The Best Gardens to Visit in Washington DC by Season

Washington DC comes alive in the springtime with blooms galore.  The gardens in DC are plentiful, beautiful and for the majority FREE.

Depending on the time of year different flora bloom in each of these DC gardens and the blooms can range from beautiful cherry blossoms in early spring to a sea of color with tulips in late spring.

dc kenilworth gardens

If you are a fan of cherry blossom season by the Tidal Basin you will love these gardens as they are usually uncrowded and offer the same beautiful scenery.  The gardens in Washington DC make the BEST INSTAGRAM spots in DC during spring time!

So here’s a list of the absolute best gardens in DC by bloom season:

Early Spring Gardens in DC:

  • Enid A. Haupt Garden
  • Rawlins Park
  • Congressional Cemetery
  • The Tidal Basin
  • Lady Bird Johnson Park

Mid/Late Spring DC Gardens

  • Merchant Marine Memorial
  • Floral Library
  • Brookside Garden
  • Glenview Mansion
  • Georgetown

Spring/Summer Blooming Gardens in Washington DC:

  • Dumbarton Oaks
  • Tudor Place
  • Washington National Cathedral Bishop’s Garden
  • Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America
  • Hillwood Estate
  • Bon Air Park
  • Netherlands Carillon
  • Mount Vernon

Super Blooms in the Washington DC Area

  • Schwartz Peony Garden
  • Agriculture History Farm Park
  • Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens
  • McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area
  • Springfield Manor

Year-Round Washington, DC Gardens:

  • National Arboretum
  • U.S. Botanical Garden

 

Early Spring Blooming Washington, DC Gardens

Early spring gardens in Washington DC really pack a punch, waking the city up from winter with beautiful shades of pink!  These gardens and parks in DC are the best to enjoy in mid to late March.  The best blooms to see in early spring include magnolias, cherry blossoms, daffodils, and tulips.

Enid A. Haupt Garden in DC

Located between Independence Ave. and the Smithsonian Castle Enid A. Haupt Garden is my favorite garden in DC for magnolias!

enid haupt garden magnolias

The saucer magnolias bloom here just before cherry blossom season in Washington DC.  It literally is a sea of beautiful pink blooming trees.

And what truly makes this DC garden magical?  Well there’s a CASTLE!  The Smithsonian Castle surrounded by all the pink magnolias is one of the most stunning in Washington DC, I daresay it may even be more picturesque than the cherry blossoms at the tidal basin.

gardens in dc enid haupt garden

When the saucer magnolias go into full bloom and the weather is nice it can get a bit crowded on a weekend, but there is still plenty of room to walk around.  This garden is very child and stroller friendly.

enid haupt garden in dc

Our toddler loved running around The Moon Gate.  This DC garden is completely free so go enjoy the magical blooming trees in spring!

Best Time to Visit Enid A. Haupt Garden

gardens in dc enid a haupt garden

My favorite time to visit this DC garden is when the beautiful pink saucer magnolias are in full bloom.  This usually happens just before the cherry blossoms bloom around the Tidal Basin in DC, usually around mid-March.

Location of Enid A. Haupt Garden

12 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20219

How to get to Enid A. Haupt Garden

Enid A. Haupt Garden is metro accessible and the closest metros station is off of the blue, orange, and silver line.

Driving here is pretty easy with metered parking available at L’Enfant Plaza SW.

On the weekend the parking here does get a bit crowded so you may want to go early.

When to Visit:  Early to Mid March for Saucer Magnolias

Rawlins Park in DC

rawlins park dc garden

 

Rawlins Park is not technically a garden, but one of the many green spaces in Washington DC.  With plenty of benches and shade, it’s a great spot for a short break in the city.

gardens in dc rawlins

I added Rawlins Park to the list of must see gardens in DC because in spring it turns into a magical forest of pink in late March.  All the trees in Rawlins Park are saucer magnolia trees and form the most gorgeous awning.

magnolias dc

Location of Rawlins Park

1900 E St NW, Washington, DC 20415

rawlins park dc magnolias

How to Get to Rawlins Park

The closest metros stations to Rawlins Park are Farragut West on the Orange, Blue, and Silver line and Farragut North on the Red line.  Both stops are 6 to 7 blocks walking distance from Rawlins Park.

When to Visit:  Early to Mid March for Magnolias

The Tidal Basin

The Tidal Basin in Washington DC is famous for its cherry blossoms in March! There are more than 3,000 cherry trees around this partially man-made reservoir in Washington DC’s West Potomac Park.

