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Discover Arlington’s Best Fall Foliage

Did you know the capital area is called the “City of Trees”? Arlington in particular has an abundance of forested parks and vibrant tree-lined neighborhoods making it an ideal place to discover fall foliage.

Here are 7 places to see beautiful fall colors:

1. Arlington National Cemetery

The roads and walkways inside Arlington National Cemetery are bordered by historic oak, chestnut and poplar trees, some planted more than a century ago. Within the cemetery is the recently refurbished Arlington House where 250-year-old oaks glow with golden leaves in the fall—these majestic trees were established before the Lee and Custis families built their mansion overlooking the nation’s capital. Another stunning viewpoint is from the marble terrace below President John F. Kennedy’s gravesite, where you’ll find sweeping vistas of the National Mall’s forested canopy.

2. The Lady Bird Johnson Park and Lyndon Banes Johnson Memorial Grove

These are two of Arlington’s lesser-known outdoor spaces bursting with autumnal color. From this place of reflection, you’ll be able to see the Potomac River, the Navy-Merchant Marine Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. You can enter these parks from the Mount Vernon Trail and the Columbia Island Marina’s parking lot.

3. Long Branch Nature Center

Bring the family to enjoy the easy walking trails at Long Branch Nature Center. The park is the home to scarlet maple trees and yellow pawpaw trees which glow in the sunlight and provide a home for native woodland creatures like turtles and foxes.

Potomac Overlook natural setting with trees and grass
Potomac Overlook Regional Park/Credit: Jake McGuire

4. Lubber Run Park

Bikers and hikers enjoy the trails scattered through the forest in Lubber Run Park. The pond there is enveloped by a circle of flamboyant trees reflecting onto the still water, until a leaping frog disturbs the calm. It’s a popular spot for birdwatching, so bring your binoculars.

5. The Mount Vernon Trail

Another way to enjoy the autumn colors is to walk or bike along the Mount Vernon Trail, a national park with unobstructed views of Washington D.C.’s monuments and memorials. This 18-mile paved trail runs between the George Washington Memorial Parkway and the Potomac River. You can access it from numerous points in Arlington including Gravelly Point Park. For information about the sights you’ll see along the way, check here.

Theodore Roosevelt Island
Theodore Roosevelt Island/Credit: Jake McGuire

6. Potomac Overlook Regional Park

Explore wooded trails in Potomac Overlook Regional Park where you'll discover everything from organic gardens to an old Indian village site as you wander rustic paths leading to the Potomac River. Among the brilliant shades of autumn, there are streams to cross and a nature center to visit. A map of the 70 acres of trails can be found here

7. Theodore Roosevelt Island

Take a woodsy walk on the meandering pathways of Theodore Roosevelt Island. This 91-acre island sanctuary on the Potomac River pays tribute to the nation's 26th president, who was an avid outdoorsman and naturalist. From the trails, you’ll catch glimpses of the gleaming skyscrapers of Rosslyn, the spires of Georgetown University and the bustling Washington Harbour. For a map of the trails, check here

Couple walking in Arlington's Westover neighborhood in autumn
Westover Neighborhood/Credit: Cameron Davidson

Arlington's neighborhoods are also good places to see fall foliage, as they are committed to protecting tree-lined routes and public parks. Each neighborhood has its own unique energy and personality, warmly welcoming visitors to enjoy all the fall colors it has in store. From Gateway Park’s ornamental garden in the Rosslyn neighborhood, to Long Bridge Park’s cherry trees in Crystal City, to the paperbark maple trees planted at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial in Pentagon City, there are hidden gems everywhere you turn.

Don’t miss these other wonderfully walkable neighborhoods:

Author: Renee Sklarew