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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
Washington National Cathedral Gardens
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
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.
Closest Metro Station: Woodley Park (1.3 miles)
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)
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).
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.
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
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.
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.
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.