Of the many re-openings happening over the next month, the Dumbarton Oaks Garden may just be the one I am happiest about, mostly because it’s the first time visitors can return since it closed last spring. While many places welcomed the public for a brief period last summer and fall, the Garden’s gates remained closed — and I, for one, really missed being able to visit.
Dumbarton is one of my go-to places for peace and calm, when I just want to stroll around and relax in a beautiful setting. (So, it’s probably understandable why I missed it so much over the last year.) The Garden’s 16 acres are a horticultural haven, with countless varieties of flowers, plants, and trees throughout the many plats of the terraced grounds. It’s breathtaking year-round, but especially vibrant right now with spring blooms and bright, fresh foliage. Pre-Covid, Dumbarton was a regular recommendation from me, and I’ve written about it several times — you can read more here, here, and here.
The hardscapes are just as lovely as the landscapes. There are several fountains (that look freshly cleaned!), benches and other lovely spots to sit, and many garden sculptures. And the Pebble Garden, probably my favorite area, is a patterned pebble mosaic with a fountain at one end and encircling walls covered in wisteria. It’s absolutely enchanting… though, really, the whole garden feels like it’s out of a fairytale,.
Dumbarton isn’t just a place I love; our whole family enjoys visiting together. We’ve been there many times over the last decade. When the kids were younger, we’d take them to play next door at Montrose Park or go for a short hike on the Dumbarton Oaks Park trail (located behind the estate), maybe have a little picnic, then head to the garden for its afternoon open time (note that picnics are not allowed at Dumbarton). They always loved walking around, exploring, and seeing what delights awaited around every corner.
As the kids have gotten older, we usually pair a visit to the Garden with a meal in Georgetown. If we want something quick, we walk down to Jaco Juice and Taco Bar a few blocks away on Wisconsin Avenue and sit outside. We might also walk a little farther to Martin’s Tavern (a DC institution), Peacock Cafe, or Cafe Milano.
Right now, the Garden is only open to those with season passes, which are available for purchase and start at $75 for one person (and you still need to get timed-entry tickets). Beginning May 15, it will be open to all with $7 timed-entry tickets to control capacity. Masks are also required as a safety precaution, and the bathrooms are not open, so prepare for that.
Dumbarton Oaks Garden is located at 31st and R Streets NW in Georgetown. You can usually find two-hour street parking very close to the entrance. Hours right now are 3-6pm on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. Beginning May 15, 2021 it will be open Tuesday – Sunday, 3-6pm. You must reserve a timed-entry ticket in advance. Admission is $7. 2022 Update: THe gardens are open to all Tuesday – Sunday, 2-6pm.
Get more of a glimpse in these snaps from my recent visit…