Visit Public Gardens Now, While You Can


The Washington Post’s Weekend Section yesterday featured “Best Bets” that are all outdoors and include most of my favorite places in DC. They’re all free and OPEN, at least the outdoors part and at least for now.

Here are the 6 available outdoor places available even in a pandemic – and worth visiting especially in one. Just check their websites before you go because things are changing fast.

All photos were taken in April. See lots more photos of DC-area gardens in April and even more in May.

Not local, and not about to travel to DC anytime soon? I hope this inspires you to find gardens near you that are open now.

One note of worry: if we crowd these spaces unsafely, the authorities may have to close them. When I visited the Arboretum yesterday a staffer told me he’s hoping that they will close completely because it’s been so crowded.

The National Arboretum’s Magnolia Grove.

Hillwood Museum and Gardens usually charges an entrance fee; not now.

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens doesn’t have water lilies yet, but there’s plenty of land plants blooming. Photo credit: NPS photo: M. Marquez.

The importance of Tudor Place is something I recently learned from my architectural history professor at the University of Maryland. The home was designed by William Thornton, architect of the U.S. Capitol.

The Franciscan Monastery’s first floral peak is in April, when the tulips are blooming. Or visit in May when the roses are spectacular.

The famous cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin are peaking this weekend, so they’re included in the Post’s “Best Bets,” but I wouldn’t bet on it myself. I heard from someone who’d arrived there yesterday morning at 7:30 a.m. to find it swarming with people. And not particularly safely. I’m skipping it this year.

But nearby, there are plenty of Smithsonian Gardens to enjoy, and they’re all open.

I’m told that there’s one public rest room still open on or near the Mall – at the FDR Memorial. No more taking public rest rooms for granted, huh?


  1. Unfortunately, all gardens and public places are closed here. The nearby parks are so crowded the government has passed into law a-stay-at-home or be at risk for a $10 000 fine. For those of us lucky to have our own gardens will be able to enjoy our own displays.

  2. We can be quite responsible in our own behavior, but there’s no guarantee that the person walking past you – even several feet away – is not going to cough and infect you. Now’s the time to enjoy our own gardens and stay away from that innocent looking bench handrest or gatepost. We ought not way until our authorities’ eliminate our choices to decide that public gathering spaces are, so sadly, a questionable choice.
    That lone open restroom at the FDR Mem’l? That may have been a blessing in the moment but a curse for public health.

Comments are closed.