Fall Bucket List for Kids: 30 Top Things To Do Near DC This Fall

It's not fall without a visit to the pumpkin patch. Photo courtesy of Great Country Farms
It's not fall without a visit to the pumpkin patch. Photo courtesy of Great Country Farms

Fall is just around the corner in DC, and that means gorgeous weather, no stifling humidity or bugs, and beautiful fall foliage. It's the perfect time to enjoy all of the wonderful outdoor things to do in DC this fall that are on our fall bucket list for kids, like pumpkin picking, petting zoos, and tons of family-friendly fall festivals. There are also Halloween events galore, amazing exhibits and shows to see, and exciting fall train rides.

Read on for our list of 30 things to do in DC this fall and its surrounding areas with kids. The list includes fall activities in Maryland, Northern Virginia, and the city itself for families and kids of all ages. For even more ideas for autumn activities, check out our Fall Fun Guide for Washington, DC Families.


 DC Fall Bucket List: Butler's Orchard
Pick the biggest pumpkin at Butler's Orchard. Photo courtesy of the orchard

Fall Bucket List for Kids Near DC: Outdoor Fun

1. Pumpkin Picking

Sure, you could buy a pumpkin from your local grocery store, but nothing beats picking the perfect pumpkin from the patch—especially when you can pull it right off the vine! Head to one of the best pumpkin patches near DC for kids, many of which have other fun activities like hayrides, corn mazes, slides, jumping pillows, petting zoos, and more.

2. Apple Picking

Apple picking is another favorite fall activity for many families. Check out our list of the best apple picking orchards near DC, then use your finds to make one of these six easy apple recipes with your kids.

3. Animal Farms and Petting Zoos

Fall is a great time to head to one of several animal farms and petting zoos near DC. Cooler temps often make the animals more active, and many of these farms also have fall festivals and pumpkin patches for families to enjoy.

4. Fall Festivals

Fall is the most popular season for fairs and festivals in the DC region. From farm festivals to multicultural fairs to Renaissance and art festivals, there's a festival to suit any family's interests on our list of the best fall festivals near DC for families.

DC Fall Bucket List: Washington Nationals game
Catch the Washington Nationals before their season ends. Photo courtesy of baseball.com

5. Baseball Games

There's still time to catch a baseball game before the regular MLB season ends. The Washington Nationals' last home game is on September 24, 2023, while the Baltimore Orioles play at home through October 1, 2023. Once the Orioles make the playoffs, it will be harder to score a ticket!

6. Amusement Parks

As if the roller coasters, rides, and other attractions aren't enough, amusement parks near DC host family-friendly Halloween festivals and activities in the fall that make visiting even more fun. Try Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, the Great Pumpkin Fest at Kings Dominion, or BOO Fest By Day at Six Flags America.

7. Destination-Worthy Playgrounds

Now that the oppressive heat and humidity are gone, kids can return to the DC area's amazing playgrounds to climb, swing, and play to their hearts' content. Try one of our favorite destination playgrounds in the DC area or one of the best tot lots and toddler playgrounds near DC.

8. Fall Hikes

The DC area is bursting with color in the fall, making it the perfect time to go on a family hike to see the foliage. Try Great Falls Park, Rock Creek Park, or one of our other favorite fall hikes near Washington, DC for families.

RELATED: Camping Games to Play with Kids

Photo courtesy of Cherry Hill Campground

9. Camping

Fall is a great time to take the kids on a camping adventure because you can sleep outdoors, sing campfire songs, and tell ghost stories without the summer heat, humidity, and bugs. Try one of our favorite campgrounds near DC to go camping with kids.

10. Beautiful Beaches

We're not kidding—the beach isn't only for summer. Fall can be a great time to spend a day or weekend at the beach because temperatures are often still mild, prices are lower, and crowds are thinner. Plus, many beach towns have fun fall festivals happening, such as Ocean City, Maryland's Sunfest. See our list of the best family-friendly beaches near DC, including the Delaware beaches.

11. Beer Gardens and Breweries

Fall is the perfect time to visit a beer garden or brewery in the DC area. The weather is perfect, seasonal beers are on tap, and many places host Oktoberfest celebrations. And with so many family-friendly beer gardens and breweries near DC, you don't even need to hire a babysitter!

12. Family-Friendly Wineries

If wine is more your thing, there are also plenty of kid-friendly wineries near DC where parents can drink up, kids can run around and play, and the whole family can enjoy the crisp autumn air.

Halloween Events and Activities Near DC
Find fun Halloween events all over the DC area. Photo courtesy of National Harbor

Halloween Events and Activities Near DC for Families

13. Fun Halloween Events

DC loves Halloween, which is apparent by the huge amount of family-friendly Halloween events that take place throughout the area. But families don't have to break the bank to enjoy Halloween. From parades and parties to carnivals and trick-or-treat events, there are loads of free Halloween events near DC throughout October.

14. Trick-or-Treating

Trick-or-treating on Halloween is a rite of passage for kids, and many DC neighborhoods and suburbs go all out with the Halloween decorations and spirit. Try one of these awesome trick-or-treat neighborhoods near DC.

