Updated on November 12, 2023 by Julie McCool
These gorgeous gardens in Virginia and Washington DC make excellent day trips for nature-loving visitors and locals. Our list includes demonstration sites, botanical gardens, and unique historic gardens throughout Virginia and DC.
Many of these sites include fun children's gardens with activities that help kids enjoy and appreciate nature. Others feature historic homes where gardens are an integral part of the site's history. All of the gardens showcase a changing palette of blossoms and peaceful spots for contemplation.
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The Washington DC region is blessed with changing seasons, diverse nature, and rich history. The many gardens in Virginia and DC reflect that diversity with sites that offer year-round inspiration and beauty. Of course, these sites are particularly spectacular during the spring and summer months.
Beyond the garden—discover the best nature trails in Northern Virginia and the spring wildflowers you'll find there.
Gardens in Virginia and DC are listed below in three groups:
- Demonstration and Botanic Gardens in Virginia
- Arboretums and Gardens in Washington DC
- Virginia Historic Sites with Gardens
You'll find a map of all the sites below.
Demonstration and Botanical Gardens in Virginia
Virginia is home to some of the most beautiful botanical gardens in the Eastern U.S. These Virginia botanic gardens highlight a diverse range of flora from around the world and close to home.
Green Spring Gardens, Alexandria, Virginia
Plan your visit with our complete guide to Green Spring Gardens.
Green Spring Gardens packs a lot into its 31 acres. There are demonstration gardens, ponds, paths, a horticulture center with an extensive library, and a Historic House that was built in 1780. It’s a hidden oasis of beauty and inspiration in the midst of busy Fairfax County.
Green Spring hosts frequent educational and family-friendly events throughout the year. Park grounds are open daily from dawn to dusk and admission is free. Check the park website for updated schedules and events.
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Richmond, Virginia
Plan your visit with our guide to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond Virginia.
Two miles of pathways meander through 12 themed gardens, so there is a lot to see at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. The beautiful domed conservatory includes a lovely orchid collection along with special exhibits.
The garden offers classes for both adults and children, and there are two restaurants and an extensive shop. In December, the garden twinkles with beautiful holiday light displays.
Lewis Ginter is open daily from 9:00 – 5:00 and adult admission is $17. See the garden website for special events and changing art displays.
Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, Vienna, Virginia
Plan your visit with our guide to Meadowlark Botanical Gardens.
Meadowlark Botanical Gardens offers 95 acres of stunning beauty, exploration, and learning. Visitors enjoy a variety of gardens and a pond with a gazebo that's one of the best places to see cherry blossoms in Virginia.
Paved paths and an adorable children's garden make Meadowlark a stroller and family-friendly destination. A central, wheelchair-accessible path leads to several garden areas and there are restrooms and a small shop in the Visitor's Center.
In addition, Meadowlark is home to a fascinating and beautiful Korean Bell Garden. The centerpiece of the Bell Garden is a 3-ton “Bell of Peace and Harmony” in a beautiful pagoda.
Frequent events for gardeners and families, plus the annual Winter Walk of Lights, bring visitors to Meadowlark all year long. Meadowlark is open daily from 10:30 – 6:30 (reduced hours in winter) and adult admission is $6. Visit the Meadowlark garden website for more info.
Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, Winchester, Virginia
Plan your visit with our guide: 15 Fantastic Things to Do in Winchester Virginia.
The Glen Burnie Gardens at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley were designed by the museum's benefactor. Seven acres of boxwoods, roses, perennials, and more surround the historic Glen Burnie House.
Don't miss the beautiful Asian and Water Gardens and the Bamboo Grove at the back of the property. Then, hike through fields, wildflowers, and woods on the Trails at the MSV. The gardens are open seasonally Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 – 5:00 and adult admission is $15 which includes the garden, museum, and outdoor spaces. Or get a discounted $12 admission when you purchase tickets online from the garden website.
