Itching for an outdoor break from your office or home? Enjoy the fresh air at these 20 secret gardens, parks, and green spaces in the nation’s capital.
OK, these places aren’t really “secrets.” But many are lesser-known or widely underrated. From the National Arboretum to Marvin Gaye Park, you can expect peace, tranquility, and natural beauty at these special locations.
Which sites are your favorites? Feel free to leave a comment.
1. Battery Kemble Park
Washington, D.C. 20016
Tucked between Palisades and Woodley Park, you can find Battery Kemble Park. It was formerly the site of a Civil War-era encampment where Union soldiers staked out to defend the city from Confederate raids. Now, it’s a peaceful plot of land, great for relaxing and dog-walking.
2. Dumbarton Oaks Garden
Washington, D.C. 20007
The more than 100-year-old Dumbarton Oaks estate in Georgetown offers a blissful garden designed by Beatrix Farrand, who also helped design the White House’s East Colonial Garden and West Garden. New greenhouses are planned for the estate.
3. Montrose Park
Montrose Park, also located in Georgetown, was once home to rope-making tycoon Richard Parrott, who would allow others to picnic on the grounds. The federal government bought the property in 1911 to turn it into a park.
4. Theodore Roosevelt Island
Washington, D.C. 20037
Theodore Roosevelt Island is located on the Potomac River between Washington, D.C., and Virginia. Accessible by a footbridge, the island features a statue of the former American president as well as various hiking trails. Sorry, cyclists, but bikes are not allowed.
5. Mitchell Park
6. Meridian Hill Park
Washington, D.C. 20009
Just off 16th Street NW in Columbia Heights, Meridian Hill Park provides a serene escape from the bustle of the city. It features a central water cascade, lots of trees and benches, and impressive statues of Joan of Arc, Dante, and President James Buchanan.
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7. Heurich House Garden
Washington, D.C. 20036
8. Franklin Square Park
Washington, D.C. 20005
Franklin Square is the largest urban park in downtown D.C. and serves as a convenient spot for having lunch, not least because food trucks regularly line its perimeter. The park is due to undergo a series of improvements thanks to a public-private partnership.
9. Crispus Attucks Park
Washington, D.C. 20002
This serene park is located in the middle of alleys and rowhouses in Bloomingdale. It was named after a black man who was killed during the Boston Massacre in 1770 and is said to be the first casualty of the American Revolution.
10. Smithsonian Butterfly Pavilion
Washington, D.C. 20004
At the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History along the National Mall, this butterfly garden houses roughly 300 butterflies in a climate-controlled environment. The butterflies represent species from around the world.
11. Enid A. Haupt Garden
Washington, D.C. 20560
After peeking at the Smithsonian Castle, head over to the adjacent Enid A. Haupt Garden. This 4.2-acre space was designed to be a modern representation of American Victorian gardens and opened in 1987.
12. Bartholdi Park
Washington, D.C. 20319
Located along the National Mall, Bartholdi Park boasts a 15-ton, 30-foot-tall cast-iron fountain designed by the same French sculptor who designed the Statue of Liberty. The fountain is lit up at night.
13. Hains Point
Washington, D.C. 20024
Enjoy waterside views and the sight of planes taking off from Reagan National Airport at Hains Point, situated at the confluence of the Potomac and Anacostia rivers. Biking, running, and picnicking are common activities here.
14. U.S. Botanic Garden
Washington, D.C. 20024
This site is a must-see for horticulture lovers. Tour the 1933 greenhouse, with its roughly 29,000 square feet of growing space.
15. The Yards Park
Washington, D.C. 20003
In Navy Yard, The Yards Park offers a water feature, a bridge, and green space. It often hosts outdoor events like yoga and concerts.