Washington DC is always brimming with tourists no matter what time of the year, but it is during the shoulder seasons, spring and fall, that the city sees the greatest influx of visitors. The National Cherry Blossom Festival in March is one of the reasons you see so many tourists during the spring. Thanksgiving weekend is another huge tourist time in DC.
While summer is normally a busy time for cities, DC sees a fewer number of tourists mainly because government tends to take breaks during the summer and the humidity of the season can be sticky and unbearable for those not used to it. While you can still take in the monuments and other interesting sights, you may find the heat overly oppressive for your taste.
Pricing for accommodations, attractions, and restaurants also tends to vary depending on the season. The busy seasons do have higher prices for hotels, car rentals, attraction tickets, and so on whereas less busy times will have cheaper rates and better deals. The best time to visit Washington DC really will depend on why you are visiting and what you plan on seeing and doing while here.
When you do get to DC, no matter the season, look for Bounce location storage to stow any extra bags so you can move easily through the city and explore all the interesting and exciting places listed on your itinerary. The best part about DC is that most of the memorials and monuments are open 24 hours a day and the Smithsonian Institution museums at the National Mall open early and close late all year, except on certain holidays.
Summer in Washington DC: June-August
The beginning of summer sees the peak tourist season in Washington DC coming to an end. School trips are ending and the temperatures start to rise significantly. In June, the prices for hotels are still high and you will still have to deal with bigger crowds. By the end of June, the crowds start to dwindle but the heat does keep going up.
Average high temps during summer in Washington DC can climb into the upper 80s (high 20sC) with the lows dipping down into the mid-60s (15-17C). But the humidity can cause it to feel so much hotter. If you are not used to high humidity, you may find it unpleasant to be out and about during the day.
There are still plenty of activities around the city to keep you entertained including several barbecue cook-offs, cultural events at the museums of the Smithsonian Institution, and the DC Jazz Fest. Some of the parks in the area offer free outdoor movies and outdoor concerts throughout the summer which is so much fun for locals and tourists alike.
Independence Day celebrations in the nation’s capital are simply amazing and you can feel the patriotism of those around you. Concerts, carnivals, and tons of street food vendors make it feel like the whole city is one big 4th of July celebration. You don’t want to miss it.
After the 4th of July celebrations, tourism really dips and hotel prices also drop so if you can stand the summer heat and humidity, you will find excellent deals on accommodations. Some attractions even offer discounts as summer wears on which puts some money back in your pocket and that is always a great thing.
Events to check out during the summer months in Washington DC include the National Capital Barbecue Battle, Capital Pride, DC Carnival, DC Jazz Fest, Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and Washington DC Water Lantern Festival.
Fall in Washington DC: September-November
The sweltering heat begins to break in September and Congress comes back into session. During September you will see hotel rates begin to creep back up and good deals are harder to find. Events around Washington DC also begin to rev back up and get ready for fun times in the city.
Average fall temperatures in DC generally peak in the low 80s (low 2sC) and dip down into the low 50s (teens in celsius) near the end of fall. The best part is that the humidity levels also start to dip making it more pleasant to be outdoors during the day. Rainfall increases during the fall months so be sure to bring along an umbrella or full rain gear if you plan on being outdoors.
Schools begin planning their trips to see the nation’s governing body hard at work making it a little trickier to find accommodations closer to downtown DC. Booking your hotel a few months in advance is an excellent way to ensure you are near the neighborhood or attractions you want and you might even snag some discounts by booking in advance.
For many people, fall in Washington DC is the best time to get out and see more of the city and see the explosion of color that comes with the changing of the seasons. The fall foliage in DC is vibrant the perfect backdrop for selfies and memory books.
If you are visiting in September, you will want to head to the Adams Morgan neighborhood for Adams Morgan Day which happens to be Washington DC’s longest running neighborhood festival. The Marine Corps Marathon is another popular fall event that takes place in October.
November sees the President of the United States pardoning the turkey in a generations-old tradition. This is also the month that sees the lowest number of tourists and hotels offer their lowest rates. After Thanksgiving, hotel rates start to climb just in time for the Christmas season. Rain is common and temps really start to dip near the end of November so be sure to bring appropriate clothing.
