If you want to enjoy the crisp clear Autumn weather and get in a final weekend getaway before winter arrives, where would you choose, Atlanta or Charlotte for a fall weekend?
Using some criteria specifically designed for the fall season: fall foliage, outdoor activities, food and wine, price, accessibility and accommodation options, we look at what Atlanta and Charlotte offer for a fall weekend getaway.
Atlanta for a Fall Weekend Getaway
Fall Foliage in Atlanta
With a wide variety of trees growing in the greater Atlanta area, the fall colors include yellows, bright orange, burnt orange, reds and deep amber (almost purple) tones. The peak season for leaf watching is late October to early November (Check the Georgia State Parks Leafwatch site for up-to-date information in fall.)
Atlanta Outdoor Activities in the Fall
With some of the country’s best golf courses near Atlanta and fantastic weather in the fall, a golf outing in Atlanta in the fall offers the perfect chance to get outside.
Hiking or a scenic drive through the nearby state forests also offer a perfect chance to visit during peak viewing times.
And if you are stuck in town, don’t fear, Atlanta has more trees than most major US cities so you will still see the fall colors in town as well.
Food, Wine and More in Atlanta
The food hall trend is in full swing and Atlanta has two of the country’s most successful food halls: the Central Food Hall at the Ponce City Market and the Krog Street Market.
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Built in the original 1926 headquarters building of Sears and Roebuck, the Central Food Hall at the Ponce City market offers the opportunity to try casual dining from some of Atlanta’s best chefs. Try H&F Burger or Hop’s Chicken for casual dining from the chef behind Atlanta’s award winning Holeman and Finch Public House. Or try Ton Ton for authentic ramen noodles.
Only a short walk from the Ponce City Market, is Atlanta’s other popular food hall, Krog Street Market. The old 1920’s warehouse was once the site of Atlanta Stove Works, makers of pot belly stoves and iron pans. Today it is home to Gu’s Dumplings (Chinese style) and Superica, the casual dining outlet with the same owner as the award-winning fish and seafood restaurant, The Optimist.
And, of course, Atlanta offers a full range of restaurants, bars and craft beer.
And perhaps the world’s most famous drink and one of the world’s best-known brands, Atlanta is home to Coca Cola. If you have time, you can visit the World of Coca Cola, a museum and showcase of Coca Cola’s history.
If you go to Atlanta for a Fall Weekend
With excellent airline service and one of the nation’s largest and busiest airports, Atlanta is easily reached by air. It is within several hours drive of many major US cities if you choose to drive. If you are coming for the fall color you may want a car to drive the scenic byways or head out for a hike or a game of golf.
There is a wide choice of hotels in Atlanta, something for every budget. Atlanta traffic is notoriously bad, so staying near whatever you have planned for the weekend is advisable.
If you want something central, and don’t want to rent a car, the Bucktown neighborhood or central Atlanta are good places to stay.
Stone Mountain and surrounds can be a good place for outdoor activities.
Charlotte for a Fall Weekend Getaway
Fall Foliage in Charlotte
While Charlotte is surrounded by mountains and the fall foliage is stunning, other areas of North Carolina receive more attention for their fall leaves. Asheville is particularly known for its fall foliage.
So, in a state with intense competition for stunning autumn color, Charlotte is more than enough to “wow” most visitors.
Charlotte Outdoor Activities in the Fall
Charlotte has a range of parks, biking and hiking trails, scenic drives and opportunities for golf. If your choice is here or Atlanta, either destination will be a great pick.
The city of Charlotte is smaller than Atlanta and might be easier to get around if you are only there for a weekend.
Food, Wine and More in Charlotte
Charlotte offers a full selection of classic Southern dishes: fried chicken, grits, collard greens are easy to find on local menus.
North Carolina is also known for barbecue (or barbeque, Q, BBQ or whatever else you might call it) which Atlanta is not. There are lots of options for slow cooked, mouthwatering barbecue in Charlotte. Ask around for a recommendation and look for the rising smoke in the parking lot, the giveaway for a smoker!
A leader in the Farm-to-Table movement, there are many opportunities to try fresh, local ingredients when dining out. Try the trendy NoDa (North Davison) area.
Craft beer is alive and booming in Charlotte. New breweries open all the time so you have plenty of opportunities to sample the local ales and find a new favorite.
If you go to Charlotte for a Fall Weekend
Charlotte is a well serviced airport with many major and low-cost carriers offering service. Depending on your starting point, you may have a better chance of a direct flight to Atlanta than Charlotte.
Charlotte is an easy city to drive around and a car is recommended especially if you want to explore the fall colors.
Selecting a good central location for a hotel in Charlotte provides easy access to most activities. If you want to minimize driving, select accommodation near your main activities.
And the Winner: Atlanta vs. Charlotte for a Fall Weekend
As you might suspect, we think either Atlanta or Charlotte is a wonderful choice for a fall weekend getaway.
Depending on where you live, Atlanta or Charlotte might be easier to reach driving or flying which could influence your choice.
If you want barbecue, Charlotte is the winner. Atlanta is a larger city, so many people will find Charlotte more relaxing, but both cities have a lot of “southern charm”.
Let us know which city you would choose for a fall weekend and why? If you live in Charlotte or Atlanta, please share your favorite place to see the fall colors.
This post is part of Trip.com’s Underdog City campaign.