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The Best & Worst Times to Visit Washington, D.C. in 2024

The Best & Worst Times to Visit Washington, D.C. in 2024

What's the best time to visit Washington, DC?

The best time to visit Washington, D.C. is April-May and September-October. These mild months offer warm weather, natural beauty from cherry blossoms to fall foliage, excellent conditions for sightseeing around outdoor spaces like the National Mall, and moderate prices on hotels and flights. Fun events, from the National Cherry Blossom Festival to Snallygaster Beer Festival, make these months even more appealing.

A trip to Washington, D.C. is a rite of passage. This city is not only the capital of the United States — it’s also one of the best sightseeing destinations in America with national institutions, museums, architecture, and an incredible array of food and shopping options. 

But planning a trip to the capital requires some forethought when it comes to picking out your travel dates. What’s the best time to visit Washington, D.C.? The cheapest? The least busy? The worst?

We’ll show you how D.C. varies by the season — prices, cost, crowds, weather, and events. You’ll be able to pinpoint the perfect time of year to visit whether you’re hoping to enjoy the best overall experience or go when hotels and flights are ultra-cheap. 

Let’s take a look at the best time to visit Washington, D.C. and what you can expect month-to-month in America’s capital city! 

Overall Best Time to Visit Washington, D.C.

Washington Monument as seen from the reflecting pool at dusk for a post on the least busy time to visit Washington DC

Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

The best time to visit Washington, D.C. is between April-May and September-October. These months see moderate crowds, incredible mild weather, and the chance to explore D.C. in full spring bloom or fall color. 

April and May are slightly wetter spring months when D.C. enjoys its famous cherry blossom season. September and October are dry, warmer, and great for leaf peeping. The weather in Washington, D.C. is pretty nice across all 4 months:

  • April: 48-67°F; 8-9 rainy days
  • May: 58-75°F; 10-11 rainy days
  • September: 63-79°F; 7-8 rainy days
  • October: 51-68°F; 6-7 rainy days

By coming during any of these months, you’ll skip the busiest months in D.C. — March and August — and enjoy balmy temperatures that are just right for walking tours, sightseeing, and enjoying a little al fresco dining or time on the river. 

Early April has the benefit of being part of the cherry blossom season. More than 3,000 cherry trees burst into blossom in March and April, transforming the concrete-and-asphalt city into a lively and colorful springtime paradise. 

This is the best time to sightsee around the grassy, tree-lined National Mall, where the city’s largest display of cherry blossoms is in full effect in March-April and fall foliage takes hold in September and October. A walking tour is the perfect way to spend a day or two in D.C. this time of year! 

See the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, towering Washington Monument and reflecting pool, Smithsonian museums, National Gallery of Art, and the domed U.S. Capitol — all with great views of the cherry blossoms or colorful leaves around you. 

You can walk past the White House, guarded by a wrought-iron gate, on your way to other attractions like the World War II, Vietnam Veterans, Korean Veterans, MLK Jr., and Lincoln memorials, Constitution Gardens, and Ford’s Theatre. 

At the National Archives Museum, you’ll be able to see the original Declaration of Independence and those famous signatures, the Bill of Rights, and U.S. Constitution on display in the Rotunda along with other founding documents and historic archives. It’s a must for history buffs. 

Head to the Smithsonian National Zoo in Rock Creek Park, where you’ll see thousands of fascinating species (like tigers, elephants, and lions) in lush habitats and exhibits with chances to participate in daily hands-on demonstrations and workshops. 

See hundreds of cherry trees in bloom during March and April at the U.S. National Arboretum, along with other trees and flowers bursting into green and colorful blooms in April and May. September and October offer excellent views of colorful trees. 

Visit the Tudor Place Historic House & Garden, a stunning mansion on the banks of the Potomac that once belonged to George Washington’s granddaughter. Tours through the home museum, gardens, and exhibits are perfect for a mild spring or fall day in D.C. 

See President Lincoln’s Cottage where Abraham Lincoln summered and came up with the Emancipation Proclamation. It’s a Gothic Revival cottage with gardens and an onsite Solider’s Home you can tour.

