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Best Outdoor Parks in Washington DC

One of the best things about Washington DC is its respect for green space and the natural world. Right now, one of the only sources of recreation is exercising outdoors.

While there are certain areas that look like a traditional large city, there are also numerous natural elements that make up the most iconic DC views—the National Mall, cherry trees along the Tidal Basin, and, of course, the centrality of the Potomac itself.

United State National Arboretum

If you are not familiar with the term Arboretum, the National Arboretum describes it as “a living museum where trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants are cultivated for scientific and educational purposes.”

The National Arboretum is a sprawling 446-acre complex located two miles northeast of the Capitol Building. With Asian Gardens, a Flowering Tree Collection, a Grove of State Trees, Capitol Columns, and a proposed Classical Chinese Garden, the Arboretum is an extraordinary testament to the power and meanThe Smithsonianing of plants both ecologically and culturally.

Smithsonian Gardens

The Smithsonian Gardens contain many outdoor museums, including the Enid A. Haupt Garden, the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden, an Heirloom Garden, a garden at the Freer Gallery of Art, a Native Landscape Garden, and ore.

With purposes ranging from preservation to pollination, the many collections, educational opportunities, and activities will ensure that you never run out of exceptional sights and sounds. Be sure to check out their website for activities, resources, and ideas for teens, adults, communities and more on helping to preserve and protect the natural world and green living.

Rock Creek Park

Let’s play a game. You name an activity and we’ll see if you can find it in Rock Creek Park. Ready? Go. Horseback riding? Yes. Planetarium? Yes. Jazz Concerts? Yes. Golf? Boating? Tennis? Hiking? Biking? Picnicking? Yes to all.

Rock Creek Park is an amazing 1,754-acre park dating from the late 19th century. With wild animals, more than 32 miles of hiking trails, Ranger-led programs and hikes, Civil War fortifications, colonial homes and more, there is virtually no interest or recreational activity you can’t find here.

Whether you’re bringing the kids or the dogs to blow off steam, or indulging in some “Me Time” with a Yoga or Meditation Hike with a local group, there’s so much to love in this incredible park.

Theodore Roosevelt Island

If you haven’t been to this extraordinary oasis, you must make plans to go. Theodore Roosevelt Island was once neglected and overgrown farmland on an island in the Potomac.

In the 1930s, landscape architects were brought in to transform it into a memorial to our 26th They created a “real forest” to mimic the forest that had once covered the island to pay tribute to Roosevelt’s legacy as an outdoorsman and conservationist.

With Ranger-led activities, canoeing, kayaking, walking, running, and hiking, and wildlife viewing, this is a tranquil setting for all of your outdoor adventures. Stop at the statue of TR for a photo with the huge, imposing likeness. But beware—the giant Roosevelt statue can be scary for children and pets!

Dumbarton Oaks Gardens

Go see the extraordinarily updated Beatrix Farrand and Mildred Bliss-designed gardens in this park. Originally part of the home of Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss, the gardens have since been split into three parts.

The upper sixteen acres were donated to Harvard University to establish a research institute for Byzantine studies, pre-Columbian studies, and studies in the history of gardens and landscape architecture. Ten acres were sold to build the Danish Embassy. The remaining 27 acres make up the public park you can see today.

With an arbor terrace, beech terrace, box walk, cherry and crabapple hills, and many, many more specialty gardens, this is an incredible place to lose yourself in the beauty and variety of these spectacular spaces.


This is by no means an exhaustive list because there are just too many great parks to cover. Remember to properly social distance and practice good hygiene even when outdoors.

But this list will ensure that you never run out of things to do and sights to see in the great outdoors of DC. Want to find a home near your favorite outdoor space? Let your Eng Garcia real estate agent start a custom search in the neighborhood of your choice. Call us today or sign in to get started.

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