Discover 8 Incredible Places To See Fall Foliage Near Washington, DC

Written by Nixza Gonzalez
Updated: December 1, 2022
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Possibly the best time to visit Washington DC is during fall. When the leaves change color, it creates breathtaking sights. Washington, DC and its nearby surrounding areas are already full of natural and vivid beauty, and the changing colors only add to it. If you are stopping by and visiting Washington DC between October 17th to October 24th, you won’t want to miss seeing the fall foliage at its best in these eight locations!

When is the Best Time to See Fall Foliage Near Washington, DC?

Not all states experience the changing of seasons the same way, and this includes Washington, DC. Technically, the first day of fall in the United States is September 22nd. It doesn’t end until December 21st, when winter begins. However, this doesn’t mean that as soon as the clock strikes midnight on September 22nd, you are likely to see quick and vibrant seasonal changes. Instead, the best time to see fall foliage near Washington, DC is between October 17th and the 24th. By the end of October, the leaves will probably start to fall quickly.

1. Rock Creek Park

American Persimmon

Rock Creek Park is 30 miles long and filled with vivid trees and hiking trails.

©Katja Schulz from Washington, D. C., USA / CC BY 2.0 – License

First on this list is Rock Creek Park. The park is 30 miles long and filled with vivid trees and hiking trails. It stretches from Montgomery County, Maryland, to downtown D.C., giving you a long list of options for places to take stunning pictures! The best part about this park? It’s free! One of the best spots to take pictures and take in the mesmerizing red oaks is Rapids Bridge. When you get tired of frolicking amongst the orange, pink, and yellow leaves, you can also visit the Rock Creek Park Nature Center and Planetarium.

2. Great Falls Park

great falls

Great Falls Park stretches from Great Falls, Virginia, to Potomac, Maryland.

©RX2 Photography/

Great Falls Park stretches from Great Falls, Virginia, to Potomac, Maryland. You can walk multiple trails, totaling 15 miles, in the 800-acre park. The rushing water is pleasing to view, but even more so when it is surrounded by gray rocks and red and fiery leaves. Although you can view fall foliage anywhere in Great Falls Park, some best-looking points include the 50-foot cliffs and Old Carriage Road, a popular flat and wooded trail.

3. United States National Arboretum

United States National Arboretum, USA, Washington DC, Flower, Horizontal

The United States National Arboretum consists of 451 acres and features 9.5 miles of winding roadways.

© Arustei

Third on our list of the eight most incredible places to see fall foliage near Washington, DC is the United States National Arboretum. It is a large and living outdoor museum featuring hiking trails and a 40-minute information tram ride. You can access the museum on foot, bike, or car. Don’t forget to bring your camera and comfortable walking shoes to enjoy the scenery.

4. Mount Vernon Estates and Gardens

Mount Vernon - Virginia, George Washington, Architecture, Elegance, Environment

The Mount Vernon Estates and Gardens are one of the nation’s most-visited historical sites.

© Chizek

The Mount Vernon Estates and Gardens were once the home of the United States’ first president, George Washington. The estates and gardens overlook the beautiful shores of the Potomac River in Virginia, near Washington, DC. Visiting this location will feel like you have gone back in time to a quiet and calm life surrounded by gorgeous fall foliage. It is easy to understand why it is a favorite for scenic view seekers in the area since even the drive to the estate is stunning.

5. The National Mall

Washington DC, The Mall - Washington DC, Aerial View, Summer, Urban Skyline

The National Mall features a myriad of famous monuments, memorials, sculptures, statues, and attractions.


A mall is probably not what you were expecting on this list, but the National Mall is not like the ones in your hometown. It is a large landscaped park stretching about two miles and situated near the U.S. Capitol, the Lincoln Monument, and the Potomac River. Many areas within the National Mall are surrounded by trees. Visiting the National Mall during October is a must, especially when looking over the reflection pool and seeing bursts of color.

6. Theodore Roosevelt Island

Theodore Roosevelt Island

Theodore Roosevelt Island is an 88.5-acre island and national memorial in the Potomac River.

©Daderot / public domain – License

Most people don’t know this, but there is an island within Washington DC, Theodore Roosevelt Island. It offers visitors and locals many hiking trails, including dirt paths and a long boardwalk through a tidal marsh with many trees. Take a calming walk and maybe pack a light lunch to enjoy on one of the many benches. Within the island is the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Plaza, which sits in front of many trees. In fall, the bright colors look breathtaking behind the statue.

7. Seneca Creek State Park

Seneca Creek State Park, Bare Tree, Horizontal, Montgomery County - Maryland, No People

Seneca Creek State Park winds along 14 scenic miles of Seneca Creek.


Seneca Creek State Park is about a 40-minute drive from Washington, DC. The park is 6,300 acres and filled with beauty at every turn. Biking is a very common activity in the park. Imagine biking a smooth dirt path surrounded by bright pink, yellow, and orange trees. In the fall, Seneca Creek State Park looks majestic, like something out of a fairy tale book.

8. Cedarville State Forest

Cedarville State Forest

 Cedarville State Forest features trails, campsites, fishing, hunting, picnic and recreation areas, and trails for hikers, bikers and



©LibertyBell123 / CC BY-SA 3.0 – License

Cedarville State Forest is located in Maryland, just a short drive away from the center of Washington, DC. You can visit this mystical state forest and walk, bike, or ride on the 19 miles of hiking trails. It is also considered Maryland’s best-kept secret and one of the most beautiful hidden gems near Washington, DC. There is nothing better than hiking through the forest and watching the leaves change and fall, especially since the state forest is quiet with low crowds.

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The photo featured at the top of this post is © Kenneth Keitfer/

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About the Author

Nixza Gonzalez is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics like travel, geography, plants, and marine animals. She has over six years of experience as a content writer and holds an Associate of Arts Degree. A resident of Florida, Nixza loves spending time outdoors exploring state parks and tending to her container garden.

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