Sometimes I need to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city and spend a relaxing afternoon in a park surrounded by trees and flowers. My favorite place to do this without leaving DC is the National Arboretum. The 412 acres are home to beautiful gardens, walking trails, and open fields.
Most folks spend their time near the visitor center enjoying the Azalea Collection, the Herb Garden, and the National Capitol Columns. If you stick around the visitor center, be sure to visit the Japanese Bonsai Garden. The garden is a beautiful place to appreciate the Japanese art of bonsai and enjoy the symbolism and celebration of nature. Plus, during spring, the arboretum is the perfect place to spot cherry blossoms. It is not nearly as crowded as the Tidal Basin and you can pick up a guide at the visitor center on where to find different types of trees.
That said, my favorite area is the Grove of State Trees. DC’s average climate means that most of the state trees can live in the arboretum. Plus, they are all labeled so you’ll be able to find your favorite states. It’s the only spot in the arboretum where you can eat so bring a picnic or grab some snacks from the gift shop. There is also parking near the Grove of State Trees so you don’t have to trek from the main parking area.
The National Arboretum is free and open to the public every day except December 25.