Ah, September. It’s not quite time for comfy sweaters and cider sipping. But the pool is closed, the evenings are gorgeous, and weekends are calling. Lucky for you, we have eight events within driving distance for the perfect little getaway to help you send off summer and welcome those foliage-filled days to come. This is the perfect time of year to get out and have an adventure.
Indulge your inner diva and attend New York Fashion Week, the biggest couture event in the country. Expect the city itself to become a runway with pop-up shops and shows. Official NYFW events are often industry only, but there are a few ways that fashionistas can get tickets to open-to-the-public shows. The official website, nyfw.com, fills with info right before the week. You can also check listings on Eventbrite for label-sponsored events. Or, pack your best looks and head north with some sartorial spontaneity. Sept. 6 to 14.
Its creepy reputation reaches far and wide. This time of year, Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia hosts “Terror Behind the Walls,” America’s largest nightime haunted house, and, of course, during the day is actually a former prison with cold cells that will leave you with cold chills. Kids under 7 aren’t permitted for the evening spooking, and children under 18 need a parent/guardian waiver. So, trust us when we say it’s scary. The typical tour last 45 minutes, but there are a variety of options, depending on your fear level. And the rest of Philly awaits for other fun. Bike along the Schuylkill or grab a beer in Fishtown. Sept. 21 to Nov. 10. easternstate.org.
Calling all foodies, this one is for you. Fire, Flour & Fork in Richmond has a fun name and even more delightful itinerary, with the promise of blending Southern hospitality with cuisines from India, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Jamaica and Latin America, among many others. The four-day event includes demonstrations, behind-the-scenes tours and talks from the industry’s best.
Prepare to be well fed. Nov. 1 to 4, fireflourandfork.com.
Take the Scenic Route
September is a great time for a hike. Try a trek along the Allegheny Mountains to the 57-foot cascading waterfall at Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia, so named for its amber waters. The park also features a lodge restaurant, lodging and other outdoor activities, such as boating, camping, fishing, geocaching and swimming. Admission is free. wvstateparks.com.
Craft a Plan
Tried all the arts festivals in our neck of the woods? Then head to the Saxonburg Festival of the Arts just outside of Pittsburgh for an annual event that features music, arts and crafts, children’s activities, food and more. Admission is free. Not cool enough for you? Pittsburgh is 40 minutes down the road. Stop in Mattress Factory to look at its contemporary art. Sept. 8 and 9, visitsaxonburgpa.com.
Muggles everywhere, rejoice! The world of Harry Potter is just across the bay, thanks to the fifth annual Harry Potter Festival in Chestertown. Past festivals included a Quidditch tournament, a wand-maker’s co-op, classes on charms and potions, defense against the dark arts, enchanted high tea, Harry Potter movie showings, costume contests and an Azkaban prison-break party. All proceeds from this wizardly weekend benefit local causes, which has donated to the Garfield Center for the Arts, among others. Support a community and hang with Harry fans. Oct. 5 and 6, chestertownhpfest.org.
Apples in Eden
And then there is October, which should be ushered in with the Apple Harvest Festival at Graves Mountain Lodge in Virginia. The event features more than 70 arts-and-crafts vendors, hayrides, hiking trails, horseback riding, apple butter cooking, bluegrass music, cloggers and everything apple, including doughnuts, pies, ice cream, wine and more. Travel U.S. 81 from Hagerstown for a scenic ride, or journey through the D.C. suburbs and stop for shopping on the return trip. Oct. 6 and 7; 13 and 14; 20 and 21, gravesmountain.com.
Men in Heels
The 17th Street High Heel Race returns this month, well into a three-decade run. Since its start in the late ’80s, the Dupont Circle event in Washington as grown to include hundreds of men in drag and dolled-up women, all competing in stilettos. Unlike most races, this foot race takes place at night, beginning with a parade at 7 o’clock. Parking is limited — it’s D.C.! — so you will want to metro or Uber. It goes without saying that there will be plenty of great after-parties at the area’s bars and nightclubs, but we’ll say it. Oct. 30, facebook.com/17thStreetHighHeelRace