We’ve analyzed data from Google Hotels and Skyscanner to find out how much it costs to visit during the best months in Washington, D.C. It’s more expensive in spring, but you’ll find some nice deals in the fall:

  • April: $351/night; flights from $261
  • May: $558/night; flights from $38 
  • September: $335/night; flights from $55 
  • October: $332/night; flights from $62

May is the most expensive month of the year to visit, while October is the cheapest during this period. Look for events like these during April-May and September-October across the capital city:

  • National Cherry Blossom Festival (Mar-Apr) features a huge parade, participating restaurants and galleries hosting Cherry Picks and Art in Bloom events, and businesses around the city in pink with the City in Bloom project during cherry blossom season
  • White House Easter Egg Roll (Mar/Apr) is always on Easter Monday with big concerts, costumed bunnies and springtime characters, an egg hunt, and egg-rolling competitions with options to get tickets with an online lottery system
  • Smithsonian Craft Show (mid-Apr) is a 4-day craft event with hundreds of participating artists showcasing and selling their unique handmade goods and artwork in the National Building Museum
  • Passport D.C. (May) is a month of cultural events with open houses at international embassies, special speakers, Around the World Embassy Tours, and more
  • National Memorial Day Parade (late May) is the biggest in the country and televised, honoring fallen military heroes by telling their stories featuring marching bands and more
  • Adams Morgan Day (early Sept) or Admo Day to locals brings the music, fashion, food, and art of different cultures together for a full day of concerts, presentations, dance performances, vendors, restaurant specials, and more
  • H Street Festival (Sept) is D.C.’s biggest block party with concerts, beer gardens, participating eateries and food trucks, local artists, and contests that bring H Street to life at summer’s end
  • DC Bike Ride (Sept) is a car-free event in September bringing cyclists of all skill sets to ride past historic monuments, architecture, and institutions in D.C. on a 20-mile course
  • Marine Corps Marathon (mid-Oct) is a 26.2-mile race from the Pentagon down the Potomac River to the Marine Corps Memorial; participants must register online with a lottery system 
  • Snallygaster Beer Festival (mid-Oct) is a must-visit event for beer lovers with chances to sample hundreds of craft draft brews from 175+ microbreweries and international producers with food trucks, concerts, and more on Pennsylvania Avenue
  • DC Wine Fest (mid-Oct) is a huge wine-tasting event hosted by Schneider’s at Union Market with chances to try and bring home some of the best local and international wines with food and craft vendors

April and May crowds are generally smaller than September and October, so visit in the spring if you don’t mind paying a little more for smaller crowds, cooler weather, the famous National Cherry Blossom Festival, and beautiful springtime flowers and greenery. 

September and October are a bit cheaper, but busier, so lines at the best attractions and historic sites may be longer during these months. Still, grabbing passes and tickets in advance and setting out early each day can help you avoid peak crowds. 

Cheapest Time to Visit Washington, D.C.

Capitol Building as seen from independence ave during the least busy time to visit Washington DC


July-August and December are the cheapest times to visit D.C. You’ll find the best prices on hotels and airfare during these months if you’re hoping to score deals on your trip. 

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows during the cheaper months of July, August, and December — July and August are part of the rainy season in D.C., while December is quite cold and can see snowfall. 

  • July: 71-88°F; 11-12 rainy days
  • August: 70-86°F; 10 rainy days
  • December: 34-48°F; 6-7 rainy/snowy days

July and August present tons of options for things to do around the city.  Visit Dumbarton Oaks, open from March to October, to see the mansion digs of art collectors Mildred and Robert Woods-Bliss. They collected pre-Columbian and Byzantine art, displayed in the palatial home with luxurious gardens you can tour. 

Tour the World War II Memorial at night. In summertime, it’s not only cooler in temperature after the sun sets — it’s also much cooler to see with the illumination of the ring of columns overlooking the Rainbow Pool and the wall of gold stars signifying the lives lost during the war. 

Nearby, the Vietnam Veterans and Korean War memorials are also lit up at night for an even more stirring effect as you walk past walls of inscribed solider names and statues illuminated with crystal optic lighting. 

Catch a Washington Nationals baseball game at Nationals Park on the riverfront. There are tons of options for food, beer, and drinks along with a special 4th-inning “President’s Race” with presidential lookalike mascots racing on the field. 

