The 15 Best Gardens in the Washington, D.C. Area

Columns in the National Arboretum

TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre 

The Washington, D.C. area has many beautiful public gardens with a wide variety of plants, trees, and flowers. These places offer seasonal displays and special programs to delight everyone from the casual visitor to the serious gardener. 

Each destination has something unique to see. Bring a camera and capture some of the region's most colorful displays. 

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U.S. Botanic Garden

The National Botanical Garden

TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre 

100 Maryland Ave SW, Washington, DC 20001, USA
Phone +1 202-225-8333

While visiting the National Mall, don't miss the U.S. Botanic Garden, located next to the Capitol Building. You'll find plants from all around the world.

Many of these gardens are located indoors in the Conservatory, providing a great activity during hot, cold or rainy weather. The gardens include azaleas, lilies, orchids, an exotic jungle, a tropical rainforest and more.

In any season, you'll see something beautiful in bloom at the U.S. Botanic Garden ​​Conservatory, the National Garden and Bartholdi Park.

You'll also find visiting art exhibits, an annual holiday show and concerts. The holiday show features a different theme each year. Admission is free.
Closest Metro Stations: Federal Center SW. L'Enfant Plaza, Capitol South

02 of 15

National Arboretum

Trees with cherry blossoms in the National arboretum

TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre 

3501 New York Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002-1958, USA
Phone +1 202-245-2726

At the National Arboretum, explore 446 acres of trees, shrubs, and plants that are cultivated for scientific and educational purposes. The Arboretum includes several major plant collections, including azaleas, cherries, hollies, rhododendrons, ferns and wildflowers. 

The National Grove of State Trees (the Grove) is a display of trees representing the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Fifty-one state plots are arrayed over 30 acres. 

With its location in NE Washington, D.C., the gardens are one of the most overlooked attractions in the city. Be sure to plan several hours to explore the site and take part in special programs. Admission is free.
Closest Metro Stations: Minnesota Ave, Deanwood, Rhode Island, Union Station

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Enid A. Haupt Garden (Smithsonian Castle)

Dane A. Penland/Smithsonian Institute


1050 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20560, USA
Phone +1 202-633-2220

The Enid A. Haupt Garden is a 4-acre garden that is one of several Smithsonian Gardens. The Parterre, the centerpiece of the garden, features a changing palette of colors, shapes and textures to complement the architecture of the adjacent Smithsonian Castle

There is also a Fountain Garden modeled after a 13th-century Moorish palace and fortress in Granada, Spain, and a Moongate Garden inspired by the gardens and architecture of the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China. Admission is free.

Closest Metro Station: Smithsonian

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White House Gardens

Karen Bleier / Getty Images 

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500, USA

The grounds of the White House are beautifully landscaped with a variety of trees, shrubs, and flowers. The White House gardens are open to the public two weekends a year (in April and October) for a special tour.

During the White House garden tour, guests are invited to stroll around the White House grounds and share photos on social media using the hashtag #WHGarden. Visitors can tour the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, Rose Garden, White House Kitchen Garden and South Lawn of the White House. Admission is free.

Closest Metro Stations: Farragut West, McPherson Square, Federal Triangle, Metro Center

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05 of 15

Hillwood Museum & Gardens

Hillwood Museum and Gardens

4155 Linnean Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008-3806, USA
Phone +1 202-686-5807

The gardens of the mansion of Marjorie Merriweather Post, the heir to the Post cereal fortune, contain more than 3,500 varieties of plants and trees. Hillwood features a restored Japanese garden with a waterfall and bridge, a rose garden, and greenhouses containing more than 5,000 orchids. 

Hillwood offers an introductory video, audio tours, and docent-led tours. One-hour tours are offered of the mansion and its extensive collections. You can sign up at the Visitors Center. Admissions is a suggested $18 donation for adults.

Closest Metro Station: Cleveland Park

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Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

Rachel Cooper

1550 Anacostia Ave NE, Washington, DC 20019-2028, USA
Phone +1 202-692-6080

Tucked away in Southeast Washington, D.C. along the east bank of the Anacostia River, the 12-acre Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens features exotic water lilies, native plants and small animals such as frogs, toads, turtles, fish, minnows, and sunfish.

The gardens began in the 1880's when Walter Shaw planted water lilies in ponds he had dug along the Anacostia River. It is now a National Park. 

Look for special events such as the Lotus and Water Lily Festival, a two-day festival with cultural performances, family games, and a focus on the blooming lotuses and water lilies. Admission is free.

Closest Metro Station: Deanwood

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Washington National Cathedral Gardens

View of the Bishop's Garden at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

Applachian Views/Getty Images

Washington, DC 20016, USA

Located atop the highest point of the city, the grounds of the Washington National Cathedral include a variety of gardens. The Cathedral's small herb garden features rosemary, thyme, and mint. The Bishop's Garden is a beautiful setting with magnolias, orchids and exquisite flowers. The Little Garden is designed to look like a medieval herb garden surrounded by hedges of old English boxwood. 

