Soothing Potomac River views and the colors of nature welcome visitors to peaceful River Farm, part of George Washington’s original farmland in Alexandria Virginia. River Farm is headquarters to the American Horticultural Society, and you can explore a variety of natural and formal gardens, an historic house, and a fun Children’s Garden during your visit.
Pick up a walking tour brochure when you arrive so you don’t miss any of the interesting features of the gardens. 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 special events, and offers beautiful views down to the Potomac River.
The property incorporates a ha-ha wall to separate the meadow from the lawn without disrupting the view. George Washington used a similar approach at nearby Mount Vernon.
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.
Back near the house, you’ll find formal gardens and a rose arbor featuring a small statue of Pan.
If you have children along they will love the fun play spaces at the Children’s Garden. There’s a miniature “Little House on the Prairie Garden”, 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 collection of gardening books and gifts.
Peaceful River Farm is easy to reach from the George Washington Memorial Parkway or the Mount Vernon bike trail. Combine your River Farm visit with a short hike at Dyke Marsh or a trip to Old Town Alexandria for a fun day trip close to Washington DC.
River Farm is open Monday to Friday, 9:00 – 5:00, year-round, and opens Saturday 9:00 – 1:00 April through September. Admission is free but donations are appreciated.
Garden lovers can enjoy a series of outings at these Gorgeous Gardens in Virginia and Washington DC.