Here are some of the best places to watch the leaves turn in Washington, D.C., this autumn.
Fall is in the air. Before you know it, trees will drop their leaves, and you'll be sitting around a Thanksgiving table. But before that happens, you will have a short window to see the leaves turn in Washington, D.C.
If spring is known for the Cherry Blossoms, fall is known for the beautiful shades of red, yellow, and orange that burst from the District's trees. Usually peak leaf color changes hit the District of Columbia in mid-to-late October, and when that happens, you have just a few short days before the leaves start falling to the ground.
So, you need to know where to go when this short window hits. Here are three spots to run during the peak season:
From the Capitol building to the Washington Memorial and on to the Jefferson Memorial, the National Mall is one of the best places to take in the fall foliage in the District of Columbia. Sitting on 146 acres, the National Mall also includes a four-mile loop for anyone looking to walk or jog through and around some of the capital's most recognizable monuments.
But the reason the National Mall is on this list isn't because it is a great place to get out and walk through nature, though it is. No, the National Mall is without a doubt the best place to lay out a blanket, pull out a good book, and just spend an afternoon reading, surrounded by some of the most beautiful autumn colors the District has to offer!
The National Mall is also unique because it is one of the best places to take in Cherry Blossom trees outside of the species' native Japan. While most of the Cherry Blossom trees bloom in the springtime, there are some trees that end up blooming in autumn. The result is a weird juxtaposition of orange and crimson leaves and pink Cherry Blossom flowers. These autumn-blooming trees tend to bloom in November, so it will be past the peak leaf-changing window. However, it is definitely worth it to take a walk around the National Mall in mid-to-late November and take in fall-blooming Cherry Blossoms.
Rock Creek Park
Rock Creek Park stretches from the Potomac all the way up towards the Maryland state border, stretching across 12 miles.
This 1,754-acre city park was founded in 1890, making it just the third national park ever to be established by the young American federal government -- and one of the only places you can find coyotes in the nation's capital.
The park has more than 32 miles of hiking paths and trails for you to explore this fall, as well as guided tours that are made available on occasion. The National Park Service has created a brochure to map out
some of the park's most popular hikes. While the park has two main trails that run relatively parallel to one another, there are many connector trails that give visitors the chance to make their own hiking route and see a new part of the park every time they visit! This is one of the best places to get out in nature and see the leaves turn without having to leave Washington, D.C.
Click the button below to learn the absolute best place to see the leaves turn in Washington, D.C.!
U.S. National Arboretum
Not surprisingly, the best place to see the autumn leaves just before they fall is D.C.'s largest park dedicated to trees, gardens, and other plant life. The U.S. National Arboretum sits on 446 acres and is managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In addition to serving as a research location for biologists to study trees and other plant life, the Arboretum is also one of the most popular public parks in D.C., as well.
While there are many parts of the Arboretum that provide excellent views of autumn foliage, one of the best spots is the National Grove of State Trees. This 30-acre area features groves of trees that are native to all 50 states and the District of Columbia. What makes the National Grove of State Trees so special is that you can see what autumn foliage looks like around the country without ever leaving the nation's capital.
Many of the species of trees on display are deciduous, so you can expect them to shed their leaves at some point during the month of October. The one caveat is that while trees local to the D.C. area tend to see their leaves turn in mid-to-late October, that isn't necessarily true for all of the different tree species on display in the National Grove of Trees. So if you want to get a feel for what autumn truly looks like all across the country, you might want to plan more than one trip to the Arboretum during the months of October and November.
There is a planned path system under construction through the National Grove of State Trees, however, it isn't entirely complete. So, you will likely need to go off the beaten path to see all of the different states' trees. However, there are other areas with developed paths for walking, running, or even biking through the Arboretum. There is also a 35-minute tram ride available to visitors who want to see the Arboretum without having to do it on foot.
Did we miss any prime autumn spots? Where you go to watch the leaves turn? Let us know in the comment section below!