Fall Day Trips Near Washington, DC for Families
Fall is my favorite season in the DC area. The humidity drops, but the weather is still warm enough to enjoy lots of family adventures. If you’re looking to explore our region and make some memories this fall, we’ve rounded up a list of our favorite fall day trips near Washington, DC. Whether you’re looking for beautiful fall foliage, thrills and adventure, or you’re not ready for summer to end, there’s a great destination in our region.
Fall Day Trips Less Than an Hour's Drive from DC
Fall is the perfect time to visit this charming Montgomery County town. You can browse the antique shops on Antique Row, take a stroll to check out the historic houses, and lounge in the town's various parks without feeling too hot. For more ideas, check out our list of things to do in Kensington, Maryland with kids.
You'll find a variety of performers at the Maryland Renaissance Festival. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia
Take your family on a trip back in time to the reign of King Henry VIII at the annual Maryland Renaissance Festival in Annapolis. Enjoy jousting, Shakespeare, jugglers, jesters, and other medieval entertainment and games. You can also feast on a wide range of delicacies and shop from the artisan crafters at the fair. Costumes are encouraged to get into the spirit—you can even rent them at the festival for both adults and children.
Celebrate blue crab season at the Maryland Seafood Festival. Photo courtesy of BeeprB
Fall in Maryland means the peak of blue crab season, and the Maryland Seafood Festival is a great way to celebrate that bounty. The festival will be held September 25 and 26 at Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis. There will be live music and entertainment, a kids area with mobile escape rooms and more, chef demonstrations, and of course all the crab, oysters, shrimp, and other seafood from local restaurants. While you’re there, let your kids go for a swim at the park's Chesapeake Bay beach.
Fall Day Trips One to Two Hours' Drive from DC
Kings Dominion is a great day trip any time of year for an adventure-loving, thrill-seeking family. In the fall, the Doswell, Virginia park hosts two fantastic festivals. The Great Pumpkin Fest is perfect for the younger crowd with pumpkin painting, hay mazes, ghostly games, not-so-scary live entertainment, and more on Saturdays and Sundays from September 25 through October 31. If you have older kids and teens that love a good scare, the park transforms from 7 pm to midnight into Halloween Haunt. Filled with monsters, scary mazes, and haunted attractions, this event is definitely not for young kids, so enter only if you dare!
No list of fall day trips in the DC area would be complete without mentioning Shenandoah National Park and the beautiful Skyline Drive. The fall foliage usually peaks in Shenandoah in late September and early October, along with the crowds, so we recommend purchasing an entrance pass online in advance. There are so many options for hiking, biking, and other activities, it deserves its own article! Check out our list of 40 fun things to do in the Shenandoah Valley.
The Eastern Shore of Maryland
The beautiful towns of St. Michaels, Easton and Oxford, MD deserve a visit any time of year to enjoy boating, take in beautiful views of the Chesapeake Bay, visit historic sites, and enjoy some of the best seafood in the DC region. On November 12 – 14, the town of Easton will host the 50th annual Waterfowl Festival, which celebrates the natural beauty of this region. Painters, sculptors, carvers and photographers will display their art – the festival is particularly renowned for outstanding waterfowl carvings. Other highlights include the World Waterfowl Calling Championships where experts demonstrate their duck and goose calling, the diving dogs competition and retriever dog demonstrations.
The beauty of Luray Caverns, located in the Shenandoah Valley. Photo by Paul Moss
In the Shenandoah Valley, one must-see attraction for kids is the famous Luray Caverns, the largest caverns in the eastern U.S. A ticket to the caverns also includes admission to three nearby museums, the Car & Carriage Caravan Museum, Shenandoah Heritage Village, and Toy Town Junction. During the peak fall foliage on October 9 and 10, visit the Page County Heritage Festival for some old-fashioned fall family fun. There are demonstrations of traditional crafts like spinning, blacksmithing, and apple butter boiling, live entertainment, and a steam and gas tractor show. For the kids, there will be face painting, a pedal-tractor pull, a hay maze, a petting zoo, a barrel train ride, and pony rides.
Fall Day Trips Two+ Hours' Drive from DC
Garrett County, Maryland
Western Maryland's Deep Creek Lake is another beautiful place from which to admire the fall foliage. The Autumn Glory Festival, held October 13-17, is a celebration of the fall splendor. Highlights of the festival include the scenic Fall Foliage Driving Tours, a corn maze, a craft show, and the Grand Feature Parade on October 16.
This farm in Ronks, Pennsylvania takes fall fun to the next level with a huge variety of attractions, rides, live music and entertainment, farm animals, and pumpkins. In 2020, Cherry Crest's corn maze was voted #1 in the country! You can pick your own sunflowers, zinnias, pumpkins, and popcorn corn in the fall (crop permitting). The farm's Pumpkin Madness Festival on November 6 tries to answer the question, "How many ways can you destroy a pumpkin?" There will be pumpkin smashing, carving, bowling, a glow in the dark pumpkin drop, and fireworks at 8:30pm.
Ocean City, Maryland
If your family isn’t ready for summer to end yet, who says it has to? The fall can be a beautiful time to visit local beaches like Ocean City, and prices are cheaper after Labor Day weekend. Combine the best of the beach and the fall and visit Sunfest, Ocean City’s largest festival, held from September 30 through October 3. There will be live music every day, kids' activities, hay rides, a craft show, and lots of delicious beach food – boardwalk fries, anyone? It’s held right at the end of Ocean City’s Boardwalk so your family can enjoy all the attractions.
Explore a caboose before taking a ride on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. Photo by HM Lee
Western Maryland Scenic Railroad
If you want to enjoy all the beauty of the fall foliage without hiking or driving yourself, the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad in Cumberland, MD could be just the ticket. Historic trains will take you on a 4.5-hour round trip ride from Cumberland to downtown historic Frostburg, where you’ll have time to walk around and explore the attractions before your return trip. There are also special themed rides throughout the year, including Murder Mystery Dinner Trains, Family Pizza Trains, and the very popular Polar Express Train Ride in the winter.