15. Trunk-or-Treats

Trick-or-treating doesn't have to be limited to October 31. Many neighborhoods, churches, businesses, and other places throughout the DC area host trunk-or-treats, at which people decorate the trunks of their cars with fun Halloween displays and give out candy to kids. Check out our list of where to trunk-or-treat near DC.

16. Corn Mazes

Corn mazes have become a Halloween tradition for many families, and there are some pretty great ones near DC that seem to get bigger and better each year. See our list of the best corn mazes near DC for kids and families.

17. Halloween Trails and Haunted Houses

From the simply spooky to the super scary, the DC area is full of haunted houses and trails in October. Check out our list of the best Halloween trails and haunted houses near DC... if you dare.

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DC Fall Bucket List: LEGO Discovery Center Near DC
The LEGO Discovery Center offers hours of LEGO fun. Photo by the author

More Things To Do in DC this Fall with Kids

18. LEGO Discovery Center Washington, DC

The 32,000-square-foot LEGO Discovery Center opened in Virginia's Springfield Town Center in August 2023, and it's incredible. Its 12 immersive zones include a Mini World made with over 1.5 million bricks, a train ride, a 4D Cinema, DUPLO Park for the youngest builders, and so much more. There are also LEGO character appearances and plenty of opportunities for creative building. My 12-year-old twin boys and 8-year-old daughter had a blast here—check out my review!

19. Kid-Friendly Museums

Now that the kids are back in school, supplement their learning with a visit to one of the plethora of great museums the DC area has to offer. Try one of the many free museums in DC, including Smithsonian institutions like the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The National Children's Museum is also great for younger kids.

20. Fall Train Rides

Train rides are fun any time of year, but they're especially beautiful in the fall, when the leaves are changing color. Hop aboard one of these fall train rides within easy driving distance from DC and marvel at the gorgeous fall foliage from the window.

21. Free Nature Centers

At nature centers, families can see live animals, participate in hands-on activities, and enjoy fun after-school and weekend nature programs. Many of them also have great outdoor spaces with trails, ponds, and other cool things for kids to explore. Check out our list of free nature centers near DC for kids and families.

DC Fall Bucket List
The DC area is full of wonderful places to spend a fall day. Photo courtesy of Maryland PG Parks

22. Fall Day Trips or Weekend Getaways

The long weekends coming up in October and November are the perfect time to take the family on an exciting day trip or weekend getaway. Whether you're looking for history and culture, outdoor fun, or theme-park thrills, you'll find the perfect adventure on our list of great fall day trips and weekend getaways from DC.

23. Indoor Playgrounds

Fall can have its occasional cold days, especially later in the season. When the temperature drops, let the kids burn off their energy at one of the top indoor playgrounds in DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia.

24. Trampoline Parks

Trampoline parks are another indoor option that appeals to kids of all ages—even teenagers! Check out our list of awesome trampoline parks near DC where kids and teens can jump, bounce, and blow off steam.

25. Indoor Rock Climbing Gyms and Ninja Warrior Gyms

Kids and teens can climb to new heights at one of several indoor rock climbing gyms and spaces near DC. Or, they can test their skills at one of our favorite ninja warrior gyms and obstacle courses near DC.

DC Fall Bucket List: Titanic: The Exhibition
Explore Titanic artifacts at Titanic: The Exhibition. Photo courtesy of the exhibit

Temporary Exhibits and Experiences to Visit this Fall 

26. Titanic: The Exhibition

Opening on October 21, 2023 in National Harbor, this mesmerizing exhibit includes photographs, handwritten letters, and personal belongings of people aboard the Titanic. Families can also explore life-sized recreations of the ship’s interior, witnessing the contrast between a lavish first-class suite and a humble third-class cabin. The exhibit is open through December 10, 2023, and kids under 4 are free.

27. Candytopia

Time is running out to experience Candytopia, the candy-themed immersive experience at Tysons Corner Center in Virginia. Read our review of Candytopia, then check it out for yourself before it leaves town on October 31, 2023.

28. Family-Friendly Theater

Lots of kid-friendly shows are popping up in theaters throughout the DC area this fall. Don't miss The Very Hungry Caterpillar at Imagination Stage in Bethesda, which just launched its new season.There's also Wild Kratts Live in Baltimore and DC; Disney on Ice in Fairfax, Virginia and Baltimore; Look Both Ways at the Kennedy Center; and lots more. 

29. Dinos Alive: Immersive Experience

The Dinos Alive: Immersive Experience in DC's Rhode Island Center features over 80 life-sized animated dinosaurs. Read a local mom's review of the experience, then bring your dinosaur lover soon—the exhibit closes November 12, 2023.

30. Reclining Liberty

Reclining Liberty, a 25-foot sculpture modeled after the Statue of Liberty in New York City, was installed on the front lawn of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) Arlington in Virginia on August 3, 2023. Bring your kids to see, touch, and even climb on it this fall, before the weather gets cold.

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