October Family-Friendly Events Guide


October brings an end to the summer heat and so much family fun that one guide simply does not suffice. This month’s guide to family-friendly events includes outings sure to please every member of your family. Whether your crew is interested in science, history, music, movies, or outdoor fun, we’ve got you covered. As you try to decide how to spend these glorious weekends (and weekdays), please also take a look at our super useful Guide to Fall Activities and Events. It includes our guides to Pumpkin Patches and Fall Farms, Apple Picking Orchards, Halloween Happenings, and more.

family-friendly October events

Beyond the Light

Now – November 5
Washington, DC
Visitors to this immersive art installation will explore how we have experienced light in our scientific discoveries throughout history. In collaboration with NASA scientists, ARTECHOUSE developed this interactive exhibit using data that allows us to ponder the furthest reaches of our universe. Family members of all ages will marvel at the images gathered from space and the possibilities of future exploration.

Alegre Mente / Happy Brain

Now – January 1
National Children’s Museum
Washington, DC
This visiting bilingual English / Spanish exhibit is geared for our youngest learners (ages 0-6). It aims to help kids develop motor, cognitive, language, and social-emotional skills. While in a delightful setting, children and their grown-ups will be able to take part in activities such as a tilt-table, storytelling, stacking games, dancing, and much more. Tickets are required for admission.

Sufi Music Festival – Mawlid Celebration

October 1
Freer Gallery of Art
Washington, DC
The Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art will celebrate Mawlid, the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, with special music performances, food, and more. Attendees will enjoy Indian, Moroccan, and American Sufi music ensembles and learn from artists and authors about how they draw on their spiritual journey in their art. This Islamic holiday celebration event is FREE to attend, but advance registration is required.

Takoma Park Street Festival

October 1
Carroll Ave to Carroll St. NW
Takoma Park, MD
For 42 years, this family-friendly festival has brought together community residents and visitors for a day of fun. Three stages will host 18 bands providing all-day entertainment. Local artists will sell their creations – photographs, pottery, stained glass, jewelry, woodworking, and much more. Attendees can buy food from various local vendors and onsite food trucks.

NoMa Outdoor Movie Series

October 4 and 11
Alethia Tanner Park
Washington, DC
On Wednesday evenings through October 11th, join the NoMa BID for CiNoMatic, its free outdoor movie series. On October 4th, your family can enjoy the musical magic of La La Land and on the 11th, you can sing along to the songs of The Greatest Showman. The movies will begin at sunset, but attendees can show up an hour before to claim their spot, play some lawn games, and buy food from onsite food trucks. Don’t forget to bring your own blankets or chairs!

Disney on Ice: Magic in the Stars

October 5 – 9
EagleBank Arena
Fairfax, VA
The newest Disney on Ice show will have kids singing along as their favorite Disney and Pixar adventures are brought to life, including Raya and the Last Dragon, Encanto, Frozen, Cinderella, Cars, and many more. All attendees 2 and over must have ticket. Check out the website for information about a Character Experience add-on that includes photo-ops and interactive activities.

The LEGO Movie

October 6
President Lincoln’s Cottage
Washington, DC
Enjoy a family movie under the stars at the Lincoln family’s summer residence. The film starts at 7pm, but attendees can enjoy crafts and STEAM activities from 5:30pm until 7pm. Remember to pack a picnic and a blanket and chairs. This event is FREE, but organizers ask that you reserve your space online.

Chuseok Family Festival

October 7
National Museum of Asian Art
Washington, DC
Chuseok, Korean Thanksgiving Day, is one of the biggest holidays in South Korea. Attendees of this FREE event will learn about the current and past traditions surrounding this holiday. There will be special performances, food talks, photo ops, and more. Advance registration is recommended.

Taste of the Harvest

October 7
Washington, DC
Building Bridges Across the River is hosting its annual fall festival, Taste of the Harvest. Members of the community will reconnect while enjoying chef demonstrations, musical performances, face painting, double dutch, s’mores roasting, and more. Attendees will get access to recipe cards and free samples from Building Bridges Farms. This event is FREE to attend, but registration is required.

