This post covers the top things to do in October in Washington, DC (updated for 2019), 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.
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.
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 across DC, from big-name acts to local bands:
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.
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.
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. 12 & 13, 2019
This fall festival takes place at Union Market and features great music and some amazing food! Union Market is great to explore on its own but this event brings the best of this market for you to enjoy. Check out this video from last year’s festival, and be sure to get your tickets here:
Another great market to check out while you’re in DC this October is Eastern Market, where you can enjoy treats on our Eastern Market Dessert Tour.
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. Runners will also see the Jefferson Memorial, the National Mall, and make their way past Arlington National Cemetery. 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!
DC also has a soccer team, the DC United, playing here at the new Audi Field near the Wharf against the FC Cincinnati on Oct. 6 at 4pm. Purchase tickets here.
The Washington Wizards have a number of preseason games in October at the Capitol One Arena. Grab your tickets here.
For more family-friendly ideas, check out our things to do with kids section.
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:
We detail how these passes work and help you decide which, if any, is best for you.
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. 19, 2019
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 1pm-9pm.
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 grab your tickets here.
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.
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
One of the smaller and lesser-known memorials in the district, the Titanic Memorial, sits quietly tucked away on the Southwest Waterfront. 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.
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. You can take a self-guided tour or join us for a free walking tour to learn all about the history of this incredible place and see some famous graves!
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.
International Horse Show
Oct. 22-27, 2019
The International Horse Show is coming to DC’s Capitol One Arena this October. This exciting event is perfect for the whole family, with a whole series of events depending on what day you choose to come out on. Grab your tickets here, and check out the website for great deals like $2 Tuesday.
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.
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! Get your tickets here.
Fall Harvest Family Days at Mount Vernon
Oct. 19-20, 2019
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.