Best Places To See Autumn Leaves In The DC Area

October 6, 2012 6:00 AM

(credit: Thinkstock)

autumnleaves Best Places To See Autumn Leaves In The DC Area

(credit: Thinkstock)

Before the weather outside gets frightful, head on over to one of these D.C.-area destinations for spectacular views of autumn leaves. From historic gardens to famous national parks, nothing beats fall right here in D.C.

Constitution Gardens
Constitution Avenue and 20th Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20242
(202) 485-9880

Price: free

Located next to the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, Constitution Gardens may be one of DC’s best-kept secrets. The 50-acre park features thousands of maple, oak, elm, dogwood and crabapple trees that look absolutely splendid in autumn, plus a beautiful lake and plenty of walking trails and benches for you to rest and enjoy the view. The park also is home to a memorial devoted to the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Grouped by their home states, each signer is represented on a stone that features the signer’s signature, his occupation and the city where he lived. The gardens are open 24 hours a day.

Tudor Place Historic House and Gardens
1644 31st St. Northwest
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 965-0400

Price: $8 adults/$6 seniors 62 and older, military with ID/$3 students ages 7 to 18/$3 only self-guided tour/free children 6 and younger

Visit the home of George and Martha Washington’s granddaughter and get swept away in the peace and beauty of the gorgeous surroundings. Located in Georgetown, the grounds feature many aspects of the original Federal period layout and design, including more than 400 trees, a Japanese tea house, orchards and plant gardens. View sculptures around the bowling green, enjoy the view of magnificent magnolias, hydrangeas, American holly and white pine in the tennis lawn, or rest underneath the beautiful tulip poplar trees. With more than 18 varieties of trees, the grounds are absolutely stunning in the fall.

Related: Best Fall Sports Leagues For Kids In DC

Great Falls Park
9200 Old Dominion Drive
McLean, VA 22102
(703) 285-2965

Price: $3 individual/$5 vehicle/$20 annual pass

You don’t need to be a fitness buff to enjoy the beautiful scenery Great Falls Park has to offer. In addition to the thousands of trees the 800-acre park features, the Potomac Gorge is home to more than 1,400 plant species, 30 globally rare and imperiled natural vegetation communities, and myriad wildlife including birds, deer, foxes, coyotes, lizards, fish and turtles. Stop by the visitor center to learn more about the park’s ecosystem, to grab a snack from the concession stand or to pick up trail map. For the best view of the changing leaves and waterfalls, head to Overlook 3, located just a few minutes away from the visitors center.

Shenandoah National Park
3655 U.S. Highway 211 East
Luray, VA 22835
(540) 999-2170

Price: $15 per private, non-commercial vehicle/$10 per motorcycle

To truly enjoy autumn leaves in the D.C. area, there is perhaps no better place to be than Shenandoah National Park. The beauty begins with the 105-mile historic national scenic byway known as Skyline Drive, which features breathtaking views of the peaks and valleys of the Blue Ridge Mountains as well as interspersed forests and farmlands. The park includes more than 500 miles of hiking trails, mountain streams, waterfalls and a wide variety of wildlife. The majority of the park is forested, providing magnificent views once the leaves start to change colors, which typically peaks in mid to late October.

Related: Best Dates For The Adventurous Couple In The DC Area

Patapsco Valley State Park
8020 Baltimore National Pike
Ellicott City, MD 21043
(410) 461-5670

Click here for park pass information

Nationally known for its recreational trails and stunning scenery, the Patapsco Valley State Park features more than 16,000 acres of rolling hills, forests, babbling brooks and cascading waterfalls. Visitors to the park may hike, bike or go on a horseback ride. Fishermen will love the dozens of tributary streams and ponds located throughout the park, and the kids will enjoy running around the park’s popular pavilions. The Avalon Visitors Center details the early history of the park and its natural resources through interactive exhibits.

Susan Diranian is a freelance writer living in Ashburn, VA. She is covering Travel & Outdoors. Her work can be found at

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