The season of apple cider donuts, haunted trails, cozy sweaters, and pumpkin spice is upon us! There’s nothing quite like the season of fall, and the DMV is full of things to see and do! Check out this list for only the best in scenic foliage, intense frights, autumn markets, and other fun things to do this fall 2021 around Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia.
Rock Creek Park offers perfect autumn views on a crisp fall stroll. The park’s natural surrounding beauty, spanning 1,800 cacres, is enough to stop you in your tracks for the Instagrammable landscapes.
As a National Landmark, the National Arboretum is one of the best fall foliage spots in DC. Bragging hundreds of species of flora and fauna, you can learn about the local plants while you enjoy scenic colorful views.
The National Mall is a year-round treat, but it’s especially beautiful in the fall. Golds, reds, and yellow glory take over the mall in the fall, offering amazing views of both historic landmarks and changing trees.
Sugarloaf Mountain is a Registered Natural Landmark because of its geological interest and striking beauty. Offering stunning fall views and nearby vineyards it’s the perfect day-trip for your leaf-peeping pleasures.
Seneca Creek is 6,300 acres of beauty along Maryland parkland. The park extends along 14 scenic miles of Seneca Creek, as it winds its way to the Potomac River. The Clopper Day-Use Area contains many scenic areas, including the 90-acre Clopper Lake, surrounded by forests and fields.
If you’re looking for an upward waterfall climb and picturesque mountain views, Cunningham Falls is a great place to visit. Surrounded by the beautiful Catoctin Mountains, Cunningham Falls State Park is home to Maryland’s highest cascading waterfall.
Shenandoah is one of the best spots in Virginia to see fall foliage, securing spots in major outlets such as Travel and Leisure. Skyline Drive is the best place to take a scenic cruise throughout the Shenandoah Mountains, among several pull-off spots to take the best fall foliage shots.
Burke Lake is one of the most underrated leaf-peeping spots in Fairfax County. With a 4-mile hike around a scenic lake, you’re sure to see absolutely stunning foliage along the waterfront trails.
One of the main thoroughfares around the center of Great Falls is Georgetown Pike, a historic winding road that offers entrance to several nearby parks and trails. Drive through its tree-lined glory to explore spectacular fall foliage views.
Great falls is one of Virginia’s most beautiful natural wonders. Listen to the flow of the mighty Potomac River as it rolls down a series of waterfalls and rapids. Plus, you’re going to want to snag the obligatory photo op alongside one of its dramatic clifftops.
Meadowlark Botanical Gardens is an outdoor oasis, featuring gazebos, streams, and hundreds of species of flora and fauna. The fall foliage is stunning there! Don’t forget to make another trip back for their Winter Walk of Lights in November.
Fall Festivals, Pumpkin Patches, and Markets
Cornhole, board games, DJ’s, live entertainment, and more await at Wunder Garten’s Oktoberfest Celebration in the NoMa District of Washington DC. Beer lovers, rejoice! You’ll have a day chock-full of German food, music, contests, décor, and beer!
Pumpkin Harvests, farm markets, bonfires, and hayrides come alive at Butler’s Orchard Farms. Located in Germantown, MD, they offer tons of fall festivities – including giant slides and a corn maze!
Montpelier Farms (fall festival begins September 18th)
Montpelier Farms is the perfect fall destination for families & kids to pick a pumpkin, feed some animals, drink some hot cider, and get lost in a corn maze. Nestled in Upper Marlboro, the farm has been operating and serving the local community since 1673.
Homestead Farm has one of the region’s most extensive fall markets, featuring local honey, fruit preserves, apples, pumpkins, squashes, apple ciders, and more. Head to their pumpkin patch to pluck the plumpest gourd to take home!
Summers Farm – Fall festival begins September 18th
Summers Farm is an old-fashioned Fall Harvest Festival featuring a Corn Maze, Pumpkin Patch, 45+ family activities, weekend entertainment, fireworks, and great food in Frederick, MD. Be advised that tickets must be purchased online!
Reston Farm Market – Fall festival September 25 through October 31
Dating back to 1976, the legendary Reston Farm Market thrives to this day serving local community in Northern Virginia with a bit of old-school farm freshness. Enjoy their fall festivities, including a corn maze, bouncy slides, train rides, caricature artists, and farm animals.
Pumpkin Harvest Festival Great Country Farms – Festival October 1-31, 2021
Great Country Farms is a local favorite every fall, with wagon rides, pumpkin cannons, cow trails, live music, marshmallow roasting, pumpkin patches, and even a cider pressing demo! Common side effects include bouts of jumping pillow giggles, a desire to dig in the dirt or stomp in a puddle, unexplained rosy cheeks and spontaneous fits of laughter.
George Washington’s Mount Vernon is offering both sunset wine tours and a fall harvest festival. At their Fall Wine Festival and Sunset Tour (October 8-10, 2021), you can bring a blanket and relax on the east lawn overlooking the Potomac River, sample wine from Virginia wineries, and meet George Washington. At the Fall Harvest Festival (October 23 & 24, 2021), you can celebrate the crisp autumn season with 18th-century activities & demonstrations at the Farm at Mount Vernon.
Cox Farms Fall Festival – Sept. 18 – 19 | Sept. 25 – Nov. 7, 2021
Apple cider donuts, alien encounters, caramel popcorn, and pumpkins wait at Cox Farms Drive-Through Market and Hayride that takes place from the comfort of your own vehicle.