National Botanic Garden, Chantilly Virginia
The newest public garden in the DC area is also the most unusual. At the unique National Botanic Garden whimsical structures, landscapes, and art made from recycled items combine with unique plant collections.
For example, the Asian-themed Kyoto garden features cascading waterfalls surrounded by huge bamboo groves (that feed the National Zoo's pandas). The garden's xeric plant collection features cacti and other plants that require little water or maintenance.
In another area, a medieval castle rises beside a stream (construction is ongoing in several areas). Nearby, Hobbit Town is a hillside stone warren of round-doored “hobbit homes” connected by stone steps that are fun to explore.
The National Botanic Garden opens monthly but opening dates, hours, and ticket prices vary. Check the garden website for upcoming events and to purchase tickets.
Norfolk Botanical Garden, Norfolk, Virginia
Plan your visit with our guide to Fantastic Things to Do in Norfolk Virginia.
There is a lot of ground to cover at Norfolk Botanical Garden, Virginia's largest botanical garden. With 14 miles of paved and natural trails, visitors can get a great workout walking through the 60 themed gardens. Fortunately, you can also hop aboard the tram, or board a canal boat, to explore all of that natural beauty.
Don't miss the World of Wonder (WOW) Children's Garden, a beautiful space for learning and play with a fun spray pad to beat the summer heat. Norfolk Botanical Garden is open daily from 9:00 – 7:00 and adult admission is $16. See the botanical garden website for more info and to reserve tickets.
Williamsburg Botanical Garden, Williamsburg
The Williamsburg Botanical Garden is a haven for pollinators and Virginia native plants. The garden is both a respite and a learning opportunity, with areas devoted to sustainable gardening strategies and invasive plant control. The 2-acre garden is located within the larger 600-acre Freedom Park and includes an Arboretum and more than 20 distinct habitats.
The Williamsburg Botanical Garden is open daily from 7:00 to dusk and is free. See the garden website for the latest updates.
River Farm, Alexandria, Virginia
Plan your visit with our guide: River Farm in Alexandria Virginia.
River Farm is the headquarters of the American Horticultural Society and the farm's 25 landscaped acres overlook the Potomac River. It is a serene escape close to Washington D.C.
Visit the perennial border where you'll find a gate that stood at the northeast entrance to the White House for 120 years. Visitors can explore themed gardens including an excellent Children's Garden with fun play spaces. A small orchard and a beautiful meadow leading to the Potomac offer quiet spots to relax.
River Farm is open to the public on weekdays from 10:00 – 4:00 but is closed weekends for special events. Admission is free but consider making a donation to help with the upkeep of the gardens. Special events include a spring plant sale in April. Visit the farm website for more info.
State Arboretum of Virginia, Boyce
Plan your visit with our guide: 15 Fantastic Things to Do in Winchester Virginia.
Near Winchester, the University of Virginia manages the lovely State Arboretum of Virginia, Blandy Experimental Farm. Here, visitors can explore gardens and trails dedicated to understanding and preserving the natural environment.
The 700-acre research station offers self-guided audio tours or you can join one of many special classes and events held throughout the year. For example, visitors flock to the Ginko Grove in late October to see the forest transformed to brilliant gold.
The farm is open daily from dawn to dusk, including holidays, and admission is free. See the farm website to learn more about the research done here.
Edith J Carrier Arboretum, Harrisonburg
Plan your visit with our guide to Fantastic Things to Do in Harrisonburg Virginia and Rockingham County.
Stroll through an arboretum and botanical garden at the Edith J Carrier Arboretum, on the grounds of James Madison University in Harrisonburg. This public urban garden offers a quiet space to relax and recharge at the edge of the downtown area.
The JMU Arboretum is fairly small, so you can walk the network of crisscrossing paths in an hour or two. Allow time to stop at one of the benches sprinkled throughout the gardens. Don't miss the nice labyrinth!
