D.C. is a vibrant city, so you might not think there are a lot of luscious gardens, but there many beautiful places where you can admire nature. Like Audrey Hepburn once said, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” Get a breath of fresh air at these green and floral gardens around the city, and feel rejuvenated by nature all around.
The U.S. National Arboretum has free admissions and a collection of unique and creative gardens to visit. It was established in 1927 by an Act of Congress and is 446 acres. From the Asian Collections, the Azalea Collections, Fern Valley, Holly and Magnolia Collections, to the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum, there are 678 official plant releases. The Arboretum has the impactful mission to “enhances the economic, environmental, and aesthetic value of ornamental and landscape plants.” Indeed, this is a beautiful place to visit when you have been in the city for too long and need a bit of nature.
📍: 3501 New York Ave NE
After the U.S. Arboretum, the U.S. Botanic Garden! The goal of the Botanic Garden is to teach visitors about the importance of plants’ interrelationship with the well-being of humans and of the fragile ecosystem. It was George Washington who wished to include a botanical garden in the nation’s capital landmark. Thus, established in 1820, this is the oldest operating botanical garden in all of America.
📍: 100 Maryland Ave SW
Located in front of the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building, this garden specifically showcases some of the most beautiful roses and flowers of the city. It was renovated in 2016 to include “all own-root roses selected for disease resistance as well as companion plantings chosen to attract and provide for beneficial insects.” A much denser variety of roses and flowers are now featured, along with the little insects that pollinate them. Panels with more information about the flower species are located throughout the park for visitors to learn more.
📍: 900 Jefferson Dr SW #922
This is not actually a library, but a small one and a half acres park with 93 flower beds. Showcasing tulips and seasonal flowers in the summer and spring, this is a lovely spot to quite literally smell the flowers with a view; it’s located on Independence Avenue right in front of the Washington Monument!
📍: Independence Ave SW
The interesting landscape of this garden is an architectural landmark in D.C. At the entrance of the infamous Smithsonian Castle, the Enid A. Haupt grows tall, “reflecting cultural influences celebrated in the adjacent architecture and museums below.” This garden includes the Parterre, the Moongate Garden, and the Fountain Garden over four acres with a lush collection of lovely flowers, bushes, and trees as well as the small insects that populate for pollen.
📍: 1050 Independence Ave SW
Tudor Place House was home to Martha Washington’s descendants and the slaves and servants who lived there. This property tells the rich history of Georgetown’s evolution. You can thus enjoy the greenery while learning about the history of our country. The house has a lovely garden that is over five and a half acres big with seasonal plants booming every month! Tudor Place House has played host to stunning Candlelight concerts in the past but don’t worry, you can still catch these stirring concerts illuminated by candlelight at other gorgeous venues in DC!
📍: 1644 31st St NW
Ranked 4th most beautiful urban campus, this is a garden not to miss! Located across the street from Katzen Arts Center and Ward Circle, this is a small sanctuary hidden amongst the D.C. traffic. It has 4,000 trees and 385 different species of bushes and plants. Need some fresh air after a study session? Come to this hidden urban gem!
📍: 4400 Massachusetts Ave NW
The Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens—deemed a “hidden gem” by the National Park Service (NPS)—has a variety of beautiful flowers, greenery, and wildlife. If you visit during July and the summer months you’re bound to witness the sight of beautiful lotuses and water lilies hit peak bloom.
📍: 1550 Anacostia Ave NE
This historic estate and garden is beloved for more than just its gorgeous views and architecture—wandering the grounds you’ll find a museum, research, a music room, a renowned garden and greenhouse featuring the oldest houseplant in North America!
📍: 1703 32nd St NW