September 1, 2022
Fall in love with Cabarrus County.
Crisp air, colorful leaves and fun seasonal happenings make fall the perfect time to explore. Whether you want to go all in on pumpkins (and pumpkin spice) or just take advantage of cooler temperatures, this four-day itinerary covers the most memorable fall activities in the region.
Arrive early and start your long weekend in downtown Kannapolis! Set the tone for a flavor-filled visit with something sweet from Eat Cakes Bakery. Try a fresh-baked cinnamon roll with nuts and caramel sauce or go the savory route with a spinach and feta pastry. Don’t forget the coffee! Local Patriot Roasting Company is right next door and keeps the menu full of interesting options. If you can’t choose just one, sample four with one of their coffee flight boards.
With fuel in hand for the day ahead, take a walk to Atrium Health Ballpark. Open daily as a public park and home to the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers, this is a great place to stretch your legs.
Local boutiques along West Avenue beckon shoppers inside to discover the latest fashion trends and specialty gifts. Refresh your fall wardrobe with a cozy new sweater, grab a hot cinnamon or Macintosh apple candle from Old Town Soap Co. and pick out a puzzle at James Sweet Spot.
Ready for an afternoon refreshment? Stop in Cannon Honey Mill for a mead tasting, sample the latest cider at Tipsy Hare or pull up a seat and enjoy food truck fare and a fresh brew in the beer garden at Old Armor. Within the West Avenue District, get your drink to go so you don’t miss out on a moment of Cabarrus County’s gorgeous fall weather.
End the evening with dinner and a movie! First, indulge in a hearty meal from Chophouse 101. Just next door, the glowing marquee of the Art Deco-style historic Gem Theatre is an iconic spot for photos when visiting downtown Kannapolis. After your photoshoot, head inside to catch a first-run flick at one of the oldest single-screen movie theaters in operation today.
The menu at Groundwork Common cafe always features the most seasonal ingredients paired with fresh-roasted Verb Coffee. From seasonal sips like the Great Pumpkin and the classic Maple Butter Latte to satisfying breakfast sandwiches and bowls, this neighborhood favorite serves a scrumptious fall breakfast.
Creativity abounds in historic downtown Concord. Get inspired with a stroll through The Galleries, then shop for one-of-a-kind souvenirs at small businesses on Union Street. Leather makes the perfect fall accessory and ShoeBeeDo has no shortage of handmade pieces. Ready to curl up with a good book? Find your next read at Goldberry.
Around the corner, continue your treasure hunt at The Depot at Gibson Mill. This 88,000-square-foot antique mall is brimming with vintage items of all kinds. Pick up a serving dish for a special meal or find festive holiday decor for your home. The Depot is located at historic Gibson Mill, a renovated textile mill that also includes indoor fun like axe throwing, a board game cafe, escape room and developing food hall, Gibson Mill Market.
Steps away, head over to Cabarrus Brewing Company for Food Truck Friday. The craft brewery is in the former finished goods warehouse for the Gibson Manufacturing Company and is known for its award-winning brews. Sip Cabarrus Cotton, Boll Weevil Brown or Sew Juicy, order from popular food trucks and listen to live music.
Eager to taste more of Cabarrus County’s craft beer? The local craft beer scene has exploded and Buzzed Viking, High Branch, Old Well, Pharr Mill, Twenty-Six Acres and Southern Strain Brewing are all popular spots to spend a Friday evening sampling seasonal beers that celebrate fall.
It’s not fall until you’ve been to your first pumpkin patch. At Riverbend Farm, take a wagon ride into the pumpkin patch to pick the perfect jack-o-lantern-to-be and pose for photos at the vignettes set up around the farm. Or choose a pumpkin at Midland Farms — and don’t forget to stop to pet the goats and shop for handmade goat’s milk soap in the farm store.
Want to stay outside? Take a hike! There’s no better place to witness the changing of the seasons than on the trails. The Pharr Family Preserve Trail in Midland winds through 66 acres of lands protected by the Catawba Lands Conservancy. Enjoy the crisp fall morning as you follow the trail through the hardwood forest, where 48 different species of trees burst into color in the fall. It’s local leaf-peeping at its best.
You don’t have to believe in ghosts to appreciate the spirits at Southern Grace Distilleries. The distillery operates out of the former Mount Pleasant Prison, fermenting and distilling small-batch whiskey and bourbon in dorms that once housed prisoners. Behind Bars tours are available throughout the year and include a behind-the-scenes look at the distilling process (with tastings of the Conviction bourbon).
After the tour, stop at 73 & Main for dinner. The historic hosiery mill-turned-restaurant in downtown Mt. Pleasant dishes up steak, pork chops, seafood and pasta with sautéed spinach, bacon mac and cheese and other Southern sides. The restaurant also has a bourbon bar stocked with rare and antique bourbons, including spirts from Southern Grace Distilleries.
There’s always something fun on the calendar in Cabarrus County. When it comes to fall happenings here, these experiences are highlights you won’t want to miss.
The NHRA Carolina Nationals roar into town on Sept. 23-25, 2022. Every ticket doubles as a pit pass, so plan to be at the track for more than enough time to take in the races and roam around the pit area to observe crews at work on these impressive machines.
On Oct. 8-9, 2022, spend the weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Race fans can take in NASCAR Xfinity Series action with the Drive for the Cure 250 on Saturday. Then on Sunday, the Bank of America ROVAL 400 is the marquee event of the fall race weekend. Purchase a Pre-Race Track Pass to take part in the pre-race pit party, which features appearances from NASCAR personalities, catch driver introductions and attend the live concert. Stay for the race to cheer on your favorite drivers as they speed around the track in hopes of claiming the checkered flag in the NASCAR Cup Series race.
Step back in time at the Carolina Renaissance Festival. The annual festival takes place on weekends from Oct. 2 to Nov. 20, 2022. Watch magicians, acrobats and jugglers show off their skills, meet enchanted fantasy creatures like Fireflicker the Dragon and test your archery and axe-throwing skills. Shop items from local artisans and watch glassblowers and blacksmiths demonstrate historical skills.
Don’t leave the festival before lunch! The food vendors have prepared a feast. Try the stews, soups in a bread bowl, roasted nuts, fresh pretzels, turkey legs and mead — all fit for royalty.
Head to Harrisburg and raise a glass to a successful trip to Cabarrus County! Just around the corner from the speedway, Percent Tap House is a small-batch brewery with plenty to do. The calendar of events includes game nights, trivia, live music, bingo, food trucks and more.
Cabarrus County is packed with places to stay, from hotels right alongside racing action to inns that are steps away from charming downtowns. Along with these unique lodging options, browse a full list of area accommodations here to the find the best fit.
The activities above are all accompanied by even more fall festivals and Halloween fun, such as Howl-O-Ween at Great Wolf Lodge. The themed indoor water park resort also includes tons of dry land adventures and spook-tacular fun like Halloween crafts and a costume parade.
Built circa 1920, The Inn at Mt. Pleasant is an ideal spot for some serious downtime. Full breakfast is included with your stay and the gardens are a treat in the fall. Set out on a short walk past other historic homes to admire bright fall foliage and end in downtown Mt. Pleasant where shops and local restaurants like Cafe Lentz await.