5 Reasons Why Autumn is the Best Time to Visit Washington, DC

Most people come to Washington, D.C. in the spring, understandably because of the Cherry Blossom Festival, but many would attest that fall is probably when the District is at its most beautiful. Leafy trees everywhere start to change their colors, providing the nation’s capital with a backdrop that’s worthy of a thousand words. In addition to the autumn foliage, here are four other reasons why you should visit Washington DC in autumn.

Visit Washington DC in Autumn

Foliage Alert

Why Visit Washington DC in Autumn: Foliage inside Fort Hunt Park
Foliage inside Fort Hunt Park

In spring, you’ll always hear the words peak bloom, in reference to the cherry blossom trees that surround the Tidal Basin, but in autumn, what you’ll constantly be reminded of is when the “peak color” will occur. This refers to the best week to view the foliage around Washington, D.C.’s greenest spots like that of Theodore Roosevelt Island, Rock Creek Park, Arlington National Cemetery, and on the George Washington Memorial Parkway on the way to Mount Vernon. One particular spot that’s perfect for viewing the annual foliage is at the United States National Arboretum in northeast Washington. Make sure to snap a picture by the columns that once belonged to the original Capitol. They are the garden’s most recognizable landmarks.

Sports Resurrection

Why Visit Washington DC in Autumn: Marcin Gortat of Washington Wizards
Marcin Gortat of Washington Wizards

Another great reason why you should visit Washington DC in autumn is because of the city’s sports resurrection. Many of the region’s sports teams begin their seasons in the fall. They include college football teams as well as professional football (NFL), hockey (NHL), and basketball (NBA). Some key dates to keep an eye for this season include NFL division games between the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys on December 7, college football rivalry match between the Cavaliers from the University of Virginia and the Hokies from Virginia Tech, and the Washington Wizard’s home opener against the New York Knicks on October 31.

Fall Festivals

Why Visit Washington DC in Autumn: Scenes from H Street Festival
Scenes from H Street Festival

Autumn in DC., signals that the city is alive once more. Congress is back in session, so is school. The cooler weather still allows us Washingtonians to enjoy the outdoors as well. Marketing agents know all these, which is why some of the biggest festivals and happenings occur anytime between September and November. They include events such as the annual Taste of Georgetown and DC, the H Street Festival, the Colonial Fall Harvest at Mount Vernon, Capital Food Fight, and the Oyster Riot at Old Ebbitt Grill, which will be celebrating its 21st year this year.

Holiday Events

Why Visit Washington DC in Autumn: President Obama Pardon a Turkey
President Obama Pardon a Turkey

There are more holidays celebrated in autumn than any other season during the year. We’ve got Labor Day in September, where you can enjoy the last leg of summer happenings such as outdoor movie screenings, while October has Halloween. The District plays host to a number of huge Halloween events like Night of the Living Zoo, an adult costume party held at the National Zoo, and Nightmare on M Street, the largest Halloween gathering that takes place in Georgetown. Over two-dozen bars participate with specials on food and drinks, while some also sponsor costume contests. In November, we have both Veterans Day and Thanksgiving. We celebrate the former every year with a star-studded concert to honor and give thanks to all the veterans who served our country. This year’s musical lineup includes Bruce Springsteen, Rihanna, The Black Keys, Carrie Underwood and Dave Grohl. Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks, and Will Smith are also scheduled to make an appearance. Finally, Thanksgiving in D.C., is unique because only in the nation’s capital will you see an animal pardon. The annual tradition requires the sitting President to pardon a turkey (hence it will be spared from being served in someone’s dinner table.)

Fall Day Trips

Why Visit Washington DC in Autumn: Skyline Drive Path
Skyline Drive Path

One of the reasons I love autumn in DC is due to the fact that it’s so close to a lot of other interesting places that are best visited during the fall season. Some of the notable fall day trip itineraries involve Skyline Drive, the paved road that cuts through Shenandoah National Park, reachable in just a couple of hours by car rental. There’s also the Loudon, Virginia wineries where you can sample, tour, and learn a bit of wine. Most of them are within an hour’s drive west of the capital. If you want someplace a little closer, make a trip down to George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Enjoy the spectacular scenery that leads up to the first president’s estate via car, ferry, or bicycle.

Planning to visit Washington DC in autumn? Check out affordable hotels in the heart of the capital.

About Iris A

Website: http://www.travelingwithiris.com

Born in the Philippines, but grew up in Texas, Iris has been traveling and writing about her experiences for well over a decade. Her work has been published on well-known travel sites like Hipmunk (#hipmunkcitylove) and D Magazine Online Travel Club. She has been all over Europe, the US, and has recently started exploring Latin America. She loves trying local cuisine and visiting UNESCO deemed World Heritage sites. Her favourite city is New York, with London, following a close 2nd. You can follow her on Twitter @sundeeiris or through her travel blog, Traveling With Iris.

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