15+ Fantastic Ways to Celebrate Fall in Northern Virginia

Updated on October 19, 2023 by Julie McCool

Celebrate fall in Northern Virginia with the best fall festivals plus scenic drives, outdoor activities, foliage finds, and Autumn getaways full of seasonal fun. It's fun to celebrate fall in Northern VA because the season brings cooler days, beautiful fall foliage, and lots of Autumn activities to the region.

Our list of favorite ways to celebrate fall in Northern Virginia will keep you busy throughout the season. Whether you're planning some fun with the kids, an outing for adults, or solo time to recharge, we've got options for you.

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Looking for things to do this weekend in Northern Virginia? We've got you covered. Our Northern Virginia fall activities list includes the best weekend events plus outings for any day of the week.

We even have recommendations from experts in Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William Counties. Click the links for detailed itineraries and more things to do during fall in Northern Virginia.

Celebrate Fall on Northern Virginia Scenic Drives

Fall foliage on a Georgetown Pike Scenic Drive in Northern Virginia Near Washington DC
Georgetown Pike Scenic Drive in Northern Virginia

One of our favorite ways to celebrate fall foliage is with a long, lazy, weekend drive. We've rounded up beautiful Northern Virginia scenic drives that are especially inviting when fall foliage and crisp days return to the area.

Our favorite routes are perfect for a leisurely outing. Each scenic drive itinerary includes stops and activities along the route for hiking, history, dining, drinks, and more local fun. For example, history buffs will find interesting stops to explore on the Snickersville Turnpike. And a Hunt Country loop drive is filled with quaint towns and country roads

Go Apple Picking for Family Fun and Fall Views

Apple Picking in Virginia, a Family-friendly Activity from August through October
Apple Picking in Virginia

When you're craving a scenic drive with a purpose, head out to one of the beautiful apple orchards in the Northern Virginia area. There are orchards with extra play areas for kids, and simpler destinations that focus on the fruit.

Happily, most u-pick orchards are surrounded by beautiful countryside so you can soak up fall colors while you pick. Attend a local Apple Festival to add extra fun to your outing.

Visit Northern Virginia Pumpkin Patches

Pick-Your-Own Pumpkins at one of the Best Pumpkin Patches in Northern Virginia
Pumpkin Patches in Northern VA

Fall means the return of fun pumpkin patches in Northern Virginia. Choose a large kid-oriented festival like Cox Farms or head to smaller-scale pumpkin displays at local garden centers. Corn mazes also return, along with quirky games like pumpkin slingshots, pig races, tunnel rolls, and more. Follow the link to find a perfect pumpkin patch near you.

Explore Favorite Fall Foliage Spots in Northern VA

Colorful Fall Foliage on the Difficult Run Trail, one of the Best Fall Hikes in Northern Virginia
Difficult Run Trail Fall Foliage

Use our guide the Northern Virginia Fall Foliage and the Best Places to See Fall Colors In the Region, to plan a beautiful outing in the Washington DC region. We've rounded up the best places for fall foliage at local destinations, parks, trails, and viewpoints. We also include links to foliage trackers and tips on when fall colors emerge in Virginia.

Enjoy a Fall Hike or Bike Trail

Scotts Run Waterfall Hike Surrounded by Colorful Fall Foliage
Scotts Run Waterfall Fall Hike

While Northern Virginia may not match the foliage of New England, we definitely enjoy our share of fall colors. Our favorite way to soak in the reds and golds of autumn is on a fall hike. We rounded up 16 Favorite Fall Hikes in Northern Virginia where you can see beautiful Autumn foliage.

For example, If you prefer an easy, level path you'll love the Bay View Trail at Mason Neck State Park. For a more challenging hike, climb to the Piedmont Overlook at Sky Meadows State Park. If you're up for a longer drive, you can celebrate fall colors and spectacular views from Mary's Rock or Big Schloss.

Big Schloss Summit with Fall Foliage
Big Schloss Summit

Cycling fans can choose a trail from our guide to Northern Virginia Bike Trails for Paved and Mountain Biking Fun Near DC. Check our full list of Hiking and Biking articles for more outdoor Autumn hikes throughout the region.

See the Foliage in Shenandoah National Park

Mid-October Fall Foliage in Shenandoah National Park View from The Pinnacle
Fall Foliage Shenandoah National Park

Northern Virginians are extremely lucky to have one of the most beautiful US National Parks just a couple of hours away. Celebrate fall in Shenandoah National Park and enjoy gorgeous foliage views from overlooks and trails. We've rounded up suggestions on favorite activities and places to enjoy Shenandoah Park on a day trip or overnight visit.

