If you are planning to take a vacation, deciding when to visit Washington D.C. can be a challenge.
Like anything, what works best for you is largely up to you. When is the weather the best? When are hotels the cheapest?
Here are some quick answers.
If you’re looking for lower prices, January or February might be your best option.
If you’re looking for better weather, you might prefer April through June, or September through November.
The good news is if you're looking for things to do in DC - there is something unique all the time.
This post will provide you with some answers and helpful suggestions.
- The Cheapest Time to Visit
- Best Weather
- D.C. by the Month
- How Many Days Are Enough?
- Things to Do in D.C.
The guides of DC by Foot live in Washington, DC year-round.
We've seen the city in two feet of snow, peak Cherry Blossoms, heat waves, and government shutdowns as well as perfect fall days, holiday lights, and Spring blooms.
We can help you find that perfect combination of what you want to see and what you want to get out of your trip to DC to make sure to find the best time for you.
Our Washington DC Travel Tips Facebook group is over 45,000 members frequently asking about the best time to visit.
Late Summer, when the temperatures are still fairly high, kids are starting to go back to school, and many locals are squeezing in their last bits of Summer vacation days, which can bring the hotel prices down a bit.
Except for Labor Day weekend, this can be a good option for bargain travelers.
December and January are often a bit quieter in the city, too, so prices can be lower.
That said, in recent years, there has been more happening in Washington D.C. during the Holiday Season and post-holiday season, so this is no guarantee.
Like hotels, the cheapest time to fly to D.C. is generally early January until early March.
According to Google Flights, the average 5-day round trip, non-stop flight from London to D.C. costs about $800. USD.
However, if you wait until after the holiday season, the average price can be half that.
Due in large part to its geography, weather in Washington D.C. can be a challenge to predict.
You can generally expect it to be coldest during January and February. That’s also the most likely time to see snow, if any falls at all.
You can generally expect it to be the hottest during July and August.
The rainiest (and most humid) months tend to be May through July.
For mild and more pleasant weather, March through May as well as September through November tend to be more moderate.
If you want to know how to dress, we always recommend layers.
Winter (December to February)
These are the coldest months of the year.
Early December is relatively mild but can be quite cold as well.
Average high temperatures in December through February are mostly in the mid-40s F (4 to 7 C), with overnight low temperatures in the upper 20s F (-1 to -3 C).
Snow is most likely in January and February but it can snow in December and March.
This can be, except for Christmas through New Year’s, one of the most budget-friendly times to visit and is great for those who love museums, indoor attractions, and fancy dinners.
It's also a great time for people who like to go ice skating or just don't mind the cold.
Spring (March to May)
March through May is a time of transition. It is not unheard of to see snow in March, yet the average temperature tends more toward the mid-50s F (13 C) with lows in the mid-30s (2 C).
April is warmer, with highs in the mid-60s F (18 C) and nighttime lows in the mid-40s F (7 C).
As May continues, the weather tends to grow warmer, reaching the upper 70s F (25 C) and wetter. May, June, and July are the rainiest months of the year.
Lots of outdoor activities are planned, but having a backup plan is a good idea.
Summer (June to August)
Summer in Washington D.C. is hot and it is humid.
In June, the average high is 85 F (30 C) with evening temperatures getting down to the mid-60s F (18 C) if it’s a dryer night.
By July the highs are closer to 90 F (32 C) and it’s often humid enough that the nights aren’t much cooler.
August starts to dry out a bit, and the temps drop slightly, to the upper 80s F (31 C), and some evening lows dipping into the low 70s F (22 C).
These temperatures are the averages, though. There are often days that approach 100 F (38 C).
Thunderstorms are common, but rain tends to come in waves, so storms can be relatively short-lived and fast-moving.
Something to keep in mind in the Summer is that many businesses, restaurants, and museums keep their inside temperatures somewhat low, and the difference between outside and inside can feel quite extreme.
Layers are your friend.
Autumn (September to November)
If it’s possible to visit during this season, we recommend it.
Though the Summer heat often holds on through early September, things, in general, become more stable, and without the extreme humidity.
High temperatures in September average between 80 F (27 C) with October seeing average high temperatures of about 70 F (21 C).
Things will start to cool off in November when light jackets are required, though the weather is still pleasant. Average high temperatures are about 59 F (15 C), but the evenings can be quite chilly, so you might want a scarf or a hat.
Monthly Weather Report:
January is a great month for bargain hunters. Post-holiday shopping means big markdowns and hotels and flights will generally cost less.
It tends to be easier to get tickets for many popular sites, as there are fewer crowds.
There are often several events around the city for Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend.
Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week is a great time to check out the D.C. food scene and save some money.
Many local restaurants participate, with a fixed menu at a reduced price. Many of the restaurants on our Best Places to Eat in DC have specials.
