Rock Creek Park
Spanning 4.4 square miles, Rock Creek is DC’s largest park and forest. With expansive trails, horse stables, and a tennis court, Rock Creek is the go-to place to spend time outdoors within District limits. It contains one of the nation’s most diverse urban forests, and a variety of tree species guarantee vivid, colorful foliage. The park’s vegetation includes 12 species of oak trees, witch-hazel, magnolias, and pines – to name a few. Immerse yourself in the fall scenery with a morning jog or full-day hike.
The National Mall
‘America’s Front Yard‘ is the nation’s busiest national park. Bustle about downtown with a view – throw a frisbee on the Mall, or lay in the grass with a view of the Washington Monument or Capitol Building. The scenic park’s crisp leaves will soon coat the layer of newly installed grass – the Mall has been closed for two years following an extensive turf restoration project.
Old Stone House Gardens
The historic 1765 Old Stone House, nestled on the bustling M Street in Georgetown, is the oldest DC structure on its original foundation; it also offers an impressive backyard garden. Step away from the city and into a nature oasis by merely exiting M Street through the gate. The biodiverse gardens include various flowers that attract pollinators – plenty of bees, finches, and butterflies call Old Stone House home. And who can resist the chipmunks? The scene only becomes more vibrant in fall.
The National Capital Columns sit within the Ellipse Meadow – the most scenic section of the National Arboretum. The arboretum is a bit of a trek from downtown D.C., but the remoter location makes it all the more picturesque. The fall foliage creates a colorful contrast from the crisp, blue sky on clear days, with no skyscrapers or cars in sight.
This Victorian-era park is primarily locals only, but that’s no negative reflection on the park; this hidden gem is beloved by the residents who know of it. The scattered picnic tables make for the perfect fall lunch, and an enclosed playground is ideal for the little ones. Some of the park’s trees date back to the 18th century.
Malcolm X Park
Officially known as Meridian Hill Park, but referred to as Malcolm X Park by locals, the grounds are both a scenic and historical gem. The park was the site of many civil rights protests in the 1960s, hence its nickname. A 13 basin man-made waterfall flows down a hill, dividing the park; an adjacent steep staircase travels from the park’s upper plateau to its lower level.