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12 Ways to Make the Most of Fall in Washington, DC

@iampoojatiwari - Fall Foliage at the Lincoln Memorial - Washington, DC

Whether you’re an urban explorer or fall fashionista, there’s so much to see and do when autumn hits the District.

While spring and summer get much of the glory in Washington, DC, as the leaves turn shades of auburn the nation’s capital buzzes with endless sights to see and things to do. From witnessing fantastic fall foliage on the National Mall and getting spooked at the Smithsonian National Zoo to experiencing the best fall festivals and fireplaces to cozy up to, here’s how to make the most of autumn in the nation’s capital.

1 Fall means free in DC
Fall means free in DC

Some of DC’s most gorgeous and free-to-visit locales become even more scenic as the leaves change color. You already know about the monuments and memorials on the National Mall, but have you checked out these inspiring parks and gardens (almost all of which are free)? If indoor activities are more your speed, head to the National Gallery of Art, which hosts free concerts every Sunday in the scenic West Garden Court throughout the fall. For even more free in DC this fall, check out these things to see and do.

2 Find fantastic fall foliage
Find fantastic fall foliage

The changing of the seasons in DC is an Instagrammer’s dream – lucky for you, we've picked out the best spots to photograph fall foliage. The National Mall is a top-notch foliage spot, and while it's beautiful in any season, there’s something special about experiencing the monuments and memorials surrounded by brilliant auburn and yellow hues. Rock Creek Park, one of the largest urban parks in the country, is another great place to experience DC’s autumn vibes. Take a trip there and forget you’re right in the middle of the nation’s capital.

Discover Washington, DC in 360 Degrees - Find out why a trip to Washington, DC is the best vacation ever by experiencing it in 360-degree video

3 Taste these delicious fall flavors

@brittmichele15 - District Doughnut - Places to Eat in Washington, DC

While the pumpkin spice latte has become a classic signal that summer is over, DC rolls out the red (and orange) carpet each fall with a variety of creative fall flavors and pumpkin-infused treats. Journey to these DC spots that can satiate your sweet tooth while also satisfying your fall flavor cravings.

4 Catch a must-see concert or take in a critically acclaimed production

30 Club Concert Venue - Concerts in Washington, DC

Fall is one of the most action-packed times to experience the cultural side of the capital city, with festivals, events, concerts and new plays seemingly each week. Some highlights: the opening of The Anthem on Oct. 12, a 6,000-seat masterpiece of a concert venue that’s part of The Wharf, DC’s exciting new development in the Southwest Waterfront and the world premiere of the Broadway-bound Mean Girls at National Theatre on Oct. 31. Discover even more ways to experience the fall music scene or catch a must-see play in the District.

5 Celebrate Oktoberfest at these beer gardens
Celebrate Oktoberfest at these beer gardens Sauf Haus

Can’t make it to Munich this year? Visitors to the District can still raise a stein of beer and take in the brew-centric vibes at these beer gardens in and around the city. So join DC’s buzzworthy beer community (which includes some great breweries to check out) and experience the best open-air beer gardens offering suds, snacks and convivial settings for downing a cold one al fresco.

6 Warm up by the fireplace and get cozy (with a drink in hand)

If you’re not fortunate enough to have a fireplace at your home, or space for a bonfire in the backyard, no worries – the District has you covered. Plenty of restaurants and bars in DC have areas fit for kicking back, relaxing and shaking off the autumn chill with fireplaces and heaters to go with dishes and drinks sure to satisfy the appetite and keep the body warm.

7 Experience Halloween in the most frightful ways

Halloween and Boo at the Zoo in Washington, DC

Looking for a creepily good time? If you’re eager to do a little more than trick or treating to honor the spookiest of holidays, DC has a wealth of Halloween events, haunted houses and activities for all ages and preferences. Expect family-friendly frights at the National Zoo’s Boo at the Zoo and the National Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center's Air & Scare or don your best costume for 21-and-over events like Nightmare on M Street.

8 Spook your friends on these haunted tours
Spook your friends on these haunted tours erin m via Flickr

The nation’s capital is full of spooky and supernatural history, from the infamous Exorcist Steps in Georgetown, the city’s oldest neighborhood, to Capitol Hill haunts where ghosts of former lawmakers are rumored to have been sighted. Uncover the haunted and ghastly throughout the DC area with these tours sure to spook you and your friends.

9 Embrace your inner fall fashionista

Family shopping in Georgetown - Washington, DC

Looking for the best in new fall fashions? There are plenty of trendsetting stores on 14th Street or in Georgetown and Dupont Circle to explore — or shop local at these Made in DC stores. And for the latest in high-end gear, you can find the newest and hottest looks at CityCenterDC.

10 Pay tribute to national heroes on Veterans Day

Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Veterans Day - Washington, DC

Many of the monuments and memorials in the nation’s capital honor servicemen and women, and the city’s museums are packed with important military history that sheds light on the immense sacrifices that American armed forces have made to protect this country. On Veterans Day, commemorations at the city’s memorials and museums make for perfect ways to celebrate and honor the holiday. Explore the full range of things to do and places to go on Veterans Day.

11 Root, root, root for DC’s home teams
Root, root, root for DC’s home teams @curtkennedy

Fall is the best time to be a sports fan in the nation’s capital. The Nationals are perennial baseball postseason contenders, the NFL season revs to life, and the championship hopes for the Wizards and Capitals are renewed once more as the NBA and NHL seasons return. Fortunately for you, that means there are plenty of reasons to attend a sporting event this fall in DC.

12 Or cheer them on from these bars and restaurants
Or cheer them on from these bars and restaurants Penn Social

If watching sports indoors on a huge flat-screen TV is more your scene, then join likeminded DC sports fans at these bars and restaurants where free-flowing beer and oodles of team spirit. So cozy up to the bar, order a brew and some apps and get to cheering.

With a canvas of colorful leaves, cozy vibes and marvelous weather, fall is one of the best times to visit Washington, DC. Find out all there is to do this fall in the District.