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UPDATED JUL 14, 2020

DC’s pockets of greenery give the city life. And when you need to unplug or get some fresh air, they’re the perfect escape. Walk, ride, or post up for a picnic, these local parks are worth an afternoon of your time.




On a spring or summer day, this park, located near the U Street Corridor in NW, resembles the mall of a college campus. There’s no shortage of ways to enjoy this patch of greenery: you can run through it, organize a game of bocce, bring your pup for a stroll, or post up on a bench for an afternoon of people-watching.

Is your inner tree-hugger dying for some nature time? Head to the Arboretum, located in NE, which spans 446 acres! The campus is organized into gardens and collections so there is plenty of natural beauty to see during your trip to the arboretum. Plus, admission is always free!

Rock Creek Park is huge! It runs through a number of DC neighborhoods, so chances are high that you’re close to this sprawling green space. If you’re looking to go hiking, try the Valley Trail or the West Ridge Trail. You’ll also want to explore the historical structures, including Peirce Mill. Back in the day, it was a functioning mill. Now, it’s a highly Instagram-able brick building in the middle of the park.

Where can you go to catch beautiful views of the Potomac River, the Anacostia River, and the Washington Channel? Look no further than Hains Point in East Potomac Park. This little slice of heaven is a peaceful space, perfect for a bike ride or a walk. Keep the day rolling by swinging away on the East Potomac Golf Course, a nearby 18-hole expanse!

Did you know there’s an island in the middle of DC? Theodore Roosevelt Island rests in the Potomac River, just north of the National Mall. Explore the trees and trails of this tranquil island by foot or bike. What’s more, you can also take in wildlife from the water. Bring your own kayak and paddle around the island…maybe even from Georgetown if you’re feeling ambitious!

Need to get a little wild? Head to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo to say hello to some wild animals! The zoo, located in NW, nestles right up to Rock Creek Park, so it’s truly a tree-lined escape. The zoo is great for exploring the animal kingdom, but it’s also a great place to walk or run — the hills throughout are no joke.

Ditch the busy streets of Georgetown and make for the greenery at Dumbarton Oaks. This lush green space has acres of mini gardens: The Rose Garden, The Pebble Garden, the Star Garden, just to name a few. The gardens are quiet, stunning, and a bonafide escape from city life. A trip here will only set you back $10.

The Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Canal path stretches 184.5 miles, starting in Cumberland, Maryland and winding up all the way to Washington, DC. Pack your bike and some granola bars for a jaunt on the trail, right at the Georgetown waterfront, near Thomas Jefferson Street NW. The path is scenic: you’ll get a peek of the Potomac and some fresh air, too!

Head to the northeast side of the Anacostia River for 12 acres of nature at the Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens. Expect to see flowering aquatic plants, trees, trails, ponds, and birds. Fitt tip: don’t wear your best sneakers, the mud is no joke.

Sure, it may be obvious but the National Mall is a great green space that locals can be quick to overlook. Although the area can get crowded, you don’t necessarily have to hit the main mall to get the nature you crave. Instead, ponder by the reflecting pool, circle the lawn surrounding the U.S. Capitol, or stroll around the Ellipse.

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