In December, your options shift a bit as the temperatures struggle to rise above the upper 40s. But indoor activities are plentiful in the city and the holiday sparkle is so cool to see! 

See the holiday lights and decorations around the city, from festive wreaths and the National Christmas Tree at the White House to sparkling Christmas lights in neighborhoods across D.C. (there’s a fun scavenger hunt, too). 

The Smithsonian Institution has several museums to check out, no matter your interest — African American History and Culture, Air and Space, American Art, American History, Natural History, and more. 

The National Building Museum is awesome if you’re interested in architecture, and you can visit the International Spy Museum for a change of pace. The Phillips Collection is a great modern art museum for a cold afternoon. 

Kids will appreciate the Museum of Illusions with hands-on activities and demonstrations that are explained in understandable terms to pack a little science into the fun. The National Children’s Museum is another great option for kids up to 12. 

Prices are much lower during these months than the rest of the year, so it’s worth dealing with some rain or cold temperatures to come at this time. Google Hotels and Skyscanner data shows how much you can expect to pay:

  • July: $247/night; flights from $43 
  • August: $206/night; flights from $49 
  • December: $205/night; flights from $138

August is a peak tourism month in D.C., so crowds and long lines can be an issue. July is busy, but December’s crowds are moderate. Look to visit in August for the lowest prices on hotels and airfare combined. 

You might pay $1,490 for a 7-day trip to D.C. in August, $1,570 in December, or $1,770 in July. These are much more affordable prices than the best months of the year (April-May and September-October). 

There’s no shortage of events and festivals happening during these months, so make time to check out some of the following:

  • Independence Day Events (Jul 4) include the patriotic National Independence Day Parade on Constitution Avenue NW, a Capitol Fourth Concert on the West Lawn of the Capitol, fireworks on the National Mall, and more
  • Washington Open (late Jul) at the William H.G. Fitzgerald Tennis Center is a qualifying event for professional tennis in late July and August, bringing the top athletes together to compete at this international event
  • Summer Restaurant Week (late Aug-Sept) gives you a chance to dine at D.C.’s most popular eateries with special discounts and deals for lunch, brunch, dinner, and drinks around the city at this biannual event
  • National Book Festival (Aug) is a huge gathering at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center hosted by the Library of Congress with big name and up-and-coming authors, signings, readings, and book sales
  • Downtown Holiday Market (Dec) takes place at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery with pop-up vendor booths with all the holiday-themed goodies, art, crafts, and food you can imagine

You might prefer taking your chances with rain during July and August if you’re fond of warm weather or want to try some outdoor activities around D.C. December is better if you don’t mind the chill and want to see the city decked out in holiday lights and events.

Least Busy Time to Visit Washington, D.C.

Buildings and traffic along H street during the best time to visit Washington DC

Jon Bilous/Shutterstock

January and February are the least busy time to visit Washington, D.C. These are the coldest months of the year and tourism slows down in the city as people wait for warmer conditions for sightseeing. 

While D.C. is never “empty,” January and February see the least crowded conditions and are the perfect months to visit if you’re looking to avoid the hustle and bustle. Lines are shorter, hotel vacancies are all over, and you won’t have long wait times to deal with. 

The weather is the reason for this less-busy period. It’s cold and snowy between January and February with highs in the mid-to-upper 40s and lows around and below freezing. Snowfall isn’t frequent, but you might see flurries and flakes sticking on chilly days. 

  • January: 30-44°F; 4-7 rainy/snowy days
  • February: 32-47°F; 5-7 rainy/snowy days

The closer to the end of February, the warmer the daily highs will be. You might start seeing bigger crowds as March approaches (it’s a busier month).

Exploring Washington, D.C. can be a lot of fun without the crowds of the warmer months — just layer up for the cold and enjoy the city in a more intimate way. 

You’ll be able to pop up at many of the most popular sites and attractions without waiting to enter. You can enjoy museums and galleries without being shoulder-to-shoulder. And you won’t have to book months in advance to score a great hotel room or flight. 

