Where to Find the Best Fall Activities In Washington, DC

Covid-19 Update: Fall activities in DC are looking a little different this year. This list has been updated with 2020 information and social distancing in mind. Please consider your personal safety when deciding to attend each event. Most activities require tickets and timed entry so plan ahead! 

Cozy sweaters, crackling fires, and pumpkin patches are back and we are ready to enjoy every second of it. Whether you are looking for Halloween frights, friendly hayrides, apple picking, or ghost stories, we’ve got your fall check list right here.

Fall Fun Washington DC

Ghost Tours and Fall Activities in DC

Night at the Living Zoo: Fall events including Brew at the Zoo and Night at the Living Zoo have been canceled due to COVID. They plan to be back next year. However, the zoo remains open and can still be a beautiful fall outing. To ensure social distancing, check out the new polices and free timed-entry tickets. Consider becoming a FONZ member or signing up for emails to get the latest on virtual activities for all ages. 

For the little ones, Boo at the Zoo is still on! Take your kids age 4-12 trick-or-treating October 24-25 drive-through style. Drive the mile-long route through the zoo while enjoying spooky sights like witches, vampires, and Count Pandula. At the end, pick up treat bags (up to 6 per car) with M&Ms, Twix, and more.  Car passes are $45 for FONZ members and $55 for non-members.

Washington, DC Ghost Tours: This historic tour reveals a spookier side of DC history. Guides share stories of DC’s early history filled with conspiracies, crimes, and duels. Tours run from March to mid-November in both LaFayette Park and Capitol Hill. Tickets are $17 for adults, $10 for ages 7-11, and free for children under 6.

Congressional Cemetery Tours: On Saturdays at 11:00 am through October 31, head to the Congressional Cemetery by the Anacostia River for stories about great Americans. Tours are free but reservations are recommended. Plus, don’t miss the spooky Soul Strolls tour on October 16-17 and 23-24. These tours are $25 and $12 for children under 12. Check the website for advanced, timed tickets. 

DC Ghost Tours: DC Ghost Tours offers an 8 stop ghost tour starting at the Treasury Building. This tour is full of spooky stories about DC but not too scary for little ones. Tickets are $19 for adults, $12 for kids 6-12, and $4 for kids under 6. For spooky fun at home, DC Ghost Tours has stories on Google Home (“Hey Google, Talk to Ghost Adventures.”) and Alexa (“Alexa, Open Ghost Adventures.”)

Taste of DC: Taste of DC is a large food festival that usually takes place in October. It has been canceled this year for COVID-19 and is expected to return in Spring 2021. Check out our review from 2016.

Backyard Oktoberfest: The big festival in Munich is canceled this year but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate at home. Here are a few of our favorite German bars in DC offering take out to bring a taste of Bavaria to your backyard:

Fall Treats: Where to find fall coffee, donuts and other treats from local shops.

  • Astro Doughnuts (Metro Center and Falls Church): order seasonal flavors like maple bacon and carrot cake 
  • District Doughnuts (various locations in DC): Find fall flavors like pumpkin spice, apple cinnamon, sweet potato pie, and maple butter pecan.
  • Georgetown Cupcakes (Bethesda and Georgetown): Georgetown Cupcakes rotates the menu monthly but you can find fall flavors in October like pumpkin spice, pumpkin cheesecake, Halloween surprise, and classic flavors with spooky decorations. 
  • Supreme Core (Ivy City): Get your apple cider fix with local ciders from Supreme Core. 
 
Leaf Peeping: Some of the best parks to enjoy the changing leaves in DC area Rock Creek Park, Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park, Theodore Rosevelt Island, and The National Arboretum.

Pumpkin Patches and Festivals in Virginia

Leaf Peeping: There are many large parks in Virginia where you can enjoy the changing leaves. Some of our favorites include Burke Lake, Sky Meadows State Park, Lake Accotink, Mount Vernon, Great Falls, and Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. 

Alexandria Colonial Tours: Follow guides dressed in 18th century costumes as they led you through Old Town by lantern light. Enjoy stories of Old Town’s history, ghosts, and folklore. Tours available March – November and a few days near Christmas. For COVID, tours are limited to 9 people and run Wednesday to Sunday at 7:30 plus 8:30 and 9:30 on Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for ages 7 to 17, and free for children under 6. Zoom tours are also available for $20 per household. Read about our visit.

Reston Fall Festival and Market: The Reston Fall Festival and main market is located off of Leesburg Pike with plenty of parking. Pick up your favorite fall treats, produce, and flowers. Plus, take your little ones to enjoy the fall festival with a maze, train ride, balloon animals and more. This year, you’ll need a timed tickets for 90 minutes of play time at 9:00, 11:00, 1:00, 3:00, or 5:00. All areas will be cleaned between time slots and no one will be admitted with a temperature over 100.4. The festival runs from September 25 to November 1 on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. 

Fall Wine Festival and Trick or Treating at Mount Vernon: Still on! Enjoy Mount Vernon from the perspective of winemaking and drinking October 9-11 from 6 to 9 pm. Bring a blanket to enjoy the sunset while you sample 20 Virginia wines, enjoy music, and learn some history. Tickets start at $42 for members and $46 for non-members. Bring your mask and hand sanitizer. For little history buffs, take your kids trick-or-treating on October 31 from 3:30 – 6:30 pm. Enjoy scavenger hunts, wagon rides, colonial activities, custom parade, and treats. $8 for members; 10 for non-members.

