DC-ers can finally put their cans of bug spray down as fall arrives with a fresh, cool breeze. Even though it always feels too short, fall in Washington DC has that refreshingly crisp weather that makes going outside so enjoyable.
Autumn is one of our favorite times of the year in DC because of all the fun outdoor activities. From hikes and cidery visits to yearly celebrations and apple picking, everything seems to be better in the fall. It’s also time for spooky season – so get ready to enjoy all things creepy and pumpkin-flavored!
Want more outdoor activities in Washington DC?
Fall in Washington DC – Outdoor Activities
1. Climb the Exorcist Stairs
Location: 3600 Prospect St NW, Washington DC
The iconic Exorcist Stairs in Georgetown are a huge tourist attraction, but that doesn’t mean locals can’t pay a visit. Spooky season is the perfect time to go, because these stairs were named after the DC-based horror film from 1973.
The tall, narrow set of stairs connects Prospect Street NW and Canal Road NW at the bottom. Many people try to jog up and down the stairs, while others simply come here for a photo opp. If you’re looking to stay active this fall, then climbing the exorcist stairs is a fun outdoor workout. Locals suggest visiting early in the morning to avoid large crowds.
2. Explore Rock Creek Park
Location: 5200 Glover Rd NW, Washington, DC
If you’re someone who likes to explore nature, then you need to head to Rock Creek Park. Crunch through fallen leaves and take in the beautiful autumn colors as you wander through this 4.4-square-mile outdoor area. There are even several trails for hiking and biking, perfect for your weekly hikes and bike rides.
We suggest taking a big picnic basket down to Rock Creek Park’s picnic areas to enjoy some time away from the bustling city. You can also head to the nature center, riding stables, or tennis courts for more fun activities. Locals love paying a visit to the Peirce Mill, a historical site built back in 1829. It represents the work of enslaved labor and is now a great place to visit and ponder on some significant DC history.
3. Enjoy Modern Art in the Outdoors
Location: Constitution Ave NW &, 7th St NW, Washington, DC
Who said art needs to be locked up in museums? A fun way to explore DC this fall is by visiting the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden. It features some beautiful works from artists like Alexander Calder, Roy Lichtenstein, and Robert Indiana. The garden is designed to mesmerize you as it takes you through a magical art experience.
It also has several seating areas for visitors and even a fountain if you’d like to take some photos. As the weather becomes colder towards the end of fall, expect to see an ice rink instead of a fountain there!
4. Enjoy Fresh Air at the Kenilworth Park & Gardens
Location: 1550 Anacostia Ave NE, Washington, DC
This incredible oasis is hidden deep within Kenilworth behind large trees and cattails. Here, you’ll find beavers building their homes and cute little turtles sleeping on logs. If you plan a visit during the fall season, you can expect to share the beautiful park with several birdwatchers, photographers, and dog-walkers. There are also the popular water lilies and lotuses here, but plan your visit early in the morning to see them.
On Tuesday mornings, Kenilworth Park and Gardens has a weekly bird walk, which is a fun way to learn more about the wildlife in DC. From October to March, you can expect to see bald eagles around everywhere!
5. Go to a Farmer’s Market
Locations: Dupont Circle – 1600 20th St NW, Washington, DC; Falls Church – City Hall Parking Lot, 300 Park Ave., VA
What better way to enjoy the cozy season than getting your hands on some local DC goodies? One of the best parts about being in DC is the variety of Farmer’s Markets that have everything you need. Make sure to stock up on autumn’s seasonal produce, including apples, pumpkins, and squash.
Locals recommend checking out the Dupont Circle market on Sunday mornings for some delicious food. If you’re looking for a more kid-friendly area, then head to the Falls Church market. No matter which farmer’s market you visit, you can expect to find some great artisan cheeses, baked goods, fresh-cut flowers, and even homemade dog treats for your furry friend.
6. Get Spooked on a Haunted Wine Tour
Location: 15950 Lee Hwy, Centreville, VA
If you’re willing to take a 40-minute drive from DC, then we’d suggest getting some tickets for a haunted wine tour. This fall-special tour at the Winery at Bull Run gives you the perfect balance between two seasonal activities: listening to ghost stories and drinking the best wine.
Instead of the typical ghost tour that only takes you around town, this one brings you through the historic grounds with lanterns. The incredible guides will be with you as spirits of the battlefield come to life and share stories of the past. Everyone has to get an individual ticket for this haunted tour which includes a wine tasting, Winery at Bull Run logo glass, and exclusive access to the winery after hours. It is such a fun and unique way to spend fall in Washington DC!
7. Enjoy the Annual Oktoberfest Celebration
Location: Wunder Garten, 1101 First Street Northeast, Washington, DC
From September 16th to October 9th, get into the Oktoberfest spirit at the annual Oktoberfest Celebration right here in DC. This German-themed beer garden event is the largest one of the year and features lots of German cuisine, live bands, and of course, beer!
If you plan to attend, you can expect to sip on Marzen-style beers from some of Bavaria’s oldest breweries like the Spaten Franziskaner and the Bavarian State Brewery. They also feature a variety of beers from local places like Devils Backbone, Left Hand Brewing Co., and Port City Brewing. Other fun activities include the famous Bavarian Olympics with contests and traditional Bavarian games to get you in the fall spirit!
8. Grab Halloween Pumpkins
Location: 22222 Davis Mill Rd, Germantown, MD
The last outdoor adventure for enjoying fall in Washington DC is getting an enormous pumpkin that you’ll probably never carve. Like many other things about this season, picking pumpkins is more about the journey than the destination.
Locals recommend taking an hour-long drive down to Butler’s Orchard for the best selection of pumpkins. Plan your visit with a group of friends or family and find the weirdest-looking pumpkins as you sip on warm apple cider. Oh and don’t forget to take lots of pictures for the ‘gram!