Gardens and Parks Walking Tour, Washington D.C. (Self Guided)

If you are looking for getaway spots from the hustle and bustle of politics and city life, this walking tour in Washington D.C. offers plenty of opportunities for that. There are many large parks and gorgeous gardens where you can admire beautiful flowers, landscape and even learn various historical facts.
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Gardens and Parks Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Gardens and Parks Walking Tour
Guide Location: USA » Washington D.C. (See other walking tours in Washington D.C.)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 km
Author: irene
Rawlins Park

1) Rawlins Park

This urban oasis was founded in 1873 and serves as a memorial with a statue of General John Aaron Rawlins, advisor to General Ulysses S. Grant. Rawlins Park has been included in the National Register of Historic Places since 1977. You can find a pretty big statue of General John A. Rawlins in the Rawlins Park. The statue is a contributing monument to the Civil War
Sight description based on wikipedia
Constitution Garden

2) Constitution Garden

Constitution Gardens is a calm place to take a quiet walk in the middle of a very busy and noisy city. Part of the area that is now the gardens used to be under the Potomac River. The Army Corps of Engineers dredged a portion of the river and the material became part of the land that is now the gardens. During World War I the Navy used this land to build temporary buildings for offices and munitions storage. These “temporary” buildings were destroyed by orders of President Nixon in 1970. In 1976 Constitution Gardens were dedicated. This area is now part of the National Park Service.

It is a great place to take kids on vacation that have seen one too many museums or places that they have had to be quiet. The 50 acre garden has a man made lake with an island in the middle which can be reached by a wooden foot bridge. On the island is a memorial made of stones that have the names and signatures of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence. It is a great way to have a history lesson and a picnic at the same time.

During cherry blossom season the park is spectacular, although almost any day is a good day to visit the park and enjoy the area. The gardens are open 24 hours a day and park rangers may be found at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to answer any questions. As always, parking around the area can be a problem. You may want to use public transportation or the Tourmobile to get to the area.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Lafayette Park/ President's Park

3) Lafayette Park/ President's Park

Lafayette Park is a little seven acre park that is part of the larger President’s Park. At one time they were all connected together. The land was all a portion of the property on which the White House was built. This entire area was part of the grounds at the disposal of the President and family to use for recreation. In 1804 President Thomas Jefferson extended Pennsylvania Avenue which bisected the park area. The portion of the park that is directly north of the White House was renamed Lafayette Park in 1824. It is named in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette who was from France. He served with distinction in the continental army under the command of George Washington.

President’s Park includes the land around the White House with its famous gardens including the South Lawn and the North Lawn, the White House Visitor’s Center, the Ellipse, Lafayette and Sherman Parks and the 1st Division Monument. It is part of the National Parks System and has been since 1933. The Ellipse is just south of the fenced property of the White House and encompasses 52 acres. During World War II this area was used to build temporary barracks.

Stop by the White House Visitors Center and grab a map for the two trails that are in President’s Park. The trails wander past memorials and statues, plus there are stunning views of the White House. Entrance to the park and the guide are free.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Enid A. Haupt Garden

4) Enid A. Haupt Garden

The Enid A. Haupt Garden was opened in 1987 and is part of the Smithsonian gardens. It covers 4 ½ acres of rooftop over the Ripley Center, Sackler Gallery, and the National Museum of African Art. Because the garden is at ground level, most people do not realize they are walking on rooftops. It is an amazing use of space.

The Renwick gates are located at the Independence Avenue entrance. The pillars are made from the same sandstone as the Smithsonian Institution Castle and in fact the entire gate is fashioned to repeat the Castle’s theme.

The garden has a brick path that is perfect for taking a leisurely stroll. The Parterre is a colorful, very formal portion of the garden and not to be missed. The plantings are changed periodically so even frequent visitors will enjoy return visits. Lush hanging baskets hung from lamp posts and ornate iron work to make the area magical and breathtaking.

