The world may know Hampton Roads and coastal Carolina as a summer vacation destination, but we know that fall is when we really shine.
Here are ten things we love about our area in the fall.
1. DOG WALKS ON THE BEACH
Once our visitors from Ohio and Pennsylvania return home, our four-legged friends are freed from the baby pool in the backyard and are welcome back to the beach. Many area beaches are open to pooches from Labor Day to Memorial Day. Is there anything more fun than seeing a dog chase waves or get outsmarted by a fiddler crab?
2. COLLEGE FOOTBALL IS BACK!
Whether you’re a Spartan or Captain or Monarch, nothing says fall like a warm college sweatshirt, tailgating with old friends and nursing a hoarse voice on Monday morning. When you’re cheering the Tribe at Zable Stadium or the Pirates at Armstrong you know that fall is here!
3. LOWER UTILITY BILLS
Throw open the windows and take a deep breath. That’s the smell of money in your pocket. Typically, fall is the sweet spot for utility bills in Hampton Roads, with mild afternoons and crisp (but not cold) nights. In mid October, our normal high is 70 degrees and our overnight low is 54. That’s not to say the AC won’t kick in occasionally and the furnace needs to be on standby. We’ve seen highs in the 90s in October and teens in November. But temperature extremes are uncommon in the fall.
After the summer crowds thin out, the ghosts and goblins move in to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg. Enjoy haunted houses, scary shows and many of the park’s rides, with a Halloween twist. The scary stuff may make you sweat, but the milder weather in the fall won’t.
5. CHRISTMAS TOWN
Busch Gardens transforms itself not once, but twice in the fall! In late November, the scary is replaced by Santa. Busch Gardens is nearly unrecognizable, filled with dazzling lights, Christmas trees and snow. Lots of snow. (The artificial kind, since real snow is pretty rare in the fall in Hampton Roads.)
6. LESS TRAFFIC AT THE HRBT
“See you in September!” That’s what a lot of folks say to their loved ones who live on the other side of the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel. Clogged with tourists headed toward Virginia Beach and the Outer Banks, the area’s main harbor crossing is famous for its summer backups,that can sometimes extend for ten miles. But come September the backups magically start to disappear. And if you do get stuck in traffic on the bridge in the fall, you can roll down the window and enjoy a cool breeze.
7. A SEAFOOD BONANZA!
Nothing says fall like huddling over a steaming cup of clam chowder on a chilly fall afternoon. And there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy our seafood bounty this time of the year. There’s the Poquoson Seafood Festival and the Outer Banks Seafood Festival in October and the Urbanna Oyster Festival in early November, just to name a few.
8. COFFEE ON COLLEY
If seafood’s not your thing, how about huddling over a hot cup of coffee doing some people watching? Lots of folks gather at outdoor restaurants along Colley Avenue in the Ghent section of Norfolk to do just that. But there are plenty of great spots across Hampton Roads, including Merchants Square in Williamsburg, City Center at Oyster Point in Newport News and the Town Center of Virginia Beach.
9. PUMPKINS, SCARECROWS AND HAYRIDES
You certainly can’t complain that there’s nothing to do in in the fall, especially if you’re a fan of Halloween. Pick your own pumpkin at dozens of area farms. And Hunt Club Farm in Virginia Beach becomes haunted in the month of October, complete with a haunted hayride and a frightening corn maze. And you can even Make a Scarecrow, for a good cause.
10. A DRIVE ON THE COLONIAL PARKWAY
Coastal Virginia may not be as famous for its vibrant fall color as western parts of the state. But you don’t have to travel all the way to Skyline Drive to enjoy a colorful fall drive. The 23-mile Colonial Parkway lights up with brilliant reds, oranges and yellows in late October and early November. The parkway connects Yorktown, Williamsburg and Jamestown.