All the things you MUST Do in DC this Fall (2019)

Washington DC is a fun and family-friendly city to visit this fall. There are plenty of fun and free things to do all around the city, and this is your guide to enjoying the best of DC this fall.

 

visiting dc in the fall

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN DC IN FALL

This is a Top 10 list of things to do in DC this Fall. For more ideas on popular things to do in DC, check out our posts on bus tours and walking tours of the city.

Some of the items listed in this post are included for free with the purchase of a tourist discount pass
 

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1.  Take a Tour!

DC offers some amazing tours all around the city, especially our walking tours! Our pay-what-you-like tours are a great way to explore the city on a budget, like Capitol Hill, the National Mall, and Arlington Cemetery.

This fall, make sure you check out some of the more spooky tours, like our ghost tours.

Fall is also the season for mystery and intrigue, so we recommend checking out our scalds tours, like the White House at Night: Secrets, Scandals, and Legends and Dark Side of Embassy Row & Dupont

 

 

Explore DC by Boat, Bus, Segway, and Bike

If you’re not up for walking, there are many ways to explore the city.


2. Veteran’s Day

There are a number of ways to pay tribute to our veterans in Washington, DC this Veterans Day. Visit the WW2 Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, and Korean War Memorial, all of which you can see on our National Mall walking tour.

There are also memorials to the different branches of service you can visit: the Air Force Memorial, Iwo Jima/Marine Corps Memorial, and Navy Memorial.

You can also pay your respects to late veterans at Arlington National Cemetery.

We offer some great walking tours so you can see the Changing of the Guard Ceremony, the Kennedy graves, and plenty more. 

 

 

There is also the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial in Washington, DC which honors veterans of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces who were disabled in service. This memorial is located near the Botanical Garden by the U.S. Capitol.


3. Opening of the Washington Monument and new Kennedy Center

The iconic Washington Monument has been under construction since 2016 and will finally open once more in August 2019. Guests will be able to go up to the very top of the obelisk and get a panoramic view of the city.

The Washington Monument isn’t the only place to get a great view of the city! We recommend heading to the Kennedy Center’s rooftop terrace for a complete view of the Virginian and DC skyline.

 

 

Also opening this fall is the extension of the Kennedy Center, The REACH. The opening will be kicked off with a 16-day festival free and open to the public from Sept. 7-22. It will feature more than 400 free events.

We have a list of more festivals in DC this fall in the festival section below.

 


4. Catch a Concert or Theatre Production

DC has a number of great shows throughout the year, and fall in no exceptions. As the weather dips and afternoons and evenings get a little chilly, retire into a theater for an incredible show. With a number of amazing venues around the city, there are plenty of shows for every taste. Here are some performances visiting Washington, DC this fall:

 

 

For a list of more things to do at night in DC this fall, check out our Things to Do at Night post.


5. Halloween

DC gets spooky for Halloween! We have a number of fun things to do around the city for all ages, like our ghost tours listed above. Below are some other ways to spend Halloween in DC:

  • The National Zoo is free to attend every day! Throughout the year have themed events and for Halloween, they have two: Boo at the Zoo (for the kids!) & Night of the Living Zoo (21+)
  • Trick or Treat Mount Vernon: You might not think of the Washington home as a spooky place, but this October they’re getting in the festive spirit with trick-or-treating, scavenger hunt, wagon rides, and more!
  • DC Halloween Bar Crawl: Come out to the Dupont neighborhood for the Nightmare on M Street bar crawl! Guests ages 21+ can make theri way to all the spooky bars for cocktails and more. 

6. Enjoy a Game

Washington, DC has a number of great sports teams so there’s one to cheer on no matter when you come to visit. Fall means football and hockey, but we’ve also got our DC United Soccer team to cheer on!

We also have a few end-of-season baseball games at the Nationals Stadium at the Wharf, where our new Wharf tour takes place. 

 

 

Hockey:

Football:

Baseball:

Soccer:


7. Visit the Capitol

On days that are a little too chilly for a walking tour, we recommend going inside our museums or taking a tour inside the Capitol. Tickets are free and a great way to learn all about the history of the building.