Art on the Avenue

October 7
Del Ray Neighborhood
Alexandria, VA
From 10am through 6pm, Mt. Vernon Avenue in the Del Ray Neighborhood will host this entertaining music and arts festival. Enjoy music all day on three different stages. Browse the artworks of a variety of artists. The Kids Activity Corner will host various experiences throughout the day including painting birdhouses, DIY fidget toys, a robot demo, a taekwondo demo, and more. Eager bakers can submit an entry into a pie baking contest. And, of course, there will tons of food for purchase.

National Fossil Day

October 11
National Museum of Natural History
Washington, DC
Where better to celebrate National Fossil Day than the National Museum of Natural History?  The Museum is offering a variety of kid-friendly activities. Participants can touch and hold real fossils, observe experts at work in the FossiLab, and more. This is event runs from 10:30am until 1pm and is FREE to attend. No registration is required.

Fall Harvest Days & Carnival

October 13 – 15
Frying Pan Farm Park
Herndon, VA
Head to Frying Pan Farm Park for a weekend full of fall fun. On Friday, visitors will be able to explore a variety of large vehicles, such as tractors and a fire engine, at Big Truck Night. Throughout the weekend, carnival rides and games will delight your family and a variety of fair food will be available for purchase. On Saturday and Sunday, Fall Harvest Days gives families the opportunity to meet farm animals and learn how to do various farm tasks such as milking a cow, shelling corn, and peeling apples. Admission is FREE, but tickets must be purchased for the carnival rides.

Adams Morgan PorchFest

October 14
Adams Morgan
Washington, DC
Twenty porches, stoops, parks, and patios in the Adams Morgan neighborhood will turn into concert spaces from 2pm to 6pm. Around 100 bands representing nearly every genre, including rock, classical, go-go, rap, and blue grass, will entertain your family as you wander the tree-lined neighborhood streets and area local businesses. You can get an event map and a free wristband that will give you discounts at a variety of neighborhood businesses at one of two event headquarters. Attendance is FREE.

Afrofuturism STEAM Day

October 14
National Museum of African American History and Culture
Washington, DC
Afrofuturism envisions the possibilities and the futures of black people around the world. Families and students are invited to this FREE Afrofuturism STEAM Day to imagine the future through space exploration, health, and technology. Hands-on STEAM projects, presentations by STEAM professionals, and more family-friendly activities will give attendees the opportunity to re-imagine these futures. You must register in advance to attend this event.

The Big Build

October 14
National Building Museum
Washington, DC
This FREE event will give you and your kiddos the chance to learn about design and building from experts in fields such as plumbing, design, roofing, and more. Hands-on activities such as wiring a light, pouring concrete, and hammering nails will be available. There will also be an outdoor Truck Petting Zoo, story times, virtual reality experiences, and more.

Kingman Island Friends & Family Day

October 14
Kingman Island
Washington, DC
Come celebrate and explore this special natural space at this FREE event. Nature walks, scavenger hunts, crafts, fishing, animal encounters, and much more will be available. Visitors can even paddle the river with Anacostia Green Boats, though you must register for this activity online.

The Bethesda Row Arts Festival

October 14 – 15
Bethesda Row
Bethesda, MD
Four blocks of downtown Bethesda will turn into an outdoor art gallery featuring the work of 165 fine artists and crafters from across the country. Artisans of jewelry, sculpture, glassworks, paintings, metalworks, and more will present and sell their work. This highly-rated arts festival is FREE to attend.

Look Both Ways

October 14 – 29
The Kennedy Center
Washington, DC
DC-area native Jason Reynolds is bringing his award-winning book, Look Both Ways, to the stage. This entertaining world-premier looks at what happens after school is dismissed from the perspective of ten people, all of whom face differing life experiences. Tickets are available online. Please note that there is a Sensory-Friendly Performance on October 28th.

Turkish Festival

October 15
Pennsylvania Ave, NW (between 3rd and 6th Street)
Washington, DC
The American Turkish Association of Washington, DC is celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Turkish Republic. Attendees of this fun, FREE, family-friendly event will enjoy live music, folk dancing performances, fortune telling, cultural events, kids activities, and more. Authentic Turkish cuisine and arts and crafts will be available for purchase.

American Girl Live! In Concert

October 18
Warner Theater
Washington, DC
This immersive concert will bring your child’s favorite American Girl characters to life as the power of friendship is explored. Expect loads of music, dancing, and more from the live cast that will delight the American Girl devotee in your family. Tickets are required.

