Things to Do in DC in October (2019)

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.

 

 


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. Taste of DC

Oct. 26-27, 2019

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.


2. Go to a Concert

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:

Keep an eye out for more great concerts in DC. Some of the concerts featured will be hosted at the Anthem at the Wharf


3. See a Performance

You don’t need to head to NYC’s Broadway to see a Broadway-quality show. DC has plenty of great theater right here, including Cats at the Kennedy Center

 

 

You can see Escape to Margaritaville at the National Theater (mentioned on our Lincoln Assassination Tour), RuPauls Drag Race at the Anthem, and have a laugh at Shear Madness at the Kennedy Center. 


4. Fall Wine Festival at Mount Vernon

Oct. 11-13, 2019

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. Boo at the Zoo

Oct. 25-28, 2019

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

 


6. Snallygaster

Oct. 12, 2019

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


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. 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:

 

 


9. Attend a Sporting Event 

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!

Washington Redskins

Football season is here, and there will be two games played here at the FedExField: against the New England Patriots (Oct. 6) and against the San Francisco 49ers (Oct. 20).

DC United 

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

Washington Wizards

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.


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. 

 

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Attractions you can see with these passes include:

  • CitySights Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour
  • International Spy Museum
  • Madame Tussauds
  • 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. 

 


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THINGS TO DO AT NIGHT

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. 

 

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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.


Night of the Living Zoo

Oct. 25, 2019

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.

 


 

 

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FREE THINGS TO DO

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

In addition to our pay-what-you-wish guided walks, we also offer free, self-guided tours as well as free and cheap ($1.99) GPS-led audio tours.

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.

 

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 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

 


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. 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!

 


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THINGS TO DO WITH KIDS IN OCTOBER

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.

 

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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.


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. 

 


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

Oct. 26, 2019

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.

 


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About the author

Canden is a historian and tour guide in Washington DC with 3 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 Travel Channel and Discovery Family Channel. Canden is the host 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 25 countries. Her two children (both under the age of 3) have their passports and own frequent flier accounts.

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