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms

The paved Tidal Basin Loop Trail takes you around the entire reservoir and is about 2 miles long.  Along the way, you can see the Jefferson Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, the FDR Memorial, the George Mason Memorial, the John Paul Jones Memorial, the Floral Library, the Japanese Pagoda, and the Japanese Lantern and site of the First Cherry Tree Planting.

Cherry blossoms are usually in bloom between late March and mid-April each year.   The famous Yoshino Cherry blossoms are planted all around here!  See my full Washington DC Cherry Blossom Guide for all the best tips for planning your visit and the best cherry blossom locations.

When to Visit:  Late March/Early April for Yoshino Cherry Blossoms

Congressional Cemetery

Congressional Cemetery is one of the earliest places to bloom in Washington DC!  It has the prettiest tunnel of Okame Cherry blossoms. 

congressional cemetery blossoms

It is a 35-acre historic yet active burial ground located on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. that is open from sunrise to sunset every day.  If you visit on any given day you will find plenty of dogs here, it’s heavily used as a dog training park!

Location:  Congressional Cemetery 1801 E St SE, Washington, DC 20003

When to Visit:  See Okame Cherry Blossoms here in Early to Mid March.

Lady Bird Johnson Park

Lady Bird Johnson Park offers beautiful views of the Washington Monument from across the Potomac River.  It is located on Columbia Island and has no parking lot.  If you are arriving by car though you can access to park going Southbound on GW Parkway and park at the Columbia Island Marina.  There’s plenty of parking here and it’s free.

Thousands of daffodils bloom at Lady Bird Johson Park near the end of March.  Other blooms to see include dogwoods and tulips as well as weeping willow trees!

Flowers to see:  Daffodils, dogwoods, tulips in spring and bright hardwood trees in the fall

Mid to Late Spring DC Gardens & Blooms

Merchant Marine Memorial

Mid to late spring a sea of beautiful red tulips bloom at the Merchant Marine Memorial! 

tulips dc

This is one of the prettiest gardens in DC to see tulips.  The Merchant Marine Memorial is part of Lady Bird Johnson Park.  You can park at the Columbia Island Marina as well if you are arriving in a car.

The best time to visit is in mid-April.  For more places to see tulips check out my Washington DC Tulips Guide.

Floral Library

The Floral Library is a pretty little garden in DC right next to the Tidal Basin.  If you are here during the latter half of cherry blossoms season, you’ll have a chance to see the beautiful tulips that bloom here.

The Floral Library was established in 1969 as part of Lady Bird Johnson’s Capital Beautification Project.  The NPS maintains 93 flower beds and plants 10,000 tulips each year!

Best time to visit: The beginning of April to see tulips.

Brookside Gardens

brookside gardens

Brookside Gardens is located just slightly outside of DC in Wheaton Maryland.  This stunning 50 Acre formal garden is award winning and there’s no surprise why.

tulips washington dc

Often used as a wedding venue the gardens are kept in immaculate condition.  My favorite blooms to see here?  The tulips!

brookside gardens tulips

Having been disappointed by the tulips at Burnside Farm, the tulips are always spectacular at Brookside Gardens.  This garden also has spectacular cherry blossoms without the crowds of DC.

brookside garden

In addition to the tulips, the wisteria and azaleas also make a grand showing around the same time as the tulips at this DC garden, not to mention the willow cherry blossom tree that stands next to the Japanese tea house.

brookside gardens wisteria

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The best part about Brookside is that it is completely free to enter. In addition to the magnificent gardens, Brookside has a cute children’s garden and play area with faux kitchen, car and a child-sized house.

brookside gardens with kids

Brookside is definitely a great place for adults and kids!

There is also a butterfly exhibit which has a fee:  $8 ages 13+; $5 ages 3-12; Free ages 0-2.

Best Time to Visit Brookside Gardens

Springtime is my favorite time and one of the best times to visit Brookside Gardens.  When it’s cherry blossom season, there is a huge willowy cherry blossom tree next the Japanese tea house.

Following the cherry blossoms, there is a perfect display of tulips in April.  At the same time the wisteria and the azalea will also be in bloom.

As soon as the tulips are gone, Brookside becomes a haven of roses in late May early June.  So really from April to May/June is the best time to visit Brookside Gardens.

washington dc garden wisteria

 

brookside gardens roses

brookside rose garden

Brookside Gardens Location & Parking

1800, Visitors Center, Glenallan Ave, Wheaton, MD 20902

Brookside Garden has plenty of free parking and I’ve never known it to be crowded on a weekend unless there is an event.

