Sunny Spots in DC for When You Miss the Great Outdoors

There are many trails to walk in the DC/MD/VA area but what about those times when you need to get out of your apartment, but don’t have all day to hike? What about places to go when it’s cold and you’re missing the outdoors or for when you only have a little bit of time on your lunch break?

The following are some of my favorite places to get my outdoor fix, some are easier to access than others but they are each special and deserving of a visit. Each will introduce you to a new side of DC.



Meridian Hill (also Malcolm X Park)

One of my personal favorite DC things to do is to stop by Kramer’s or Starbucks in DuPont for coffee and maybe a book, and then take a stroll to Meridian Hill. It’s about a 15-20 minute walk to the park from Dupont Circle. Meridian Hill Park is a great place to relax and read, in the summer there are several water features. You can chill on a bench at the bottom of the hill or climb the stairs to the top of the hill for a killer view. Don’t miss the drum circle on Sunday nights either.

Meridian Hill Park


Rock Creek

You’ve probably heard of Rock Creek Park, but have you spent much time in it? One can access it from most DC neighborhoods and it’s always a great place to go on a walk, clear your head, or relax by the trickle of a creek. Why wouldn’t you want to hang out in the park that Teddy Roosevelt went skinny dipping in?

Fall at Rock Creek Park Maryland

Related: Rock Creek Park a National Treasure at Your Footsteps



The National Gallery of Art

Both inside and outside the National Gallery of Art there are flowers to behold. Inside there are water features, and roses and outside there’s the pristine sculpture garden with plenty of benches and it’s own cafe. Don’t miss the ice rink in the winter time.

Gallery of Art Flowers


The Hirshhorn

Obviously if you haven’t visited the Hirshhorn yet you should. But maybe you have visited and overlooked the small garden beside the Hirshhorn and small sculptures sprinkled around its courtyard. The Hirshhorn is super cool on the inside, but the outside is equally fascinating. The building itself is a puzzling structure and the fountain in the middle has the power to block out the noise of the city. You might want to drop in and check out Robert Irwin’s show too, it leaves town on September 5th.

Hirshhorn Outdoor Sculpture Garden

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United States Botanical Gardens

Free admission, exotic plants (including one smelly lady), and just a short walk from the capitol, the Botanical Gardens are a horticulturalists dream. Get a taste of not just the outdoors, but rainforests, and tropical terrain by visiting the gardens.

Botanical Gardens in Washington DC

More Smithsonian Gardens Here



The Hillwood Estate

Gardens galore plus a historic house? I am there. Marjorie Merriweather Post purchased Hillwood in 1955 and transformed it into a museum She curated vibrant gardens, an expansive Russian imperial art collection, and a French decorative art collection all in NW DC. It’s a great weekend spot when you need a break from the city. Though it’s not entirely free (there are suggested donations), visiting the Hillwood estate is certainly a fairly affordable Sunday afternoon adventure.

The Hillwood Estate


Dumbarton Oaks

A Georgetown estate and Harvard research institution, Dumbarton Oaks not only provides on site museums and gardens, but also includes a sprawling library and offers a prestigious talks and other academic events, resources, and fellowships centered around three main categories of research: Byzantine Studies, Pre-Columbian Studies, and Garden and Landscape Studies to students and visitors throughout the year. Although the galleries will be closed for the remainder of 2016, there’s plenty to see on their acreage and plenty of engaging events to attend in the colder months. Don’t miss their herb garden either.


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Elaina Hundley

Elaina Hundley is an education professional with a passion for cozy, affordable home decor. She loves coffee, watching "Fixer Upper," and tries to read and write as much as she can in her free time.

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