Cool Town, Autumn in the City

October 4th, 2006 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

When you note the seasons by Starbucks’ changing drink menu, you know you need to get out more. I am one of those people who knows its fall because Starbucks recently released its Pumpkin Spice Latte and Maple Macchiato.

Fall is the best season on the east coast; the weather is temperate and the leaves’ changing colors make driving down any state highway a scenic tour. Fall food is something to look forward to: yummy pumpkin pies, hot chocolate with marshmallows, crisp apples, and punkin beer from Dogfish Head brewery in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. I also have several favorite fall activities, but for the past few weekends, my fall activities have consisted of studying, studying, and studying.

However, let’s do a thought experiment, as Professor Lele frequently asks us to do in statistics class. Imagine that professors suspended all homework, and I had a free Saturday in October. Here are some great fall activities around College Park, Maryland.

Apple Picking
Every fall the Washington Post publishes a list of local farms in Maryland and Virginia that open their orchards to people for apple picking. It’s a fun afternoon outside, searching among the branches for the best apples. Most farms also sell ready made apple pies, apple cider, pumpkins, and miniature squash. And, as added bonuses, there are hay rides and corn mazes. I recently read an article in Slate’s moneybox section hating on pick-your-own-apple farms. The author commented that apple picking is a cherished rite of fall that is also a wasteful scam. Interesting article, but I like to take a simpler view of apple picking: a fun fall activity that is cheaper than a movie for two.

Skyline Drive
Driving down Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park is another cherished rite of fall. Skyline Drive runs 105 miles north and south along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains and is the only public road through the park. You can enter Shenandoah at four places: Front Royal near Rt. 66 and 340, Thornton Gap at Rt. 211, Swift Run Gap at Rt. 33, and Rockfish Gap at Rt. 64 (also the northern entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway). It takes about three hours to travel the entire length of the park on a clear day.

University of Maryland Sports
Maryland football games are spirited events. Tailgating starts hours before the game, and everyone wears red or their Terps shirt. Even though I’m not a football fan, I still enjoy the social aspect of the games. You can follow Maryland’s team at the Official Home of the Terrapins. And even before football season ends, the Maryland basketball season begins with Maryland Madness on October 13.

Fall Festivals
Every neighborhood, church, and community center seems to host a fall festival. At the Taste of Georgetown, on October 14, restaurants serve sample food and wine while musicians from Blues Alley entertain with live jazz performances. Adams Morgan Day is another street fair with food, music, and lots of people.

Finally, there’s Halloween, when my inner little devil comes out to play. During the month of October there are Halloween concerts at the Kennedy Center, ghost tours of Washington, D.C., old Town Alexandria graveyard tours, and “haunted” train rides through forests in Wheaton, Maryland. All this culminates in a crazy night in Georgetown when everyone dresses in costume and fills the bars beyond capacity.

Do readers have other suggestions for fall activities in the Washington, D.C. area?