Wonderful Spots in Nature to Visit for Earth Day and Arbor Day in DC

This Earth Month, enjoy nature and celebrate two nature-centric holidays by getting outside! Earth Day, marked annually on April 22nd, is a worldwide holiday dedicated to protecting the planet. It started in 1970 and has grown into a massive movement for environmental protection. The goal of Earth Day is to join forces to tackle issues like pollution and climate change head-on while enjoying what nature has to offer. It’s a great reminder to take care of the place we call home.

Arbor Day, an annual celebration dedicated to planting and nurturing trees, holds significant importance globally. This year Arbor Day falls on Friday, April 26th. Alongside Earth Day, Arbor Day seeks to raise awareness about trees’ vital role in environmental health, human well-being, and the ecosystem’s equilibrium.

The essence of Arbor Day is captured in community-driven initiatives such as tree planting events, educational programs on tree care, and conservation efforts. This occasion serves as a platform to shed light on pressing environmental issues like deforestation and climate change, emphasizing the pivotal role of trees and forests in mitigating these challenges.

There are environmental, aesthetic, and psychological benefits of trees. From sequestering carbon dioxide and purifying the air to reducing soil erosion and providing habitats for wildlife, trees enrich our lives in a variety ways. They also contribute to stress reduction and enhance mental well-being, underscoring their profound impact on human health.

Despite DC being a metropolitan city, Arbor Day and Earth Day are still celebrated and recognized. DC has a variety of places where nature has been preserved and plants thrive. Here are a few of the most beautiful natural spots in DC for you to visit for hikes, picnics, and getting sunshine this Earth Month.

Bishop’s Garden

The Bishop’s Garden at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. is a stunning and historic destination. Initially designed as a private garden, its terraced landscape draws inspiration from medieval walled gardens and showcases sculptures and plants of historical significance, including native species and plants mentioned in the Bible. Visitors can wander through this meticulously cultivated garden, the most intensively maintained area within the 57-acre Cathedral Close, and soak in its serene atmosphere. Completed in 1928 with contributions from garden clubs nationwide, the Bishop’s Garden has become a beloved public space visited by thousands each year.

United States Botanic Garden

The United States Botanic Garden, situated near Garfield Circle in Washington D.C., is a botanical haven overseen by Congress through the Architect of the Capitol. Here, visitors can explore an array of plant collections, including rare and endangered species, alongside diverse exhibits and programs. The garden functions as a living laboratory for scientists and educators focused on plant life and conservation. A favorite among tourists and locals, the U.S. Botanic Garden offers a unique chance to connect with nature and understand the vital role of plants in our daily lives. It’s a wonderful spot to celebrate Arbor Day and enjoy the natural world’s beauty.

National Arboretum

If you’re seeking an Arbor Day activity, consider visiting an arboretum—a botanical garden devoted to trees. The United States National Arboretum in northeast Washington, D.C. is an excellent choice. Established in 1927 by an act of Congress and administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, this arboretum spans 451 acres and features 9.5 miles of winding roadways. Note that spring traffic restrictions may apply, so visiting on weekdays is advisable to avoid crowds. The Arboretum also engages in extensive research and conservation efforts and houses numerous gardens and plant collections, making it an educational and fascinating destination for visitors of all ages.

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

The Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens is a serene urban oasis where you can connect with nature. Nestled in the northeastern corner of Washington, D.C., near the Maryland state border, the gardens feature a diverse array of plants and wildlife that change with the seasons. Visitors can observe beavers building their homes, turtles basking on logs, and the stunning blooms of lotus and lilies on the water. Spring is an especially wonderful time to visit, as ospreys return to their nests, lily pads emerge, and trees and flowers blossom throughout the park. Whether you’re seeking a picnic spot or a peaceful walk, the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens are a must-visit destination.

Theodore Roosevelt Island

For a perfect Arbor Day celebration, head to Theodore Roosevelt Island in Washington, D.C. This 88.5-acre island was transformed into a “real forest” in the 1930s by landscape architects to replicate the natural forest that once thrived there. Visitors can explore miles of trails through wooded uplands and swampy bottomlands while honoring the conservation legacy of President Theodore Roosevelt. Maintained by the National Park Service, the island prohibits cars and bicycles, ensuring a peaceful experience. Access is via a footbridge from Arlington, Virginia, with the nearest Washington Metro station being Rosslyn. Don’t miss the chance to explore this diverse and beautiful natural area!

Rock Creek Park

If you’re seeking a tranquil retreat from the city, Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C. is an ideal destination. Established by Congress in 1890, this urban park covers 1,754 acres and offers a range of recreational activities, from hiking and wildlife watching to exploring the area’s rich history. As one of the nation’s oldest national parks, it’s a fantastic place to celebrate Arbor Day, with majestic trees flourishing throughout. Managed by the National Park Service, Rock Creek Park is a gem in the heart of the city, surrounded by additional historic sites and parks to discover.

The Tidal Basin

Situated in the heart of Washington, D.C., the Tidal Basin is a stunning body of water encircled by iconic landmarks like the Jefferson Memorial, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. Renowned for its breathtaking cherry blossom trees, the Tidal Basin becomes a popular destination each spring during the annual Cherry Blossom Festival. Even as the festival winds down, the Tidal Basin remains a fantastic spot to enjoy the warm weather and take in some of the city’s most iconic sights. This picturesque and historic site offers both natural beauty and profound cultural and historical significance, making it an ideal place to experience nature in the heart of D.C.

Family in golf cart on tour in front of Lincoln Memorial. Photo taken by Ted Everett

Tour the Monuments and Memorials

Feeling overwhelmed by planning your trip? With so many sights to see, deciding which monuments and memorials to visit can be daunting. Why not let us take the stress out of your visit with one of our golf cart tours around the National Mall? Our narrated golf cart tours offer a fun and educational way to explore the nation’s capital, covering all the iconic and historical sites while learning about the country’s rich history.

These tours provide a relaxed and hassle-free way to see D.C.’s most popular landmarks without the need for detailed planning or research. Capitol Express Tours, a local business, will guide you past iconic monuments and memorials along Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House to the Capitol, through the heart of the National Mall. You’ll see significant landmarks like the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and the US Capitol Building. Our tours offer insightful details about the capital and opportunities to customize your experience. Book your tour now and enjoy a seamless exploration of D.C.’s highlights!