This post covers the top things to do in October in Washington, DC, updated for 2023, including nighttime activities, free things to do, and family-friendly options.
Be sure to read our master post on things to do in DC for even more ideas.
This section covers our top ten list of things to do in DC for October.
For more ideas on favorite things to do in DC, check out the following posts:
Some of the items listed in this post are included for free with the purchase of a tourist attraction discount pass.
Disclosure: While our recommendations are always unbiased, we may receive a small share of sales through some of the links below at no cost to you. See the full text.
Where possible we link to websites that often offer discounted ticket prices (like StubHub). While we are unable to confirm their prices are the best, they are all verified ticket resellers .
1. Take a Ghost Tour
There are a lot of great ghost tours available in Washington DC, including at least a few pay-what-you-want excursions.
The Ghosts of Georgetown walking tour covers the darker side of a historic DC neighborhood, including tales of hauntings, curses, and more.
There are also tours near the White House that cover some of the more notable tragedies in DC's history.
For even more options, check out our post about Washington DC Ghost Tours.
The summer concerts may be over, but DC is still hosting some incredible performances this October.
Some of the concerts featured will be hosted at the Anthem, Capital One Arena, and the Wharf.
- Billy Joel | October 7th
- Zac Brown Band | October 6th
- Enrique Iglesias/Pitbull/Ricky Martin | October 14th
- Morrissey | October 18th
- John Mayer | October 20th
- Depeche Mode | October 23rd
- Steve Martin/Martin Short | October 28th
- All Things Go Music Festival | September 30th, October 1st | Merriweather Post Pavilion: Lana Del Rey, Carly Rae Jepsen, Lizzy McAlpine
Check here for other concerts taking place in the DC area in October.
You don't need to head to NYC to catch a great comedy performance.
Many comedians stop in at DC venues, and you can see some big names this October.
- Chelsea Handler | October 5th, 6th
- Mike Epps | October 6th, 7th
- Russell Howard | October 6th
- Anthony Jeselnik | October 14th
- Kathleen Madigan | October 21st
Check this list of comedy shows in Washington DC to see who else will be performing this month.
Come out for the wine and enjoy the sunset tour!
This is a great way to see George Washington's historic Mount Vernon plantation in a different light.
There will be an unlimited sampling of over 20 local Virginian wines and live music as you stroll the gorgeous lawns of Mount Vernon.
The event takes place October 6th-8th.
Grab your ticket here.
5. Go to a Pumpkin Patch
There aren't any farms or pumpkin patches in Washington DC itself, but you'll find a few in the surrounding areas of Virginia and Maryland.
If you're looking for a fun Halloween activity to enjoy with the family, this is an excellent idea that also supports local farms and businesses.
Here are a few great pumpkin patches you might want to visit:
Just keep in mind you'll probably need a car to reach most of these locations. For even more farms, check this list of pumpkin patches in the Washington DC area.
DC's biggest beer festival is taking place downtown this October!
Events take place on October 14th.
With the purchase of your ticket, you have access to over 400 brews on tap, live music, and an array of food trucks to purchase food.
7. Taste of Georgetown
DC is known as a culinary destination, and it's always fun when a neighborhood can celebrate its cuisine.
This September, visit DC's oldest neighborhood for its Taste of Georgetown, hosted by Chef Justin Cournoyer.
Best described as a seafood extravaganza, you can experience the best of Canadian and local Chefs after browsing this historic neighborhood.
To learn more and purchase your ticket, click here.
To learn more about our evening tours, check out our nighttime section below.
8. Army Ten-Miler
Put on your sneakers and come out to this incredible Army 10-Miler run coming back to DC this fall!
If you're not much of a runner, this is still a fun event to spectate as the course winds its way around DC and the Pentagon for the best highlights of the city.
The race takes place on October 8th.
If you can't make it out, these are all places you can see on our free tours!
We're pumped about hockey season! The Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup in 2018 and we're rooting for another one this year!
For more family-friendly ideas, check out our Things to do with Kids section.
10. Look into a Tourist Attraction Discount Pass for Savings
Tourist attraction discount passes bundle together many popular attractions and tours into one discounted price and can save you over 50%.
They also can save you time with skip-the-ticket-line privileges.
Attractions you can see with these passes include:
- CitySights Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour
- International Spy Museum
- The Capital Ferris Wheel
- George Washington's Home, Mount Vernon
We detail how these passes work and help you decide which, if any, is best for you.
11. Enjoy Other Area Festivals
Here are a few events in and around the DC area that visitors might enjoy.
