The fall-themed activities and products that magically appear on the first of September make the season my favorite time of the year. However, the autumn season also presents its own challenges, especially for the introverts among us. Between starting new classes, joining clubs, catching up with old friends and making new ones, fall often leads to a precipitous expansion of my social calendar. Though I appreciate every moment spent with friends, I also value my time alone — in fact, some of my most enjoyable days on Grounds have been ones that I’ve spent by myself. With the fall season well on its way, here are the top 10 ways to celebrate the new season on your own — no awkward conversation necessary.
- Check out a local bookstore — or three
Nothing quite inspires a cozy vibe like a good book, so it’s the perfect time to search for your new favorite. Charlottesville has a ton of great local bookstores, like Heartwood Books on the Corner or New Dominion Bookshop on the Downtown Mall. Wander around, savor the old book smell, discover new authors or return to old favorites and add a couple new books to your shelf. I know my bookshelf is already overflowing, but I’ll never say no to yet another trip to the bookstore.
- Take yourself on a coffee date
Nearly every coffee shop has a seasonal fall menu, so pick your favorite cafe and try out some of their new fall flavors — my current obsession is the Spiced Honey Vanilla Latte from Grit Coffee. I’m typically an iced coffee enthusiast, but in autumn I make an exception — a hot coffee is a necessity as temperatures drop. Pair your steaming hot seasonal drink with your bookstore selection for ultimate fall vibes.
- Go thrift shopping for a new favorite fall outfit
As a shopping fanatic, the fall season gives me the perfect excuse to browse store aisles and expand my wardrobe. Lately, I’ve enjoyed perusing local thrift stores where I can often find quality pieces like cable knit sweaters and vintage jeans for reasonable prices. One of my absolute favorite second-hand clothing stores is Neon Soul, known for its unique apparel and decor. The Salvation Army is also a great option for cheaper fashionable finds and even offers a student discount on Fridays if you present your University ID card. The best way to get myself out of bed on a cold fall morning is a cute outfit, and you’ll be sure to find something at one of Charlottesville’s numerous thrifting options.
- Journal by candlelight
Without fail, I find an excuse every autumn to buy another set of seasonal candles that I never light. Journaling by candlelight is an easy way to relax, reconnect with yourself and make use of old candles you just haven’t gotten around to lighting. Using candles as a source of soft lighting to write by, reflect on topics ranging from life goals to current dilemmas or anything else on your mind.
- Watch your favorite fall comfort movie
Fall isn’t just a season — it’s a state of mind. Similarly, fall comfort movies don’t share a common genre, director or topic — they simply share a sentiment that resonates with the autumn season. My favorite fall movie recommendations include “Knives Out,” “Good Will Hunting” and “Dead Poets Society.” While thematically, the movies have little in common, all have a certain essence that reminds me of fall — the retro vibes, wood paneling and niche settings give each of these movies a distinct fall twist.
- Spend an afternoon baking with your favorite fall flavors
Baking is no doubt one of my favorite hobbies, and the new season means there is a plethora of new recipes and flavors to choose from. Cupcakes are my personal specialty, so I frequently find myself opting for a spice cupcake base with a cream cheese frosting. Another favorite are fall-themed muffins, so I’ll definitely be trying out this recipe for apple cider muffins.
- Take a walk around the Lawn with an informative podcast
Fall is back-to-school season, meaning it’s the perfect time to indulge in education in all its forms. I love listening to podcasts because it allows me to learn new information on a very specific topic while doing other things. It also allows me to still feel connected to others, even when I want to spend time alone. Some of my favorite informative podcasts include “Througline,” “The Daily” and “More Perfect.”
- Browse cute artisan goods at the Charlottesville City Market
Autumn is a fantastic time to stock up on cute novelty items, and the Charlottesville City Market always has a great selection from local vendors. Operating from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. directly adjacent to the Downtown Mall, you can find everything from fresh produce to silk scarves and everything in between. My favorite purchase at the market was a handmade pair of circular wooden earrings and a delicious loaf of sourdough bread.
- Try out a new creative hobby
If you’re looking for some new hobbies to add to your rotation, activities like knitting or crocheting are an excellent way to gain a new skill in addition to making something practical for the cooler weather, like a blanket or sweater. Imagine knitting a cardigan sweater while listening to “Cardigan” by Taylor Swift or “Sweater Weather” by The Neighbourhood. Vibes? Truly unmatched.
- Have a solo study date in the Rotunda on a gloomy evening
My favorite fall days are the ones that are cloudy and chilly, especially after a particularly hot and humid Charlottesville summer. A gloomy fall day is the perfect backdrop for a productive day, and the Rotunda provides an excellent location to start clearing your agenda. Offering stunning views of the Lawn, the Rotunda is open from 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday for students to use as a quiet study space. To make it a true fall date, wear a comfy sweater and bring along your favorite fall-themed drink.