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washington dc garden
washington dc gardens
botanical gardens dc

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Glenview Mansion Formal Gardens

cherry blossoms maryland

Glenview Mansion at Rockville Civic Center is a surprising hidden gem of a garden.

This popular wedding venue sits on 28 acres and has a formal garden complete with intimate fountain, stone archways, and flagstone walkways and stairs.

rorockville engagement session

If you ever want to see a tunnel of Kwanzan cherry blossoms in the spring this is the place to do it!  Saucer magnolias also bloom magnificently here!

Best Time to Visit Glenview Mansion Gardens

The best time to visit this garden just outside DC is in spring when the Kwanzan cherry blossoms bloom in mid to late April.

cherry blossoms rockville maryland

There are stunning bright pink trees all over this property during that time and even the road leading up to the garden is lined with pink trees.

Summer is also a lovely time to visit as the garden is very lush and green.  Glenview is a very popular wedding venue so if you try to come during spring on a weekend it will almost always be booked for a private event.  There is also plenty of free parking.

rockville photographer

Location and Hours 

603 Edmonston Drive
Rockville, MD 20851

The outdoors areas are open sunrise to sundown unless there it’s been booked for a private event.  I’ve gone in the afternoons during the weekday with no problems, but during spring and summer, I would bet this place will be booked for a wedding and closed off. 

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Georgetown

The Georgetown residential neighborhood in Washington DC not only houses several of the best gardens in DC, but the residents of the area have turned their homes into gardens that the public can enjoy! 

Taking a walk around Georgetown you’ll find beautiful kwanzan cherry blossoms and wisteria festooning over walls. 

wisteria georgetown washington dc

Georgetown University is home to a variety of blooms as well and is worth a stroll in the spring.

Blooms to see:  cherry blossoms, tulips, wisteria

Spring/Summer Blooming Gardens in Washington DC

Dumbarton Oaks

Dumbarton Oaks is in the beautiful Georgetown neighborhood of Washington DC and is one of the city’s most stunning gardens.  It is known as the garden for wisteria in DC!  The beautiful grounds and architecture look like it’s straight out of the set of Bridgerton.

wisteria georgetown dc

Not just a garden Dumbarton Oaks is also a Harvard University research institute, library, and museum.  The gardens are open after 2 pm daily and there is a fee to enter.

Blooms to see:  cherry blossoms, plum blossoms, magnolias, wisteria, forsythia, azalea, roses, and more annuals and perennials in summer time.

Tudor Place

Another gem of a garden in Washington DC, Tudor Place is tucked in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington DC.  It was home to six generations of Martha Washington’s descendants from 1805 to 1983. 

The garden has two parts: the North Garden which is a collection of European-style formal gardens on the north side of the property and an English-landscape-style South Lawn on the south side of the property. 

Blooms to see:  tulips, daffodils, dogwood, roses, peonies, various annuals perennials and shrubs during summer.

National Cathedral Bishop’s Garden

Another one of the stunning gardens in DC with an old-world feel, Bishop’s Garden at the National Cathedral has beautiful blooms, lovely stone walkways and the grand National Cathedral as a backdrop.

dc garden national cathedral

What could make for a more beautiful garden in DC?  The lush greenery and colorful flowers bloom from April to November in this DC garden, making just about a 4 season garden.  Whether you are visiting with family or as a couple, be sure to pack a picnic to enjoy the wonderful smells and scenery of this amazing garden.

national cathedral gardens

National Cathedral is located at 3101 Wisconsin Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20016.  The National Cathedral offers a paid underground parking garage with hourly rates.

bishops garden

There is an admission fee for the National Cathedral:  $12 for adults, $8 for children ages 5 to 17 and free for kids 4 and under.  If you only plan on visiting the gardens and grounds however, it is free.

Flowers to see:  cherry blossoms, magnolias, tulips, flowering herbs, and wildflowers in the summer.

Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America Gardens

The Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land Gardens has an old-world European feel.  This garden in DC reminds me of something you would find in the middle of Italy or Spain with its warm colors.

dc Franciscan monastery

If terracotta roofs and stunning chapel ceilings are on your wishlist than this is the perfect garden in DC for your visit.  Take a slow stroll through the cloisters and inhale in the perfume of more than 1,000 roses that bloom in this DC garden.

The roses bloom from mid to late May. This is another free garden to visit in DC and free garden tours are offered Saturdays, April-September, 11 a.m. and noon.

franciscan monastery dc

washington dc garden

Location of the Franciscan Monastery

1400 Quincy St NE, Washington, DC 20017

There is plenty of free parking available from the Monastery located just across the street.

