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Heralded as "a garden for the ages," the Washington National Cathedral Gardens and Close were born out of a collaboration between architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. and Florence Brown Bratenahl, wife of the dean of the Washington National Cathedral. Together, Bratenahl and Olmsted filled the cathedral's gardens with native plants, plants that figure in Christian legends, and historically-interesting plants - such as the boxwood cuts that were taken from George Washington's Hayfield Manor. The gardens were added to and expanded in the 1920s and 1930s. Visitors today can enjoy this beautiful pocket of nature while they wander the Bishop's Gardens and admire the old growth forest of Olmsted Forest on the Close.
A variety of European park styles are on display here at Meridian Hill Park, from long French promenades to Renaissance terraces. Waterfalls and pools abound among curling pathways. Especially delightful is the water staircase, a terraced waterfall. Nearby is the historic Adams-Morgan neighborhood, which features myriad ethnic restaurants and eclectic shops.
The Rock Creek Park contains a beautiful wild forest and serves as an oasis for city residents and tourists. Attractions include picnic areas, winding trails and bike paths, a nature center, a public golf course, tennis courts and stables. The centerpiece is a working gristmill, complete with a turning water wheel. Rock Creek Parkway runs alongside the meandering creek. Parts of the road are closed to traffic on weekends and turned over to cyclists and roller bladers. Although the Metro is nearby, a car is required to visit many of the key sites in a single trip. The park is also a popular spot in the winter for sledding, snowballs and other outdoor merriment.
The Dumbarton Oak Park is a public park that includes woodland gardens spread over 27 acres (10.9 hectares) of land. Native as well as exotic flora in the fountain terrace feature wildflowers and shrubs, and this park also has several benches, footbridges and waterfall dams. Its verdant landscape and natural surroundings make it a must visit when in the city.
The monumental Oak Hill Cemetery is an ancient cemetery site that dates back to 1848. This cemetery mostly has graves that are from the Civil War era and owing to its historical significance it was incorporated in the National Register of Historic Places.
A popular outdoor destination for children, college students and nature lovers, this park lies north of Georgetown. Woodlands surround a recreation area with tennis courts, picnic tables and a playground. Special features include a boxwood maze and Lovers Lane, a cobblestone walkway on the west side of the park. To explore more elaborately designed grounds and an elegant estate, visit Dumbarton Oaks next door. Admission is free.
President Abraham Lincoln lived at this charming Gothic Revival cottage, located on the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home, for thirteen months during the years of 1862, 1863, and 1864. It was here that he developed the Emancipation Proclamation. The day before his assassination, Lincoln road out to the cottage before heading back to the White House. Today, the cottage stands as a tribute to the "Great Orator". Guests can visit the cottage by purchasing a ticket for a guided tour of the grounds and building, the entrance is through Eagle Gate of the Armed Forces Retirement Home. Keep in mind that it is recommended that you buy your tickets in advance.