With the arrival of September, we look forward to cooler days, going back to school, and celebrating autumn. We will attend festivals, visit markets and vineyards, go on walks, hikes, and bicycle treks, and take scenic drives into the mountains, through wide open spaces and along rivers and coastlines. We might even take a train ride.
Large numbers of Andy Griffith fans are expected in his hometown of Mount Airy, N.C., Sept. 24–30, for the celebration of Mayberry Days, now in its 29th year.
During the popular event, festivalgoers seek the autographs of the surviving stars and tribute artists of “The Andy Griffith Show,” watch clips of the famous television classic, visit the Andy Griffith Museum, take rides in Deputy Barney Fife’s squad car, and listen to live music at the Historic Earle Theatre or the Blackmon Amphitheatre. Some may dine at Snappy Lunch, visit Floyd’s City Barber Shop, and look for Mayberry souvenirs along Main Street.
In recent years, vineyards and wineries have replaced old tobacco fields all over Mount Airy’s surrounding Yadkin Valley, and almost all these operations are open for tours and tastings.
Virginia brews and spirits are the focus of the ninth annual Lynchburg Beer, Wine, and Cider Festival, to be held Sept. 15 at Lynchburg City Stadium. Sampler ticket holders may taste 10 4-ounce glasses of beer and cider, plus unlimited wine samples, from 75 different vendors at the event. In addition, the festival features art, food, and live music.
In Elkins, W.Va., the Mountain State Forest Festival, Sept. 30–Oct. 8, features lumberjack contests, forestry and wood exhibits, parades, concerts and shows, a photography exhibit, a juried art show, quilt exhibition, bass-fishing competition, and more.
If you want to celebrate fall by taking a road trip, there are plenty of scenic highways to travel in the Mid-Atlantic.
Virginia’s Crooked Road goes through 19 counties, 50 towns and communities, and four cities in Southwest Virginia, a region known for its rich music heritage. What makes traveling this route so unique are the 25 wayside exhibits that tell the story of the music and the artists associated with a particular region, plus the five-minute audio recordings that can be picked up on an FM car radio within a half mile of each site. Highlights include the Carter Family Fold in Scott County, the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol, and the Ralph Stanley Museum in Clintwood.
The Blue Ridge Parkway, another one of America’s most beautiful drives, begins at the southern terminus of Skyline Drive and travels over mountain crests through 29 counties in Virginia and North Carolina for 469 miles, before ending at the Cherokee Indian Reservation and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Visitors enjoy the parkway’s historical signs and overlooks and vistas, as well as places to hike, picnic, and camp. The parkway offers easy access to attractions, restaurants, and hotels along the way.
Another option is the Wilderness Road, Route 11, which cuts through the heart of the Shenandoah Valley from Winchester south to Roanoke. Both cities offer attractions that are worth a stop. Other popular places to visit along the historic road that was used by Native Americans and early pioneers are Natural Bridge State Park, Lexington, and Staunton.
There’s much beauty to discover in the Canaan Valley of West Virginia via a 20-mile drive on Route 32 from Harman to Thomas that includes Canaan Valley State Park, Blackwater Falls State Park, and the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge.
One of Pennsylvania’s most scenic drives is Route 44, built in 1927 as a corridor from the New York state line to the Jersey shore. Popular with motorcyclists and automobile travelers today, the 149-mile route travels through several rural counties and townships, from Interstate 80 and Route 42 in Buckhorn to the New York state line near Route 417 in Ceres Township.
The Delaware River Scenic Byway, especially beautiful in the fall, includes New Jersey’s Washington Crossing State Park, where George Washington and the Continental Army launched their attack on Trenton after they crossed the icy waters of the Delaware River on Dec. 25, 1776. Also located along the historic route are the riverside towns of Titusville, Lambertville, Stockton, Raven Rock, and Frenchtown, all known for their historical significance.
Another exciting way to celebrate fall is to visit West Virginia’s Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, one of the only authentic operating museums of lumber railroading in America. The park is built around the company town, which was founded in 1901 to serve the employees of the West Virginia Spruce Lumber Company.
An 11-mile heritage railroad, operated by the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad, provides several excursions up the steep grade of Back Allegheny Mountain, including a two-hour trip to Whitaker Station, a five-hour trip to the ghost town Spruce, and a five-hour trip to Bald Knob at an elevation of 4,843 feet, the third highest summit in the Mountain State. Also offered are dinner trains and Christmas excursions.
In addition to taking train rides, visitors may learn more about the area at at the Cass Historical Museum, take a guided tour of the locomotive shop where Shay, Heisler, and Climax engines are restored, watch a documentary about Cass and its railroad, and enjoy recreational pursuits such as biking, hiking, fishing, and geocaching.
Carol Timblin welcomes travel news at email@example.com.