Benches are scattered liberally around so weary feet can take a break and let visitors just drink in the beauty. The Moongate Garden is a nod to the Temple of Heaven in Bejing. The cooling water feature can help take the heat out of a warm Washington day. The Fountain Garden also makes good use of water and is fashioned after the court of a Moorish Palace.

There are a few rules to be observed, no pets are allowed, only service animals. Picnics are allowed at designated seating areas, but not in the grass. The garden is open from dawn to dusk every day and admission is free.
U.S. Botanic Garden

5) U.S. Botanic Garden (must see)

The United States Botanic Garden (USBG) is a botanic garden on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., near Garfield Circle. The Botanic Garden is supervised by Congress through the Architect of the Capitol, who is responsible for maintaining the grounds of the U.S. Capitol. The USBG is open every day of the year, including federal holidays. It is the oldest continually operating botanic garden in the United States. The USBG proper consists of three locations: the Conservatory, Bartholdi Park, and the Production Facility. The historic Lord & Burnham greenhouse, built by the Architect of the Capitol in 1933, contains eight garden rooms under glass, totaling 28,944 square feet of growing space. In 2001, the Conservatory re-opened after a four-year renovation that required it to be completely dismantled and rebuilt using 21st-century building standards.

Why You Should Visit:
It's less about seeing how plants grow than making use of the benches, tables, and chairs that the park has to offer – not to mention wonderful views of the Capitol.

If you're packing a lunch for your DC tour, be sure to eat it here.
Come during Christmas, too! The trains and mini wooden versions of world landmarks are worth the extra crowds.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Bartholdi Park

6) Bartholdi Park

Bartholdi Park is a small garden area that is meant to show what home gardeners can do with a little inspiration. The center piece is the Bartholdi Fountain. It was created by Frederic Bartholdi for the 1876 International Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. If the name sounds familiar, it is because he also created the Statue of Liberty. Sculptor Bartholdi presented the fountain on America’s 100th birthday since the Lady Liberty was not completed yet. After the centennial was over, the fountain was purchased by the US government and brought to Washington to be displayed.

Electric lights illuminate the fountain at night. These were originally gas but were changed to electric in 1915. In 1932 the fountain finally got a permanent home and a beautiful small park was built around it to complement its classic style.

Bartholdi Park features three distinct sections to mirror the symmetry of the three sections of the fountain. There are several demonstration gardens with different themes such as a rock garden and a romantic garden to serve as reminders that you don’t need acres of space to make a lovely grouping of plantings.

While this park is beautiful at anytime, it is awesome at dusk when the lights illuminate the 30 foot tall fountain. The park is free and open to the public.

Walking Tours in Washington D.C., USA

Create Your Own Walk in Washington D.C.

Create Your Own Walk in Washington D.C.

Creating your own self-guided walk in Washington D.C. is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Georgetown Walking Tour

Georgetown Walking Tour

Georgetown is an area located in the northwest quadrant of Washington, D.C., along the Potomac River waterfront. Despite its proximity to downtown Washington, this former port has preserved its own distinct character. Many of the buildings along the tree-lined streets are over 200 years old. Take this walking tour to reveal all the secrets of Georgetown.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 km
Federal Buildings Walking Tour

Federal Buildings Walking Tour

Washington D.C. is a federal district and serves as the permanent national capital. It is is filled with important and memorable places to visit. Most of the nation's monuments and federal buildings can be found in the downtown of the city. The following walking tour will guide you to the most significant federal buildings in Washington D.C.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.3 km
Art Galleries and Museums Tour

Art Galleries and Museums Tour

Looking for inspiring and notable art venues? Washington D.C. is well-appreciated for the wide range of art museums and galleries that it offers. Take this self-guided tour and discover the treasures hidden by these art institutions.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.1 km
Souvenir Shopping Part 1

Souvenir Shopping Part 1

It would be a pity to leave Washington DC without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Washington D.C., that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.5 km
History Museums Tour

