5 Ways to Taste Fall in Morganton
A rugged town perched on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Morganton and its townspeople charm visitors with easygoing conversation, elegant cuisine and grand scenery. It’s an ideal place to kick off a celebration of all things autumn. Here are five ways to taste fall in this quaint town:
Savor the Views
A 45-minute trek up Table Rock Mountain just outside of town will leave hikers slack-jawed. The peak, soaring to nearly 4,000 feet, offers expansive views of nearby mountains. Hawksbill? Check. Clear views of the Linville Gorge? Check. The Cherokee Indians gave Table Rock the moniker “Attocoa,” and it was the tribe’s altar for sacred ceremonies. In fall, the hills are aflame in ruby, amber and golden hues, and it’s easy to imagine the Cherokee Indians dancing and singing, their voices echoing across the mountains. If hiking isn’t your thing, consider taking a tour of the area on the Ridgeline Trolley. The trolley stops at the Linville Falls, Brown Mountain overlook and a local restaurant for refreshments.
Sip the Season
Catawba Brewing Company releases its signature pumpkin beer, King Don’s Pumpkin Ale, starting in September. Crammed with savory spices, including nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and cloves, the beer satisfies just about any every palate. Brothers Billy and Scott Pyatt have been brewing since the mid-90s, and they first opened Catawba in Glen Alpine. “This was before craft beer was even popular,” says Ivy Johnson, the tasting room manager. The brothers eventually built a production facility and tasting room in Morganton, where local bands light up a small stage each Saturday (and Fridays during warmer months).
Take in the Town
Morganton offers up fine dining, a history museum, area wineries, zip line tours and more. “We’re known as the Gateway to the Gorge,” says Ed Phillips, the director of tourism for Burke County. “But we have more than mountains and hiking.” The Historic Morganton Festival, for example, is a preamble to the season on Sept. 8-9, and downtown bustles with more than 1.5 miles of arts and crafts vendors, food trucks and live music — all situated around the historic courthouse. This year, the Brothers Osborne will headline the festival on Saturday night, and local and other national acts round out the weekend music schedule. Kids won’t be bored, either. There will be a kids zone, as well as roaming performers throughout the festival.Treat yourself
Looking for a little something for a friend or relative? Treat, a boutique gift store, has candies, richly scented lotions, home decor and accessories — many of which rotate each season. “We go big on fall,” says owner Sabrina Hurt. The boutique is part of a popular restaurant and bar, and one of Hurt’s passions is decking out the shop in seasonal décor. Halloween may bring jack o’ lanterns and Christmas could bear whimsical snowmen and Rudolph the reindeer. “When you shop here, it’s an assault on your senses,” Hurt says. “It smells good and the music is pleasant. People are surrounded by negative feelings, and here, we want to be a respite — a treat.”
At Root and Vine, French flavors and Southern cuisine collide in exquisitely delicious, painstakingly prepared dishes. The menu changes based on available produce and seafood, and fall brings meals focused on earthy flavors (think apples, pears and squash). “I don’t like redundancies in my menu,” says owner Brian Miller. Miller and his co-owner and wife, Aimee Perez, recently installed a wood-fired oven sure to please pizza lovers. Each day, cooks prep a specialty pizza inspired by their mood and ingredient availability — perhaps it’ll be a hamburger pizza one day, and maybe smoked pork and prosciutto the next.