Updated on May 9, 2023 by Julie McCool
Soothing Potomac River views, colorful gardens, and family-friendly spaces welcome visitors to peaceful River Farm, a hidden gem in Alexandria Virginia. Once part of George Washington's original farmland in Alexandria Virginia, it is now the headquarters of the American Horticultural Society.
Here, visitors can explore a variety of natural and formal gardens, a historic house, and a fun Children's Garden. Unique specimens at the garden include a former Champion Tree and a grove of trees planted during Washington's time.
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Pick up a walking tour brochure when you arrive so you don't miss any of the interesting features of the gardens. Below are things to look for during your visit.
Things to See at River Farm
Just before you reach the historic house, you'll find a decorative gate which spent 120 years at the northeast entrance to the White House. 28 Presidents, from James Monroe to FDR, passed through these gates during ceremonial exits and entries to the White House.
The historic house at River Farm is a popular venue for weddings, meetings, and private events. The farm also hosts public events including an excellent Spring Garden Market in April.
If the house is open during your visit, check out the beautiful interior of the first floor.
Next, head to the back porch to take in the beautiful views down to the Potomac River.
Stroll through the meadow and find a spot to soak up the views for a truly peaceful River Farm visit.
The large black walnut trees date from the time of George Washington and may have been planted by his design.
Closer to the Potomac River, two benches offer idyllic spots for a picnic or quiet contemplation. The river views are lovely, but there is no direct access to the water's edge.
Closer to the house, you'll find formal gardens and a rose arbor featuring a small statue of Pan.
If you have children in your group they will love the fun play spaces at the Children's Garden. There's a miniature “Little House on the Prairie Garden” with a mini-cabin kids can enter.
Other playful features include a wooden boat and a small platform and tunnel, with mini plantings to inspire budding gardens. A shady picnic area offers a nice family lunch spot.
As you walk back to the house, admire the huge Osage-orange tree next to the brick border wall. At one time it was the National Champion Tree and it is estimated to be more than 200 years old.
Be sure to stop in the shop if it is open to browse the excellent collection of gardening books and gifts.
River Farm Location and Things to Do Nearby
River Farm is at 7931 E Boulevard Drive in Alexandria, right by the George Washington Memorial Parkway and the Mount Vernon bike trail. Combine your visit with these nearby locations for a fun day trip close to Washington DC.
- take a short hike at Dyke Marsh
- explore history and outdoor fun at Jones Point Park
- visit the beautiful wetlands at Huntley Meadows Park
- dine, shop, and explore in Old Town Alexandria
- visit George Washington's Mount Vernon and nearby Distillery and Gristmill
- tour the Pope-Leighey House, a Frank Lloyd Wrights Usonian home
River Farm is open Monday to Friday, 9:00 – 4:00, and Saturday 9:00 – 1:00 (to 4:00 in fall/winter. Admission is free but donations are appreciated. Visit the AHS website for more information.