The best time to visit Washington DC depends on what you want to prioritize. This complete guide helps you decide what the best time is to visit Washington DC according to your needs.
Whether you’re drawn by the cherry blossoms, historic monuments, cultural events, or budget considerations, Wander DC will help you determine the best time of year for your visit.
Best Time Of Year To Visit Washington DC To Avoid Crowds
The best time to visit Washington DC to avoid crowds and large groups of tourists would be in the months of January and February. The exception to this would be when it is an inaugural year. For example, since the US Presidential election happens every four years, the January following a Presidential election year will be quite busy, expensive and crowded.
February and early March are the best months to avoid crowds. In general, because of the colder temperatures there are less people out and about. As you get into later March and April, the Cherry Blossom festival brings in many tourists and the city gets more crowded.
March through May also become crowded with many people who may be attending conferences during this time of year. The largest influx of tourists happens during the late spring and summer months. Late spring is when many east coast schools make their trips to Washington DC and summer is when many families are traveling here with their kids. Tourist attractions tend to be crowded until after Labor Day weekend in September.
Visiting in September and October can also be a good time because the summer crowds have left. You will still experience pleasant temperatures but this is still more crowded than the winter months of January and February.
Best Time To Visit Washington DC For Cherry Blossoms
Peak Bloom: Peak bloom for the cherry blossoms typically happens around late March to early April. The National Cherry Blossom Festival, a main attraction of the city, features parades, cultural events, and breathtaking views of the blossoms around the Tidal Basin.
The average temperature during this peak season ranges from mid-40s to low 60s Fahrenheit. Hotel prices are higher, averaging around $250 to $300 per night. During this time, the entire city comes alive with a celebratory mood.
The streets near the Tidal Basin are adorned with pink and white hues, creating a picturesque landscape that attracts photographers and nature lovers alike. Visitors can enjoy boat rides on the Potomac River for a unique view of the blossoms or participate in numerous cherry blossom-themed events and activities. The festival also includes art exhibits, cultural performances, and traditional Japanese music, reflecting the historical gift of cherry trees from Japan to the United States.
This period is not only about natural beauty but also about celebrating international friendship and cultural exchange, making it one of the best times to experience the diverse spirit of Washington DC.
Best Time To Visit Washington DC For Monuments
Ideal Period: September to November. The fall season is perfect for exploring outdoor monuments like the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial, with cooler temperatures (50s to 70s Fahrenheit) and lower humidity.
This period is also an excellent opportunity to witness the fall foliage in the National Mall, adding a colorful backdrop to the iconic monuments. Walking tours are particularly enjoyable during these months, as the weather is conducive to spending extended periods outdoors.
Visitors can also take advantage of the fewer crowds to explore other significant sites like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the World War II Memorial with more tranquility. In addition to the historical and architectural marvels, numerous festivals and events take place in DC during the fall, including the Library of Congress National Book Festival and various free concerts in the Sculpture Garden.
This time of year combines pleasant weather with a rich cultural experience, making it ideal for those interested in history, architecture, and the arts. September especially can be more expensive than October and November because of the very pleasant weather.
Best Time Of Year To Visit Washington DC To Save Money
Off-Peak Seasons: Early winter and late summer. The coldest month of the year is January, offering opportunities to explore indoor attractions like the Smithsonian Museums and the National Gallery with free admission. Late summer, while part of the hottest months, sees a drop in hotel rates, averaging $150 to $200 per night.
During the early winter months of January and February, Washington DC transforms into a festive wonderland, especially during the holiday season, with numerous events and decorations throughout the city. It’s a great time to enjoy the indoor warmth of museums, theaters, and restaurants.
Late summer, on the other hand, is ideal for those who enjoy the summer heat but prefer fewer crowds. This period is excellent for visiting outdoor attractions early in the morning or in the evening when the temperatures are more bearable. It’s also a good time for day trips to nearby attractions like Mount Vernon or Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
Moreover, late summer and winter are the best times to secure lower prices on hotel rooms, allowing for a more budget-friendly visit to the nation’s capital. These seasons offer a different but equally enriching experience of Washington DC, highlighting the city’s versatility as a year-round destination.
Best Time To Visit Washington DC For Enjoying Outdoor Activities
Washington DC, often celebrated for its historical significance and cultural institutions, is also an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The best time for indulging in outdoor activities like kayaking, visiting wineries, hiking, and boating on the Potomac River is from late spring to early fall, particularly from May to September.
Late Spring and Summer (May to August): These months offer warm weather, perfect for water-based activities such as kayaking and boating. Kayaking on the Potomac River provides a unique perspective of the city, allowing you to glide past iconic landmarks while enjoying the serenity of the water. Boating excursions can range from leisurely sightseeing tours to more active paddling adventures, suitable for all skill levels. The summer months also bring longer days, giving visitors ample time to explore the outdoors.
Wineries: The area surrounding Washington DC is home to several picturesque wineries, especially in regions like Virginia and Maryland. Late spring and summer are ideal for winery tours, where visitors can savor local wines and enjoy the scenic vineyard landscapes. Many wineries also host special events, including live music and food festivals, making for a delightful day trip from the city.
Hiking: For hiking enthusiasts, the region offers a variety of trails ranging from easy walks to more challenging hikes. The nearby Shenandoah National Park and Great Falls Park provide excellent hiking opportunities with breathtaking views. The milder temperatures in late spring and early fall are particularly favorable for hiking, allowing you to enjoy the natural beauty without the extreme heat of mid-summer.
Boating on the Potomac River: Boating on the Potomac is a favorite activity during these months. Whether you prefer a relaxed boat tour to soak in the sights or an active day of paddleboarding or sailing, the Potomac River caters to all preferences. The river’s calm waters during these months make it a safe and enjoyable experience for families and individuals alike.
