The Collegian
Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Staying on campus for fall break? Here's what you should do

<p>Apple picking remains a potential activity for students looking for something to do over fall break.</p>

Apple picking remains a potential activity for students looking for something to do over fall break.

Are you staying in Richmond for fall break? We’ve got you covered. Here’s a quick guide of what to do, locally and remotely, when on campus during the vacation. 

Richmond Folk Festival:

The Richmond Folk Festival is one of Virginia's largest events and has been voted Richmond's best music festival several years in a row. Last year, the event drew more than 220,000 people to downtown Richmond's riverfront, according to its website

The festival celebrates the roots of American culture through music, dance, crafts, storytelling and food, according to its website. It features more than 30 performing groups on seven stages that represent a diverse array of cultural traditions.

“It really is a wide range of stuff,” said Andrew McGraw, associate professor of music at the University of Richmond, member of the programming committee and past performer at the festival. “From dance music, especially Latin dance music, some … from West Africa, to the kind of usual suspects for folk festivals like bluegrass.”

The event offers a variety of food vendors, ranging from Ginger Thai Taste to Curbside Creations, Gelati Celesti and The Pie Guy. 

“There are also traditional distilleries," McGraw said. "People are making moonshine on-site. There’s shucking contests for oysters and all kinds of traditional Virginia crafts.”

McGraw said he thought the festival would be especially entertaining for easily distracted people because they could randomly walk through and see all kinds of interesting things by accident. 

He also mentioned the festival's community-based atmosphere. 

“It’s one of the few events I see in Richmond where I’m there and I kind of feel like this looks like the city that I live in,” McGraw said. “All kinds of people come out. That’s not always the case with some of the clubs or some of the other venues or … festivals.”

The festival is a free three-day event, taking place Oct. 11-13. It spans from 2nd Street to 7th Street and from Byrd Street to the James River.

There will be shuttles from the Transportation Hub outside Tyler Haynes Commons to the festival, said Emily Phaup, administrative assistant for Parking Services. 

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Richmond Mac and Cheese Festival: 

For the mac and cheese lovers on campus, follow the smell of melting Gruyere and Gouda to the Old Dominion Building at the Richmond Raceway Complex on Saturday, Oct. 12, for the Richmond Mac and Cheese Festival.

Top chefs, food trucks and vendors will be serving over 30 kinds of the world’s most mouthwatering dish throughout the day. There will also be craft beers, wines and ciders to sample, as well as live bands and entertainment. 

The event runs from noon to 8:30 p.m. and is split into two sessions, one from 12:30-3:30 p.m. and the other from 5:30-8:30 p.m. People hoping to attend should buy tickets in advance. 

There are $20 just-entry tickets and $40 general admission tickets, which include 10 food tickets, one drink ticket and access to all live entertainment, as well as a $55 VIP option, which comes with 30-minute early entry, private bathrooms and an additional drink ticket.

Carter Mountain Orchard:

Ordering a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks isn’t the only way to get into the festive fall spirit. Students can go apple picking at Carter Mountain Orchard in Charlottesville, just over an hour away.

The mountaintop orchard has a 360-degree view from the summit, where visitors can see parts of Charlottesville and Richmond, said Cynthia Chiles, whose family owns the orchard. 

Not only can people roam the orchard and pick from a wide variety of apples, but they can also visit the bakery, gift shop and country store for baked goods, jams, sauces and more. 

“There’s something for everybody here," Chiles said. "The activities we’re best known for are apple picking, hayrides and our apple cider doughnuts."

Carter Mountain’s famous fresh-baked doughnuts are made with fresh apple cider and dipped in cinnamon sugar. 

“They’re best when they’re hot just off the machine," Chiles said. "People just can’t get enough of them."

Visitors 21 and older can taste wines that use Carter Mountain grapes and Bold Rock Hard Cider, which is made from the orchard’s apples. 

Early Mountain Vineyards:

For those 21 or older, Early Mountain Vineyards is the perfect getaway.

Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Madison, Virginia, the vineyard’s beautiful views and delicious wine and food make it well worth the hour-and-a-half drive. 

Visit the award-winning tasting room for both the estate’s wines and Virginia’s best offerings.

Guests can taste through a selection of six of the vineyard’s wines for $14. Or, for $20, they can try nine of its most precious wines with advice and guidance from staff.

For $20 to $22, visitors can participate in the flight program in which they sample and compare several wines from across Virginia.

Finish off the visit at Early Mountain’s restaurant, which offers “the best seasonal produce from local farms, artisanal cheeses from craft cheesemongers and charcuterie made in-house,” according to its website

Our only request: find a designated driver. 

This list is just the start. Check out the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement’s website for more ideas of what to do during fall break, including going to a farmer’s market, participating in City Shuffle and visiting various museums. 

Contact lifestyle writer Avery Wasson at

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