Fall Bucket List for Kids: 25 Awesome Things To Do in DC This Fall
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 25 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.
Fall Bucket List for Kids in DC: Outdoor Fun
1. Have Fun on the Farm
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.
It's not fall without a visit to the pumpkin patch. Photo courtesy of Butler's Orchard
2. Go Pumpkin Picking
Sure, you could buy a pumpkin from your local grocery store, but nothing beats picking the perfect pumpkin right from the patch—especially when you could 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.
3. Attend a Fall Festival
Fall is the most popular season for fairs and festivals in the DC region, and there are so many great fall festivals near DC for families to choose from. From farm festivals to multicultural fairs to Renaissance and art festivals, there's a festival to suit any family's interests.
4. Visit an Amusement Park
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 By Day at Six Flags America.
Enjoy the protected wetland habitat at Huntley Meadows Park. Photo by Monica M.
5. Take a Fall Hike
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.
6. Go Camping
Fall is a great time to take the kids on a camping adventure because you can sleep outdoors without the summer heat, humidity, and bugs. Try one of our favorite campgrounds near DC to go camping with kids.
7. Root for the Home Team
There's still time to catch a baseball game before the regular MLB season ends. The Washington Nationals' last home game is on October 2, 2022, while the Baltimore Orioles play at home through October 5, 2022. If the Orioles make the playoffs, it will be harder to score a ticket!
8. Enjoy Some Homemade Ice Cream
Some of the DC area's best homemade ice cream spots close for the season in late October. Even if they didn't, your family may no longer be craving a cold treat once the temperatures drop. So head to one of these 12 must-try ice cream shops near DC on a warm fall day!
9. Head to a Playground
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.
Hunt for shark teeth at Colonial Beach in Virginia. Photo by C.W. Clarke (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
10. Hit the Beach
No, we're not kidding—the beach isn't only for summer. Fall can be a great time to spend a day or a weekend at one of the family-friendly beaches near DC 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. The Delaware beaches are also some of our favorites to visit with kids.
11. Drink Up at a Beer Garden or Brewery
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. Unwind at a Winery
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 for Families
13. Attend a Fun Halloween Event
DC loves Halloween, which is apparent by the huge amount of family-friendly Halloween events that take place throughout the area. Families don't have to break the bank to enjoy Halloween in the DC area. From parades and parties to carnivals and trick-or-treat events, there are loads of free Halloween events near DC throughout October.
Boo at the Zoo is back this year! Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute
14. Boo at the Zoo
Boo at the Zoo, the popular trick-or-treating event at Smithsonian's National Zoo, deserves its own mention not only because it's awesome, but because it's finally back after a three-year pandemic-related hiatus. Get your kiddos' costumes ready and help welcome back this beloved event!
15. Go 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 10 great trick-or-treat neighborhoods near DC.
16. Head to a Trunk-or-Treat
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.
More Things To Do in DC this Fall with Kids
17. Take a Fall Train Ride
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 10 fall train rides within easy driving distance from DC and marvel at the gorgeous fall foliage from the window.
The National Children's Museum's Art + Tech exhibit features favorite Nickelodeon characters. Photo courtesy of the museum
18. Visit a Museum
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 the Smithsonian institutions, Planet Word, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the National Archives Museum, and the National Museum of the United States Army. Or, check out the National Children's Museum.
19. Enjoy a Weekend Getaway or Fall Day Trip
The long weekends coming up in October and November are the perfect time to take the family on a fall weekend getaway or day trip from DC. Whether you're looking for history and culture, outdoor fun, or theme-park thrills, there are some great options for any kind of adventure.
20. Explore a Nature Center
There are many free nature centers near DC where 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.
Fall Bucket List for Kids in DC: Exhibitions and Experiences
Don't miss Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience. Photo courtesy of Wizarding World
21. Check out an Immersive Harry Potter Experience
Harry Potter fans will go nuts over Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience, a nighttime woodland trail filled with magical creatures and wonders from the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts movies. Sounds, lights, and special effects bring the Wizarding World magic to life. The experience will be at Morven Park in Leesburg, Virginia from November 3 through December 16, 2022, so hurry to check it out before the weather gets too cold!
22. Visit Life-Size Dinosaurs
Dinos Alive, an immersive exhibition featuring over 80-life size animated dinosaurs, comes to the Rhode Island Center in DC on October 28, 2022. It's only in town until January 22, 2023, so visit before the holiday craziness sets in.
23. Immerse Yourself in Van Gogh
Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience leaves town on November 27, 2022, so hurry on over to see it if you haven't already. This 360-degree digital art exhibition allows families to step into the world of Van Gogh and explore his life, work, and secrets through cutting-edge digital projections, virtual reality, and atmospheric lights and sounds.
Yayoi Kusama's One with Eternity exhibit is a must-visit. Photo courtesy of the Hirshhorn
24. Experience Yayoi Kusama
Prolific artist Yayoi Kusama's One with Eternity exhibit at the Hirshhorn also leaves on November 27, 2022 and is a must-visit. The exhibit includes two of Kusama's transcendent Infinity Mirror Rooms, sculptures, an early painting, and photos of the artist. Kids of all ages are welcome, though it's best for ages 8 and up.
25. See Hamilton at the Kennedy Center
Try your best to score some tickets to this award-winning Broadway musical before it leaves the Kennedy Center on October 9, 2022. The show tells the story of US founding father Alexander Hamilton through a unique score that blends hip-hop, jazz, R&B, and Broadway. While the show is recommended for ages 10 and up, younger kids who are more mature would also really enjoy it.