Hillwood Estate Gardens

Hillwood Estate is one of the most stunning gardens in DC that resembles the children’s story The Secret Garden.

hillwood gardens dc

With beautifully shaped hedges surrounded by delicate blooms this garden truly exudes a country ambience.

gardens dc

But not to worry, for those looking for a more formal garden, the French parterre fits the bill with low plantings divided by footpaths and surrounded by walls of English ivy.

gardens dc

Hillwood Estate is technically a free garden, but they do encourage donations.

gardens dc

The property is also designed to be a 4 season garden so there’s always something in bloom here.

gardens dc

They also have a small and charming Japanese garden complete with wooden foot bridges and little waterfalls!

Hillwood Estate Gardens Location & Hours

4155 Linnean Avenue,
NW Washington, DC 20008

Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 

Bon Air Park Rose Garden 

Bon Air Park Rose Garden is such a hidden gem tucked into a cute neighborhood in Arlington, VA.  The roses start to bloom around late May, but they really hit peak in June.

bon air park rose garden

There are over 120 different varieties of roses and they even have American wisteria. The wisteria blooms around mid-May.

bon air park arlington

There are quite a few trellises with beautiful roses climbing up.  This is a popular site for wedding photos and I can see why!

bon air rose garden

Bon Air Park is super child-friendly as well with plenty of parking and a playground.

bon air park

The park is open from sunrise to sunset and is at 850 N Lexington St., Arlington, VA 22205.

UPDATE:  As of May 28, 2021 the roses are just about full bloom!  When I went the bushes had not bloomed yet but they are blooming now!

 

Netherlands Carillon

The Netherlands Carillon offers panoramic views of Washington DC in addition to the beautiful garden.  

The carillon houses 49 bells and is a show of gratitude from the Dutch people for the American aid received during and after World War II.  For 2 years the tower went through rehabilitation and on May 5, 2022, more bells were added dedicated to General George C. Marshall, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Blossoms to see: Tulips, annuals, and perennials are planted in the flower beds around the carillon through spring and summer

Location:  The Netherlands Carillon is technically in Arlington, VA.  You can park right next to the U.S. Marine Corps Memorial for free and it’s a 5-minute walk to the garden.

Mount Vernon

Less than 15 minutes from Washington DC, Mount Vernon has 4 gardens.  The former plantation home of George Washington, Mount Vernon has an upper formal garden, a lower garden that grows fruits and vegetables, a botanical garden, and a fruit garden and nursery.

The Mount Vernon garden is not free and you will need to purchase a ticket even to visit the gardens.

Blooms to see:  tulips, roses, herbaceous flowers, black-eyed susans, various fruits, vegetables, perennials, and annuals throughout summer.

Location:  3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway Mount Vernon, VA 22121

DC Area Super Bloom Gardens

You’ve probably heard of “super blooms” in reference to California.  We have quite a few super bloom gardens ourselves in the DC area!  The super blooms typically happen in late spring and summer!

Schwartz Peony Garden 

seneca creek park

Just as the tulips and wisteria are fading, the peonies start to bloom in the DC area and there’s no better place to see them than Seneca Creek State Park in Maryland.

peony field maryland

There’s actually no other garden quite like this display of peonies in this area.  There’s both a formal garden of peonies and also a field of peonies.

seneca creek park peonies

If you’ve seen my posts on fields of sunflowers, this field of peonies is just as stunning because I’ve never seen except at this location.

seneca creek state park peony field

Very few people know about this field of peonies and I only found out about it from my neighbors so you can expect basically no crowds here.  The scent of peonies hang heavy in the air here and you will want to breathe it all in!

Peak bloom for these peonies in Maryland is mid May.

Location of Peony Field at Seneca Creek State Park

free gardens dc

The peony field and garden are located next to each inside the Park.  Enter the park through the Clopper road entrance and you will see signs pointing you to the field.

There is plenty of free parking on the grass across from the field.

May 28, 2021 UPDATE:  The Schwartz Peony Garden is now past peak bloom.  There’s only about 2 rows of peony bushes that still have flowers.  There is a spot of wild white peonies in front of the garden that is blooming  The field of peonies is not yet blooming yet, but should start blooming next week!

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Agricultural History Farm Park

Agricultural History Farm Park is one of the only dahlia gardens in the Washington DC area!  The dahlias bloom in September and are so pretty!

agricultural history farm park md

dahlias garden washington dc

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This amazing outdoor space is huge at 455 acres with over 5 miles of natural surface trails.

