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Best known for its vast collection of azaleas, (Washington's favorite porch-flower), this 444-acre (180-hectare) garden park has much else to offer. Fountains, pools and open space separate a series of focused gardens at the United States National Arboretum. The National Bonsai Collection, a gift from Japan, is a fascinating exhibit of tiny trees. Other notable sections are the aquatic garden (filled with lotuses of many varieties) and the National Herb Garden.
This lovely Victorian style garden is a welcome respite for tired National Mall visitors. It is located off Independence Avenue near the entrances to the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the National Museum of African Art. The park resembles a rooftop garden, and a three-story building lies beneath. Visitors will love the 19th-century style benches and urns along the park's brick paths.
Early morning is the time to catch the blooming water-bound plants of this park. Run by the National Park Service, the 12-acre marshland park is often overlooked by visitors who head for better-known Washington sites. As a result, the park is an uncrowded getaway. Nature-lovers and children especially will enjoy more than 100,000 flowering plants and fauna sightings.
Brookside Gardens is a public garden located inside Wheaton Regional Park. It is open for public visits without any charge. Spread across 500 acres (202 hectares), major features of the garden include an aquatic park with ponds and a gazebo, a azalea garden, a butterfly garden and a children’s garden. Some of the other highlights include a dazzling fragrance garden, a Japanese tea house when visitors can sip on a variety of tea, a nature center, a lovely woodland walk, and much more.
The gorgeous U.S. Botanic Garden conservatory presents botanical variety, from the desert to the tropics, along a series of calm and gently meandering paths. A particular waterfall and garden display the flora of the dinosaur age. Seasonal displays include Christmas greens and poinsettias in December and January, chrysanthemums in autumn and blooming flowers at Easter. A part of the United States Botanic Garden (USBG), the National Garden, was opened in October 2006 and includes the carefully-designed Butterfly Garden.
Washington Harbour's scenic setting combines the social pleasures and style of Georgetown with the natural beauty of the Potomac riverfront. The wide promenade is enjoyed by office workers, shoppers, strollers and diners at several restaurants offering outdoor seating. This is a perfect place to stroll at midday, before a sunset dinner, or after dark when the terraces are lit up.
Farragut Square is the epicenter of corporate Washington DC, so don't be surprised to see lots of serious-looking people walking about. The square though, is filled with an upbeat ambiance where picnickers can enjoy the sounds of street musicians in summer. On Thursdays in the summer months, the square hosts free jazz at lunchtime. A statue of Civil War Admiral David Farragut stands in the middle of the square, spyglass in hand. Farragut coined the phrase “Full speed ahead!” during the 1864 Battle of Mobile Bay, Alabama.
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.