Events to check out during the fall months in Washington DC include the H Street Festival, Library of Congress National Book Festival, DC International Beer, Wine, & Food Festival, High Heel Drag Race, Howard University Homecoming, Washington International Horse Show, and Taste of Georgetown Festival.
Winter in Washington DC: December-February
The holiday season brings a large wave of tourists even as the temperatures take a brutal turn. Generally, early winter sees temps hover in the upper 40s to low 30s (5 to -1C) and as the season progresses, the temperatures fall a little lower. Beginning in December, snow is a likely occurrence in Washington DC and chances increase as the season progresses.
People who enjoy the colder weather tend to think visiting Washington DC during the winter is the best time. While there are not as many tourists as you see in spring, there are still a good number of people visiting and hotel rates are more reasonable than in springtime. If you book in advance, you will most likely get better rates.
Washington DC comes alive with twinkling lights and Christmas cheer. Enjoy touring historic homes by candlelight, check out the Zoo Lights, and there are always holiday concerts happening. The best thing is most of the holiday concerts are free to enjoy. Check out some of the unique monuments and landmarks that make the city so great.
Generally, DC in January is pretty calm, unless it happens to be an inauguration year, then January is jam-packed with activities and thousands of visitors to see the presidential inauguration. It can be rather cold during January so dress accordingly and bring along a nice heavy winter coat to stay warm. DC Fashion Week does draw a big crowd but they do not stick around for long.
February is also usually a slower month except around Presidents’ Day when fun-filled activities, concerts, and festivals are in full swing. Strap on your skates and try out the outdoor ice skating rink. Since it is so quiet during January and February, you can find some nice discounts on hotels and even ticket bundles for some of the attractions throughout the city.
Events to check out during the winter months in Washington DC include the National Menorah Lighting, National Zoo Lights Festival, Martin Luther King, Jr Birthday, Presidents’ Day Celebration, and Chinese New Year Celebration.
Spring in Washington DC: March-May
Springtime is a great time to visit Washington DC, especially during cherry blossom season. The Tidal Basin is filled with breathtaking cherry blossoms and is home to the annual Cherry Blossom Festival which lasts for three weeks. Hotel rooms, especially close to the Tidal Basin are in high demand and rates skyrocket. Tourism is at its highest during spring.
St. Patrick’s Day also sees the city celebrate all things Irish with concerts, parades, and festivals. Many of the St. Paddy’s Day festivities are free to attend but remember to wear your green and be ready for a day, or weekend, of delightful fun. Visitors really start to arrive in late March to early April to take in the cherry blossom season.
Business conferences and conventions are also generally held during the spring, usually in March and April with a few larger conferences being held in early May. Hotels close to convention centers and the central business district will fill quickly during this time and rates will still be quite a bit higher than during off-peak times.
Temperatures also start to warm but the humidity has not returned to the city. Expect temps to be in the 60s to 70s (15-20C) making it a pleasant time to be out and about in the city taking in all the attractions and landmarks. Festivals, parades, and concerts start to take off and are in full swing by the end of May.
The White House Easter Egg Roll is fabulous when you have kids in tow. There are over 20,000 people from across the United States attending this annual event and your family will make memories that last a lifetime. You do have to have tickets to attend so be sure to get them in advance so your kids won’t be disappointed.
By May, most of the hotels in the DC area are booked solid and you will have to look for accommodations further outside the city, possibly into Virginia. Virginia is only a short car ride away but not being in the middle of all the action might be a little disappointing for some who want to be able to walk to different attractions and see more of the city.
Events to check out during the spring months in Washington DC include the National Cherry Blossom Festival (3-week festival), Blossom Kite Festival, FilmFest DC, Passport DC, and DC Black Pride.
Visit Washington all year round
The best time to visit Washington DC really depends on why you are going and the type of weather you like. The average temperature for each season may be a deciding factor, if you prefer cold temperatures you will likely want to avoid DC during the humid weather in the summer months. If you love hot weather, winter is obviously not going to be the best time for you to visit Washington DC.
The peak season for visitors to DC is spring for the breathtaking cherry blossoms. You can check out the attractions such as the Washington Monument, National Gallery, and National Mall. Tourist attractions during this time will be packed, especially with school groups coming in during this time as well.
Know what you want to do during your trip to Washington DC? Check out these guides for inspiration!