If you’re visiting the National Mall, you should carve out some time to visit the US Botanic Garden, a beautiful hideaway from the world, a change of pace from the museums elsewhere on the Mall and a great place to rest for a while. You’ve likely heard about “living history” museums. The US Botanic Garden is a living plant museum.
It’s a cool place to see endangered plants you aren’t likely to see anywhere else.
At the botanic gardens, you can walk into a completely tropical climate full of tropical trees or into a desert of cactus. We recommend finding a bench to rest in your favorite zone. Then try to track down every single species of plant or learn about different gardening techniques. Or you can just hang out.
My favorite space was the garden of orchids. However, I appreciated seeing my favorite plant in the world up close and personal: a coffee plant. It was beautiful.
More than 200 years ago, George Washington envisioned a capital city that included a botanic garden. The US Botanic Garden, established in 1820, is the oldest continually operating botanic garden in the United States. Its helps explain how important plants are to our civilization, from the food we eat to industry. The botanic garden also addresses the importance of our fragile ecosystem and the role plants play.
What to Expect at the US Botanic Garden
You’ll find a variety of different habitats in the conservatory, including a Hawaiian garden, a southern exposure garden featuring plants from the United States’ southwest, a primeval garden, the jungle, and of course, the grand garden court. While you’re in the garden court, look for the murals depicting industries surrounding different plants.
Although currently some of the outside gardens are undergoing some badly needed renovation, it’s fun to stroll through them. There’s a sculpture you can walk through — meant for kids, I’m sure, but of course I had to explore. The garden includes a regional garden of plants native to the Atlantic Coastal Plain and Piedmont, a rose garden, a butterfly garden, and the First Ladies Water Garden.
Know Before You Go
The US Botanical Gardens are just off the National Mall, and within easy walking distance of the Smithsonian Museums and the Capitol. You can spend a lot of time here if you like, but you can also easily see everything in about an hour.
There is no dedicated parking for this museum, like most of the other museums along the National Mall. Closest metro stop is Capitol South Station, Federal Center SW or L’Enfant Plaza and next closest is the Smithsonian; all are an easy walk to the museum.
While you’re there, be sure to check out the restrooms: They’re filled with ornamental plants that smell amazing.
Getting there: 100 Maryland Ave SW, Washington, DC
Hours: open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except for major holidays
Website: Botanical gardens
Check out other attractions on the National Mall in the articles below:
- Eisenhower Memorial
- Hirshorn Museum
- National Gallery of Art East Building
- National Museum of American History
- National Museum of Natural History
- National Sculpture Garden
- Smithsonian Castle
Looking for more great things to see and do in and near DC?