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53+ Things to Do in Washington, DC This Fall – Bucket List

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As the leaves change and the temperature cools, Washington, DC transforms into a gorgeous destination for adventure-seekers, history buffs, and families alike. Honestly, we think Fall is one of the best times to visit DC! It’s the perfect season to explore everything the nation’s capital has to offer, from super vibrant foliage to all the exciting attractions and events. To get you started, here’s a list of 53+ things to do in Washington, DC this fall to help you get started on building your ultimate fall bucket list!

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Visit the National Mall

Photo Credit: NPS

Autumn is the perfect time to explore the nation’s capital. Start with the iconic National Mall, where you’ll find the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and more.

Explore Mount Vernon

Photo Credit: Mount Vernon

Immerse yourself in history by touring George Washington’s Mount Vernon. The beautiful fall foliage is an added bonus.

Discover Rock Creek Park

Photo Credit: NPS

For outdoor activities, head to Rock Creek Park. It’s a great place for hiking amidst the beautiful changing of the seasons.

Enjoy the Potomac River

Photo Credit: AmericanRivers.org

Rent a kayak or paddleboard and enjoy the cool, crisp weather on the Potomac River.

Visit the National Zoo

Photo Credit: Smithsonian

Take advantage of free entry at the National Zoo. Don’t miss the chance to feed the farm animals at the petting zoo!

Stroll around the Tidal Basin

Photo Credit: Viator

While cherry blossoms steal the show in spring, the Tidal Basin is still a must-visit during fall.

Check out the White House

No visit to Washington, DC is complete without a stop by the White House.

Enjoy a Hay Ride at Cox Farms

Photo Credit: Cox Farms

Located in Northern Virginia, a short drive from the DC area, Cox Farms offers hay rides, pumpkin picking, and apple cider donuts.

Discover Embassy Row

Photo Credit: Embassy.org

Fall is the perfect time for a scenic drive or walking tour down Embassy Row. Don’t forget to check out the special events like the Embassy Chef Challenge!

Check out the Merriweather Post Pavilion

This venue offers a robust fall lineup of live music, including big names like the Foo Fighters.

Enjoy a Ghost Tour

Photo Credit: DC Ghosts

Ghost tours are a unique way to learn spooky stories and experience DC in a different light.

Visit the Kennedy Center

Photo Credit: Kennedy Center

Catch a live performance at the Kennedy Center, a staple in Washington, D.C.

Experience the Fall Festivals

Fall season brings a host of festivals, complete with live entertainment, food trucks, and local vendors.

Visit Hollin Farms

Photo Credit: Hollin Farms

Experience the joy of picking your own fresh produce and pumpkins at Hollin Farms in nearby Delaplane, VA.

Experience the DC Beer Fest

This event at Nationals Park features dozens of breweries, food vendors, and live music.

Explore Arlington National Cemetery

Pay your respects at Arlington National Cemetery, an important piece of United States history.

Participate in the Dachshund Dash

Head to Waterfront Park for the 10th Annual Wiener Dachshund Dash in early October.

Visit the National Gallery of Art

Photo Credit: National Gallery of Art

Beat the summer heat and dive into the world of Van Gogh at the National Gallery of Art.

Celebrate Dia de los Muertos

Photo Credit: History.com

Experience the rich culture and traditions of Dia de los Muertos events around the city.

Check out the Amusement Parks

For family fun, consider a day trip to amusement parks like Six Flags America, located in nearby Maryland.

Try Pumpkin Picking

Halloween pumpkins in a wheelbarrow dark autumn mood

Pumpkin patches like Montpelier Farms offer a fun-filled day complete with hay rides, a corn maze, and farm animals.

Explore Capitol Hill

This vibrant neighborhood is one of the best places to enjoy local restaurants and food trucks.

Visit the National Harbor

This waterfront destination offers shopping, dining, and special events.

Go on a Walking Tour of Georgetown University

Photo Credit: Washington Walks

This beautiful campus is worth exploring, especially during the cooler temperatures of fall.

Attend the Adams Morgan Apple Festival

This local tradition includes apple-themed foods, crafts, and even an apple pie contest.

Visit the National Children’s Museum

General admission tickets give you access to all the exhibits in this family-friendly museum.

Attend a Halloween Party

The city offers a variety of Halloween parties, complete with costume contests and live entertainment.

Try Wine Tastings

Fall is a great time for wine tastings. Check out local wineries or attend the DC Wine Fest in mid-October.

Visit the U.S. National Arboretum

Photo Credit: US National Arboretum

This is a great way to enjoy the cooler days and changing leaves.

Explore the Agricultural History Farm Park

Learn about the region’s agricultural past and enjoy its large parks.

Hang Out in a Beer Garden

Enjoy the cooler temperatures in one of DC’s many beer gardens, like the popular Dacha in Shaw.

Take a Scenic Drive

Photo Credit: www.whitepassbyway.com

The George Washington Memorial Parkway offers beautiful fall views along the Potomac River.

Explore Silver Spring

Photo Credit: visitmontgomery.com

Just outside of DC, this Maryland suburb hosts a number of fall events, including the Silver Spring Jazz Festival.

Visit the Smithsonian Museums

Photo Credit: Washington.org

From the Air and Space Museum to the African American History and Culture Museum, the Smithsonian Institution offers plenty to see, and with free entry, it’s an affordable day out.

Take a Cruise on the Potomac

Photo Credit: Capitol River Cruises

A boat tour offers a different perspective on DC, and in the fall, it’s a great way to enjoy the foliage.

