Renovated landmark museum, new exhibits, arts and culture and new restaurants are among the reasons to visit our nation’s capital this fall
Washington, DC, is prepared to welcome travelers this fall with a variety of new experiences, places to stay, arts and cultural events of international interest, dining options backed by acclaimed chefs and free things to do.
Pair a day of picture-taking with transcendent arts festivals and cultural events, including Theatre Week (Sept. 21-Oct. 8) and the overlapping World Culture Festival (Sept. 29-Oct. 1). This Olympic-scale experience on the National Mall features global music, dance, art, food and more – bringing hundreds of thousands of people together.
On Oct. 21, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the world’s first major museum dedicated to championing women artists, will unveil its highly anticipated, two-year, top-to-bottom renovation of its majestic 1908 building. The museum will reopen as a more inventive, accessible, flexible and interactive institution. The $67.5 million project features an enlarged gallery space for the collection of more than 6,000 works, including large-scale sculptures that previously could not be accommodated.
The upscale Royal Sonesta Washington, DC – Capitol Hill opened this month as the Hill’s first new hotel since 1984. The 274-room property features a sweeping glass façade, 10-story atrium, and rooftop conference space with views of iconic landmarks. DC has 19 new hotels and over 3,500 additional rooms in the pipeline.
Celebrity chefs are breathing new life into DC’s locally sourced culinary scene. Stephen Starr (of Le Diplomate and St. Anselm fame) just opened the doors to El Presidente, a colorful ode to Mexico City, in Union Market. Richie Brandenburg and Rubén García bring years of experience with José Andrés to the Square, an industry-redefining, collaborative food hall. Internationally renowned chef Makoto Okuwa just fully opened another must-see destination: Love, Makoto. Local staples Clyde’s celebrates 65 years this fall; Martin’s Tavern celebrates 90 years; while the ever-enchanting Eastern Market celebrates 150 years.
“Part of the way in which we market our destination is getting people to think beyond what they already know about DC,” said Elliott L. Ferguson II, president and CEO, DDC. “Fall is the perfect time to explore the city, from fully reimagined attractions and incredible meals to moving cultural experiences that are found only in DC.”
The excitement will continue Nov. 1, when DDC officially launches its new advertising campaign: “There’s Only One DC.” The branding positions DC as wholly unique, spotlighting its diversity of experiences and free things to do.
UPCOMING EVENTS AND ATTRACTIONS
Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Galleries for Modern and Contemporary Art reopen
Closed since 2021, the galleries reopen with a more inclusive narrative of American art, including the often-overlooked contributions of Asian American, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, LGBTQ+ and women artists.
Sept. 22, 2023
Theatre Week kicks off the launch of theater season in the DC region. With dozens of participating theaters and productions, the celebration provides an opportunity to sample diverse and vibrant work on a variety of stages. Tickets are available for $20/$40/$60, including fees.
Sept. 21 – Oct. 8, 2023
World Culture Festival
A massive three-day experience on the National Mall features more than 10,000 performers from around the world. The historic event will bring together people from Argentina to Zimbabwe and all 50 states for music, dance, art and food. World-renowned humanitarian Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of the Art of Living, and the Honorable Mayor Muriel Bowser bring the World Culture Festival to the National Mall this fall, a grand occasion to celebrate a rich tapestry of cultures from every corner of the globe. DC’s status as a multicultural capital will be emphasized throughout the three-day extravaganza
Sept. 29 – Oct. 1, 2023
Museums, Art and Fun
The historic building of National Museum of Women in the Arts is reopening after its first full renovation since 1987, the project honors the structure’s history while improving its interior spaces and exterior envelope. Oct. 21, 2023. National Museum of African Art will host John Akomfrah: Five Murmurations . Internationally renowned artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah addresses the pandemic, murder of George Floyd and worldwide protests in support of Black Lives Matter in a visual essay. Oct. 14, 2023. National Portrait Gallery will display 21 pieces focus exclusively on portraits representing women or made by women. Subjects include Beyoncé, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Octavia Butler and Greta Garbo. Nov. 3, 2023 – Oct. 27, 2024. You can also experience a flurry of holiday magic as Ballet West presents America’s longest-running Nutcracker. Nov. 22-26, 2023
Photograph foliage – As the leaves begin to turn their signature shades of auburn, there’s something special about capturing brilliant foliage on the National Mall and around the Tidal Basin. The trails of Rock Creek Park, cobblestone streets of Georgetown, rowhouses of Capitol Hill and revamped waterfronts of the Wharf and Capitol Riverfront are also ideal backdrops for the most Instagrammable shot. According to the latest predictions, peak foliage in the area will roughly occur Oct. 16-30.
See the changing leaves against Georgetown’s brick rowhouses aboard an 80-foot vessel carrying visitors through the historic C&O canal for the first time in more than a decade (through October).
Downtown Holiday Market
The beloved tradition stretches across two city blocks brimming with pop-up tents. Locally roasted coffee, mini-doughnuts and live seasonal music create the perfect holiday atmosphere. Nov. 17 – Dec. 23, 2023
New this fall, potential travelers can book rooms directly through washington.org.