5 Incredible National Parks in DC

city guy scooters to the parks around DC

Outdoor Adventures in The District of Columbia

There is a lot of new hype about forest bathing and walking around barefoot to heighten relaxation, awareness and just plain feel-good vibes.

You can actually get a certification in forest bathing these days, but we are here to tell you there is no need.

Just hop in your car, hit the metro, grab a bike share, and swing among the national parks and gardens that lie at your Washington D.C. doorstep.

There’s a lot to explore, and with so many places to go around you will feel like a professional forest bather in no time! But before we jump in Albert Einstein is here with some words of wisdom:

 

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”

The Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens are a lovely place to visit. The plants among its ponds have been nursed along since the late 1800s.

It all began after civil war veteran Walter Shaw and his daughter Helen cleaned out a murky pond in their backyard and planted waterlilies.

From twelve little lilies sprouted a sanctuary of water lilies, lotus flowers, violets, frogs, otter, mink, fox, butterflies, insects, and birds that migrate from around the world to enter this aquatic ecosystem.   

You can hop on the orange line to the Deanwood stop and exit to the lower Polk street to bask in the maritime wonders that have been built from 140 years of hard work, love, and nurture.

Summer hours are from 9-5 every day and last through the months of April to October’s end.

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”

Bask in the glory of plant specimens from around the globe this summer. The National Arboretum harbors 446 acres of trees, shrubs, herbs, turf, and floral plants.

It was established by an act of Congress in 1927 with a mission to enhance environmental efforts, build research, and create interpretive garden exhibits for the public to admire, and the scientist to aspire.

The scientists, gardeners, and volunteers at the National Arboretum are true artists at play.

Walk among vibrant colored, rare specimen, and unique plants that dance up trellises and create calm spaces to read, meditate, or go on a date.

You can head to this beautiful place and say hello to all the plants by hopping on the Orange or Blue line and getting off at Armory Station, transfer to Metro Bus B2 and then hop off on Bladensburg road just two blocks away from the gardens. 

The National Bonsai & Penjing Museum lies within the heart of the National Arboretum and it deserves an explanation of its own.

There are three different collections of Bonsai, the Japanese, North American, and Chinese. But it all began with Japan in 1973. After WWII a Bicentennial gift of bonsai was given to America.

The magical Yamaki Pine has been cared for from generation to generation and even lived to survive Hiroshima. Now in Washington D.C., You can visit this 400-year-old Bonsai along with the other 52 donated trees.

The goal of the Bonsai museum is to provide a window into nature and a retreat for your spirit. So go invigorate your self among the many 100-year-old mini trees that stand tall in grace and wonder as living art.

“Our brains are like bonsai trees, growing around our private versions of reality.”

You can hop on the paths that look over 800 acres of the calm and raging rapids of the Potomac River which crashes over steep rocks into the Mather Gorge.

The Maryland and Virginia side of the park lies 15 miles outside of the Nation’s Capital and is lined by the historic Potomac Canal.

What started out as a trade project by George Washington in 1785 turned into what is now Great Falls National Park.

Go see the remains of Matildaville and the old Potomac Company which attempted to build a trade route on the river that would connect into Ohio.

The remains stand as a reminder of the fortitude of nature which had other plans, making the construction of such trade routes near impossible. Thus this park was authorized as a place of natural beauty and human history by Congress in 1930.

Climb the rocks and jagged trails of the billy goat, or opt for the smooth paths on both the Maryland and Virginia side for a calm stroll by the water.

This park is swarming with kayakers, hikers, picnickers, and nature lovers.

P.S. -There is free parking by the billy goat trail!

The woodlands and wetlands of Theodore Roosevelt Island flock over 200 species of birds to its islet outside of Washington D.C. every year.

Their songs carry passersby to its enclave to delve into the monuments, history, and wildlife which it presents.

You can catch a ride via metro by getting off at Rosslyn and hoping on a capital bikeshare to cruise through the park.

Stroll through the three trails which captivate this island, the Swamp Trail, the Woods Trail, and the Upland Trail.

Opportunities & Adventures at National Parks in DC

There are so many opportunities to get outside and surround yourself with the songs of birds and bees.

These parks and many more really set the city of Washington D.C. apart from the average cluster of buildings in major cities across the world.

So take advantage of this summer, bask in nature, revitalize your spirit become a profession forest bather and invigorate your mind.

Volunteering in The Community

If you are really looking to dip into nature hardcore this summer there are volunteer opportunities at all of these parks listed.

Just head to their websites to find out more, and jump into nature galore while having fun and helping the DC community.

“Just living is not enough, one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower”

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