The Olmsted Woods is the last vestige of an extensive oak and beech forest on Mount St. Alban. All cathedral garden guild restored the five-acre Olmsted Woods over a 10-year period. The gardens include an amphitheater for outdoor services and music performances. Admission is free.

Closest Metro Stations: Cleveland Park, Woodley Park-Zoo

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Dumbarton Oaks

Two people walking through the gardens at Dumbarton Oaks

TripSavvy / Victoria Chamberlain

1703 32nd St NW, Washington, DC 20007, USA
Phone +1 202-339-6400

Located in residential Georgetown, the 19th-century mansion and museum boast a lovely ten-acre garden with roses, wisteria-covered arbors, cherry trees, and magnolias.

The Dumbarton Oaks estate houses an unusual collection of Byzantine and pre-Columbian art and historical artifacts. Architecture, garden, and museum tours are offered. Admission is $10.

Closest Metro Station: Woodley Park (1.3 miles)

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09 of 15

Tudor Place Historic House and Garden

DC Gardens/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

1644 31st St NW, Washington, DC 20007-2924, USA
Phone +1 202-965-0400

The Tudor Place estate, originally owned by Martha Custis Peter, the granddaughter of Martha Washington, includes a 5.5-acre, early 19th-century style garden with a Bowling Green, Tennis Lawn, Flower Knot, Boxwood Ellipse, Japanese Tea House and Tulip Poplar.

Docent-led house tours and self-guided garden tours are available. Special programs such as teas and children's activities take place throughout the year. Admission fees are $3 for adults for a self-guided garden tour.

Closest Metro: Foggy Bottom (1.2 miles)

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Brookside Gardens

Brookside Gardens 

1800 Glenallan Ave, Wheaton, MD 20902, USA
Phone +1 301-962-1400

Located in Wheaton Regional Park, Montgomery County's award-winning 50-acre garden features formal and informal gardens and two indoor conservatories.

The gardens are divided into several distinct areas: Aquatic Garden, Azalea Garden, Butterfly Garden, Children’s Garden, Rose Garden, Japanese Style Garden, Trial Garden, Rain Garden, and the Woodland Walk. The Formal Gardens areas include a Perennial Garden, Yew Garden, the Maple Terrace, and Fragrance Garden. Admission is free.

During the summer, Brookside Gardens houses a spectacular live butterfly show (fee charged).

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Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

Footbridge going over a lake in Meadowlark botanical gardens with autumn trees in the background

Tom Sovall / Meadowlark Botanical Gardens 

9750 Meadowlark Gardens Ct, Vienna, VA 22182, USA
Phone +1 703-255-3631

The 95-acre Meadowlark Botanical Gardens feature walking trails, lakes, cherry trees, irises, peonies, an extensive shade garden, native wildflowers, gazebos, birds, and butterflies. There's an indoor atrium, picnic areas, and educational facilities.

Meadowlark Botanical Gardens hosts the annual Winter Walk of Lights, a spectacular holiday light show featuring dozens of illuminated displays. Admission is $3-6.

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Franciscan Monastery

 DC Gardens/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

1400 Quincy St NE, Washington, DC 20017-3041, USA
Phone +1 202-526-6800

The Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America is a historical landmark and an oasis of peace in the middle of Washington, D.C. It is a house of worship and an architectural marvel with beautifully landscaped gardens. Guided garden tours are offered every Saturday during the summer months. Admission is free.

Closest Metro Station: Brookland

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River Farm

Jim Sohn/River Farm

7931 E Boulevard Dr, Alexandria, VA 22308-1307, USA
Phone +1 703-768-5700

River ​Farm, the headquarters of the American Horticultural Society, is a 25-acre garden located between Old Town Alexandria and Mt. Vernon, overlooking the Potomac River. River Farm was one of George Washington's original properties. Admission is free.

Enjoy holiday displays each year inside the manor house.  

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Green Spring Gardens Park

Green Spring Gardens 

4603 Green Spring Rd, Alexandria, VA 22312, USA
Phone +1 703-642-5173

The Green Spring Gardens Park, operated by the Fairfax County Park Authority, features 20 different themed gardens, a horticulture center, and a nature trail that leads through the woods to two ponds. Visitors will enjoy seeing a wide variety of trees, shrubs, vines, perennials, annuals, bulbs, and vegetables.

Seasonal events, tours, and teas are offered and admission is free.

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Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens

Virginia Tourism Corporation

3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy, Mt Vernon, VA 22121, USA
Phone +1 703-780-2000

Mount Vernon, George Washington's former home, reflects his love of trees with its wooded landscape and beautiful flowers.

Once a thriving plantation in the 18th century, Mount Vernon is now one of the nation’s most visited historic sites.

Many of the trees on view at the estate were planted by Washington himself, including the white ash, American holly, English mulberry, flowering dogwood, hemlock, tulip poplar, and yellow buckeye. Admission is $18-20 for adults.

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The 15 Best Gardens in the Washington, D.C. Area