DC Guide: Fall Foliage Destinations

This month I’m partnering with Capital One’s new Auto Navigator® site to share some of my favorite spots in the DC area. Earlier this month I shared three of my favorite independent boutiques, and today I’m excited to share three of my favorite destinations for gorgeous fall foliage! I tend to plan our family adventures based on the season, finding the best places to see cherry blossoms, peonies, and lilacs in the spring and going to a nearby farm to pick in-season fruits and berries in the summer. We’re currently experiencing peak fall foliage in DC, so it’s the perfect time to head outside and enjoy this beautiful season while it lasts!

DC Guide: Fall Foliage Destinations

There are so many wonderful attractions, historic sites, gardens, and museums in the DC area – and while we can get to most of the museums via public transportation, some of our favorite destinations are best reached by car. Our car is a pretty important part of our family weekend adventures! When my husband and I bought our first (used) car a few years ago, we had a 6 month-old baby and a brand new mortgage payment, and we were feeling really overwhelmed by life in general. We were also focusing more on our short-term financial situation and didn’t really think about the longer term added cost of maintaining an already 10-year old car used for both daily commuting and longer trips to visit family out of state. If I could go back and give my first-time car buying self a piece of advice, I’d tell myself to think more about our long term needs and the emotional security of having a reliable car that you can trust to carry your family wherever it needs to go. I know I feel so, so, so much better putting my money into a payment for a new car with a maintenance package and warranty than I ever felt fixing up our old car!

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We’ve been taking advantage of the mild Fall weather to get out and enjoy some of our favorite outdoor destinations. All three should be on your must-visit list!

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: Dumbarton Oaks Gardens

The Gardens at Dumbarton Oaks

Situated on several acres at the highest point of DC’s Georgetown neighborhood, the Gardens at Dumbarton Oaks is probably my favorite outdoor destination in all of Washington, DC. Designed over the course of 30 years by landscape architects Mildred Bliss and Beatrix Farrand, the gardens feature multiple garden terraces with everything from roses and peonies to chrysanthemums and Japanese anemones, an indoor orangerie, beautifully landscaped flower beds, winding walkways along gently rolling hills, ponds and fountains, and so much more. My girls love exploring the meandering paths, while of course I love taking in all the gorgeous flowers and foliage. And since Dumbarton Oaks is located at one of the highest points in DC, there are also some pretty spectacular views of the foliage in neighboring Rock Creek Park.

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: Dumbarton Oaks Gardens

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: Dumbarton Oaks Gardens

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: Dumbarton Oaks Gardens

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: Dumbarton Oaks Gardens

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: Dumbarton Oaks Gardens

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: Dumbarton Oaks Gardens

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: Dumbarton Oaks Gardens

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: Dumbarton Oaks Gardens

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: Dumbarton Oaks Gardens

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: Dumbarton Oaks Gardens

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: The National Arboretum

The National Arboretum

One of the things that I love most about living in DC is that so many of our public attractions offer free admission – including the National Arboretum! And it’s only 10 minutes from my house! With more than 15 garden collections and displays on 446 acres in Northeast DC, the National Arboretum is the perfect place to run around and explore any time of year. I love visiting the Asian Collection, Dogwood Collection, Conifer Collection, and Herb Garden in the fall, but you really can’t go wrong in any section of the park. You can also see the original columns from the U.S. Capitol Building, which were transferred to the Arboretum when the Capitol underwent an expansion in 1958.

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: The National Arboretum

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: The National Arboretum

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: The National Arboretum

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: The National Arboretum

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate

George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate

Whenever we feel the need to escape DC for an hour or two, we jump in the car and head to Mount Vernon. George Washington’s estate is located only 30 minutes outside of DC, but feels like an entirely different planet. You can tour the Mansion, stroll around the Estate gardens, walk down to the wharf on the edge of the Potomac River, visit the Pioneer Farm – or even visit the distillery and gristmill! We love to just sit on the lawn behind the mansion and gaze out at the Potomac River (OMG that VIEW), or visit some of the many farm animals on the grounds, including sheep, pigs, and oxen. It’s pretty much the perfect afternoon excursion.

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate

All photos by Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper

This post is sponsored by Capital One’s Auto Navigator® site – click here for more information and to get started today! All content and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that make Oh So Beautiful Paper possible!

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