Best Times to Visit D.C.
If you're not sure what the best time is for you to visit D.C., there's a lot to consider. If you're worried about the crowds, autumn and winter are preferable, but in these seasons Congress is in session, so hotel rates are higher than in the summer.Autumn
Washington D.C. and the adjacent states of Virginia and Maryland are beautiful in the fall. The city and the surrounding countryside are filled with trees and parklands that offer a wonderful display of fall foliage. Mount Vernon is especially scenic this time of year. The tourist crowds are sparse, except over three-day weekends that mark national holidays like Columbus Day and Veterans Day.Winter
Winter is also a good time to visit the capital. There are many special events planned around the holidays, and most of the museums and historic houses offer special Christmas displays. While the winter in D.C. is milder than in the Northeast, it still snows in the capital.
Christmas in Washington is delightful. The White House features its tree-lighting ceremony; Ford's Theatre has an annual performance of Charles Dickens'
Spring in the capital city is spectacular. The District has a wealth of public gardens and greenery, as well as the annual Easter-egg roll on the White House lawn. When the cherry trees along the Tidal Basin near the Jefferson Memorial are in bloom in the early spring, D.C. is at its finest in a sea of pink. For this two-week period in late March or early April, there are constant festivities, marked by a parade at the end of the cherry blossom season. The 3,700 cherry trees were a gift to the United States from Japan in 1912. The first two trees were planted by First Lady Mrs. William Howard Taft and Viscountess Chinda of Japan, the Japanese ambassador's wife. Those two trees are still standing today, near the statue of John Paul Jones on 17th Street.
As the weather grows warmer, more and more tourists arrive to tour the capital. Many schools plan organized trips for this time of the year, so museums and historical sites are generally crowded in the later part of the spring.
The two busiest tourist weekends in D.C. are the Fourth of July and Memorial Day. So if you are planning on visiting then, make your hotel, transportation, and touring arrangements as early as possible.
Summer is the city's busiest tourist season, with tourists outnumbering residents by twelve to one. The National Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of Natural History receive at least a million visitors each during the months of July and August. From Memorial Day through Labor Day all the sites are crowded, and you will need tickets for all major attractions this time of year.
But the good news is that the city is well aware of the volume of visitors it receives, so many of the nation's leading attractions are open late during the summer. You can pack more into a summer visit than any other time of the year. There are also free concerts and outdoor activities throughout the city all summer long.
Summer in D.C. can be brutally hot, but everything is well air-conditioned, from the museums to the Metro to the lobbies of buildings.