- Takoma Park Street Festival | October 1st | Carroll Avenue in Takoma Park, MD
- Oktoberfest | October 7th | Old Town Alexandria, VA
- Bethesda Row Arts Festival | October 7th | Bethesda, MD
- DC Wine Fest | October 14th | Dock 5 at Union Market in DC
- Art on the Avenue Music and Arts Festival | Date TBD | Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray, Alexandria, VA
DC at night is lovely and full of things to do. We have a number of things to do at night in DC listed in our top 10 section above, such as attending a sports event or a concert.
Below we have a list of a few more things to do after the sun goes down.
For more nighttime activities, visit our post on things to do at night in DC.
Take a Ghost Tour
With Halloween taking place this month, October is the perfect time to take a ghost tour!
Our tours take you through some of the spookiest neighborhoods of DC to get you into the spirit (get it?) of the holiday!
To check out our full tour schedule, click here.
Get Nostalgic at "Say Anything"
John Cusack comes to the Warner Theatre on October 7th.
He's here for a Film Screening of his hit 1989 American teen romantic comedy.
Go On a Halloween Bar Crawl
Get in the Halloween spirit with a day of boos and brews through neighborhoods in DC on October 28th.
The Official Halloween Bar Crawl will hit multiple venues with live music, and offer contest prizes and drink discounts among much more.
Come dressed in costume!
Click here for tickets and more information. This event is 21+.
Head out to a Whiskey Event
Out in Centerville Virginia is the first (soon to be annual) Whiskey, Wine, and Fire event.
There will be food stations and food trucks, as well as Whiskey bars.
Enjoy some grilled meats, the S'mores Station, and much more.
Dates have yet to be announced, but information can be found here.
Attend Night of the Living Zoo
The National Zoo has a number of spooky festive events for Halloween, including Boo in the Zoo listed in the kids' section.
For those who have outgrown trick-or-treating, there's an adults-only party happening after hours on October 28th.
There will be live music and after-hours viewing of animals, so dress up in your scariest costume and get ready for a fun night!
Take a “Soul Stroll” in the Congressional Cemetery
The annual twilight "Soul Strolls" through the Congressional Cemetery on Capitol Hill introduce guests to some of the cemetery’s most famous forever residents.
Guests are encouraged to arrive early and grab a glass of wine before the event!
Click here for tickets and more information.
Below is a list of a few more free activities for October.
For even more budget-friendly ideas, check out our post on free things to do in DC.
Take a Walking Tour
And there is no cost to join our guided walking tours, but you have the option to pay what you like or can afford, only after the tour is over.
You can find out more about all our walking tours here.
Visit the National Cathedral
While guided tours come at a cost, visiting the grounds or attending a service at the National Cathedral is free.
Known for its incredible architecture and stained glass windows, the cathedral is quite a sight to see!
Don’t miss the ever-popular Darth Vader grotesque (similar to a gargoyle) on the exterior of the building!
Check out the Titanic Memorial
Remembering those who perished in the historically tragic ship-sinking event on April 15, 1912, the memorial also offers a serene place to take in the beautiful views of the Potomac River.
For a list of the most memorable memorials in DC, check out our post here.
Visit Arlington National Cemetery
Cemeteries are great places to visit for history year-round.
Arlington National Cemetery is the sacred resting ground for hundreds of thousands of our nation's heroes, as well as two of our presidents.
Washington, DC is super family-friendly!
There are also so many activity options available, that there is sure to be something to fit everyone's tastes.
A few activities we've listed above are also kid-friendly, like Boo in the Zoo in our Top Ten sections, so be sure to read through the other sections for more ideas.
You can also check out our master post on things to do with kids in DC for more ideas.
Take a National Mall Walking Tour for Kids
Our newest walking tour is meant just for our younger visitors. It's a shorter highlight tour with less walking, less talking... and more fun!
We have a scavenger hunt for kids to do at each memorial, where they will learn some fun facts about each memorial and history along the way (but shhh, don't tell them).
See more details from our post on our National Mall Tour: Kids Version.
Celebrate Día de los Muertos
The Day of the Dead, Día de los Muertos, is being celebrated on The Wharf on October 22nd.
There will be live music, street food, face painting, and much more.
Fall Harvest Family Days at Mount Vernon
Celebrate the fall harvest with the whole family at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.
Participate in a number of children’s 18th-century activities at the Pioneer Farm and tour the home of our nation’s first president.
This special event takes place on October 21st and 22nd.
Tickets and more information for Fall Harvest Family Days are available on the website.
There will also be a trick-or-treating event at Mount Vernon on October 28th.