Cox Farms: Cox Farms in Centreville, Virginia fills to capacity each year with visitors so it’s no surprise they are changing things up this year. The traditional activities will be closed for the season but they’ve got a few ways to still enjoy the farm. Drive the hayride route in your car with snacks from the market and order fall essentials like holiday treats and decorations for curbside pick up. Several versions of the beloved photo stations will be set up around the park to minimize lines but still allow you to get the traditional family photo! The season begins September 25 and advanced tickets can be purchased online. All transactions at the farm will be cashless.

Back Home on the Farm: This pumpkin patch is a trek from DC but worth it for fewer crowds and a day in the Shenandoah Valley. Here you’ll find a petting zoo, pig races, carousel, games, and a huge corn maze. Don’t forget to take a hayride to the pumpkin patch! They’ve updated a few of the activities to promote social distancing. Plus check out their fall fun blog for recipes and activities to do at home. Tickets are $10 daily. The fall season is long – September 4 to October 31. Masks required. Read about our visit!

Belvedere Plantation: Join Belvedere Plantation in Fredericksburg for pig races, a giant slide, corn maze, pedal tractor rides, zipline, a petting zoo, and of course a hayride to the pumpkin patch.  The plantation also has a market when you can purchase jams, pies, cider, and even pumpkin carving supplies. Open daily (except Monday) September 13 to November 8. Guests much purchase tickets in advance to enforce social distancing and all transactions at the farm for things like food and pumpkins will be cashless. Private campfires and hayrides will also be available for an additional cost.

Blue Ridge Mountain Maze: Corn Maze in the Plains has moved to a new location in the Blue Ridge Mountains at Wood Ridge Farm Brewery. They will be open for hayrides, pumpkin picking, and maze navigating on September 26.

Haunted HallowNo 2020 update yet! Follow the trail through this haunted farm in Warrenton if you dare! Find spooky surprises and unexpected characters.  All ages are welcome but it might be too spooky for some. Open Fridays and Saturdays September 27 through October 28. Tickets are $18 but look out for discounts opening weekend and for military folks.

Hollin Farms: At Hollin Farms, you’ll not only find pick-your-own apples and pumpkins but also dig your own potatoes and peanuts! The farm is open for fall picking September and October. No reservations required but they recommend calling ahead on the day you plan to visit to assess crowds and conditions of the crops. Masks are required.

Virginia Wine Festival: This event has been canceled for 2020 but they are hopeful to be back in 2021 with already scheduled dates. From 2019: Trade an afternoon in a field of pumpkins for grapes at the Virginia Wine Festival in Ashburn. Get advanced, general admission tickets for $39 including tasting glass, unlimited wine and cider tasting, and music! Oysters, food trucks, and beer available at an additional cost. Cashle

Pumpkin Patches and Ghost Tours in Maryland

Markoff’s Forest: One of the scariest haunted forests in the country, Markoff’s Forest in Dickerson has been scaring folks for over 2 decades.  For 2020, Markoff’s Forest has reorganized their trail to be entirely outdoors. Advanced, timed tickets will be required to ensure small groups and proper distancing. The fright begins October 9 and is open weekends through November 1! Tickets coming soon but have generally range from $25 to $40.

Homestead Farm: Head to Homestead Farm in Poolesville for pick-your-own apples and pumpkins! The farm is also open in the spring and summer for pick-your-own produce as well as in December for Christmas trees and other holiday decorations. Admission is $2 per person plus the cost of what you pick. Masks required.

Montpelier Farms: Montpelier Farms in Upper Marlboro hosts themed events year-round. Enjoy fall activities like a maze, hayrides, and play areas for $12/person. Some craft-based activities, pumpkins, and food are also available for an additional cost. Or pick up pumpkins to go and treats like apple cider donuts at the market. The farm highly recommends purchasing timed entry tickets in advance but walk-ups are considered if space allows. 

Butler’s Orchard: Head to the Pumpkin Festival for hayrides, a corn maze, pumpkin picking, slides, and corn hole.  Open weekends September 26 to November 1. Tickets are $13-15 per person depending on the date and children under 2 are free. Masks required and cash only.

Jumbo’s Pumpkin PatchJumbo’s has decided to close for the 2020 season and will return next year. For reference, the following is 2019 info: Located in Middletown, Jumbo’s has a petting zoo, pony rides, a corn maze, and a hayride to the pumpkin patch. There is also a store where you can purchase jellies and bakery items as well as seasonal wreaths, crafts, and candles. Jumbo’s is open from September 21 to October 31 for fall festivities! $5 farm admission on Saturdays and Sunday but free on weekdays. Pay as you go for pumpkins, food, and pumpkin canon, and apple slingshot. Read about our visit! 

Summer’s Farm: This farm in Frederick is full of fall activities! They have a corn maze, a pumpkin train, pig races, slides, a giant straw mountain, and a pumpkin patch. Come back at night to enjoy a campfire or brave the corn maze in the dark! Private campfire space is also available for an additional cost.  Firework shows will also be held every Friday and Saturday night in October.  Open September 19 through November 8 for fall fun. Tickets are $14 on Friday to Sunday and $9 Monday to Thursday and before 4 PM on Friday. Read about our visit! 

Candlelight Ghost Tours of Frederick:  Discover the ghosts of Frederick on a walking ghost tour through the historic district or a cemetery tour! Guides share spooky stories of Frederick’s haunted past. Not recommended for smaller or easily spooked children. Tours are available year round. Tickets are $12 for adults and $7 for children 8-12. Each ticket comes with a 10% discount at Brewer’s Alley. Once you purchase a ticket, you will need to make a reservation for a specific date. Reservations required to keep group sizes small.

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