Living and working in a bustling city can create a sense of disconnect with the natural world, especially when you’re stuck inside working on your computer all day. Luckily, that feeling of longing for the sun, grass and sky as you stare out onto the world from your window can be solved. The District is full of lush parks and gardens, hidden green gems that you can escape to at a moment’s notice. Whether you want to relax and soak up some sun on your lunch break, picnic in the park with family and friends (6 feet apart, of course), tour a beautiful garden or just leave your house, these D.C. green spaces have all that you need.
Anacostia Park is a breath of fresh air in the middle of D.C. With so much open space and a myriad of activities provided, it isn’t hard to have a fun and relaxing day when you visit. This park truly has it all, including roller skate rentals, tennis courts, paddling and boating rentals, basketball courts, playgrounds and outdoor fitness stations with free equipment, just to name a few. Whether you’re looking to get fit, play some pickup basketball, have a picnic or just sit back and enjoy the outdoors, Anacostia Park was made for you. Located at 1900 Anacostia Dr. SE, DC.
Due to the pandemic, athletic fields, basketball courts, playgrounds, exercise facilities and equipment are temporarily unavailable. The Anacostia River Trail and the park as a whole are still open. Visitors are expected to maintain social distancing guidelines.
Nestled between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, you will find a hidden oasis in the middle of the city. Constitution Gardens boasts lush green space and an island in the middle of a tranquil pond in a compact space. The peaceful spot was created for the 1976 bicentennial, reverting temporary offices to a natural haven for wildlife and a recreation spot for Washingtonians. Watch ducks swim around the pond, look for the names of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence on Signer’s Island, go cloud watching or just enjoy a beautiful day in downtown D.C. Located at 850 Constitution Ave. NW, DC.
Constitution Gardens is open 24 hours a day. Respect social distancing laws when visiting.
Fort Dupont Park
Fort Dupont Park, once an active fort during the Civil War, is now a 367-acre wooded park open to the public. Boasting beautiful nature trails, outdoor education programs, picnic areas, sports fields, biking trails, concerts, youth programs and Civil War programs, Fort Dupont is a park to visit during all seasons.This summer, consider applying for a plot at the park’s community garden for some much needed physical and mental renewal. Located at Minnesota Avenue in SE, DC.
Open year-round from dawn to dusk. Due to the pandemic, Lanham Estate Picnic Area and Ridge Picnic Area in Fort Dupont Park are closed.
Georgetown Waterfront Park
A newer addition to D.C.’s parks, Georgetown Waterfront Park is already a favorite among Washingtonians. Stretching along the banks of the Potomac River to the Key Bridge, visitors can enjoy some of the beautiful sites Georgetown has to offer in the quiet confines of the park. Pedestrians, cyclists and skaters have a designated pathway to enjoy views of boaters, kayakers and competitive rowing crews. Be sure to also check out the labyrinth, rain gardens, river steps and pergola while you’re there. Located at 3303 Water St. NW, DC.
The Georgetown Waterfront Park fountain is closed at this time as a public health precaution due to Covid-19.
Gravelly Point Park
Gravelly Point Park has some breathtaking views. Thanks to its location north of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Gravelly Point is one of the best places in the entire country to watch planes land. If watching the metal birds isn’t your thing, feel free to take in the city skyline as you walk, bike or boat along the Potomac. While this park may not be as rich in amenities as some of the other green spaces in the D.C. area, its unique location makes this a prime spot for weekend hangouts.
Access the peninsula by following the signs to take the George Washington Memorial Parkway south toward Ronald Reagan National Airport, exit at Ronald Reagan National Airport. Parking areas may be at reduced capacity due to the pandemic.
One of the more underrated spots to visit in D.C. is the Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens. Open all year with activities unique to each season, there is never a bad time to go. During the current warmer months, explore the grounds and walk along the multiple historic ponds. Try and spot wildlife like frogs and turtles hiding among the flora. Follow the River Trail, go bird watching or even volunteer to help clean the area. This space is free to all, so be sure to take advantage and plan your visit today. Located at 1550 Anacostia Ave. NE, DC.
Entrance to the park is between Quarles and Anacostia Avenue and Douglas and Anacostia Avenue. Due to the pandemic, the Aquatic Gardens are closed until further notice. Open 9-5 p.m. everyday, adjusted hours on holidays.
Kingman + Heritage Islands
The state conservation area of Kingman and Heritage Islands is home to a multitude of indigenous plants and animals, providing the perfect natural getaway from the city. A destination for hikers, bikers, runners and paddlers, the island has a lot to offer D.C. residents. Each May, the annual Kingman Island Bluegrass Festival is held on the island to raise awareness about the green space and its availability to the public. Proceeds from the festival are used to fund the Living Classrooms educational program, a regional nonprofit that aims to provide youth in the D.C. Metro area and Baltimore with hands-on outdoor education, job-training and wellness programming. Located at 575 Oklahoma Ave. NE, DC.
