The Best 8 Things To Do in DC in The Fall (2020)

We all love the summertime and can complain here and there about the winter but the fall season has a lot to love. And experiencing it in D.C. means that there’s no shortage of activities for anyone to enjoy. The nation’s capital and the surrounding area sees a high number of visitors from around the world, and as the leaves change colors and a crisp hits the air, they get a chance to really see the best of the city through all of these things to do. So with that in mind, read on for a robust list of things that you can do in D.C. in the fall.

For specific month activities, visit our posts on top things to do in:

Fall Concerts at The National Gallery of Art

Located at the corner of Constitution Avenue NW and 6th Street is the National Gallery of Art, and besides being home to a stellar collection within its neoclassical walls, it also plays host to a series of events throughout the year. Their fall concert series, which has been running for over seventy years is a showcase of live music from local and national artists, and it’s usually held in the West Garden Court.

Admission to the gallery and the series is free.

If you’re looking to explore the museum on a guided tour, check out our Museums on the Mall tour – for a 2 hour tour of the National Gallery of Art and the Sculpture Garden.


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Visit The National Arboretum

The National Arboretum is in Northeast D.C., approximately two miles from the Capitol building but you will feel as if you’re further away thanks to the sweeping expanse of this preserve which stands in at about 446 acres in total. The grounds are operated by the National Department of Agriculture and are free to the public. The arboretum contains a wide array of flora, as well as some striking structures such as the Capitol Columns which were once part of that house of government.

The National Arboretum is open daily to visitors with free entry.

Looking for other outdoor activities in DC? Check out our post.

 


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Enjoy The Fall Festival Season

If you’re someone who likes all of the sights and sounds of a street festival, DC in the fall definitely has you covered.

  • For starters, the Taste Of DC Festival is held each October on Pennsylvania Avenue and is promoted as the largest for people to get their fill of food, wine and beer from the area’s top restaurants. Each bistro offers plates that gives you a taste of their overall menu, and you can then head over to their Beer Garden area for some brews.
  • Another notable festival is the H Street Festival, which is a vibrant celebration of the popular neighborhood and features over 200 businesses, and it’s free for all to attend.
  • The National Book Festival in late September is a renowned gathering of authors with events held throughout the National Mall.
  • And there’s Taste of Georgetown, which is a showcase of all that the upscale neighborhood has to offer.

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Do A Walking Tour

One key thing about DC is that there are large sections of it that are just ripe for strolling around. It’s why you seriously have to go on a walking tour around the city. And fall is a great time to do it, with certain groups offering tours just in time to get into the spooky spirit of Halloween.

DC By Foot has a nifty selection of walking tours with this in mind, which will guide visitors through the Dupont Circle, Embassy Row and Georgetown areas while noting all of the local mysteries that have been found there and a few that might still be in play depending on who you talk to.


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Visit The National Zoo

Located in northwest DC, the National Zoo is one of the oldest in the country. It’s home to 1,800 animals of 300 different species with a substantial number of them that are endangered. The most famous residents of the zoo are the giant pandas, but visitors will get a chance to also be delighted by the elephants, a cheetah conservation station and the “O” Line, a special cable bridge that the orangutans travel across from one exhibit to the other. The zoo also has a number of programs throughout all of the exhibits as well as guided tours.

It’s open every day of the year except for Christmas Day, and it’s free to the public.


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Pay Homage To Fallen Heroes On Veterans Day

Self Guided Arlington National Cemetery TourDC is home to many monuments that honor all of those who have served in the nation’s armed forces and which mark the numerous important moments in the country’s military history.

In November on Veterans Day, thousands flock to the city to pay tribute. There’s a lengthy list of events that take place at these monuments where veterans and the rest of the public are welcome.

Pay respects on our Arlington National Cemetery Walking Tour. or at the veterans memorials on our National Mall tour.


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Take In Some Sports

When fall arrives in D.C., it marks a high time for sports in the city to kick into gear. There’s the Washington Wizards of the NBA and the Washington Capitals of the NHL that play their games in the Verizon Center downtown. The Washington Redskins of the NFL kick off their season at FedEx Field just outside of the city. Or catch the final weeks of baseball with the Washington Nationals. And of course, there’s a few opportunities to catch some college football and basketball as well featuring some of the country’s better-known teams.


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Enjoy Some Free Concerts At The Kennedy Center

This venue that’s a venerated space for the arts has a plethora of events and concerts that can be hard to get a ticket to. But the Kennedy Center does have a music series for everyone to attend. It’s held at the Millennium Stage every evening at 6:00 P.M. and there you’ll get a chance to see everything from jazz to plays to comedy for free.

Check out our free self-guided tour of the Kennedy Center while you’re there.


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Washington D.C. is rightfully considered as a hotspot the world over for things to do, and you’ll find that it still remains so even as the temperatures lower just a bit. These activities are guaranteed to be a blast whether it’s your first or most recent trip to D.C., and you should be prepared for all of the wonderful memories that they’ll provide. Check them out today!

For more destination guides and accommodation reviews, hotels and vacation rentals, check out Trip101.


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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.