Edith Carrier Arboretum is free and open daily from dawn to dusk. There are bathroom facilities in the Education Center. Leashed dogs are welcome but stay out of the water features so wildlife is not disturbed. Check the arboretum website for the latest events and classes or to rent picnic and wedding facilities.
Hahn Horticulture Garden, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg
Tucked into the southern side of the campus of Virginia Tech is a small but colorful garden. The Hahn Horticulture Garden features 6 acres of teaching and display gardens used by undergraduate students and is open to the public. The garden is a popular spot for graduation day photos, weddings, and other special events (we took our graduate's picture by the waterfall).
As you explore the flowers and plantings, be sure to check out the artwork scattered throughout. A bit further north, the Duck Pond is another pretty spot to relax in nature at Virginia Tech.
The Hahn Horticulture Garden is open free and open daily, from dawn to dusk. Be sure to get an approved parking pass if you plan to park nearby or you will be ticketed. Pavilion restrooms are open weekdays, 8:30 – 4:30. See the school website for more details.
Arboretums and Botanical Gardens in Washington DC
Washington DC may be a bustling city, but the Nation's Capital is also home to 3 beautiful botanical gardens. Visit throughout the year to see changing blossoms and foliage. Of course, DC is also the best place to see cherry blossoms in the United States.
Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens, Washington DC
Located in the marshes along the Anacostia River, Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens is the only national park devoted to cultivated water-loving plants. The stars of this unique habitat are exotic water lilies and lotus. Birders can watch for over 40 species of birds including ospreys, herons, and bald eagles in the park.
Kenilworth is a haven from the bustle of DC. It's a popular destination for walkers, hikers, photographers, and birdwatchers. Spring and summer are the best time to see the aquatic plants. The pink lotus flowers usually reach peak bloom in mid-July. The park is open daily 8:00 – 4:00 and entrance is free. Find more information on the park website.
United States Botanic Garden, Washington DC
Immerse yourself in a whole building full of nature’s beauty at the US Botanic Garden. Relax on a bench in The Jungle, a warm, glass-enclosed conservatory filled with tropical plants. And be sure to visit the Orchid Room and cactus garden for a nice contrast in plant habitat.
The US Botanic Garden is open daily from 10:00 – 5:00, including major holidays, and admission is free. The holiday season at the US Botanic Garden features an extensive model train display and re-creations of DC landmarks made from natural ingredients. Find visitor information on the garden website.
Plan a DC Getaway to the US Capitol Area including the US Botanic Garden.
U.S. National Arboretum, Washington DC
The U.S. National Arboretum is a public garden, research facility, and urban green space just two miles from the Capitol Building. The 446-acre arboretum features cultivated gardens and collections to explore. There are winding roadways to bike or jog, and cultural icons like the Capitol Columns and the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum.
As a research facility, the arboretum maintains one-of-a-kind collections, from native plants to exotics in collections like Asia Valley. The azalea garden is a popular stop in early spring. The arboretum hosts family-friendly events, festivals, and tours throughout the year. The grounds are open daily from 8:00 – 5:00 and admission is free. Visit the Arboretum website for more information.
Enid A. Haupt Garden, Washington DC
Visitors to Washington DC's National Mall often miss the beautiful Enid A. Haupt Garden, but they shouldn't. This lovely garden is tucked behind the Smithsonian Castle, across the street from the carousel. Here, plantings are arranged in formal patterns that produce continuing layers of blooms throughout the season.
Rose-colored magnolia blossoms, colorful roses, and other flora take their turn as stars of the garden. The magnolias generally bloom just ahead of the famous DC cherry blossoms so be sure to stop here if you visit in mid-to-late March.
Fun fact: When you walk through the Haupt Garden you are standing on top of several museums, including the National Museum of African Art and the Sackler Gallery. The garden is open daily from dawn to dusk and is free. Find more information on the Smithsonian website.
Historic Gardens in Virginia
In addition to the botanical gardens and arboretums listed above, there are many beautiful Virginia gardens at historic sites throughout the state. These sites offer an ideal place to experience history and natural beauty together.
