinks

Be Caffeinated | Pumpkin spice chai, coffee cake donuts

Clumpies Ice Cream | Autumn sangria sorbet + coffee cake, dirty chai, maple pecan crunch, oatmeal apple butter, and pumpkin buttermilk ice cream flavors

Hutton & Smith | Rocktoberfest brew

Rembrandt’s Coffee House | Sticky bun latte, harvest moon fog, pumpkin apple chai, pumpkin spice frappe + pumpkin spice latte

Sleepyhead Coffee | Vegan pumpkin spice latte, apple chai, pumpkin chai, vegan + gluten free pumpkin spice donut

Stone Cup Café | Maple spice chai

Syrup and Eggs | Dirty chai latte + apple-solutely pie pancakes

Together Café | Pumpkin pie latte, Autumn cold brew, pumpkin pie chai + vegan cookie butter latte

Wildflower Tea Shop | Rose cardamom chai 

💵 The buy

Fall decor from Merchants on Main | From cute fall mugs to dish towels + seasonal signs, Merchants on Main has various cute decor items for fall.

Mums from Barn Nursery | Mums are the best fall flower, and we’re willing to fight on it — pick some up  at the Barn Nursery to brighten your yard + set that autumnal mood.

Rustic House candles | This local brand’s fall collection is full of cozy scents, from bourbon + brown sugar and farmhouse cider to pumpkin chai and apples + honey.

Seasonal goodies from the Chattanooga Market | There are always fall goodies to be found at the market, but even if you don’t find a treasure, there’s just something that feels right about going to the market on a crisp fall morning.

Pro Tip: Editor Brianna’s favorite piece of fall decor — a hand towel featuring the cutest porcupine holding a pumpkin — came from last year’s Chattanooga Market.

💀 Haunted houses

Dread Hollow | Thursday-Sunday, starting Oct. 1 | Various times | 321 Browns Ferry Rd. | $25 | We’ll keep it blunt and just say that this haunted house is pretty scary — not recommended for children under 12.

Hell’s Bar Dam | Weekends, starting Sept. 24 | Various times, dependent on attraction | 1265 Hales Bar Rd | $20+ | Situated at Hale’s Bar Dam — a spot already known for being haunted — you can choose from multiple spooky attractions like “Black Out,” in which you enter the haunted house with no lights on.

The Haunted Barn | Fridays + Saturdays, starting Oct. 1 | 7 p.m.-12 a.m. | 5017 McDonald Rd., McDonald | $20 | More than just a haunted spot, the barn also has a live DJ, bonfire, and concession stand to make waiting your turn to go inside a bit easier.

The Haunted Hilltop | Fridays + Saturdays, starting Oct. 1 | 7 p.m.-1 a.m. | 8235 TN-58, Harrison | $20 | The Haunted Hilltop features a bonfire, hayride through the woods, concessions, and a Halloween store in addition to its haunted house.

🚗 Fall road trips

  • Camp at South Cumberland State Park | Located ~45 minutes away, enjoy the changing colors of the leaves, a grand waterfall, and a hike on Fiery Gizzard Trail, all located next to the Foster Falls campground. If you’re wanting a slightly more primitive experience, try the Father Adams campground that’s ~.05 miles from the parking lot via Fiery Gizzard Trail.
  • Drive the Cherohala Skyway | The Cherohala Skyway makes for 1 of the best autumn drives, starting right here in Tennessee. The 43-mile National Scenic byway starts in Tellico Plains, TN, and will take you to Robbinsville, North Carolina. The start of the drive in Tellico Plains is roughly an hour and a half from downtown Chattanooga, so plan on a long drive. 

Pro Tip: Make sure your car is gassed up + your snack bag is full when you start the drive — the only facilities on the 40+ mile byway are a few scattered restrooms.

  • Go sightseeing at Fall Creek Falls | Fall Creek Falls provides 26,000 acres of pristine wilderness + is home to the tallest waterfall east of the Rockies at 256 feet. You’ve probably seen photos of this place in the fall, and for good reason.

Bonus: The park hosts a variety of events each month, so you can take advantage of a scenic pontoon or kayak tour when we reach peak fall foliage.

🍁 Your fall favorites

“A seasonal latte and pastry at Rembrandt’s early morning, followed by a slightly chilly walk along the waterfront or across the bridge!” Destin S.

“The Five Points 50/25 mountain bike race starting at Lula Lake is a fall classic that I’ve participated in for the last several years. Great event and great after party!” Greg H.

“Visit Snoopers Rock at Sunrise (I should probably stop recommending this one because it’s started to become too popular, but it’s where my husband and I got married and our best friends got engaged so we’ll keep going back), Tailgate a UTC home game at Finley Stadium, Go Camping (lots of great local choices for this)” Abigail C.

“Go trout fishing”Daniel E.

“Hiking short trails to enjoy the colors and cooler weather. We like Glen Falls on Lookout Mountain. But would be interested in other ideas.” Monika V.