Plus it’s FREE!

The farm park is open 7 days a week sunrise to sunset.

There’s actually quite a bit to see here including a giant field of corn in September.  The corn is just a field though not a corn maze.

agricultural history farm park

There are also farm animals here.  I only went to see the garden but will definitely be back to explore more.

To get to the dahlia garden just follow the road into the park and turn right toward the farm buildings.  There’s parking right in front of the garden.

Location:  18400 Muncaster Rd, Derwood, MD 20855

You do need a permit here for portrait photography if:

  • The primary purpose of your visit is to capture photos of your family/group
  • You or any member of your party is wearing formal attire/costume/wedding attire
  • A photographer (professional or hobbyist) is accompanying you to take photos
  • A professional photographer is taking posed or portrait photos

I’m pretty sure though if you are here taking a few pictures with your phone no one is going to stop you.  There were very few people here when I visited on a weekday.  I can’t imagine it being very crowded even on a weekend!

 

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens really comes alive in the summertime! 

kenilworth lotus

The National Park Service manages Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens located in the northeastern corner of Washington, D.C.  This garden preserves rare waterlilies and lotuses in the cultivated ponds near the river. The park also contains the Kenilworth Marsh, the largest remaining tidal marsh in Washington, D.C.

This garden in DC is full of lotuses that bloom from May to August.  For a super bloom of lotus, it’s best to visit in July!

They even have a Lotus Festival in July to celebrate peak bloom!  Full guide:  Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens.

Location:  1550 Anacostia Ave., NE, Washington, DC 20019

Standard Hours are Monday – Friday, 8am to 4pm

McKee Beshers Wildlife Management Area

Every year McKee Beshers Wildlife Management area plants approximately 40 acres of sunflower fields to feed the birds in the area. 

Mckee Beshers

The area itself is a large contiguous forest of varied habitat, situated between the Potomac River and the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal to the south, and Seneca Creek State Park to the east.

The sunflowers bloom around mid to late July, but it’s actually not the only sunflower field in the area.  Sunflower fields bloom all over Maryland and Virginia from June through September, check out my guide on Sunflower Fields in Maryland and Virginia.  For more tips on Mckee Beshers, see my guide on McKee Beshers Sunflowers.

Location:  18600 River Rd, Poolesville, MD 20837

Springfield Manor 

Springfield Manor is a winery, distillery, farm, and inn, yes you can stay here!  They are also a popular wedding venue.  Each year they host a Lavender Festival to celebrate their lavender crop.

springfield manor lavender

Sprinfield Manor is not the only lavender field in the DC area though, there’s also Purple Rain Lavender Farm in Maryland and Seven Oaks Lavender Farm in Virginia.

Lavender blooms at Springfield Manor from June to September, but the best time to visit is early July for the large french lavender bloom.

Year-Round Washington DC Gardens

National Arboretum

The National Arboretum consists of 446 acres with 9.5 miles of winding roadways through stunning wild gardens.

Because of the large area and large variety of trees and flora at the National Arboretum, there is almost always something blooming here, making it one of the perfect gardens in DC to visit in all 4 seasons.

Springtime is obviously a great time to visit here, as there is literally a forest of cherry and plum trees without any of the crowds found around the Tidal Basin.  These cherry trees vary in species so they don’t bloom at the same time as the Tidal Basin Yoshino Cherry Trees, making it a perfect alternative if you don’t catch the cherry blossoms there.

Additionally, there’s a garden of magnificent magnolias for all your frolicking goals.  In the fall the meadow in front of the Capital Columns turns into a field of gold and purple unlike any gardens in DC.

national arboretum cherry blossom

The National Arboretum is the perfect DC garden to spend an afternoon in.  If you visit I would suggest downloading the National Arboretum app to help navigate through the gardens and find out what’s blooming so you are not driving around aimlessly.

national arboretum

National Arboretum Location

3501 New York Avenue, NE Washington, DC 20002

The National Arboretum is not really metro accessible.  I would definitely drive here as there is ample parking.

Blooms to see:  wisteria, cherry blossoms, magnolias, azaleas, tulips, astrid, crepe myrtle, bur marigold

 

US Botanical Garden

The US Botanical Garden and Conservatory is a wonderful garden in DC to visit all year around.  It is one of the few gardens that is one of the best places to visit in DC during winter and Christmas because they host a special train exhibit.  The Conservatory is the star of these gardens with the Garden Court containing some pretty fountains.

Location of US Botanical Gardens

100 Maryland Ave SW, Washington, DC 20001

gardens in dc

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