The Best Time to Visit Washington D.C.

US Capitol Building, National Mall and Northwest Washington at sunrise from Library of Congress, Washington DC, USA
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The best time to visit Washington D.C. is typically in the fall (September to November).The weather is comfortable, crowds are smaller and there's still plenty to do around the city.

Whenever you decide to go, use this guide to help plan your trip to the Nation's Capital.

Popular Events and Festivals

Each season has events that draw huge crowds but the most popular events and holidays are the National Cherry Blossom Festival (late March to Early April), Memorial Day weekend and 4th of July. Other busy times are Thanksgiving weekendChristmas week and Easter weekend. If you want to experience D.C. at it's busiest, be sure to book accommodations early and prepare for massive crowds, especially during the weekends.

Regardless of when you visit, many of the memorials are open 24 hours and the Smithsonian is open every day of the year except for Christmas Day.

Managing the Crowds in Washington D.C.

Packed to the brim with museums, tourist attractions and historical sites, millions of visitors come to Washington D.C. every year. If you visit during the peak season in spring and summer, expect long lines at popular attractions.

If you are attending a crowded event and taking the Metro, be sure to arrive and depart from a station that is not the closest to your destination. The closest station will always be the most crowded and if you walk a little further away you may escape the long lines. 

If you prefer to avoid crowds altogether, head away from the National Mall and explore some of the lesser known attractions in the city. There are plenty of interesting museums, monuments, parks and neighborhoods throughout Washington DC. Visit historic house museums around the city or spend some time at some of the unique museums in the Dupont Circle neighborhood. Take a walk on Embassy Row and marvel at the architecture. Spend some time in a park or taking in views of the Potomac River.

The Weather in Washington D.C.

With the city’s Mid-Atlantic location, the weather is relatively mild and there are four distinct seasons that are generally equal in length. Winters are often cold and snowy with temperatures averaging in the 30s and 40s. Summers are hot and humid with average temperatures in the high 80s. Spring and fall weather are comfortable and ideal for sightseeing.

Winter in Washington D.C.

Washington D.C.’s winter weather is variable but it will likely be cold and snowy. Winter is also the quietest and least crowded season, making it a great time to visit the museums, have a Valentine's getaway, enjoy live entertainment, or try some outdoor ice skating. 

Events to check out:

Spring in Washington D.C.

As the weather warms, it's the perfect time of year to visit the National Mall and the monuments and memorialsGuided tours are especially popular and offer a variety of ways to enjoy the city’s top attractions. 

Events to check out:

Summer in Washington D.C.

While school is out, summer is a popular time for families and groups to visit the nation’s capital. It will be hot and humid but there there will still be loads of visitors flocking to the capital.

Events to check out:

  • There are many free concerts and outdoor movies throughout the season.
  • Washington DC is the most patriotic place in America to celebrate the Fourth of July, with a full day of programming that begins with the Independence Day Parade and ends with fireworks over the Washington Monument.
  • Tennis fans can't miss the Citi Open Tennis Classic.
  • The Smithsonian Folklife Festival, honors cultural traditions from around the world and lasts for two weeks in the summer.
  • Celebrate the neighborhood of Adams Morgan at Adams Morgan Day, the longest running neighborhood festival in Washington D.C.

    Fall in Washington D.C.

    The fall season is one of the best times to explore the city on foot and enjoy a wide range of activities. As the leaves begin to change, Washington DC becomes a wonderful place to enjoy fall foliageoutdoor recreation, and Halloween events.

    Events to check out:

    • In the latter part of the season there are dozens of special holiday happenings for the whole family.
    • The President lights the National Christmas Tree and shares a message of peace for the world at the end of fall.