A guide to leaf viewing this fall in East Tennessee.
In case you’ve been staying at home and haven’t stepped outside in a while, the weather is getting a bit cooler and some of the leaves are changing.
Fall is almost here, and if you’re searching for some socially distanced things to do this season, here’s what is happening across East Tennessee.
Craft Bear Nights at Zoo Knoxville: Thursdays in September
Lions and tigers and beers, oh my! Zoo Knoxville is hosting “Craft Bear Nights” every Thursday evening in September. Beer from two Knoxville breweries, dinner from a local food truck and Octoberfest-inspired zoo foods will be on the menu at the extended-hour events.
Craft Bear Nights start at 5 p.m. and end at 8 p.m. Food and drinks are sold separately from general admission tickets. Visit zooknoxville.org to learn more.
Annual Street Rod Nationals South: Oct. 2-4
The National Street Rod Association will host the Annual Street Rod Nationals South in Knoxville for the 37th time. The car show attracts car collectors from across the country to Chilhowee Park & Exposition Center. Nearly every make, model and style will be displayed the weekend of Oct.2-4.
Event details and spectator prices are available at nrsa-usa.com.
Boo at the Zoo: Weekends in October
Zoo Knoxville’s Boo at the Zoo is back. The annual event allows animal lovers to explore the grounds and trick-or-treat throughout the park on Oct. 8-11, 15-18 and 22-25. Boo at the Zoo begins at 5 p.m. and ends at 8 p.m.
More information about Boo at the Zoo will be available at zooknoxville.org soon.
Oktoberfest At Ober: Sept. 25- Nov. 1
Ober’s 11th OktOBERfest kicks off Sept. 25 and ends Nov. 1. The Bavarian festival features German-themed food, drinks and music daily.
Visit obergatlinburg.com/oktoberfest for a festival schedule so you don’t miss the Smoky Mountain Oompah Band perform and outdoor Bier Garten hours.
Autumn at Anakeesta: All October
The outdoor amusement park is hosting fall events all October including live music, movie nights and more.
Every night after sunset, spooky strangers will haunt the Rail Runner coaster. Visitors can fly through the darkness on the Nighttime Dueling Zipline Adventure Friday and Saturday nights. Lundy Cupp, an award-winning pumpkin carver from Nashville, will carve pumpkins with guests Oct. 10, 17 and 24.
For a full schedule of events and ticketing, go to anakeesta/com/events.
Ripley’s Fright Nights: Every weekend in October
Ripley’s Haunted Adventure is celebrating “20 Years of Terror” with a special anniversary compilation of the best “Fright Nights” shows over the years. Shows are every Friday, Saturday and Sunday 6 p.m. until close.
Children must be at least 6 years old, but everyone should only enter if they dare. Tickets are available at ripleys.com/gatlinburg/haunted-adventure.
2020 Hands-On Gatlinburg Arts & Crafts Weekend: Oct. 2-4
Makers in the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community will host classes, giving guests the chance to learn how to make their favorite crafts with the help of a professional. The do-it-yourself classes include an abundance of art like painting, weaving, glassblowing and more.
Reserve your spot at gatlinburg.com/event/hands-on-gatlinburg.
Gatlinburg Chili Cookoff: Nov. 12
Taste homemade chili recipes from local restaurants and listen to live music at Gatlinburg’s annual Chili Cookoff presented by Bush’s Chili Beans. The event is set for Thursday, Nov. 12, from 5 to 8 p.m. in Downtown Gatlinburg.
Call 865-430-4148 for updates and event details.
Dollywood: Harvest Festival presented by Humana: Sept. 25-Oct. 31
Dollywood is preparing for its annual Harvest Festival and popular Great Pumpkin LumiNights by handmaking one-of-a-kind displays throughout the park. The fall festival will run Sept. 25 to Oct. 31 with the exception of Tuesdays and Thursdays.
For more information and hours, visit dollywood.com or download the Dollywood app.
Chalkfest at The Island: Sept. 26
The Island’s concrete will be a canvas of color during Chalkfest. All artists are invited to make their own masterpieces at the park. Registration, chalk and space are all free.
Save your spot or plan to spectate at islandinpigeonforge.com/chalkfest.
Elsewhere in East Tennessee
Dancing Bear Fall Bicycle Bash: Sept. 19
Bike for a cause in Townsend this fall. The Dancing Bear Fall Bicycle Bash begins Sept. 19 at Dancing Bear Lodge. Bicyclists can choose from three different rides (28 miles, 37 miles or 59 miles) to benefit Bike Elf, which gives donated bikes to kids in need.
Registration starts at $60 and include craft beer, lunch and more goodies. Find out more at dancingbearlodge.com.
Deep Well Farm: Opens Sept. 26
Deep Well Farm in Lenoir City is opening its corn maze, pumpkin patch and hayrides Sept. 26. There’s plenty more to explore on the farm and even more socially distanced space to have fall fun.
Check out everything Deep Well has to offer, pricing and hours at deepwellfarm.com.
Not Your Average Farm Tour: Last weekend of the month September-November
Searching for something different? Look no further. The Not Your Average Farm Tour takes participants on a day-long trip to three of East Tennessee’s most unique family farms. For $55, you can throw axes, pet alpacas and drink wine along the trail.
Three daily tours and planned for the last Saturday and Sunday of September, October and November. Tickets must be bought in advance by calling 865-745-2902. More information about the tour and tickets is available at facebook.com/NotYourAverageFarmTour.
Oakes Farm: Oct. 1- Nov. 1
Oakes Farm in Corryton is celebrating 20 years this year. The fall favorite will limit capacity and schedule guests’ visits to ensure the safest time on the farm.
Read about the changes at Oakes Farm and purchase tickets online at oakesfarm.com.
Maple Lane Maze: Oct. 2-31
This year is Maple Lane Maze’s 30th year in business. The Greenback farm’s impressive corn maze changes every year, providing fresh fall fun season-to-season. Visit Oct. 23-31 for some spooky shenanigans at the farm.
Information and ticket pricing is available at tnmaplelanefarms.com.
Grains & Grits Festival: Nov. 7
There’s nothing like craft spirits and gourmet grub to warm you up in the fall. In Townsend, the annual Grains & Grits Festival is returning Nov. 7 to do just that and let participants discover new tastes. New this year is the “Ring of Fire,” where five chefs will gather around a large fire pit to roast and serve a variety of meats inspired by distilleries’ concoctions.
General admission costs $65 online and $75 the day of the event. Event details and tickets are at grainsandgritsfest.com.
Great Smoky Mountains Food Truck Festival: Nov. 13-14
The Great Smoky Mountains Food Truck Festival is planned for Nov. 13-14 at Little Arrow Outdoor Resort in Townsend. The first-ever event was scheduled for the spring but had to be postponed until fall because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers are hoping to bring food trucks from across the region to the festival for foodies to enjoy.
Updates and information about the event are available at facebook.com/gsmFoodTruckFestival.
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