Arlington House, Arlington National Cemetery
Plan your visit with our guide: 5 Ways to Explore Arlington National Cemetery.
The mansion known as Arlington House was built as a memorial to George Washington, by his adopted grandson. It later became the home of Robert E. Lee, then was confiscated by the U.S. Government during the Civil War.
The mansion sits at the top of a hill in Arlington National Cemetery. The hilltop setting commands a beautiful view of Washington DC, and the house is flanked by flower and kitchen gardens as well as two slave quarters.
In addition to the formal gardens, you’ll find beautiful trees and plantings throughout Arlington Cemetery’s 624 acres. Keep an eye out for two State Champion Yellowwood and Empress trees.
Arlington House is open daily 9:30 – 4:30. Admission to Arlington National Cemetery and Arlington House is free but there is a $3/hour parking fee if you plan to arrive by car. Only approved service animals and military working dogs are allowed. Find more information about Arlington House on the NPS website.
Ben Lomond Historic Site, Manassas
Learn more about Prince William County Virginia Sites for History and Hiking.
During the Civil War, the house at Ben Lomond Historic Site was part of a large plantation. It was used as a Confederate field hospital to treat wounded from the Battle of 1st Manassas.
Behind the house is a rose garden with one of the largest collections of Old Garden Roses in the Washington DC area. The rose garden was moved to this location in 1996. But it contains many cultivars of Old Garden Roses which could have been here during the antebellum period.
The grounds at Ben Lomond are open from dawn to dusk and tours of the house are available on weekends. See the historic preservation website for details.
George Washington's Mount Vernon, Mount Vernon
Plan your visit with our guide: Fun Things to Do at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.
George Washington personally oversaw the design and operation of the extensive grounds at Mount Vernon. Today visitors to George Washington's Mount Vernon can explore the elaborate gardens and hike the woodland trails. You'll enjoy close views of unique landscape features including the bowling green and ha-ha walls.
Special tours and events are offered throughout the year, including a garden tour. Other popular events include wine and music evenings on Mount Vernon’s east front lawn. Historic reenactments and the annual President's Day celebration are great times to visit Mount Vernon with kids.
George Washington's Mount Vernon is open daily, 9:00 – 5:00. Adult admission is $28 and includes access to the grounds, museums, and a tour of the mansion. Visit the estate website for details.
Gunston Hall, Mason Neck
Plan your visit with our guide: Beautiful History at Gunston Hall.
Gunston Hall is the family home of George Mason IV. Visitors can enjoy a guided tour of the mansion and reconstructed outbuildings. Outside, there are 550 acres of grounds and hiking trails to explore, including a restored garden.
Behind the mansion, be sure to walk through the Boxwood Allee that flanks the path from the house to a river overlook. The beautifully twisted boxwoods were planted during George Mason’s time. The site has also recreated a historic garden behind the mansion.
Gunston Hall is open daily from 10:00 – dusk. A Grounds pass is $5 but we recommend paying $10 to include a tour of the mansion. Visit the Gunston website for more info.
Plan your visit: Unique and Fun Things to Do in Richmond Virginia.
The gardens at Maymont are home to a National Champion Tree, Seven State Champion Trees, an elaborate Japanese garden, an Italian garden, and a historic mansion. The Japanese Garden is a highlight, with a cascading waterfall and a lovely pond. Take a walk around the 100-acre estate, then enjoy a tour of the historic mansion (additional fee).
The gardens at Maymont are open 10:00 – 7:00 daily (to 5:00 Oct – early March) and suggested admission is $5. We highly recommend adding a tour of the mansion for an additional $8. The swan room is incredible!
Nearby in Richmond, Agecroft Hall is a Tudor estate relocated from England. The grounds, designed by noted Virginia landscape architect Charles Gillette, include an elaborately clipped knot garden and medicinal and aromatic plants. The gardens at Agecroft are open for self-guided tours from noon to 5:00 and admission is free.