History Museums Tour

Washington D.C. is well-known for its world-class museums. The Smithsonian Institution, the largest museum complex in the world, maintains most of the official museums in Washington, D.C. and the entrance is free of charge. Explore some of the most outstanding ones by taking this walking tour.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.2 km
Nightclubs Tour

Nightclubs Tour

Washington D.C. offers a great nightlife. You can dance all night long in any of the clubs from its liveliest neighborhoods, playing rock, hip hop, punk, jazz, country, gospel or alternative music. Make sure not to miss such an exciting opportunity by checking out the tour below with the suggested music and dance clubs.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.9 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

Traveler's Guide to Washington DC: 16 Souvenirs to Bring Home

Traveler's Guide to Washington DC: 16 Souvenirs to Bring Home

The capital of the United States is an attraction in its own right and many things that have originated here or in the nearby areas are of great cultural and historic significance. To decide which of them can make for an ideal souvenir for you to bring home, check out the proposed list of local...
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10 Chocolate Destinations in Washington D.C.

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10 Unusual Things to Do in Washington DC

10 Unusual Things to Do in Washington DC

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Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Washington D.C. for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Washington D.C. has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money visiting Washington DC's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as Washington DC Explorer Pass, Go Washington DC, or Washington DC Sightseeing Pass.

A city pass combines all or multiple Washington DC's top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows you to skip lines at major attractions, thus saving your precious time.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Washington DC hotels conveniently located for a comfortable stroll: Club Quarters Hotel in Washington DC, The St. Regis Washington, D.C., The Hay - Adams.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Washington D.C., it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of Washington DC typically costs somewhere between US$30 and US$90 per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off trolley to enjoy sightseeing of Washington DC in comfort listening in the headsets to the prerecorded narration in a variety of foreign languages or a live on-board commentary (English only) from a local guide, and be able get on and off at any of the stops along the route as often as you like. The tickets are valid for one day (Silver or Gold Pass) or two days (Platinum Pass).

- Pedal your way around Washington DC on a 3-hour educational and fun bike tour to appreciate the city's most spectacular sights while stopping at some of them for a bit of rest, watching the surroundings, and learning interesting facts about the attractions en route from a knowledgeable group leader.

- If you want to pay tribute to the late members of the Kennedy clan including, primarily, President JFK himself, or the unknown soldiers fallen in the wars fought by the United States throughout centuries, you would definitely be interested in taking a 2-hour guided walk around Arlington National Cemetery and get insight into some of the chapters of the American history along the way.

- Embark on a culinary quest in one of DC’s iconic neighborhoods to see what makes U Street so delicious, satisfying both your stomach and cultural appetites alike on the tour set to explore great eats, architectural trends and the history of the neighborhood over the past century.

- Discover the historic side of Washington, DC in a different light on the Monuments By Night tour. See the National Mall, White House, Capitol Hill and other landmarks ablaze with nighttime illumination after the daytime sun yields way to the moonlit magic!

- Cap off your Washington DC experience with a sumptuous 3-hour dining adventure aboard a cruise ship sailing along the Potomac River offering postcard-worthy views of the nation's greatest monuments to complement the freshly-cooked 3-course dinner.

Day Trips

If you have a day to spare whilst in Washington DC, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations like Mount Vernon, Gettysburg PA, or Charlottesville VA. For as little as circa US$55 to US$150 per person you will get a chance to visit George Washington’s plantation estate in Fairfax, Virginia, set foot on the site of the largest battle ever fought on the American soil to this date and where President Lincoln delivered his historic Gettysburg Address, enjoy the picturesque views of the Maryland and Pennsylvania countryside, explore Monticello - the home of President Thomas Jefferson, learn about his professional accomplishments and personal life, as well as see the University of Virginia founded and designed by Jefferson himself, and so much more. For any of these tours you will be picked up from a designated place in Washington DC and transported by a comfortable air-conditioned vehicle to the destination of your choice and back again.