Ice skating is very popular in January, as well.
Similar to January, you can get good deals on hotels and flights as the city is less crowded.
There are numerous events centered on Black History Month, as well as Presidents Day and Chinese New Year.
This is a great month to visit indoor historic sites and museums without the heavy crowds of spring and summer months.
Early March is still the off-peak season and flights and hotels may cost less.
Temperatures tend to warm during March, often making it more pleasant.
There are often events centered on St. Patrick’s Day around the city.
In Late March, the National Cherry Blossom Festival begins.
Depending on the weather up to that point, the famous Japanese cherry trees are typically in the early stages of blossoming, though both early and late blooms have been known.
The Cherry Blossom Festival continues in early April.
Parks around the city are in bloom, so it’s a great time to be outdoors.
It’s also a great time to check out a game at Nationals Park, as baseball season goes full swing.
Baseball season continues, and May is a great time to check out a game before the Summer heat settles in.
The D.C. Funk Parade Festival helps get us all on our feet.
Passport DC is a way to experience the international flavor of the U.S. capital city, with street festivals, embassy visits, and more.
Events centered around Memorial Day Weekend let us remember those who have gone before.
The weekend also marks the beginning of the city’s Summer season.
Summer is here, and though it does bring more tourists, there are also more fantastic events. There’s a reason June and July are the busiest months.
The city celebrates Capital Pride in June.
The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is a marvelous event and not to be missed.
Awesome Con, D.C.’s pop culture convention has grown to be quite the event.
The United States Marine Corps Sunset Parade begins in June.
The Smithsonian Folklife Festival winds down in early July.
Of course, the 4th of July is accompanied by some big events and fireworks celebrations in D.C. You can expect large crowds before and after the Independence Day holiday.
In the heat of the Summer, it’s a great time to take a boat out on the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers.
It’s also a great time to take night tours, when the temperatures can be more pleasant.
The Citi Open Tennis Tournament begins at the end of July.
The Citi Open Tennis Tournament continues at the beginning of August.
The crowds begin to thin somewhat, as schools start up around the country and many D.C. locals head out of town.
The Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week returns for its Summer session.
As the Summer heat begins to fade, September is great for those who like warm days and cooler nights.
The city is yours to explore without the summer crowds as school and summer vacations are over.
The D.C. Jazz Festival lands in September.
There is also the Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day, offering free admission to many museums across the region.
For the book lover, it’s time for the Library of Congress National Book Festival.
The weather begins to cool and you can spot Fall foliage all around the city.
Enjoy the Fall Wine Festival at Mount Vernon or cheer on the runners at the Marine Corps Marathon
The White House offers Garden Tours again.
Boo at the Zoo is popular with families and there are plenty of other Halloween-related events and activities.
And it’s a perfect time to take a ghost tour.
The weather tends to be somewhat mild, with chilly evenings. Crowds begin to thin in November, making it easier to find tickets to popular sites.
Holiday markets and decorations begin, often in late November.
Events centered around Veteran’s Day also take place, including wreath layings at memorials on the National Mall.
You might enjoy avoiding the Black Friday crowds by visiting a museum.
While the Holiday Season does bring some increase in tourists to D.C., the crowds are usually not so bad.
Wreaths Across America is held at Arlington Cemetery.
The Smithsonian National Zoo hosts its popular Zoo Lights event.
Ice skating is a popular activity at various spots around the city.
Take the time to see the National Christmas Tree Lighting and Capitol Christmas Tree.
While you're at it, take a stroll through some neighborhoods to check out a host of holiday decorations.
This is also a great time to take a Georgetown Glow tour to see some fascinating art installations.
How Many Days Are Enough for a Visit?:
There are never enough days for a place like Washington D.C. With exciting things happening every day and countless spots to visit, you could live here and never run out of things to do.
However, you only have so much time to visit D.C. For first-timers, it's safe to say your minimum stay needs to be at least three days.
Five to seven days are needed to get to know the city and to discover places that you will want to visit on your 2nd and 3rd stays.
And if you are coming in the warmer months, you might consider spending more time than if you come in the winter, as there are many more outdoor activities and events to take up your time.
There is no bad time to visit Washington D.C.!
Depending on the type of trip you’re planning and looking for, the city has something to offer every season.
In summer, take advantage of the city's many parks and relax on the National Mall.
In winter, visitors can experience a classic east coast snowfall without leaving DC grounds.
Spring and fall are both excellent for sightseeing with generally moderate temperatures and colorful foliage displays in fall.
No matter what time of year you choose to visit, we guarantee there will be plenty of exciting things to do in this amazing city!
Be sure to see individual posts for more detailed information on events happening each month so your trip to Washington D.C. leaves you with lasting memories!