Things to Do

Things to Do Around DC This Fall: Your Ultimate Guide

Celebrate autumn with pumpkin picking, leaf-peeping getaways, fall festivals, and more.

Photograph by Susan Bell/Flickr.

Temperatures are dropping, leaves are changing, and the perfume of pumpkin spice is in the air. It’s official: Fall has finally arrived. Here’s how to make the most of the season with autumnal activities.

Image via iStock.
Image via iStock.

Pick-your-own pumpkins.

Don your finest flannel to spend a day in a pumpkin patch, plucking gourds for seasonal decor, Jack O’ Lanterns, and even a pumpkin keg. The region’s farms also offer other seasonal pursuits like hayrides, corn mazes, and produce markets.

Boulder Bridge at Rock Creek Park. Photograph by <a href="">Dion Hinchcliffe</a>/Flickr.
Boulder Bridge at Rock Creek Park. Photograph by Dion Hinchcliffe/Flickr.

Check out fall foliage.

Peak foliage arrives in mid-October, but you can get a head start on planning your leaf-peeping excursions. If you’re ready for a colorful hike or nature walk, there are plenty of places around DC approaching partial foliage.

Photograph by <a href="">sharyn morrowi</a>/Flickr.
Photograph by sharyn morrowi/Flickr.

Harvest apples at a farm.

In addition to pumpkins, fall is prime time to pick some apples. Head to an orchard to snag bushels of Honeycrisp, Jonagold, Granny Smith, and more varietals. Don’t know what to do with your harvest? Take a tip from DC chefs and top French toast with apple confit.

pick apples pumpkins dc
Photo via iStock.

Go to a fall festival

Fall fest season is in full swing, and there’s an occasion for everyone. Venture to food festivals for oyster shucking, bites from local restaurants, and free-flowing beer. Bring little ones to kid-friendly events with petting zoos (hello, baby chickens!) and train rides, or minimize your chances of running into children at these festivals.

Photograph by Via Tsuji/Flickr.
Photograph by Via Tsuji/Flickr.

Try seasonal treats.

Pumpkin Spice Lattes aren’t the only fall beverage. Coffee shops and cafes are getting into the autumnal spirit with warming spices, apple cider chai, and maple-flavored syrups. (Don’t worry, many also pour PSLs.) Pair a cozy drink with an apple cider donut for the ideal fall combo.

Photo via iStock.
Photo via iStock.

Hit up a haunted spot.

‘Tis the season for visits to spooky sites. Haunted houses and forests bring horror movie tropes to life with chainsaw-wielding characters and zombies lurking through wooded trails. Up the spine-chilling factor at (supposedly) haunted hotels—you may even have a brush with the paranormal.

Photo courtesy of Butler's Orchard
Photo courtesy of Butler’s Orchard

Get lost in a corn maze.

Explore maize labyrinths for a stroll through the corn stalks. Some mazes are simple, while others are like an open-air escape room: The puzzle at Frederick’s Summers Farm requires a passport with clues to emerge, and Liberty Mills Farm in Somerset features four different pathways in the 34-acre maze.

Photo via iStock.
Photo via iStock.

Head to a happy hour.

Toast the crisp weather with fall happy hour deals at DC-area bars and restaurants. There are bottomless cocktails, discounts on food, and late-night specials. If the forecast calls for clear conditions, consider a happy hour venue with outdoor seating.

Daniella Byck
Lifestyle Editor

Daniella Byck joined Washingtonian in 2022. She was previously with Outside Magazine and lives in NoMa.