Best Time To Visit Washington DC By Month
If you are looking for a month to month guide, WanderDC has you covered. Below is an overview of each month in Washington DC.
You can also explore even further by referring to our dedicated month by month guides which are each linked below.
Weather: Cold temperatures, averaging in the 30s to 40s Fahrenheit, with low precipitation. Typically, it rains on average for about 8 days in January.
Events: MLK Day Parade & DC Restaurant Week
4 Star Hotel Prices: Around $150 to $175 per night.
Additional Note: This is a great time for those who enjoy quieter, less crowded experiences in the city.
Complete Guide To Visiting DC In January: https://www.wanderdc.com/washington-dc-in-january-complete-guide/
Weather: Early February continues the winter season, with average temperatures in the 30s to 40s Fahrenheit. The average number of rainy days is around 7.
Highlights: Black History Month and special events at the National Museum of African American History.
4 Star Hotel Prices: Approximately $150 to $180 per night.
Additional Note: February’s quieter atmosphere makes it ideal for visiting the many museums of Washington DC at a leisurely pace.
Complete Guide To Visiting DC In February: https://www.wanderdc.com/washington-dc-in-february-complete-guide/
Weather: Early spring; temperatures range from the 40s to 50s Fahrenheit, with increasing rainfall.
Events: Early March starts the lead-up to the cherry blossom season.
4 Star Hotel Prices: Start to rise as you get later into the month of March, averaging $200 in the beginning to $300 towards the end.
Additional Note: There’s usually a big difference between hotel prices in early March when the weather is still cold and late March when the cherry blossoms begin to bloom.
Complete Guide To Visiting DC In March:
Weather: Mild, with average temperatures in the 50s to 60s Fahrenheit and moderate rainfall in late April. Expect rain on an average of 9 days.
Events: Peak of the Cherry Blossom Festival.
4 Star Hotel Prices: Peak at around $350
Additional Note: The city’s outdoor spaces and parks are particularly beautiful in April, offering a vibrant display of springtime color.
Complete Guide To Visiting DC In April:
Weather: Pleasant weather, with temperatures in the 60s to 70s Fahrenheit and moderate rainfall. May typically has about 10 days of rain.
Events: Passport DC and outdoor activities.
4 Star Hotel Prices: Around $220 to $270.
Additional Note: May is an excellent month for biking and walking tours around the city, taking advantage of the comfortable temperatures.
Complete Guide To Visiting DC in May:
Weather: Warm weather starts in June; temperatures in the 70s to 80s Fahrenheit and occasional thunderstorms. On average, June experiences rain for about 9 days.
Festivals: DC Jazz Festival, Capital Pride Parade, and the beginning of the summer season.
4 Star Hotel Prices: Generally around $230 to $280.
Additional Note: The summer months kick off a variety of free outdoor concerts and movies, making June a lively month for entertainment.
Weather: July marks the summer heat, averaging in the 80s Fahrenheit, with high relative humidity and thunderstorms. There are typically about 10 rainy days in July.
Event: Independence Day celebrations.
4 Star Hotel Prices: High, around $240 to $290.
Additional Note: Visitors in July can enjoy a range of summer festivals and events, taking place throughout the city.
Weather: Similar to July, but with decreasing tourist crowds. August also sees around 9 days of rain on average.
Events: Restaurant Week and the end of the summer months.
Hotel Prices: Begin to decrease, averaging $200 to $250.
Additional Note: August is a great month for enjoying the city’s outdoor dining options and rooftop bars, offering stunning views of the capital.
Weather: Cooler, with temperatures ranging from the 60s to 70s Fahrenheit. September usually has about 8 days of rain.
Events: National Book Festival and H Street Festival.
Hotel Prices: Range from $200 to $250, as the weather becomes more favorable.
Additional Note: This month is also ideal for exploring the nearby countryside, especially for activities like hiking and visiting vineyards.
Weather: The best weather of the year, averaging in the 50s to 60s Fahrenheit, with lower rainfall. October experiences an average of 7 days of rain.
Events: Taste of DC, DC Beer Week, and outdoor events in the National Mall.
Hotel Prices: Similar to September, around $200 to $250.
Additional Note: October’s mild weather is perfect for visiting the many outdoor farmers’ markets across the city.
Weather: Cooler, with temperatures in the 40s to 50s Fahrenheit. There’s an average of 8 rainy days in November.
Events: Veterans Day ceremonies, Thanksgiving celebrations, and the beginning of the holiday season.
Hotel Prices: Lower, around $180 to $230.
Additional Note: November offers a more tranquil visit to Washington DC, with the beautiful fall foliage as a backdrop.
Weather: Cold, averaging in the 30s to 40s Fahrenheit, with moderate precipitation. December typically sees about 9 days of rain.
Festive Events: National Christmas Tree Lighting, holiday markets.
4 Star Hotel Prices: Rise slightly for the holidays and towards the end of the month, averaging $200 to $240.
Additional Note: December is a magical time in the city, with festive lights and decorations adorning the streets and public spaces.
Best Time To Visit Washington DC: Summary
Washington DC, a vibrant city with a rich tapestry of experiences, is best visited considering weather patterns, festival schedules, and hotel prices. From the springtime beauty of the cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin to the historical depth of monuments like the Jefferson Memorial and the festive winter holidays, DC has something to offer every visitor.
Plan your trip around the best month for your interests – whether it’s the high season for cherry blossoms, the pleasant weather of the fall season, or the lower prices of the shoulder season – and you’re sure to have an enriching and memorable visit to the United States’ capital.