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Best Places to See Fall Leaves in D.C. (without a car)

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With Autumn, an already colorful city becomes even more impressive. All across the city, the leaves change color in a vibrant display. To see it, you don’t need a car or a long drive. We’ve put together a list of places to see some of D.C.’s natural beauty.

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National Mall

The National Mall has so much to offer every day. In Autumn, everything takes on a different aspect. The trees on the Mall itself are beautiful. You can step off the Mall into the Enid A. Haupt Garden or the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden.

Of course, you will want to see the monuments, especially the Washington Monument. Make sure to visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.

Some of the best fall foilage can be see on our National Mall walking tours!

Rock Creek

Rock Creek cuts through many of D.C.’s neighborhoods and parks. Along its banks, you can spot many beautifully changing leaves. Between Connecticut Ave. and Georgetown, you can enjoy a walk along the Rock Creek Trail to get some excellent views.

Follow the path further past Georgetown and you’ll come to the Kennedy Center where a newly constructed semi-outdoor space called The Reach offers more excellent views.

National Arboretum

Take a bus out to the National Arboretum. You will not regret it.

Expansive grounds allow you to walk through fields and trails, surrounded by many beautiful visions of nature.

Arlington National Cemetery

Just across the Potomac River from the Lincoln Memorial, you can visit Arlington National Cemetery. This is a resting place of honor for those who have served the United States and in keeping with the tradition of cemeteries over graveyards, it is beautifully landscaped, a place for peaceful contemplation.

Did you know that Arlington is classifed as an arboretum? It's not a focus of our tours, but our guides talk about the fall foilage here on our Arlington Cemetery walking tour.

Neighborhoods (Georgetown, Capitol Hill)

D.C. prides itself on its parks, green spaces, and tree-lined neighborhoods. Two of the most fun to walk around are Georgetown and Capitol Hill. Each has its own distinct character and each will provide plenty of leaves to see in their transition.

When in Georgetown, take a walk along the C&O Canal, or walk uphill on any given street that leaves M Street and you’ll see many picturesque streets lined with trees. Better yet, do this with one of our expert guides on our Historic Georgetown tour!

Capitol Hill has lots to see, including Lincoln Park. And of course, while you’re there, stop at Eastern Market.

Honorable Mention

If you have a car, drive down the George Washington Parkway or Clara Barton Parkway. Stop at the pull-off for the Potomac River overlook or the C&O Canal for more excellent views.

About The Author

Canden Arciniega

Canden is a historian and tour guide in Washington DC with 4 published books about the city. She has written for HuffPost Travel and has been featured in the Washington Post, WTOP, and numerous other DC papers. She's also been interviewed by the BBC, NPR, Travel Channel and Discovery Family Channel. Canden is the producer of our podcast, Tour Guide Tell All With a M.A. in History from University College London and a B.A. in History from Elon University, she is an authority on D.C. history, and has led tours in the city for over 10 years. She currently resides in DC, but has also lived in London and South Korea, and has travelled to 28 countries. Her two children (both under the age of 4) have their passports and own frequent flier accounts.
Updated: November 23rd, 2021
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