Exploring the Sky

October 21
Rock Creek Park
Washington, DC
If you have any space-obsessed people in your family, head out to Rock Creek Park on the 21st for a FREE evening of star gazing. For over 70 years, the National Park Service and the National Capital Astronomers have cohosted this event. Despite it not being a super dark sky due to its location in the middle of a city, attendees can usually spot objects in our solar system, open and globular clusters, and sometimes comets and distant galaxies. Visitors can get there an hour early (6:30pm) to watch a planetarium program. Exploring the Sky is a weather-dependent event and no registration is required.

Family Mystery Day at the Library of Congress

October 21
Library of Congress
Washington, DC
If you and your kids enjoy mystery stories, this family day event is for you. There are activities planned throughout the day, including two author events scheduled for kids from age 6 to 18 and a Mystery Day scavenger hunt for families and kids age 8 to 18. Attendees can even hone their skills at a mystery writing workshop. While this event is FREE, visitors must get a timed-entry pass for the Library. Please note that this event is best for families with older children and/or teens.

Fall Harvest Festival

October 21 – 23
George Washington’s Mount Vernon
Mount Vernon, VA
Experience the fall as families would have in colonial times. Learn from 18th-century demonstrations on Pioneer Farm, purchase bread freshly made in an 18th-century-style oven, find your way through a straw bale maze, meet General Washington, and more. The cost for attending this event is included in the cost of admission to the Mount Vernon Estate.

The ABCs of Hip Hop with Baba Bomani

October 26 – 27
Discovery Theater
Washington, DC
This performance geared for kids from 3 to 6 years old aims to entertain while demonstrating basic reading and math concepts, and how rap is based on a number bond math equation. Little ones may even learn to rap the alphabet backwards! All audience members are required to have a ticket, which can be purchased online.

Día de los Muertos Family Day

October 28
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Washington, DC
Celebrate Día de los Muertos with a variety of activities to entertain the whole family. Ballet Folklorico Mi Herencia Mexicana, Mariachi Aguila DC, and Sol y Rumba will excite guests with their performances. Other crafts and activities, such as face painting, will be available. This event is FREE, but online registration is encouraged.

Día de los Muertos Celebration

October 28 – 29
National Museum of the American Indian
Washington, DC
This two-day celebration at the National Museum of the American Indian gives visitors the opportunity to honor ancestors and appreciate the cycle of life and death. Enjoy dance performances and artist demonstrations. Make paper marigolds and masks. Leave photos or mementos of loved ones on the Museum’s ofrenda. Check out the event website for a schedule of activities. This event is FREE and no registration is required.

We hope you enjoy this guide! If you know of additional family-friendly events in our area this month, please leave it in the comments below. Don’t forget that we also have a community calendar that lists other local events.


  1. We are hoping you can add this family friendly event to the list of family events:

    Spend the day with family and friends at North Bethesda’s Premier Fall Festival, PIKEtoberfest.

    The Annual PIKEtoberfest community celebration will be held Sunday, October 2, 12 – 4 p.m. at North Bethesda’s Pike & Rose.

    WHAT: PIKEtoberfest at North Bethesda’s Pike & Rose
    WHEN: Sunday, October 2, from 12:00 – 4:00 p.m.
    DETAILS: In true Oktoberfest spirit, Owen’s Ordinary will host a beer garden
    serving local and craft beers. Taking center stage, a live band and DJ will be performing all afternoon. Shop a great collection of hand-made and craft goods in the newly added open-air Maker’s Market, featuring the area’s best artisan vendors. Plus, many more fun games, kids’ activities, and experiences from the neighborhood’s retail and restaurant partners.
    WHERE: North Bethesda’s Pike & Rose
    11870 Grand Park Ave
    North Bethesda, MD 20852
    View map
    MORE: Admission is FREE. Parking is available on-site. Alternative transportation is encouraged. Pike & Rose is one block from the North Bethesda Metro Station. Dog friendly!

    From family-friendly festivals to seasonal events and weekly farmers’ markets, Pike & Rose always has something to ignite your senses.

    For more information visit http://www.pikeandrose.com or facebook.com/pikeandrose or click here for more information on getting to Pike & Rose.

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