It’s FINALLY Fall Y’all!

The temperature has finally dipped below 70 for a few consecutive days. You know what that means…

Fall is a beautiful gift here in the South East (unlike spring and summer, where Chattanooga seems hell-bent on smothering us with its heat and humidity). Soon the mountains will burst into vibrant colors, the crisp cool air will carry the familiar scent of burning leaves. Grab your pumpkin spice whatever, throw on a cozy sweater and celebrate this long-awaited change of season by creating a new fall family traditions.

Nothing screams fall family fun like apple picking. Take a day trip to Ellijay, GA to visit the Red Apple Barn. This time of year the scenic drive is spectacular. Enjoy a hayride to the orchards, pick a bushel full, and find a shady spot under the trees to gorge yourself. Plan a trip for this coming weekend and you can participate in the Georgia Apple Festival, which promises to be brimming with charm and delicious deep-fried treats. If paying a farmer to spend an afternoon working as a day laborer isn’t your thing, you can enjoy all the perks of apple picking without the work at Apple Valley Orchard. Dozens of varieties are sold in the store and the apple fritter in the attached restaurant is not to be missed.

{Paradise Garden / The Sculpture Field (photo by Nicole Manning)/ Rock Garden

Chattanooga is wildly proud of its outdoor art. Murals and sculptures are scattered around the city, as well as multiple free sculpture gardens. Outdoor pieces allow kids to be exposed to the arts in nature where they can, rather than a museum. Many of the pieces are designed to be touched and explored, perfect for kids of all ages. Just be sure to pay attention to signage that may indicate otherwise. Start by printing a map and plotting a course around downtown. Or take the short drive to Howard Finster’s Paradise Garden or the Rock Garden in Calhoun. Both roadside attractions use recycled materials to create a fanciful world of imagination begging to be explored.

The Chattanooga Market is getting ready to wrap up its 2017 season, but there’s a whole lot of fun to be had before the close of the year. Check out the Busker Festival this weekend, when the market will be packed with street performers, magicians, puppeteers, musicians, and mimes. In the following weeks there will be a Haunted Market, where kids can trick or treat, a Chili cook-off (which promises to be the most delicious market day of the year), and Big Band Day where you can jump and jive to the live music. As always there are dozens of local vendors, as well as food trucks, live music, and plenty of outdoor space to let the kids run a bit wild. 

Join a community-wide potluck dinner hosted by Causeway at One Table. Held annually the week of Thanksgiving, the meal is free and open to everyone, though organizers ask participants to bring a side dish to pair with the food donated by local restaurants. According to their website, One Table is “removing barriers and bringing people together from across Chattanooga to get to know each other and build understanding.” Last year I had the most compelling conversations with a poet, a homeless veteran, and a Chattanooga newbie. I went alone and left with new friends. The food is amazing and the outdoor setting makes it a wonderful place for busy, noisy kiddos. 

How do you like to celebrate this change of season? What are YOUR favorite Chattanooga fall traditions? 

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