Open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Mason Neck state Park
A short drive from the city, Mason Neck State Park offers a wide range of activities to visitors looking to escape their usual 9 to 5 routine. Some of the park’s features include hiking trails, boat launch access, a playground and large picnic area. For avian enthusiasts, this park offers prime bird watching opportunities as it is a haven for migratory birds in the winter. With access to wetlands, forest, open water, ponds and open fields, Mason Neck is an ideal space to reconnect with nature. Located at 7301 High Point Rd. Lorton, VA.
Due to the pandemic, picnic shelters and group sites are open with an occupancy cap of 50 people. Guests must keep at least 6 feet apart from other guests.
Meridian Hill Park
Listed as a National Historic Landmark, Meridian Hill Park’s history dates back to the early 1800s when John Porter built a mansion on the grounds. The mansion became home to John Adams after he left the White House, it housed Union troops during the Civil War and there was even a lobby for the park to become the site of a new White House or the Lincoln Memorial. Instead, this beautiful Italian-inspired park has become one of D.C.’s favorite outdoor spaces to enjoy. Whether you’re planning on attending the weekly drum circle or you’re just looking to stroll along North America’s longest cascading fountain and amongst the multiple monuments and statues, Meridian Hill is a destination you should visit. Located at 16th and W Streets in NW, DC.
Closes at 8 p.m. daily. The fountain is off at this time as a public health precaution due to Covid-19.
Montrose Park has long been a favorite destination of Washingtonians, having been made into a public park by the U.S. government in 1911. Described as “one of the most beautiful and picturesque tracts within [the District’s] boundaries” during the 1904 Petition for Certain Improvements in Georgetown, Montrose Park is certainly a sight to behold. Some of its defining features include the Ropewalk, Summerhouse, Boxwood Gardens and beautiful mature canopy trees. Bordered on the west by Dumbarton Oaks Garden, on the north by Rock Creek Park and on the east by the Oak Hill Cemetery, visitors will feel as though they are far from any civilization. Located at 3052 R St. NW, DC.
Open until dusk. Maintain social distancing measures during your visit.
The National Arboretum
The National Arboretum is one of the District’s best kept secrets. If you took a poll of the city, I would bet that most Washingtonians haven’t made the trip down New York Avenue to visit this spot at all. The National Arboretum boasts beautiful outdoor gardens, the photographable National Capitol Columns, the National Bonsai Museum and a place to view cherry blossoms away from the crowds. With all of these amenities and more, it is a wonder that more people don’t flock to its gates 24/7.The 446-acre property is open year-round, so you can view its beautiful vistas with a fresh perspective every season. Located at 3501 New York Ave. NE, DC.
Currently open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 1-5 p.m. To ensure social distancing, there will be a limit of 200 cars allowed on the grounds at one time. All buildings, including the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum, are closed due to the pandemic.
Rock Creek Park
Rock Creek Park is a huge green space in the middle of the District. In fact, it is actually more than twice the size of Central Park in New York City, at 1,754 acres. With that much space dedicated to embracing nature, it is no wonder that it is one of Washington’s favorite parks. Go for a hike, learn about horseback riding, find a spot to picnic, rent a boat or play nine holes on the golf course. This iconic park stands out as the crown jewel of the D.C. parks and gardens available to Washingtonians when they are looking to connect with nature.
Open year-round during daylight hours. Rock Creek Park Nature Center, exercise facilities, basketball courts, playgrounds, athletic fields and planetarium are closed due to the pandemic.
Theodore Roosevelt Island
Theodore Roosevelt Island, a memorial to America’s 26th president, is home to miles of hiking trails through thick woods, swamplands ready to be explored via kayak and wildlife scurrying about wherever you look. Download a trail map and explore all the area has to offer for yourself. Avid bird watchers may want to bring a checklist to keep track of all of the avifauna they spot. This tranquil spot is a great escape from the city.
Theodore Roosevelt Island is accessible only from the northbound lanes of the George Washington Memorial Parkway. The entrance to the parking lot is located just north of the Roosevelt Bridge. The park is open but guests are expected to maintain social distancing guidelines.
The Tidal Basin, most commonly associated with the Cherry Blossom Festival, is one of Washington’s most iconic spots. Encompassing the Jefferson Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, the George Mason Memorial, the John Paul Jones Memorial, the Floral Library and the Japanese Pagoda, there’s a chance you may have been once or twice. No matter how often you visit, Washingtonians never tire of the Tidal Basin. Soak in some history, witness the beautiful vistas or take a paddle boat ride and enjoy this distinctly D.C. space. Located at 1501 Maine Ave. SW, DC.
Maintain social distancing protocols while out in public.
The Yards has quickly become a hotspot for D.C. residents to visit throughout the year. From hosting festivals and special events to providing a space for outdoor recreation and relaxation, The Yards has it all. Splash around in their wading pool this summer to cool off, or stop by one of the many restaurants or bars situated along the park. This premier, waterfront green space is a D.C. destination for good reason. Located at 355 Water St. SE, DC.
Groups visiting the park are limited to 10 or less due to social distancing guidelines. The park requires visitors to keep 6 feet away from others and wear a mask at all times.
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