Hop aboard these 5 cruises to see the region’s fall foliage from the water

Here’s what to expect from this season’s transcendent foliage riverboat cruises on the region’s waterways.

odyssey boat cruise on DC waterfront
Photo courtesy of Odyssey Cruises

Just because the weather is cooling down doesn’t mean it’s time to spend your days inside. In fact, it’s more of a reason to throw on your favorite sweatshirt and walk out the door to see the red, orange and yellow shades of nature starting to come to life here in Northern Virginia. 

This season, take a break from your usual routine of nature hikes and apple picking on the weekends, and instead hop aboard one of the many sightseeing boat cruises offered in our region. Whether you’re interested in learning about how pirates survived on the Chesapeake Bay or simply want to sit on the top deck with a pumpkin beer in hand, here’s where to do it all this fall. 

Fall Foliage Cruises from DC Cruises
Saturdays and Sundays from Oct. 15-Nov. 12, times vary
For just two months in autumn, you have the chance to sit back and relax as you cruise along the harbor, embracing the vibrant red and yellow hues of the trees encompassing it. From the historic monuments to the many waterside parks, there’s something to see at every point during the hour-long ride. Plus, you’ll be treated to apple cider and hot pumpkin-spiced tea during the day trips, as well as rum cider and pumpkin beer on the happy hour tour for those 21 or older at 6 p.m. // 2100 K St. NW, Washington, DC; $10-$22

Adult Pirate Cruises on the Providence
Opening October
As the highly acclaimed Tall Ship Providence makes its way back to Alexandria, the company behind it all is offering various events this fall for residents to enjoy, specifically the adult-only pirate cruises. Be sure to wear your best in-theme garb and prepare for an evening of local rum tastings, history lessons on true pirates who sailed along the Chesapeake Bay and live music on deck. For a list of other events happening this fall aboard the Tall Ship, click here. // 1 Cameron St., Alexandria; prices to be announced

Mount Vernon Cruise
Dates and times vary
Whether you choose to start from Alexandria or National Harbor in Maryland, this cruise along the Potomac to historic Mount Vernon will take your breath away this fall. While the trip to Mount Vernon is short, once you arrive at George and Mary Washington’s home, you’ll have four hours to enjoy the fields of greenery on the estate, the farm grounds and the new education center. // Alexandria City Marina: 105 N. Union St., Alexandria; $39-$50 & National Harbor: 145 National Plaza, National Harbor; $37-$48

Photo Sightseeing Cruise
Mid-March-late Fall, times vary
On this 45-minute excursion, you’ll be able to see historic Mount Vernon like never before. Once the boat takes off from the Wharf dock, you and your family will be taken around the Potomac and hear from an experienced tour guide about the river’s connection to George Washington’s affairs, local animal life like eagles and osprey, and so much more. // Transit Pier: 950 Wharf St. SW, Washington, DC; $7-$11, free for children  

Odyssey on the Potomac: Brunch, Lunch and Dinner Cruises
Dates and times vary
Grab a sweater and come on board for an Odyssey boat cruise, offering brunch, lunch and dinner throughout the fall months and beyond. Following the recent renovations to the vessel, these one-of-a-kind experiences give you the opportunity to check out Washington’s monuments from the water, while enjoying delicious food and drink options. From the outdoor deck with a live band to the indoor climate-controlled seating area, you’re sure to be comfortable and happy during this excursion. // 580 Water St., SW, Washington, DC; prices vary

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