With temperatures on the rise for a splendid Spring, stimulate your senses with a little (or a lot of) natural beauty. Feast your eyes on colorful petals, and smell the roses at DC’s most inspiring public gardens. Your family will be delighted to spend a day of hands-on gardening or leisurely walking through beautiful floral paths at any of these five spots.

United States Botanic Garden
At the US Botanic Garden 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. This is probably the most kid-friendly garden on our list because of the outdoor Children’s Garden, where the kiddos can use gardening tools and watering cans for a true hands-on experience.  Be sure to 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.  There’s also Bartholdi Park, a stunning tapestry of theme gardens surrounding the Bartholdi fountain.

Hours: 10a.m. – 5p.m. daily
Cost: Free

100 Maryland Ave SW
Washington, DC
Online: usbg.gov


photo: ktylerconk via flickr

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: 8a.m. – 4:30p.m. daily
Cost: Free

3501 New York Ave NE
Washington, DC
Online: usna.usda.gov

nationalarbotoreum-cc-cliff-flickr photo: Cliff 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: 8a.m. – 4p.m. daily
Cost: Free

1550 Anacostia Ave NW
Washington, DC
Online: nps.gov

  aquaticgardens-cc-Forsaken Fotos-flickr

photo: Forsaken Fotos via flickr

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. And it’s practically in your back yard!  Dumbarton features 10 acres of lush, sculpted greenery. Kids can roam through terraced garden rooms and vistas, and walk down many meandering brick pathways.  Take your lunch and enjoy a picnic on one of the wooden benches you’ll find hidden among the trees and sweet-smelling wisteria.

Hours: 2p.m. – 6p.m. daily; Garden season is March 15 – October 31
Cost: $10/adult; $8/seniors; $5/students and children 12 and under

3120 R St. NW
Washington, DC
Online: doaks.org

dumbartonoaks-cc-dumbarton oaks

photo courtesy of Dumbarton Oaks 

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.  You and the kids will be awed by the abundance of beauty.

Hours: 10a.m. – 4p.m., closed Mondays
Cost: $10/adults; $8/military, seniors and college students; $3/ages 5-17; free for children 5 and under

1644 31st St. NW
Washington, DC
Online: tudorplace.org


photo: DC Gardens via flickr

Have you been to these stunning gardens? Share your tips and favorite exhibits in the Comments below! 

— Jamy Bond