November is perhaps the most underrated month to visit Washington, DC. Kids are back in school and the holidays are coming up, so a family vacation is not on a lot of people’s minds. But if you can swing a November trip, this is a great time for a visit.
Who’s Visiting DC in November?
Some schools do take November field trips, but it is not nearly as crowded as during the big field trip season from March through June. If you do want to learn more about what to expect, we have an entire article about 8th grade field trip season.
There is very little business or conference travel in DC leading up to Thanksgiving, so it is one of the single cheapest weeks of the year for hotel accommodations. That means you can stay at a really nice hotel for a bargain price.
DC Weather in November
In general, DC weather in November is pretty mild.
- Average daily highs are 59°F
- Average daily lows are 43°F
November weather is really nice if you like nice fall weather. The first half of November also tends to have nice fall colors—so don’t think that it’s too late to see changing leaves. Because DC is somewhat far south, the leaves change color weeks later than those in New England.
It’s also worth noting that it’s usually the first weekend in November when daylight savings ends, so it starts getting dark really early. On November 4th, sunset in Washington, DC is at 5:05 pm—and it only gets earlier throughout the month. If you’re looking for more information on DC weather, we have a whole podcast episode that tells you everything you need to know about weather in DC.
What to Pack for DC in November
They key to packing for November is layers. On a typical November day, you could start with jeans and a t-shirt. Then put a sweatshirt over that. If you’re going out early in the morning or later at night, you could even add a light jacket on top of that. And of course, like every month, comfortable walking shoes are a must.
Holidays in November
There are two federal government holidays in November. The first is Veterans Day, which is on November 11th. This is a government holiday that is not always observed on a Monday, which means it could fall any day of the week. If it falls on a Saturday, it will be observed on Friday. If it falls on a Sunday it will be observed on Monday.
When you visit on Veterans Day, you will find that it is relatively quiet downtown, since a lot of office workers get the day off. If you visit the war memorials, you will likely find special events and services being held to honor the veterans of our armed forces.
Thanksgiving in DC
The other government holiday in November is Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is one of the biggest travel holidays of the year, but typically people travel to visit family, not to go on vacation. As I mentioned before, this means you can get a killer deal on a nice hotel.
The other cool thing about Thanksgiving is that the Smithsonian Museums are open on the holiday, but tend to be relatively quiet. This makes Thanksgiving a perfect day to visit if you’re looking to avoid the crowds.
Black Friday and Shopping in DC
People who are visiting family in the area want to get out after Thanksgiving and are looking for something to do. The Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving are a little more crowded. Black Friday is not an official holiday, but many people do take the day off of work.
If you want to do Black Friday shopping, you can head over to Georgetown, which has a great mix of boutiques and chain retail stores. Or if you want to be indoors and have the mall experience, Tysons Corner Center is a huge mall about 15 miles outside of Washington, DC. You can take the Metro’s Silver Line to get there.
You can also take the Yellow or Blue Lines and visit the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, which is a bit smaller, but also metro accessible and closer to the city. The Downtown Holiday Market also kicks off on Black Friday. That’s a great place to shop for local goods and to support local small businesses.
What to Do in DC in November
The end of November marks the beginning of Season’s Greetings at the U.S. botanic gardens. This is a winter holiday wonderland and a very popular place to visit at this time of year. Zoolights at the National Zoo starts at the end of November, as well. So if you’re around the last week of the month, you can really start to get into the Christmas spirit.