There’s more to look forward to this fall than Kirk Cousins and a visit from the pope: a sour beer festival, a chance to pig out, Oktoberfest, jousting, and pumpkin everything. Try to check off all 15 of these must-dos to make your DC fall complete.
Hit the "Make It Funky" Wild Beer Festival
If you’ve dumped IPAs for younger, more interesting sour beers, you now have plans for October 3rd. Denizens Brewing Company is curating a wild beer festival starring 40 sour beers from 20 breweries, including many local favorites like Right Proper, 3 Stars, and Mad Fox. The festival runs from 1-5pm and tickets will be available here.
Find the best Oktoberfest
Many bars and restaurants will do their best Munich impression this fall, but for maximal beers in one place, there’s Das Best Oktoberfest running September 25th-26th in the National Harbor. Oompah bands will contribute to the beer hall theme, so will 100 beers. Adding American flavor is a best beer belly competition.
OK, we lied. This is better.
Barktoberfest has a leg up(!) on Das Best Oktoberfest because pups are invited. The October 24th festival takes place at Yards Park in the Navy Yard. Expect dogs in costumes so awesome they’ll wish they had opposable thumbs to take selfies. Plus, you'll also get unlimited samples of beer, food trucks, and a doggie kissing booth.
It’s like Coachella but with better food
The Landmark Music Festival is a can’t-miss for so many reasons. Forty artists will take the stage over two days (September 26th-27th), including Drake, The Strokes, CHVRCHES, alt-J, and Ben Howard. Meanwhile, Pete’s New Haven Style Apizza, Rocklands Barbeque & Grilling Company, Shake Shack, Maketto, Maki Shop, and Beefsteak will be slinging food.
Visit Loudoun wineries in their prime
The buzz of harvest season combined with changing leaves can be pretty enchanting. That’s why September-November is the best time to make it out to Loudoun County for wine tastings. Recent favorites include Stone Tower Winery, Rappahannock Cellars, and Greenhill Winery & Vineyards.
Eat all the pork
The only place with more pork than Cochon Heritage B.B.Q. is a Hawaiian luau. The swine-focused event that bestows area chefs with a whole hog goes down at Union Market on October 4th. They’ll highlight both global BBQ grilling traditions and Old World cooking techniques. Those competing to be named pork king include Masseria’s Nick Stefanelli and Rogue 24’s RJ Cooper.
Laugh so hard
It’s not October without BYT’s Bentzen Ball -- the comedy festival that brings top talent to the District. This year the fun runs from October 1st-4th. Janeane Garofalo, Tig Notaro, and Jim Gaffigan will be there.
Hold hands. Wear sweaters. Pick apples.
If you don’t do this practically mandatory fall date, your relationship is doomed. Homestead Farm is one of the closet orchards, and it has pumpkins to bring home too. But, heading to Crooked Run Orchard in Purcellville, VA, means you can double your fun with a visit to Catoctin Creek Distilling Company.
Eat pumpkin everything
Don’t stop at lattes. You can count on pumpkin donuts from shops like Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken; pumpkin beers from breweries like Denizens Brewing Company; and pumpkin mac & cheese from The Black Squirrel. Expect The Black Squirrel’s pumpkin mac to make its debut this year in conjunction with the bar’s Elysian Great Pumpkin Beer Festival on October 2nd. If you can eat it or drink it, you can pumpkin it.
Experience 50 restaurants at once
Taste of DC, the annual event that enables you to cruise down Pennsylvania Ave trying bites from 50 area restaurants, happens October 10th-11th this year. Also expect to peruse 100 wine and beer offerings. Both days run from noon-7pm.
Rent a boat. Not one that needs paddles.
Boatbound, a "pier-to-pier" boat rental platform, recently launched in DC, enabling groups of friends to spend a day on the water without the commitment (cough money cough) of taking care of a boat all year long. Think of it like a cross between Uber and Airbnb. If you’re uncomfortable about manning the boat, opt for one that comes with a captain. Prices start at around $150 for a half-day rental.
Travel back in time
Shout at jousters with a mouth full of turkey leg at the Maryland Renaissance Festival that runs on weekends from August through October. Other entertainment includes archery, aerial silk shows, juggling class, a maze, and more. Be sure to hit the wine pavilion often to make things feel less silly -- especially if you’ve rented a costume.
Visit the zoo in costume
The National Zoo’s 21+ costume party -- Night of the Living Zoo -- on October 30th will feature freaky performers like palm-readers, fire-eaters, and illusionists. Craft beer tents and food trucks will set up shop too. Note that panda costumes are unoriginal and you likely won’t win the contest.
Slurp in silk pajamas
Oyster Riot, the slurp marathon that stretches your stomach in time for Thanksgiving dinner, happens November 20th-21st this year. Old Ebbitt Grill’s signature event brings oysters from around the world together in one place and pairs them with award-winning wines. Some people wear silk pajamas. Let’s hope you’re some people. Tickets are on sale now.
Sign up here for our daily DC email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in town.
Laura Hayes is a DC-based food and drink writer covering all things edible for Thrillist, Washington City Paper, Food Network, Arlington Magazine, and others. When the Syracuse University grad isn't convincing people to try a burger cleanse, she's at CrossFit or making bets that her Eagles won't win six games this season. Follow her adventures @BTMenu.