September is here, and it’s my favorite time of year! Fall is already in the air, with cooler temperatures in the evenings and some of the leaves already starting to turn. What I really enjoy about fall in this area are all the fun outdoor activities. Every weekend between now and Thanksgiving, there is an opportunity to get outside and enjoy the fall weather. Check out these 5 ways to celebrate fall that are within a 3 hour drive from DC.
1. Step Back in Time to the Year 1527. If you live in the mid-Atlantic area, chances are you’ve attended the Maryland Renaissance Festival. Now in it’s 41st season, it’s one of the biggest fairs of its kind around the country. True renaissance fans will appreciate the continuous story line that follows the reign of King Henry VIII, and the 27 acre Village of Revel Grove. Both kids and adults enjoy dressing up, so you’ll see plenty of period costumes. With 10 stages for entertainment, jousting, artisans and a variety of food, it’s a fun way to get outside on a crisp fall day. We’ve gone several times over the years, and some of my favorite activities are watching the jousting and glass blowing, and eating foods on a stick, although the novelty of eating the turkey legs has worn off as I’ve gotten older! Catch the fair on weekends now through October 22, 2017.
2. Walk Through the Ultimate Haunted House. If you are looking for the ultimate haunted Halloween experience, head to Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. Considered by many to be the #1 haunted attraction in the US, it’s a walk through haunted house like no other. First off, the prison itself is believed to be haunted, and with its crumbling walls and dark corridors, it’s creepy enough when you visit during daylight hours. Plus visitors to the haunted attraction can decide how interactive they want the experience to be (think being grabbed and possibly removed from your group as part of the action!) Every year we talk about going but chicken out. Could this be the year? Even if you don’t visit during the fall, touring Eastern State should be on your Philly to do list. We took a tour several years ago, and I would highly recommend it. The penitentiary has a fascinating history and unique architecture, along with a record of notable inmates like Al Capone. You can read more about why I think you should visit this historic attraction, at least during daylight hours.
3. Hit a Bike Trail for Leaf Viewing. Fall is the perfect time to explore one of the the area’s many bike trails, with cooler weather and colorful scenery. To me, there is nothing more relaxing than pedaling along a trail lined with vibrant red, orange and yellow leaves. Some favorite spots we’ve found for enjoying the beautiful fall foliage are the W&OD Trail in Northern Virginia, and the Mount Vernon Trail that follows the Potomac River between Roosevelt Island and Old Town Alexandria. Both are paved trails, with options for side adventures. If you are on the W&OD in Loudoun County, Virginia, check out the Brews by Bike Trail, with options for lunch at local breweries just minutes off the trail. In Old Town Alexandria, you can enjoy a picnic lunch by the Potomac River.
4. Celebrate Oktoberfest. Most of us won’t be able to make it to Germany for Oktoberfest, but you can find many Oktoberfest celebrations in the DC area during the months of September and October. Das Best Oktoberfest has two big celebrations, one at National Harbor in Maryland on September 30th and one at the M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on October 14th. If a small town celebration is more your thing, visit the 24th Annual Lovettsville Oktoberfest on September 23rd in Loudoun County, Virginia. With music, dancing, free admission and kids activities, it’s the perfect way to spend a fall afternoon. Philadelphia also offers a variety of Oktoberfest celebrations along with Fall Festivals. Find the complete list at Visit Philly.
5. Stroll through THE GLOW. Looking for a new way to get into the Halloween Spirit? This fall, experience THE GLOW, a Jack O’Lantern Experience, at locations in Philadelphia, Northern Virginia and Nashville. Visitors will be able to take a stroll past thousands of hand-carved jack o’lanterns, some made from single pumpkins, and other larger creations. Advance tickets are required, and can be purchased on-line. It looks to me like a great way to get inspired to go home and create the best jack o’lantern ever!
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