If you’re wanting to explore not just the Capitol building but all of Capitol Hill, we offer great walking tours that also take you inside of the Library of Congress, arguably the most beautiful building in the nation and the largest library in the entire world.

 

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8. Go to the Holocaust Museum

The Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, is a must-visit place. While it can get very busy and sometimes overwhelmingly crowded in the summer, fall means less tourist and fewer crowds, especially in museums.

The Holocaust Museum is completely free to go inside of but is ticketed to limit the number of guests that enter each day.

The best part of fall is that it’s the time of year when you will not need a ticket to get inside of the exhibit, so you can just walk in whenever you like to see the permanent exhibit!

To learn more about the ticket process, click here

For other free museums to see while in DC, check out our guide to the best museums


9. Get Outside for Fall Foliage

DC has gorgeous fall foliage, and with plenty of trees in the area, here are a few places we recommend strolling around to see the best of falls colors:

  • National Arboretum: this is the place to go if trees are your thing!
  • Arlington National Cemetery: this is a little-known fact, but Arlington Cemetery is an arboretum and boasts beautiful trees.
  • National Mall: trees line the paths and perimeter of the National Mall, making it the perfect place for a fall stroll. 
  • Rock Creek Park: This park winds its way into the northern part of the city, and is very wooded. We recommend renting a bike and riding up the length of it to get the best view.
  • Georgetown: DC’s oldest neighborhood has lovely trees lining its streets. We recommend grabbing some hot cocoa and window shopping (or actual shopping!). 

 

 


10. Look into a Tourist Discount Pass 

Even though there are so many free things to do in Washington DC, some of the highlights do have admission costs.

But you can save time and money on these with a tourist discount pass.

 

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Some of the best things to do in this fall are included in at least one if not more of the passes:

  • Hillwood Estate & Gardens
  • Potomac River Cruise
  • Mount Vernon
  • Bike Rentals

Get free admission to our tours and many top DC attractions with a Tourist Discount Pass.


BONUS:

Superfine! Art Fair is returning to DC for the second annual fair at Union Market, October 30 – November 3, 2019. Imagine a Halloween weekend filled with curated performances, where you can meet and talk directly to artists, all the while surrounding yourself with beautiful, affordable art by up-and-coming artists from the District and beyond — with prices starting at just $100. Get your tickets here.


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PACKING GUIDE FOR FALL IN DC

Packing to go to a city you’ve never been to can feel daunting- how much is too much? There’s also the fear of meeting unexpected weather and not having packed something essential. Below are some FAQ about packing we want to answer for you:
  • Does it rain a lot in the fall? Fall has the least amount of rain of the year. No need for big rain jackets, a small portable umbrella should be sufficient in case you’re caught outside on one of the few rainy days. 
  • What to pack:  DC gets chilly in the fall, so we recommend packing a sweater or a light jacket and long pants. Comfortable shoes are a must, as you’ll be doing plenty of walking! We have a post on weather in DC if you’d like to read more in-depth.
  • Be sure to bring a reusable water bottle with you. Most memorials on the National Mall have bathrooms and water fountains that are perfectly safe to drink. Museums also have special fountains to make filling up reusable bottles easier. This is a much cheaper alternative to buying bottles of water wherever you go, as sometimes the kiosks on the Mall charge up to $3/bottle!
  • Going out for a drink or nice restaurant in the evening? If you’ve been walking around outside all day it might be best to pack along a nice change of clothes, although most dining establishments DC are pretty casual. Still, if you’re going to a more swanky place, dressing up a bit is best.

We have a monthly post section below if you want to read up more on the specifics of the weather to better decide what clothes to bring on your fall trip to DC.


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HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS

Fall in DC is full of festivals and holiday celebrations. There’s a festival for everyone, for all interests and ages. Below are a list of our most popular fall festivals as well as links to Things to Do for summer holidays:


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MONTHLY POSTS

To learn more about what do to in specific months here in Washington, DC, click the links below:

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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