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.
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.
This 52-acre park is located north of the Reflecting Pool amid the capital's many famous monuments and memorials. A beautiful place for a stroll, the paths wind through the trees taking you to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, a lake and a memorial to the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Steeped in history, this is a must-see on any DC tour.
Freed slaves first settled this area, once known as Uniontown, just after the Civil War. Today, this 1200-acre setting, including Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, is enjoyed by children and adults alike. The park offers a range of activities including tennis, basketball, roller-skating, an indoor pool and an ice skating rink. In addition, there is a recreation center, hiking trails and fishing and boating. Golf lovers will enjoy Langston Golf Course, an 18-hole course with a driving range.
Spread over 530 acres (214 hectares) Cabin John Regional Park park is among the largest community parks in the Bethesda region. The Cabin John Regional Park has something for everyone, featuring picnic spots, playgrounds, athletic fields, tennis courts, a nature center, a dog park, skating rink, trails, a campground and a miniature train. The adventure playground and the totem pole are park's special attractions which are immensely popular among the little ones.
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.
A part of the President's Park, the Ellipse is a vast open space encircled by an oval trail. The park is home to a number of monuments, including the famous Ellipse Meridian Stone. Also known as the President's Park South the park doubles as an entertainment venue, hosting numerous local events including military pageants, musical events, garden tours and others.
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.
Harbour Belle, one of the fleets of DC Cruises, takes you on a breathtaking ride on Washington's waterfront. As you cruise along, you can take in the views of some of the famous monuments of the city. The upper deck of the ship is a great spot to dance the night away on peppy DJ-spun music. The charter can be hired for $900 per hour and is ideal for receptions and private parties.
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.