Check lodging reviews and rates at Shenandoah National Park now.

Visit George Washington's Mount Vernon, Alexandria

Mount Vernon photo credit Charlotte Geary
Mount Vernon, photo credit: Charlotte Geary

Another of my favorite places to explore in the fall is a beloved attraction that many locals forget to visit: George Washington's Mount Vernon. It’s so much more than George Washington’s mansion. The estate has 500 acres of gardens, farms, and forests with dramatic views of the Potomac.

When you visit, wear comfortable walking shoes and spend a day hiking the trails. You’ll get the best of everything Virginia has to offer in the fall — vibrant foliage, grand scenic views, and America’s rich colonial history.

Contributed by Charlotte Geary, Virginia photographer and editor of Modern Reston. Follow her at Charlotte Geary Photography and on Instagram.

Mount Vernon Fall Wine Festival & Sunset Tour, Alexandria

Mount Vernon Fall Wine Festival photo Visit Fairfax
Mount Vernon Fall Wine Festival, photo credit: Visit Fairfax

For those looking for a sophisticated way to kick off the fall season, George Washington’s Mount Vernon holds an annual Fall Wine Festival & Sunset Tour in early October. Sip wine from more than 20 Virginia wineries, meander through Washington's home on the exclusive evening tour (including the rarely-opened basement, where he stored his wine), and relax on the expansive East Lawn to watch the sunset over the Potomac River.

The 2023 Mount Vernon Fall Wine Festival is held Oct 6 – 8, 6:00 – 9:00 pm.

Contributed by Ali Morris, Destination Marketing Manager for Visit Fairfax. Follow Visit Fairfax on Facebook for more Fairfax County fun.

Don't miss our guide to 21 Fantastic Fall Festivals In Northern Virginia for All Ages!

Explore the LoCo Ale Trail, Loudoun County

Barrel Oak Winery and Brewery Fall View in Delaplane VA
Barrel Oak Winery and Brewery

Beer lovers can celebrate fall and sample delicious craft beer on the LoCo Ale Trail, a collection of great local breweries throughout Loudoun County. Spend the weekend in historic Leesburg and you'll have a convenient base for exploring breweries in the city and the surrounding countryside.

Dirt Farm Brewing has a spectacular fall view, and it's close to more breweries in Purcellville. Earn your brew with a short or long hike to nearby Bear's Den Overlook and explore more of the great natural areas and local businesses in Bluemont VA.

Contributed by Jennifer Sigal, Visit Loudoun. Follow Visit Loudoun on Facebook for more Loudoun County fun.

Celebrate Fall at a Winery with a View

Doukenie Winery Purcellville Virginia
Doukenie Winery, Purcellville Virginia

Gorgeous Virginia winery views are fun all year long, but some of our local favorites offer especially beautiful foliage in the fall. Some wineries require reservations and have restricted policies about children's areas so be sure to check ahead with your destination.

The view from Bluemont Winery stretches out across the Virginia Piedmont, with spots of bright color at peak season. Alternatively, the backyard at Doukenie Winery looks up into the Shenandoah foothills. All of the wineries on our list offer lovely spots to relax and enjoy the foliage.

Join the Fun at Cox Farms Fall Festival, Centreville

The Cox Farm Corn Maze and Fall Festival, One of the Best September Events in Nortthern Virginia
Fall Festival Corn Maze

The Cox Farms Fall Festival in Centreville is my family’s favorite part of fall! It’s an annual tradition for us, and we usually go at least twice each year. The festival is 90 acres of sheer silliness. There are giant slides that are fun for adults as well as kids. The hayride and corn maze are filled with unexpected wackiness that always makes us laugh.

The festival also has farm animals, apples, pumpkins, and tons of things for kids to climb. My kids talk about this place all year long, so I’m excited when it’s finally time to go back!

In 2023, the Cox Farms Fall Festival is open from September 23 to November 6 and is one of the best fall festivals in Northern Virginia.

Contributed by Charlotte Geary, a commercial and portrait photographer based in Reston, Virginia. Follow her at Charlotte Geary Photography and on Instagram.

Cox Farms Fields of Fear, Sep 22 – Nov 4

Ali Morris, of Visit Fairfax, notes that older kids can visit Cox Farms in the evenings for the spooky Fields of Fear, featuring a haunted corn maze and the chance to hang out by the bonfire. You'll find more spooky and not-so-spooky fun in our guide to Halloween in Northern Virginia.

