clock menu more-arrow no yes

Thirteen Underrated Parks and Green Spaces in D.C.

View as Map

[Photo by Daniel Lobo]

D.C. may have it a little better than some other large cities in that it's not terribly difficult to find pockets of green space. Many of the neighborhoods are lined with trees, punctuated by grassy circles (more on those later) and the city's touristy focal point is a large green space topped with monuments. Moreover, there are several larger, yet less celebrated outdoor spots in the city that aren't named The National Mall or Rock Creek Park. Drawing inspiration from both our previous look at secret gardens and parks and your suggestions via email and Twitter we've mapped thirteen of those underrated spots in D.C. after the jump.

Read More

1. Meridian Hill Park

Copy Link
2500 16th St NW
Washington DC, D.C. 20009
(202) 895-6000
Visit Website

It's one of the best places to watch the fireworks, snap some engagement photos, play pickup soccer and join a drum circle. Or perhaps you'd just like to sit next to the amazing water fountain and read a book. There are always several (though not too many people) here doing any and all of the above. Photo by Pete Anderson.

2. United States National Arboretum

Copy Link
3501 New York Ave NE
Washington DC, D.C. 20002
(202) 245-2726
Visit Website

In addition to housing the stately National Capitol Columns, the 412 acre space in Northeast D.C. is also home to a wealth of floral species that won't be visible anywhere else in D.C. It's also a great place to see cherry blossoms in the spring and colorful foliage in the fall. Photo by L. Shanley.

3. Crispus Attucks Park

Copy Link
63 U Street Northeast
Washington, DC 20002

Although it's not that far away from the foot-traffic heavy neighborhoods of U Street and Bloomingdale, this green oasis off North Capitol Street ideal for dog walkers, idle strollers and active children. For history buffs: the spot is named for a freed slave killed during the Boston Massacre of 1770. Photo by Flickr user rockcreek.

4. Hains Point

Copy Link
Ohio Drive SW
Washington DC, D.C. 20024

The Awakening may have relocated to National Harbor but Hains Point is still a worthwhile destination for those looking to take a walk along the water. It's an oddly calm spot although the bustle of Northern Virginia is in plain view.

5. Theodore Roosevelt Island National Memorial

Copy Link
Analostan Island
Washington DC, D.C. 20037

It's only fitting that noted outdoorsman and National Parks founder Teddy Roosevelt has an island filled with trails and wildlife bearing his name. It's also not terribly packed, even in the warm summer months. Photo by Adam Fagen.

6. Enid A. Haupt Garden

Copy Link
1050 Lenfant Plz SW
Washington DC, D.C. 20560

The National Mall is a large green space in and of itself and it's bookended by sculpture gardens of two art museums. Still, this small, ivy-filled space next to the Smithsonian Castle is just hidden enough that it feels like a secret gem amidst national treasures. Photo by Flickr user cliff1066™.

7. Smithsonian Butterfly Garden

Copy Link
9th St side of Natl Museum of Natural History
Washington DC, D.C. 20004

On the other side of the National Mall is a trail that's a brief flower-filled walk meant to attract butterflies. It's a small oasis from the concrete of Penn Quarter but definitely a welcome one. This one might be more filled with tourists than the Haupt garden, but chances are still high that you had no idea of its existence. Photo by Paulo Ordoveza

8. Battery Kemble Park

Copy Link
Chain Bridge Road
Washington DC, D.C. 20016

The westernmost park on this map used to be an encampment during the Civil War era. So while that makes it somewhat of a secret, it's also one of the most exciting neighborhood amenities in the Palisades. Photo by Geoff Livingston.

9. Anacostia Park

Copy Link
Anacostia Dr SE
Washington DC, D.C. 20020
(202) 889-4283

In addition to being a great spot to watch the fireworks, this green space on the Anacostia River is also one of the best spots in the city for bird watching. Even without the addition of the 11th Street Bridge Park, this is an underrated jewel. Photo by Art Dragulis.

10. The Yards Park

Copy Link
10 Water St SE
Washington DC, D.C. 20003

Just because it's landscaped doesn't mean it's not worthy of the list. It won an Urban Open Space Award from the Urban Institute in addition to its 2013 Vision Award. Photo by Daniel Lobo.

11. Fort DuPont Park

Copy Link
Fort Dupont Drive SE
Washington DC, D.C. 20019

It's possibly the largest green space east of the river and it's also the most well utilized. But despite the picnic areas and Sunday evening concerts, most people do not necessarily know about this spot.

12. Marvin Gaye Park

Copy Link

This spot east of the Arboretum has not always had the best reputation, but it's becoming a more community oriented space in Ward 7. Head down there over the weekend for Solar Sundays. Photo by Sherrine Thompson.

13. Langdon Park

Copy Link
2901 20th St NE
Washington DC, D.C. 20018

It's gotten a lot of press since a chunk of it will be dedicated to the late great Godfather of Go-Go, Chuck Brown. However, it's also one of the best green spaces in a part of the city that doesn't have that many. Photo by Gordon Joly.