Winter is a great time to do some in-depth exploring at the museums and galleries around D.C. Imagine feeling like you’ve got the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum to yourself or being able to take your time wandering through the Lincoln Memorial without throngs of people around you. 

On January 27, Holocaust Remembrance Day, you can visit the Holocaust Memorial Museum to pay your respects and see somber exhibits that will profoundly move you. 

Check out the interesting Mansion on O Street. It’s filled with unique knick-knacks, art, and goods brought here from faraway travels. Over 70 secret doors lead to hidden rooms, each one with its own theme, and the home itself is massive with original stained glass windows. 

Winter is a great time to cozy up in restaurants and pubs around the city’s trendy U Street or historic Georgetown for hearty meals and upscale choices accompanied by signature cocktails and local craft brews. 

You won’t find the best deals in January and February, but it’s not the most expensive time of year to visit D.C., either. Here’s what we found in Google Hotels and Skyscanner data about pricing during these months:

  • January: $301/night; flights from $177
  • February: $257/night; flights from $186 

And while winter isn’t the center of the social scene in Washington, D.C., there are still some noteworthy events taking place in January and February. You might even catch the end of the holiday lights and markets in the first week of January! 

  • Winter Restaurant Week (mid-Jan) brings special deals and chances to try out some of D.C.’s best restaurants with prix-fixe menus, specials starting at $25, and collaborations between master chefs around the city
  • Chinese New Year Festival & Parade (late Jan/Feb) at the A Friendship Archway brings colorful, illuminated painted dragons at Chinatown’s entrance for a 2-week festival with a parade featuring dancers, fireworks, and concerts
  • Washington, DC Auto Show (late Jan-Feb) is held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center to unveil the latest vehicle and technologies with hands-on car contests, giveaways, stunt courses, entertainment, and car displays
  • Black History Month Events (Feb) take place at the National Museum of African American History & Culture, Smithsonian museums, Frederick Douglass House, MLK Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, and more
  • D.C. Fashion Week (mid-Feb) draws designers, fashion lovers, and models to the city in droves for stages parties, runway shows, and special events at this international show at venues around the city in this biannual event (another in September)

With moderate prices, chilly weather worthy of bundling up for sightseeing, smaller crowds, fun events, and better chances to experience D.C. like a local, January and February can be great months to visit if you know what to expect. 

Worst Time to Visit Washington, D.C.

Washington DC pictured during the worst time to visit with the Jefferson Memorial on a rainy day

Orhan Cam/Shutterstock

The worst time to visit Washington, D.C. is during March, June, and August. March is chilly without the perks of the other spring months, June is the wettest month, and August is the busiest, most crowded month with hot, rainy weather. 

March can sometimes see a little snow, though not frequently or very much, and it’s chilly. You’ll still need to layer up for outdoor sightseeing and dining al fresco, outdoor recreation, and other weather-dependent activities aren’t yet in full swing. 

  • March: 39-56°F; 7-8 rainy/snowy days
  • June: 67-84°F; 11 rainy days
  • August: 70-86°F; 10 rainy days

By June and August, things are warm — bordering on hot — with more rain. It’s technically part of D.C.’s rainy season, but there isn’t much more precipitation than during the spring. 

Some will tell you that March is a great time to visit D.C. because the cherry blossom trees start blooming and the weather begins to warm up. But March is chilly and you can always catch cherry blossoms next month in April, when conditions are warmer. 

June is moderately busy, but August is peak season. Crowds are much bigger, lines and wait times are longer, hotel vacancies are far and few between, restaurants and shops are packed, and booking attraction tickets in advance is a must.

Exploring Smithsonian museums and visiting national memorials is less poignant when there are huge crowds around you, waiting for you to move along quickly. And that’s what a D.C. trip in August often looks like. 

Still, there’s plenty to do if you must visit during either month. Head to one of D.C.’s many rooftop bars and beer gardens to enjoy the milder air of the fall season with excellent views over the city and it’s recognizable attractions.

Spots like Smoke & Mirrors at the AC Hotel on Capitol Hill or the funky treehouse-style El Techo (there’s an authentic Mexican eatery downstairs) are perfect for watching the sunset. 

