One of the best times to visit Washington DC is in late March or early April for the Cherry Blossom festival and then again for the summer when school is out. However, hotel prices are at their peak during these times (expect to pay at least 20 percent more than you would in the low season), restaurant reservations are hard to come by, and people are elbow-to-elbow at the monuments, museums and on the streets.
While the festival runs from late March into early or mid-April, it can be hard to nail down the best time to visit Washington DC cherry blossoms; peak bloom dates vary year by year. If you’re coming in summer, keep in mind that Washington DC's weather can be sweltering, with high humidity and temperatures averaging around 85°F.
If you must come to DC during peak season, we recommend booking your hotel at least three months in advance. It's possible to score restaurant reservations a week in advance (check out our picks for the best Washington, DC restaurants), but if you're angling to get into any of the top tier establishments call at least a month ahead.
Peak Season Things to Do in Washington DC: Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Mount Vernon, National Mall, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington Monument
For a southerly city Washington DC's weather gets surprisingly cold in the winter, with temperatures often dropping to just below freezing. The weather is less than pleasant with rain and sleet being a common occurrence. Off-season may not the best time to visit Washington DC with kids, but the good news is that if you do visit during this time you'll have the monuments to yourself. If you want a more secluded tour of the city winter can be the best time to visit DC. Although the city isn't nearly as beautiful as it is in the spring, you can count on great deals on area hotels, especially just after the Christmas holiday season.
Spring and fall are our favorite times to visit DC—the weather tends to be pleasant in the 50s and 60s and it's the best time to explore Washington DC if you are looking to beat the summer crowds and the winter cold. Don't expect significantly reduced hotel rates, but at least you don't have to book months in advance for your favorite restaurant (a week in advance should do it at popular places).