The Best Things to Do in D.C. in Fall

Updated July 10, 2020.

With the change of seasons comes a new seasonal D.C. blog post! Today is the first day of fall, which is a beautiful time to visit my adopted home town! Here are my top 10 recommendations for things to do in D.C. in the autumn.

10. Go to a Baseball Game

This is something to do three out of the four seasons, but it’s such a fun thing to do! The games really start to mean something in the fall, and the Washington Nationals have been doing pretty well the last few years. Check out an end-of-season game (or hopefully a post-season game!) and don’t forget to grab a Curly W soft pretzel while you’re there!

Take me out to the NATS game!
Double the fun! How to Tour Nationals Stadium

9. Go Apple (or Pumpkin) Picking

If you’re in D.C. for a weekend, you want to do the stuff in D.C. I get it. But if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, the D.C. area has some amazing apple and pumpkin picking spots! And the fall is an absolutely beautiful time to do that kind of thing around here. Try Great Country Farms in Bluemont, VA; Hartland Orchard or Stribling Orchard in Markham, VA; Macintosh Fruit Farm in Berryville, VA; or Marker-Miller Orchards in Winchester, VA for a fun and fallish excursion! Many of our nation’s founders were landowners and farmers, so it’s an authentic activity for the area, too.

I got some!
Butterfly apple

8. Take a Walk in the Fall Foliage

D.C. can be unbearably hot (and humid) in the summer, frighteningly cold in the winter, and the spring can be embarrassingly unpredictable, but fall is an absolutely beautiful time to be in the District. You’ll be walking a lot on your trip, so take the time to look around and enjoy D.C.’s autumnal colors. If you find yourself across the river in Alexandria, you may start to feel transported to the 18th century as you watch leaves falling on a cobblestone street!

As seen in Old Town Alexandria
That’s a park bench just waiting for you!

7. Visit the Botanical Garden

Is fall maybe not your thing? Do cool and foggy mornings just seem gloomy to you? Honestly–me, too! But I have a solution for us, and it’s the Botanical Garden by the Capitol Building. Step in for warmth, bright colors, and a taste of that summer that you’re already missing.

A glimpse of the jungle!
A pop of orange!
More here: FREE Things to Do in D.C.

6. Visit Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon is beautiful and a great trip any time of year, but fall is on the lighter side of the tourism spectrum, making it a perfect time of year to visit. The leaves are turning, you’ll enjoy a break from D.C.’s summer heat, and if you’re there around Thanksgiving, you might glimpse the White House’s pardoned turkey!

Mount Vernon on spooky, overcast morning!
A Thanksgiving Turkey!

5. Road Trip on Skyline Drive

If you have access to a car while you’re in the District, I definitely recommend getting out of town for a day and road tripping along scenic, historic Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah Mountains! It will cost you $25 per car or $10 per pedestrian or cyclist, but it is a perfect way to spend a fall day in the area. For more info, check their website.

Shenandoah Mountains and Valleys
Views from Skyline Drive

4. Go Hiking

Believe it or not, D.C. has some great hiking spots! Great Falls is just outside of town on the Virginia side of the Potomac River, Shenandoah has miles and miles of trails, and even Rock Creek Park in D.C. itself has beautiful trails as well!

A trip to Sky Meadows State Park will lead you to the Appalachian Trail!

3. Walk the Monuments at Night

If you want to see the monuments at night, I suggest the fall. The summer nights are late and just too hot, even after the sun goes down. Winter nights come early, but they can be bitterly cold, and the water features aren’t going! But fall is perfect. Dusk creeps in semi-early, the water features are going full-blast, and you’ll enjoy mild temperatures! I’ve gotten some of my best pictures at the monuments in the fall.

2010.10 114
Washington Monument and Smithsonian Castle
WWII Memorial with Lincoln in the background
Find my guide to the Monuments and Memorials here!

2. Take a Ghost Tour

One of the absolute best things to do in the fall is a ghost tour! Alexandria Colonial Tours is my favorite tour company, and they do all kinds of tours. Their signature, however, is their ghost tour! There are two different routes to take, so feel free to do both! You will be “stranded” in a graveyard at the end, adding to the spookiness! Find their tour times and buy tickets on their website.

A rose left on a grave…

1. Attend the Veterans’ Day Ceremony at Arlington Cemetery

This is one of the most patriotic things I’ve ever done. My first Veterans’ Day in D.C., I learned that the general public can attend a ceremony at Arlington Cemetery for Veterans’ Day. I had to go for it. Then-Vice President Dick Cheney was the speaker, and it was one of the most moving events I have ever attended.

Vice President Cheney addressing the crowd.
More here: Your Guide to Arlington National Cemetery

Are you ready to visit D.C. this fall! I recommend it! Want more recommendations? Check out my Washington, D.C., Page!

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