Visit the National Cathedral

Photo Credit: cathedral.org

This stunning building is worth a visit at any time of year, but it’s particularly lovely in the fall.

Take in a Football Game

Photo Credit: Commanders

The fall means football season, so don your burgundy and gold and cheer on the Washington Football Team.

Visit the Old Town Farmers Market

Photo Credit: Visit Alexandria

Browse the fresh produce, local cheeses, and homemade breads at the oldest farmers’ market in the country.

Check out The Wharf

This waterfront neighborhood offers shopping, dining, and special events all year long, but it really shines in the fall.

Explore the Library of Congress

Photo Credit: Library of Congress

As the largest library in the world, it’s an impressive place to visit. In the fall, the reading rooms are particularly cozy.

Discover the Botanic Gardens

Photo Credit: www.usbg.gov

While it might be getting cooler outside, it’s always summer in the United States Botanic Garden.

Take a Haunted Pub Tour

Photo Credit: Expedia

Combine ghost stories with some of the city’s best bars on this unique tour.

Check out the International Spy Museum

Photo Credit: Spy Museum

Learn about the intriguing world of espionage in this interactive museum.

Enjoy a Concert at The Anthem

This popular music venue hosts a range of acts, from local bands to world-renowned artists.

Visit the Mansion on O Street

Photo Credit: Lyl Rose

This eccentric museum, with more than 100 rooms and 70 secret doors, is a quirky and fun destination.

Explore the Supreme Court

Photo Credit: Trolley Tours

Take a free tour to learn about the judicial system and maybe even catch a glimpse of the justices.

Take a Bike Ride

The men ride  bikes at sunset with orange-blue sky background. Abstract Silhouette background concept.

With the cooler weather, fall is a great time to rent a bike and explore the city.

See a Show at the Folger Theatre

Photo Credit: DC Theater Arts

This theatre, home to the world’s largest collection of Shakespeare materials, offers a variety of performances in a uniquely intimate setting.

Attend a Lecture at Politics and Prose

This famous bookstore hosts a variety of interesting talks by authors and public figures.

Savor a Meal at a Michelin Star Restaurant

Interior of a modern upmarket restaurant with empty tables set with cloths, cutlery, and glassware in a receding view

Cap off your fall visit by treating yourself to a meal at one of DC’s many Michelin-starred restaurants. Enjoy the best of the local dining scene, and don’t forget to toast to your fantastic fall trip in Washington, DC!

For Families

Fall in DC offers many delightful activities for kids. Plan a Saturday visit to Summer’s Farm, located in nearby Frederick, Maryland. From hayrides and a giant slide to a trick or treat event, it’s a great way to enjoy the day with the family.

Another fantastic destination is the National Sculpture Garden. From awe-inspiring sculptures to the inviting picnic area, it’s the perfect place for a family day out. If you plan your visit around Halloween, be prepared for a treat, or should we say trick? The garden transforms into a ‘BOO-tanical’ experience that the kids will love.

Food & Wine Festivals

Foodies will love DC in the fall. The city comes alive with food and wine festivals like the Fall Wine Festival at Mount Vernon, where you can celebrate the harvest season with wines from Virginia wineries, while enjoying views of the Potomac River and General Washington’s mansion.

Another must-visit event is the annual Oktoberfest in Germantown. With a selection of German beers, authentic food, and live music, it’s an event not to miss!

Learn Black History

Fall is also an ideal time to explore the rich Black history of DC. Plan a visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. This museum provides a powerful look into the African American experience, and admission is free!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is October a good time to visit Washington DC?

October is absolutely a fantastic time to visit Washington DC. With the heat of the summer gone and the beautiful fall foliage setting in, it’s an ideal time to explore the many outdoor things to do in DC this fall.

What is Washington DC like in the fall?

In the fall, Washington DC becomes a vibrant display of red, orange, and yellow leaves. The temperature is mild, making it perfect for exploring outdoor attractions. Fall festivals, food and wine events, and Halloween celebrations are among the many things to do in DC in the fall.

How busy is DC in October?

While DC does see its fair share of tourists in October, it’s generally less crowded than the peak summer months. However, popular attractions may still have sizable crowds, especially on weekends.

What should I wear in Washington DC in October?

In October, the weather in DC can range from warm to cool, so it’s best to pack layers. You might want to pack lightweight sweaters, long-sleeve tops, comfortable pants, and a light jacket. A pair of comfortable walking shoes is a must for exploring the city.

Is it cold in DC in October?

October in DC can be quite variable, but it’s usually not cold. The average high temperatures are typically in the mid to high 60s (Fahrenheit), while lows can dip into the 50s.

What is the cheapest month to visit Washington, DC?

Late winter to early spring (January through March) is often the cheapest time to visit Washington, DC. During these months, the weather is cooler and there are fewer tourists, leading to lower hotel prices.

How many days do you need in DC?

To truly enjoy all the things to do and experience the city’s major attractions at a comfortable pace, a trip of 3 to 5 days is recommended.

What is the best time of year to visit Washington, DC to avoid crowds?

The best time to visit Washington, DC to avoid crowds would likely be in late fall (November) or winter. Note that while winter can be chilly, many of the city’s attractions are indoors, making it a practical time to visit.

Looking for More Travel Guides & Restaurant Recommendations?

Are there any other activities I need to include in this Washington DC Fall Travel Guide? Feel free to leave a comment below!

Copyright © All Rights Reserved. Content is written by Michelle Schmidt and/or team of dwellbymichelle.com.

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