This post covers the top things to do in October in Washington, DC (updated for 2021), 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.
TOP 10 EVENTS AND THINGS TO DO
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.
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 which cover some of the more notable tragedies in DC's history.
For even more options, check our post about Washington DC Ghost Tours.
The summer concerts may be over, but DC is still hosting some incredible performances this October.
Below is a list of some performances being put on in venues in and around DC throughout the month:
- Counting Crows | Oct 1st
- Brooks and Dunn | Oct 2nd
- The Guess Who | Oct 9th
- Jonas Brothers | Oct 10th
- Dead Can Dance | Oct 11th
- David Bisbal | Oct 12th
- Slipknot with Killswitch Engage | Oct 13th
- Enrique Iglesias and Ricky Martin | Oct 14th
- Gordon Lightfoot and Herman's Hermits | Oct 25th
- Madison Beer | Oct 28th
- Judas Priest and Sabaton | Oct 28th
- Bad Religion and Alkaline Trio | Oct 30th
You usually don't need to head to NYC's Broadway to see a Broadway-quality show, but following the Covid-19 pandemic, theatrical shows have yet to really make a comeback.
Although there won't be many musicals in and around Washington DC this month, there are a few notable comedians scheduled to perform stand-up in October.
- Lewis Black | Oct 1st
- John Cleese | Oct 6th
- Trevor Noah | Oct 15th
- Jay Leno | Oct 24th
- Ronny Chieng | Oct 30th
Check this list of comedy shows in Washington DC to see who else will be performing this month.
Oct. 8th - 10th, 2021
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. 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.
Oct. 9th, 2021
DC's biggest beer festival is taking place in downtown this October!
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 from.
You can get general admission to enjoy the event from 2-6pm or VIP to get an extra two hours of tasting.
7. All Things Go Fall Classic
Oct. 16th, 2021
This fall festival takes place at the Merriweather Post Pavilion and features great music and some amazing food!
Although it's not in the heart of DC, this location is fairly close and within driving distance. Check out this video from a previous year's festival.
You can expect musical artists such as St. Vincent, Haim, Cautious Clay, Charli XCX, and many more to make an appearance at the festival this year.
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.
If you can't make it out, these are all places you can see on our free tours! Below is a video of the highlights from last year's run:
We're pumped about hockey season! The Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup in 2018 and we're rooting for another one this year!
Get your tickets here and come out and cheer on your favorite team. This is the perfect event for the whole family!
Football season is here, and there will be two games played here at the FedExField:
DC also has a soccer team, the DC United, playing here at the new Audi Field near the Wharf. They will have four games in October:
- DC United vs Nashville SC | Oct 16th
- DC United vs New England Revolution | Oct 20th
- DC United vs New York Red Bulls | Oct 27th
- DC United vs Columbus Crew | Oct 30th
The Washington Wizards should have a number of games in October at the Capitol One Arena. Their full schedule is yet to be announced, but according to the NBA, the season will start on time in 2021.
Finally, the Nats will have a few more regular season games at the beginning of the month. They might also make it to the postseason, which would mean even more games to attend!
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
We detail how these passes work and help you decide which, if any, is best for you.
UNDETERMINED: Boo at the Zoo
Get your spook on at the National Zoo! Boo is the Zoo is a great family-friendly event where kids can trick-or-treat, sing their hearts out at karaoke, and more in the cool setting of the zoo.
There will also be after-hours access to parts of the zoo, like the small mammal house and elephant community center. Grab your tickets here.
NOTE: The 2021 dates for this event have yet to be announced, and it is unclear whether or not they will actually hold the event at all.
UNDETERMINED: Taste of DC
Hailed the largest culinary festival in the mid-Atlantic region, the Taste of DC returns at this October.
The festival includes tastings from an array of restaurants and beer gardens, and multiple stages feature culinary demonstrations and music.
There's even an artisan market! To get your tickets click here.
NOTE: The 2021 date for this event is undetermined and might be postponed.
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!
We offer Ghosts of Georgetown and White House Ghost Tour during October, as well as some scandals tours: White House at Night: Secrets, Scandals, Legends, Dark Side of Dupont, and Lincoln Assassination.
To check out our full tour schedule, click here.
Dupont Circle Halloween Bar Crawl
Oct. 30th, 2021
Get in the Halloween spirit with a day of boos and brews through Dupont Circle.
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+ and goes from 2 pm - 10 pm.
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.
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!
NOTE: This event has yet to be scheduled for October 2021.
Take a “Soul Stroll” in the Congressional Cemetery
These annual twilight 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.
DC is loaded with free things to do! There are a number of free things to do in DC, like what's included in the DC Tourist Pass mentioned in our Top Ten section above. 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 of charge.
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 not just near Halloween but 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, there is sure to be something to fit everyone's tastes.
You can also check out our master post on things to do with kids in DC for more ideas.
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 and 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.
Trick or Treat at the Tudor Place
This historic home and garden built in 1816 is a beautiful place to visit while in Washington, DC.
They host a number of events throughout the year and will be hosting a trick-or-treating out in the garden for Halloween.
Guests are encouraged to dress their spookiest and come out for a fun evening of candy and fun!
NOTE: This event has not yet been scheduled for October 2021. However, there will be a trick-or-treating event at Mount Vernon.
Fall Harvest Family Days at Mount Vernon
Oct. 23rd-24th, 2021
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.
Tickets and more information is available on the website.