The 10 things you MUST do in Charlotte during September 2016

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Ignore this 90-degree weather. It’s almost fall. There are pumpkin beers on the shelves and spice lattes going up on chalkboards across town. The thermometer might be saying summer, but your heart is saying apple picking, football watching and cozy sweaters. We’ve got you covered.

From festivals to food trucks, we’ve found the top 10 things you want on your calendar this month.

(1) Have a seasonal brew in the beer garden at Mecktoberfest.

You know who really gets beer festivals? The Germans. But plane tickets to Munich are expensive and admission to The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery’s Mecktoberfest Sept. 23-25 is free. At this weekend festival you can indulge in authentic German-style fare, culture and brews — and you can bring your dog and then drive home after. Save those airline miles for another time.

(2) Chow down at the Eat from a Food Truck Festival.

This is next level food truck eating. On the afternoon of Sept. 10 at the Avidxchange Music Factory there are going to be around 100 food trucks. That’s right — 100. Wear your elastic waistband pants. And if eating your way through half the food trucks in the Southeast isn’t enough to entertain you all afternoon, there will also be a beer garden, live music from Langhorne Slim, and a kids zone.

(3) Pull for the Panthers.

In addition to tonight’s game (which you’re obviously going to, right?), there are two home games this month. Do not tell us you have something better to do on your Sunday afternoons than sit in the Carolina sunshine and pull for the home team. Or, you know, at the very least show up for the tailgate.

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(4) Eat up at the Yiasou Greek Festival.

Sure, you could go to this annual festival at Dilworth’s Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church Sept. 8-11 for its cultural lectures, music, dancing and art. And this year, after recent renovations of its courtyard and cathedral, you’ll definitely want to check out the impressive Byzantine structure. But let’s be honest, we’re there for the baklava sundaes — delicate phyllos, drenched in honey, served atop vanilla ice cream and topped with chocolate sauce. It’s the kind of cultural experience we can all get behind.

(5) Spend an afternoon apple picking.

Theoretically, picking apples should be a healthy activity that involves eating a raw fruit. Yeah, forget that. The best local spot for getting that wholesome apple picking Instagram shot is Windy Hill Orchard, where, more importantly, you’ll also find tasty hard apple cider and freshly fried apple cider donuts. The orchard opens for pick-your-own Sept. 7 and you’ll want to get there early — the secret is out on this place and the PYO apples go fast. Luckily, there’s cold cider, hot donuts and live music all afternoon.

(6) Take a stroll through Festival in the Park.

This annual music and arts weekend festival happening Sept. 23-25 has been in Charlotte since 1964. It’s set in the picturesque Freedom Park where you’ll find 180 artists and craftsmen, hundreds of entertainers and tons of fun festival food offerings (think funnel cake). And it’s free! You’re officially all out of excuses not to go.

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(7) Wine and dine at the Whitewater Center.

If wine is your thing, September is your month at the USNWC. In addition to the center’s weekly Unwined series featuring stand up paddleboarding (SUP) on the Catawba followed by a fireside wine dinner, there’s also the third-annual Uncorked Festival Sept. 24. The day includes Wild Vine 5K and half-marathon trail races, as well as the SUP Stream Catawba River Race, followed by a wine tasting set to live music next to the whitewater.

(8) Say cheers to local beers at the grand opening of Lenny Boy Brewing Co.

Lenny Boy is growing FAST. After opening four years ago, the South End spot’s kombucha can now be found in stores like Whole Foods and Earth Fare in about 10 different states. And now the facility itself is growing from a 5,000-square-foot space to a 31,000-square-foot space. You’re going to want to go to the new brewery’s grand opening Sept. 10 just so you can say “I knew them when…” Well, and also so you can enjoy their tasty kombucha, beer, and wild ale alongside food trucks, live music and games.

(9) Satisfy your pumpkin cravings at Pumpkin Fest 2016.

Call us basic all you want, but pumpkin flavored things are delicious. Now we can all indulge in our pumpkin flavored fare fantasies on Sept. 24 at Sycamore Brewing’s Pumpkin Fest. The full day event includes live music from five bands, pumpkin beers by Sycamore and several other regional breweries, and pumpkin menu items (think pumpkin spice cheesecake ice cream or pumpkin pie baklava) from local food trucks. PSLs suddenly sound boring.

(10) Soak in the cultural scene at the first Bungalow Social.

If you haven’t stopped in the Providence Road bungalow that houses Tabor men’s shop and SOCO Gallery yet, you’re missing one of the city’s most stylish destinations. And a party there promises to be equally cool, which is why you’re going to want to mark your calendar for Sept. 17 when the two spots are coming together to host art lectures, designer appearances and a live musical performance, alongside local coffee and beer, and barbecue from Chef Jim Noble.

Photos: Charlotte Observer file

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