City Kids – U.S. National Arboretum


City Kids is written by Takoma, DC resident Caroline. Caroline previously wrote about The Building Museum and the Rock Creek Park Nature Center.

Tucked between the Anacostia River and the Maryland border is the U.S. National Arboretum. It has several hundred acres of land that may be well known for the early spring azalea display, but it has a wealth of activities year-round.

For our recent trip, we visited the Washington Youth Garden and the Outdoor Classroom. The garden was just in its earliest stage for the season, but little ones were still interested in the winding pathways.


The Outdoor Classroom had many interesting things to explore. A cluster of wood stumps made up the “classroom”, such as it was, but were also interesting for climbing, standing on, and jumping off. Another area had enclosed garden bed boxes for “messy materials” like sand. Perhaps the highlight was the large wood and metal xylophones. Both kids and adults had fun finding the perfect stick to bang out a few notes.

Beyond these two areas, there are miles of road and trail for hiking, biking, jogging, or walking. There are wide expanses of prairie and meadow, and also manicured bonsai gardens and koi ponds. The picnic groves are big enough that you will never have someone in your way. There are self-guided and pre-recorded docent tours, in addition to a wide array of events and programs.

United States National Arboretum
3501 New York Avenue, NE (alternate entrance on R Street NE)
Open 8am-5pm every day except Christmas.

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