Plan your visit: 21+ Fantastic Fun Things to Do in Leesburg Virginia.
Enjoy the grounds at Oatlands on a self-guided walking tour. You'll see impressive trees, a 4.5-acre formal garden with boxwood allees, a reflecting pool, an herb garden, and more. Interpretive signs give key information about the gardens.
The nineteenth-century architecture here includes walls, garden dependencies, a bank barn, and the second oldest greenhouse in the country.
Special events and tours are available except from January through March. Allow time to can visit the Carriage House Gift Shop, located in a former stable and packed with historic carriages. Oatlands is open daily 10:00 – 5:00 and a grounds pass is $5. Visit the Oatland's website for more info.
More Places to See Virginia Flowers in Bloom
Of course, planted gardens are not the only place to enjoy Virginia flowers in bloom. Here are some of the other places to enjoy the beauty of spring and summer. In addition, every April garden lovers can enjoy special tours of private and public gardens during Historic Homes and Garden Week.
The Washington DC area is rightfully famous for the beautiful cherry blossoms that bloom every March and April. While most people know about the Tidal Basin blossoms, there are many beautiful and less crowded places to see and photograph them. We've rounded up a complete guide on Where to See Cherry Blossoms in DC, Maryland, and Virginia.
And if you miss the peak cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin, see our guide 5 Places Near DC for Beautiful Late-Blooming Cherry Trees.
Another wonderful place to see blooms, especially in spring, is on Northern Virginia trails. Our guide to Spring Wildflowers and Where to Find Them in Northern Virginia provides photos of common local flora to look for when you hike.
Here are guides to some of the best wildflower hikes in the DC area:
- 15 Best Nature Trails in Northern Virginia for Wildflowers and Wildlife
- Bluebells and Sycamores at Riverbend Park
- Beautiful Virginia Bluebell Trail Hike in Northern VA
- Stunning Trillium Trail Hike Perfect for Virginia Nature Lovers
- Hike Riverbend to Great Falls Park: Easy Hikes in Northern Virginia
- Potomac Heritage Trail Hikes in Northern Virginia
- Shenandoah National Park Day Trip Planner: Things to Do in the Central District
- 8 Great Spring Hikes in Northern Virginia: Outdoor Fun Near Washington DC
Find a Gorgeous Garden Near You
We created this custom map to help you plan your trips to gorgeous gardens in Virginia and Washington DC. Garden and historic site addresses are listed below.
Felling inspired by what you see? The Virginia Native Plant Finder can help you create your own garden filled with beautiful, non-invasive plants.
Where to Find Beautiful Gardens in Virginia
- Arlington House, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington
- Ben Lomond Historic Site, 10321 Sudley Manor Drive, Manassas
- Edith Carrier Arboretum, 780 University Boulevard, Harrisonburg
- George Washington's Mount Vernon, 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Mount Vernon
- Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria
- Gunston Hall,10709 Gunston Road, Mason Neck
- Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, 1800 Lakeside Avenue, Richmond
- Maymont, 1000 Westover Road, Richmond
- Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, 9750 Meadowlark Gardens Court, Vienna
- National Botanic Garden, 26320 Ticonderoga Road, Chantilly
- Oatlands, 20850 Oatlands Plantation Lane, Leesburg
- River Farm, 7931 E Boulevard Dr, Alexandria
- State Arboretum of Virginia, Blandy Experimental Farm, 400 Blandy Farm Lane, Boyce
- Williamsburg Botanical Garden, 5537 Centreville Road, Williamsburg
Where to Find Beautiful Gardens in Washington DC
- Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens, 1550 Anacostia Avenue, NE, Washington, DC
- United States Botanic Garden, 100 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, DC
- U.S. National Arboretum, 3501 New York Ave NE, Washington, DC
- Enid A. Haupt Garden, 1050 Independence Avs, SW, Washington, DC
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