Whitehall Farms – October 2, 3, 9, 10, and 11
Whitehall Farm is a 205-acre sustainable family-owned farm in Clifton, VA. Come and join their nature trails, lawn games, a field of pumpkins, and animal encounters.
Burke Nursery Fall Festival – October 1st to October 31st
Burke’s Nursery has an expansive fall market, with pumpkins, apples, james and jellies, hot chocolate, corn stalks, apple cider, spices, and more. Enjoy their Fall Farm Market as well as the outdoors amid pumpkins and Halloween-inspired backdrops where you can choose the right pumpkin as well as take those special family pictures of your Halloween Memories.
Haunted Houses and Frights
Drive Thru Boo at the Zoo **Pending 2021
Start your engines and prepare for some spooky fun during Boo Drive Thru, sponsored by Mars Wrigley, a special edition of the beloved children’s trick-or-treating event. Pack your car full of ghouls, ghosts, princesses and superheroes and cruise down the Zoo’s North Road, all in support of Friends of the National Zoo. Supernatural sights await along your drive—and so do treat bags stuffed with M&Ms, Twix and more!
Laurel’s House of Horror – Reopens September 24
Creating frightening, haunted memories for visitors since 2014, Laurel’s House of Horror has grown its footprint and creepy factor within the abandoned Laurel movie theater. The attractions offer sensory overload, a chilling sense of anticipation, and fear with several new exhibits.
Field of Screams – Reopens September 25
Field of Screams Maryland has designed terrifying haunted houses and trails for everyone to enjoy. Rated number one in both the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun, it’s guaranteed to give you an intense experience this fall!
Cornstalkers Trail of Terror – Reopens October 1
Located in a rural part of Maryland, in the heart of Charles County, lies a deeply disturbing history that very few know anything about. It is said that the Stadium that now occupies this very site was once flourishing farmland in the 1940’s with acres upon acres of cornfields, all owned by a County local named Mr. Graves. Exactly how each family member fell victim and was murdered while out working in the fields is a horror that remains unexplained to this day. Are you up to the challenge?
Bennett’s Curse Haunted House – Reopens September 24
Bennett’s Curse Haunted House Maryland is a small family owned operation that serves Hollywood caliber scares. They have been delivering scares to the area for 18 years now. The Bennett family pride themselves on delivering the “scariest haunted house attraction”, offering the latest, most cutting edge technology, making them a Halloween tradition in the area.
Haunted Nightmares at High Hill Farm – Reopens October 1
Step inside and experience horror like never before! Haunted Nightmares is an intense attraction that features professional sets with theatrical lighting and special effects. They also offer moonlit hayrides and a corn maze.
The Death Trail – October 15, 16, 22, 23, 24, 29, 30, 31
Grab some of your bravest friends and journey through The Death Trail, where creepy creatures and monsters of all kinds will be lurking, awaiting their next victim. Proceeds benefit the local church who puts on the event every season.
Cozy Fall Cideries and Coffee Shops
Huge wood casks dominate this cider maker’s tasting room where Spanish tapas pair with artisan pours at Anxo Cidery and Tasting Room. Be sure to also try their craft beers and wine!
Capitol Cider House is cidery and taproom located at 3930 Georgia Avenue, steps from the metro in the heart of D.C.’s Petworth neighborhood. They focus on crafting hard ciders mixed with modern flavors.
Tryst is a relaxed coffeehouse drawing hipsters with live music, eclectic furniture, sandwiches & sweets. You can stop by for a quick cup on your way to work, or you can lounge all day with a great book. Definitely try their Irish Coffee, spiked with a shot of whiskey!
Eric Rice and Lori Leitzel Rice craft their farmhouse style cider from certified organic, American heirloom apples on their 35 acre farm in Middletown, Maryland. Organic pears, blueberries, black currants and other fruits make tasty additions to Willow Oaks’ ciders. Fabulous fruit, unique terroir and small batch barrel fermentation let the flavors and aroma of the fruit shine through to a crisp, dry finish.
Distillery Lane Ciderworks sits on 95 acres in Jefferson, Maryland—just outside of the historic town of Burkittsville. The farm is a historic site, dating back to the Civil War, and is officially known as “The Encampment” as the farm was used as a camp for Union soldiers leading up to the battle of Antietam. Today, the farmhouse, adjacent carriage house, and Civil War-era barn foundation still stand on the property. Additional buildings, such as the cider house and barns, were added later, designed to maintain the historic appearance and integrity of the property and surrounding area.
Bold Rock is proud to offer a diversified line of award-winning craft beverage products including Hard Cider and Hard Seltzer crafted from fresh, locally sourced apples in Virginia and North Carolina as well as Craft Cocktails made from premium American spirits. They’ve become the nation’s largest independently-owned cider company.
Mt. Defiance creates award-winning, handcrafted, small batch hard cider and spirits. Located in historic downtown Middleburg, be sure to check out downtown for locally owned shops and restaurants made with love.
Where community meets coffee. Caffe Amouri is located in the historic Downtown Vienna, a local city that’s full of independently owned businesses and restaurants. Be sure to snag a photo op alongside the old red caboose, a previously-functional part of the Washington
& Old Dominion (W&OD) Railroad.
Where will you visit first this fall? Be sure to tag me in your adventures!