10 Gardens in Washington DC that are so Pretty


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.

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!


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.  

Brookside Gardens in Maryland

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.

washington dc garden wisteria

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.

UPDATE:  The roses at Brookside Gardens are blooming so beautifully!  As of 6/2/2021, there’s actually a rose arbor where the wisteria was!  I’ve never seen the roses climb quite this high!

brookside gardens roses

brookside rose garden

washington dc rose garden

brookside rose arbor

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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
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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. 

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.


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Rockville Civic Center Glenview Mansion Formal Gardens in Maryland

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. 

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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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Schwartz Peony Garden at Seneca Creek State Park in Maryland

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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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

The Franciscan Monastery Garden is open during the stay at home order in Washington DC from 9am to 3pm daily, the church however is closed. 

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.

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

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.

Agricultural History Farm Park in Maryland

agricultural history farm park md

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!

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

This garden in DC is full of lotuses that bloom from May to August.

They even have a Lotus Festival in July to celebrate peak bloom!

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

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

Bon Air Park Rose Garden Arlington

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!


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.


If you are looking for more beautiful outdoor spaces to check out near Washington DC McKee Beshers sunflowers and Purple Rain Lavender Farm in Maryland are great choices. For more sunflowers check out these additional 5 sunflower fields in Maryland and Virginia.

Book a Photo Session

Interested in capturing stunning photos at the sunflower fields?  Book a session with me today!  I specialize in family, newborn, maternity, and portrait photography.  Capture real smiles at picture-perfect locations!  Space is limited.

gardens in dc

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