Enjoy Fall Fun in Alexandria Virginia

Friendship Firehouse Photo credit Matt Chenet for Visit Alexandria
Friendship Firehouse, Photo credit: Matt Chenet for Visit Alexandria

There is no better time to visit historic Alexandria, Virginia than in the fall when colorful foliage emerges. The city’s historic streets come alive with outdoor art festivals, creative events, Halloween haunts, and riverside races. In Alexandria, authentic history blends with contemporary shopping and dining options making it a perfect place for the entire family.

Alexandria has many seasonal events, including favorites like Art on the Avenue and Halloween Ghost Tours. In 2023, Art on the Avenue will be held on October 7.

Contributed by: Leah Spellman, Communications Manager with Visit Alexandria. Find more Alexandria fun on Facebook.

Take a Hike at Prince William Forest Park, Triangle

Bridge over Quantico Creek, hiking in Virginia's Prince William Forest Park
Fall in Prince William Forest Park VA

Prince William Forest Park is a hidden gem in the National Park System, just a short drive from Washington DC in Prince William County. Enjoy a scenic drive or bike the paved road that meanders through the park. Better yet, get out on the hiking trails to be surrounded by fall foliage. You'll discover scenic streams and bridges, unique geology, and the park's fascinating history.

Prince William Forest was once a camp for low-income children from Washington DC, built by the CCC. Later, it was a training ground for spies during World War II. Entrance to the park is $20 per vehicle; $15 per individual or free with your National Park Pass.

Contributed by: Nicole Warner, Discover Prince William & Manassas. Find more fall fun on the Visit Prince William County blog and Facebook.

Visit Theodore Roosevelt Island, Arlington

Arlington Footbridge to Theodore Roosevelt Island
Theodore Roosevelt Island, photo credit: Cara O'Donnell

A great place to hike during Northern Virginia's fall season is Theodore Roosevelt Island, located in the middle of the Potomac. The island is actually in Washington DC, but you can only reach it via a pedestrian bridge from Arlington Virginia.

A tribute to President and outdoorsman Teddy Roosevelt, this 91-acre wooded island sanctuary is a wonderful place to enjoy autumnal colors, a quiet afternoon stroll, and perhaps a picnic by the river. Entrance to the park is free.

Contributed by: Cara O’Donnell, Public Relations Manager, Arlington Economic Development/Arlington Convention & Visitors Service. Find more Arlington info at Stay Arlington and on Facebook.

Drive the Unpaved Roads of Loudoun County

Tractor Mailbox on Downey Mill Rd part of the Unpaved Roads Scenic Drive in Loudoun County VA
Unpaved Roads Loudoun County VA

Fall in Northern Virginia is the perfect time to explore gorgeous, scenic, unpaved roads in Loudoun County. Follow my route or turn off the GPS, put away maps, and get lost for an hour.

Discover unpaved roads along creeks you did not know existed. Or travel dirt roads through Virignia's hunt country leading to world-class winery and brewery views and farm-fresh goods.

Every year more farmland turns into housing developments so there is no better time to explore than now. Cooling temperatures and brilliant colors (blue sky and tree foliage) make for epic photographs and vivid memories.

Contributed by Charles McCool, how-to travel expert, author, trainer, and writer who shows travelers how to increase travel happiness and reduce stress on every trip at McCool Travel. Follow Charles McCool on Facebook and Twitter.

Escape on a Fall Getaway from Northern Virginia

Blue Ridge Parkway Southern Shenandoah Valley Virginia
Blue Ridge Parkway Southern Shenandoah Valley Virginia

Northern Virginia is surrounded by fun destinations perfect for a fall weekend getaway. Here are some of our favorite fall destinations close to Washington DC. Click the links for tips on what to do, where to stay, and where to dine and drink during your visit:

If your goal is a romantic overnight or weekend, you'll love these Romantic Getaways from Washington DC. And you'll find romantic and family-friendly lodging options in these Great Overnight Getaways In Northern Virginia and Nearby.

There you have it, a list of destinations and activities to celebrate fall, and inspire a season of fun.

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Best of fall in Northern Virginia including fall festivals, scenic drives, outdoor activities, and Autumn getaways near Washington DC.
Best of Fall in Northern Virginia

5 thoughts on “15+ Fantastic Ways to Celebrate Fall in Northern Virginia”

  1. I’ve been hearing a lot about Bull Run lately, so clearly I need to carve out a weekend to go up that way. (Also, loved seeing Bluemont on the list — if it stops raining tomorrow, I’m going!)

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