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12 Top Washington DC Parks

pool at washington dc lovers lane

Washington DC may be known for all things politics, but there’s far more to this city. The first urban planner of Washington DC was Pierre L’Enfant. When designing ‘Federal City,’ his aim was to surround the hub of government with beautiful public gardens, inviting spaces of serene and scenic landscaping, places to embrace mindfulness and meditation and find an escape from the urban noise. Here, the phrase ‘meet me at the mall’ means something very different than in other towns and cities. The National Mall is filled with epic green spaces for lazy afternoons, lessons on botany and horticulture and exudes history in every blade of grass. Visit DC for a taste of what makes the country tick, but stay for the lessons and beauty of the surrounding natural vistas.

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rock creek public park in washington dc during fall1. Rock Creek Park

A 1700-acre park established in 1890. It’s filled with serene, wooded trails that transport visitors away from the political hubbub and into a space of peace and tranquility. Here visitors can visit the planetarium and nature center, take a horseback riding lesson or a trail ride, play a round of golf, take in a show at the Carter Barron Amphitheater or spend an afternoon with a plethora of animals at the National Zoo.

botanic garden public park washington dc during sunset2. US Botanic Garden

Found at the National Mall in the center of Washington DC. Known as a ‘living museum of plants,’ this free museum is open every day of the year and its flora and fauna are ready to be enjoyed by visitors. (Image: Bartholdi Park by Amanda Kleinman)

3. Tidal Basin

Close to the National Mall, puts visitors smack in the center of all things cherry blossom. This man-made inlet that sits next to the Potomac River is the perfect spot to wile away the hours on a paddleboat or take in the beauty of the seasons. In spring, visitors to the famed festival find themselves in the perfect spot to take in all of the magic of the cherry blossoms.

4. US National Arboretum

Home to over 440 acres of parks and gardens in Washington DC. Boasting one of the largest collections of bonsai trees in North America, these gardens contain the National Herb Garden, National Bonsai and Penjing Museum and the Flowering Tree Collection. Wander the miles of trails or take the open-air tram for a tour of the area.

aerial view of dumbarton oaks public park in washington dc5. Dumbarton Oaks

Approximately 40 plus acres of gorgeous gardens. Set on the highest point in Georgetown, this park area is filled with hiking and running trails that follow behind many of the local embassies. In late spring, the full bloom of the peonies welcome visitors.

6. Meridian Hill Park

A 12-acre urban park that was established in 1912. This National Historic Landmark is home to a beautiful and welcoming tiered fountain. Home to a statue of Joan of Arc, Dante and a memorial to President Buchanan, this space has been hosting a drum circle on Sundays in the summer for the past 50 years.

sculpture at yards public park in washington dc7. The Yards Park

A waterfront park with a boardwalk running along the Anacostia River. Home to well-known ‘outdoor rooms,’ visitors to this park can wander near the dancing fountains at the entrance that welcome visitors to this special space.

runners at anacostia public park in washington dc8. Anacostia Park

1200 plus acres of parklands following along the Anacostia River. One of the largest recreation spots in The District, this giant area welcomes countless visitors 365 days a year.

9. Lincoln Park on Capitol Hill

Created 11 years after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Home to a statue of President Lincoln and one of civil rights activist Mary McLeod Bethune, Lincoln Park is a neighborhood space visited by many.

leaves turning orange at kenilworth public park in washington dc10. Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Garden

Part of Anacostia Park. Located along the east bank of the Anacostia River, this beautiful spot is filled with hiking trails and boardwalks enticing visitors year round. Play a round of golf, test your skill at the driving range, bird watch, hike, canoe, or enjoy the company of a friend. Visit in summer for the beautiful spectacle of the water lilies in bloom.

11. Georgetown Waterfront Park

Offers some of the best views of all of Washington DC. With spectacular vistas along the Potomac River, this park is a great spot for whimsical wandering, picnics, bike rides and skating adventures.

man with donkeys at chesapeake and ohio canal in washington dc12. Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park

Dates back to the 18th and 19th centuries. This historical spot is a great place to meet up with friends, host family picnics, take a bike ride, spend hours fishing or taking in the beautiful scenery.




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