Explore the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial with its 4-acre footprint by the National Mall. There are bronze sculptures, bas reliefs, a steel “tapestry” depicting Normandy during peacetime, and panels inscribed with the former president’s most famous quotes. 

Drive the George Washington Memorial Parkway and stop at scenic overlooks. Biking and hiking on the Mount Vernon Trail and great views of the Potomac River and D.C. skyline make this a perfect spring or summer activity. 

As far as pricing goes, neither month is that bad — March is more expensive, but August offers the cheapest deals of the year overall. June and August see crazy-cheap deals on flights. Here’s what we found in Google Hotels and Skyscanner data:

  • March: $353/night; flights from $158 
  • June: $334/night; flights from $38
  • August: $206/night; flights from $49

You can always check out some of the events going on, including some we’ve mentioned above (like the National Cherry Blossom Festival in March-April and Summer Restaurant Week and National Book Festival in August) plus the following:

  • St. Patrick’s Day Parade (mid-Mar) takes over Constitution Avenue NW extending from 7th to 17th Street featuring green-decorated floats, bagpipe music, marching bands, and contests with general merriment always expected
  • DC Jazz Festival (early Jun) fills the city with sounds of smooth and funky jazz at one of the biggest music events of the year with multiple indoor and outdoor venues participating holding free and paid concerts around D.C.
  • Capital Pride Festival & Parade (Jun) on Pennsylvania Avenue brings hundreds of vendors, thousands of participants and spectators, concerts, contests, games, and creative floats celebrating the LGBT community 
  • Smithsonian Folklife Festival (late Jun) celebrates the diverse cultures that piece together D.C. with performances, workshops, demonstrations, food, and artwork with activities for kids on the National Mall

March is less busy than August, but cooler and pricier. June is wet, but isn’t as busy as August and features moderate prices. August is crowded, but warm and very cheap for a visit. If you have to come during one of these months, consider which one works better for you. 

Washington, D.C. by Month: What to Expect

Narrowing down your travel dates once you’re thinking about a specific season is easier when you have all the weather, prices, events, and seasonal crowds at your fingertips. Here’s what to expect by month in D.C. 


Cold, uncrowded January is a less busy time to visit D.C. with highs in the mid-40s and low chances of rain and snow. It costs around $300/night on average for hotels this month and $177+ for flights. Winter Restaurant Week specials, Chinese New Year Parade, and D.C. Auto Show are fun events this month. 


Chilly, less-busy February is another quiet time in D.C. with highs around 47°F and 5-7 days of rain (or snow). With lower prices on hotels ($257/night) and flights (starting at $186), it’s cheaper than January. Check out Black History Month exhibits and festivals around the city and D.C. Fashion Week this month. 


As one of the less-stellar months to visit D.C., March sees highs around 56°F and 7-8 rainy days. It’s spring and cherry blossoms pop up, but it’s still chilly and crowds start to roll in. Hotels average $353/night and flights start at $158. The St. Patrick’s Day Parade, National Cherry Blossom Festival, and White House Easter Egg Roll take place this month (or next, depending on Easter dates).


April is one of the best months to visit D.C. with balmy highs around 67°F, limited rain, moderate prices, and the National Mall in full cherry blossom bloom. Prices on flights start at $261 with hotels averaging $351/night. The Smithsonian Craft Show takes place this month over 4 days at the National Building Museum. 


May is another of the best months in D.C., but pricier than April with hotels averaging $558/night. But flights can be found ultra-low, around $38 round trip, this month! Parks and the National Mall are lush and green, Passport D.C. and the National Memorial Day Parade take place, and highs reach a pleasant 75°F. 


June isn’t a great time to visit D.C. because it’s the wettest month of the year with roughly 11 rainy days. Highs reach 84°F on average, so it can be hot (and wet) for sightseeing. But you’ll find flights starting at $38 and hotels around $334/night, along with events like the DC Jazz Festival, Capital Pride Festival, and Smithsonian Folklife Festival this month. 


Sunny, hot July sees plenty of rain (11-12 days) but boasts some of the cheapest prices on hotels and airfare of the year in D.C. You’ll pay around $247/night for hotels and $43+ for flights in July. With highs around 88°F, sightseeing isn’t as comfortable, but indoor attractions and time on the river can be great. July 4th events and the Washington Open happen this month. 