Loading comments...

1. Meridian Hill Park

2500 16th St NW, Washington DC, D.C. 20009

It's one of the best places to watch the fireworks, snap some engagement photos, play pickup soccer and join a drum circle. Or perhaps you'd just like to sit next to the amazing water fountain and read a book. There are always several (though not too many people) here doing any and all of the above. Photo by Pete Anderson.

2500 16th St NW
Washington DC, D.C. 20009

2. United States National Arboretum

3501 New York Ave NE, Washington DC, D.C. 20002

In addition to housing the stately National Capitol Columns, the 412 acre space in Northeast D.C. is also home to a wealth of floral species that won't be visible anywhere else in D.C. It's also a great place to see cherry blossoms in the spring and colorful foliage in the fall. Photo by L. Shanley.

3501 New York Ave NE
Washington DC, D.C. 20002

3. Crispus Attucks Park

63 U Street Northeast, Washington, DC 20002

Although it's not that far away from the foot-traffic heavy neighborhoods of U Street and Bloomingdale, this green oasis off North Capitol Street ideal for dog walkers, idle strollers and active children. For history buffs: the spot is named for a freed slave killed during the Boston Massacre of 1770. Photo by Flickr user rockcreek.

63 U Street Northeast
Washington, DC 20002

4. Hains Point

Ohio Drive SW, Washington DC, D.C. 20024

The Awakening may have relocated to National Harbor but Hains Point is still a worthwhile destination for those looking to take a walk along the water. It's an oddly calm spot although the bustle of Northern Virginia is in plain view.

Ohio Drive SW
Washington DC, D.C. 20024

5. Theodore Roosevelt Island National Memorial

Analostan Island, Washington DC, D.C. 20037

It's only fitting that noted outdoorsman and National Parks founder Teddy Roosevelt has an island filled with trails and wildlife bearing his name. It's also not terribly packed, even in the warm summer months. Photo by Adam Fagen.

Analostan Island
Washington DC, D.C. 20037

6. Enid A. Haupt Garden

1050 Lenfant Plz SW, Washington DC, D.C. 20560

The National Mall is a large green space in and of itself and it's bookended by sculpture gardens of two art museums. Still, this small, ivy-filled space next to the Smithsonian Castle is just hidden enough that it feels like a secret gem amidst national treasures. Photo by Flickr user cliff1066™.

1050 Lenfant Plz SW
Washington DC, D.C. 20560

7. Smithsonian Butterfly Garden

9th St side of Natl Museum of Natural History, Washington DC, D.C. 20004

On the other side of the National Mall is a trail that's a brief flower-filled walk meant to attract butterflies. It's a small oasis from the concrete of Penn Quarter but definitely a welcome one. This one might be more filled with tourists than the Haupt garden, but chances are still high that you had no idea of its existence. Photo by Paulo Ordoveza

9th St side of Natl Museum of Natural History
Washington DC, D.C. 20004

8. Battery Kemble Park

Chain Bridge Road, Washington DC, D.C. 20016

The westernmost park on this map used to be an encampment during the Civil War era. So while that makes it somewhat of a secret, it's also one of the most exciting neighborhood amenities in the Palisades. Photo by Geoff Livingston.

Chain Bridge Road
Washington DC, D.C. 20016

9. Anacostia Park

Anacostia Dr SE, Washington DC, D.C. 20020

In addition to being a great spot to watch the fireworks, this green space on the Anacostia River is also one of the best spots in the city for bird watching. Even without the addition of the 11th Street Bridge Park, this is an underrated jewel. Photo by Art Dragulis.

Anacostia Dr SE
Washington DC, D.C. 20020

10. The Yards Park

10 Water St SE, Washington DC, D.C. 20003

Just because it's landscaped doesn't mean it's not worthy of the list. It won an Urban Open Space Award from the Urban Institute in addition to its 2013 Vision Award. Photo by Daniel Lobo.

10 Water St SE
Washington DC, D.C. 20003

11. Fort DuPont Park

Fort Dupont Drive SE, Washington DC, D.C. 20019

It's possibly the largest green space east of the river and it's also the most well utilized. But despite the picnic areas and Sunday evening concerts, most people do not necessarily know about this spot.

Fort Dupont Drive SE
Washington DC, D.C. 20019

12. Marvin Gaye Park

Washington DC, D.C.

This spot east of the Arboretum has not always had the best reputation, but it's becoming a more community oriented space in Ward 7. Head down there over the weekend for Solar Sundays. Photo by Sherrine Thompson.

13. Langdon Park

2901 20th St NE, Washington DC, D.C. 20018

It's gotten a lot of press since a chunk of it will be dedicated to the late great Godfather of Go-Go, Chuck Brown. However, it's also one of the best green spaces in a part of the city that doesn't have that many. Photo by Gordon Joly.

2901 20th St NE
Washington DC, D.C. 20018