Temperatures are dropping and soon leaves will be changing, but these gardens are still blooming and boasting vivid colors. Skip the wooded hike and and take a socially-distant walk among the flowers. These gardens offer a change of scenery with an unbeatable admission; all are free! Read on for the best places to see autumn flowers in Washington, DC this fall.
photo: Vivienne V. via Yelp
United States National Arboretum
Many say the Arboretum is under utilized, but you’re in the know thanks to us and we say, don’t miss one of the most beautiful gardens in our area. Located two miles northeast of the Capitol building, with entrances on New York Avenue and R Street, DC’s Arboretum is home to more than 400 acres of woods, trails, ponds and display gardens, plus the captivating National Bonsai Museum.
Hours: Mon.-Fri., 1-5 p.m.; Sat.-Sun. 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
3501 New York Ave NE
photo: Franciscan Monastery via Yelp
Nestled in the Brookland neighborhood not far from The Catholic University of America, the Franciscan Monastery replicates the shrines and buildings found in Jerusalem. The stunning gardens and grounds are open daily to the public. Guided tours and access to the church and catacombs is currently suspended due to COVID-19. If you and your littles would like to tour the lower and upper gardens without making your way to the Monastery, there is also an online virtual tour here.
Hours: 9 a.m – 4:45 p.m.
1400 Quincy Street NE
Washington, DC 20017
photo: Daderot via Wikipedia
Heyden Memorial Garden
Right next to the Yates Field House you’ll find this hidden gem of a garden on Georgetown University grounds considered a best-kept secret by many locals. Finding the garden is half the fun! It’s located on the east and north sides of the Heyden Observatory. You’ll find small pods and water features, an arch to run under and views of the Potomac River. The peaceful silence is occasionally interrupted by overhead airplanes; small children will delight in seeing their low-flying path.
Hours: 9:30 a.m – 5:30 p.m.
West Rd. NE
Washington, DC 20057
photo: Forsaken Fotos via flickr
Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens
Kenilworth is said to be the place where water, wind and land dance, and we say that’s pretty accurate. It is the only national park devoted to cultivated water-loving plants. Kids love exploring the park’s marshes and discovering exotic water lilies and lotus. This is a great place to take your little ones on a nature-loving hike, especially if you have a budding bird-watcher on your hands. The park is rich and varied in natural and cultural history.
Hours: 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. daily
1550 Anacostia Ave NW
photo: DC Gardens via flickr
Tudor Place Historic House & Garden
Tudor Place features more than five acres of open green lawns, ornamental garden rooms dotted by fountains, and paths full of hidden nooks and crannies. If that doesn’t sound like a kid heaven we don’t know what does. Every season of the year features plenty of texture, color and shape, whether it’s snow-covered evergreens, fall foliage, bright red roses, or an explosion of summer blooms. If you’d like to know what is in bloom before you go, check out this guide. You and the kids will be awed by the abundance of beauty.
Hours: Thurs.-Sun., 12-4 p.m.
Cost: Self-guided tours of the garden are free, but reservations are required.
1644 31st St. NW
photo: Angela W. via Yelp
United States Botanic Garden
The US Botanic Garden is not currently open to the public due to COVID-19, but hop online and you can explore and discover some of the most unique blooms in the world, including rare beauties such as the African Tulip Tree, the Scarlet Rosemallow and the Jungle Lollipop via the Virtual Tour. Once this DC treasure re-opens, be sure to make visit to the outdoor Children’s Garden, where the kiddos can use gardening tools and watering cans for a true hands-on experience, spend time in the conservatory, which offers a showcase of plants from around the world, as well as the national outdoor garden, which is filled with roses and don’t miss the Bartholdi Park, a stunning tapestry of theme gardens surrounding the Bartholdi fountain.
Hours: Currently closed due to COVID-19
100 Maryland Ave SW
photo courtesy of Dumbarton Oaks
Dumbarton Oaks Gardens
Perched on the highest hill in DC’s posh Georgetown neighborhood, this breathtaking garden is listed on National Geographic’s top 10 as the sixth most beautiful garden in the world. Sadly, both the house and gardens are currently closed due to COVID-19. You will need to wait until they reopen to visit Dumbarton’s 10 acres of lush, sculpted greenery. But while you wait, you can check out the museums exhibits online as well as view photographs and drawings of the gardens. When their doors open again, be sure to let the kids roam through the terraced garden rooms and vistas, and walk down the many meandering brick pathways.
Hours: Currently closed due to COVID-19
3120 R St. NW
—Meghan Yudes Meyers and Jamy Bond