August is a cheap month to visit D.C., but very crowded and less enjoyable for museums and attractions. With highs around 86°F and 10 rainy days, it’s warm and wet. Hotels average $206/night with flights from $49. Summer Restaurant Week, the National Book Festival, and Friday night concerts at the Yards Park boardwalk stage on the Capitol Riverfront can be fun. 


Mild September is dry, warm (highs around 79°F), and eventful with the Adams Morgan Day, H Street Festival, and DC Bike Ride taking place. Hotels average $335/night with flights as low as $55. Stroll the cobblestone streets of historic Georgetown visiting trendy eateries, historic homes, or shopping for antiques, books, and art on Book Hill. 


October is another of the best months to visit D.C. with warm, dry weather with highs in the upper 60s, moderate prices on hotels ($332/night), low prices on flights (as low as $62), and great events like the Snallygaster Beer Festival, DC Wine Fest, and Marine Corps Marathon. It’s perfect for strolls and seeing fall foliage around the city. 


November sees chilly weather with highs in the upper 50s and 6-7 days of rain or snow. It’s a cheap time to travel with hotels averaging $302/night and flights starting at $106. Look for the National Christmas Tree Lighting, Taste of Georgetown, and Veteran’s Day exhibits at war memorials and museums this month. 


Cheap December is very affordable with hotels around $205/night and flights as low as $138. With highs around 48°F and some snow, it’s easy to see why it’s more affordable. But holiday light displays and the Downtown Holiday Market can be fun events to check out, and indoor sightseeing, restaurants, and shops are fun for chilly days. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Georgetown and Key Bridge in Autumn pictured during the best time to visit Washington DC

Orhan Carn/Shutterstock

Still wondering what else you need to know about the right time to visit D.C.? Take a look at the most frequently asked questions below to learn more. 

What is the best month to go to Washington D.C.?

April is the best month to go to Washington D.C. for the most balanced experience. Good, warm weather is just right for sightseeing with highs in the upper 60s. Prices are moderate on hotels and flights and best of all, the National Cherry Blossom Festival happens through mid-April, so you’ll see those beautiful trees in bloom all over the National Mall.

What is the cheapest month to visit Washington D.C.?

August is the cheapest month to visit Washington D.C. overall. Hotels average about $206/night this month with flights as low as $49 round trip (but you have to be vigilant to find deals like these). It’s a peak tourism month, so expect bigger crowds during August, but revel in the affordable prices!

How many days do you need to see Washington D.C.?

You need 3-5 days to see Washington D.C. without feeling like you’ve missed out on any of the best landmarks and attractions. D.C. packs lots of historic sites, museums, galleries, and cool architecture into its medium-sized footprint, so leave enough time to explore the core areas: the National Mall, museums, memorials, and unique neighborhoods like Georgetown and U Street.

What is the best day of the week to go to Washington D.C.?

Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays tend to be less-busy days of the week to go to Washington D.C. Major attractions and landmarks, like the Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial, see their lowest visitor volumes on these days, according to Google’s Popular Times feature.

Where is the best area to stay when visiting Washington D.C.?

Downtown and Capitol Hill are two of the best areas to stay in when visiting Washington D.C. They are right where all the action and major landmarks are, so it’s easy to walk to places like the White House and National Mall. Chinatown is the best area to stay in if you’re on a budget.

So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Washington, D.C.?

The overall best time to visit Washington, D.C.? April-May or September-October if you want mild, warm weather that’s great to pack in all the sightseeing, shopping, dining, and outdoor activities the capital is known for. 

Come between July and August or in December to save money on your trip. These are the cheapest months of the year (especially August). January and February are the least busy months if you’re hoping to avoid peak season crowds. 

Just try to avoid March (it’s chilly, April’s better), June (wettest month), and August (very busy and rainy) if you really want to make your D.C. trip memorable. 

Putting together a noteworthy Washington, D.C. trip isn’t hard — it’s all laid out for you with incredible historic landmarks and attractions, national institutions, and remarkable museums, galleries, and entertainment options. Just travel during the ideal dates to ensure the best experience!