Did you know Washington, DC is known as the City of Trees? DC has an abundance of multi-acre parks, flourishing gardens and countless trails for walking and biking. Below, you will find our three-day itinerary for all things nature and the best outdoor activities in the city.
Rock Creek Park must be included in any outdoor exploration of the nation’s capital. The park includes 1,754 acres of woodlands, golf courses, picnic areas, riding stables and of course, trails for walking, jogging and cycling. The free star-gazing seminars hosted by the Nature Center are open to all experience levels. Sessions are held once per month on Saturdays from April through November. Be sure to check the schedule for times and information.
Spend the afternoon with the hundreds of species at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. The zoo features more than 3,000 animals, including lions, tigers, reptiles and of course, the famous giant pandas. Each animal is studied and cared for in order to preserve the species and maintain its habitat in the wild.
A bike tour of the National Mall is a must, and night-time voyages are especially scenic. Bike tour companies like Unlimited Biking offer a wealth of options to escort you through iconic sites like the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol.
Start your exploration of nature with a journey to the National Arboretum, a 446-acre public research facility dedicated to preserving the environmental and economic importance of landscape and ornamental plants. Here you can walk through the Grove of State Trees, relax and meditate inside the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum or view the original U.S. Capitol Columns. There are also opportunities to learn about growing your own food and composting with the Washington Youth Garden Field Trip.
Nestled in the Anacostia neighborhood is Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens. This outdoor oasis allows you to learn about the lush foliage that is thriving in the water while walking along an elevated boardwalk. With over 45 ponds filled with water lilies and lotuses, the park is a great place to connect with the beauty that nature offers. For hiking and biking enthusiasts, the gardens are accessible via the Anacostia River Trail near Beaverdam Creek. Be sure not to miss the gorgeous lotus flowers that bloom in ponds along the Anacostia River from May to early fall each year. A great way to see these flowers is by attending the annual Lotus & Lily Festival that typically takes place in mid-July.
Head to the southern side of the National Mall and visit the United States Botanic Garden, the oldest botanic garden in North America. In addition to sharing the importance and value of diversity in plant life, the Botanic Garden offers seasonal exhibits throughout the year.
Next up, step into the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. the world’s largest natural history museum, where you can learn about the science behind different species of animals and plants. The museum also has outdoor garden exhibits that teach passersby about the science of nature nestled under trees on its lawns.
The Wharf DC will host your last waterfront experience to say farewell to the city. One of DC’s hottest destinations offers new, upscale dining and entertainment options and is also home to the nation’s longest continuously operating open-air fish market. Try the coastal fare of Spain at Del Mar, have an unforgettable Mexican culinary experience at Mi Vida or enjoy a grab-and-go crab cake sandwich from the Municipal Fish Market.