Local-inspired parks that are the perfect setting for picnics and safe gatherings
Parks are the perfect place for a socially distanced lunch with friends or a scenic date out of the house. Here are some popular parks in Washington, DC that are open for locals and visitors to enjoy.
Note that the National Park Service requires masks be worn when physical distancing cannot be maintained. Visit the Service's website for more information.
U.S. National Arboretum
The beloved U.S. National Arboretum is open Monday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information on their guidelines, visit this page before going. Note that the Administration Building remains closed.
The Arboretum aims to increase the aesthetic, environmental and economic importance of landscape and ornamental plants. The gorgeous, 446-acre property makes for an inspiring and visually captivating visit at any time of the year.
Rock Creek Park
Washington, DC’s Rock Creek Park – which is made up of 1,700 acres of National Park Service land from northwest DC into Maryland – is a popular retreat for the city’s outdoor enthusiasts. With lush greenery, miles of trails and picnic areas, a nature center, golf course, horse stables, amphitheater and even a planetarium, Rock Creek Park is packed with locals and visitors alike year-round.
You can grab a picnic blanket and food from Adams Morgan or Upper Northwest before you go. There is parking, but spaces can be limited on the weekend.
Malcolm X Park
Malcolm X Park, also known as Meridian Hill Park, is a neoclassical-style, 12-acre, landscaped urban park established in 1912. Designated as a National Historic Landmark, the multi-tiered park has a cascading waterfall in its lower area that is the perfect setting for a lunch with friends and loved ones. There are notable statues of Joan of Arc and Dante and a memorial to President James Buchanan. Don’t forget to grab food and drinks from the Columbia Heights neighborhood.
The park is open during daylight hours and is following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local public health authorities.
Lincoln Park on Capitol Hill
Lincoln Park in Capitol Hill is the largest in the neighborhood and features statues of President Abraham Lincoln and educator and Civil Rights activist Mary McLeod Bethune. The park is popular for dog-walking and contains plenty of room for kids to stretch their legs. Grab a bench in the park to enjoy the sounds of nature and some primo people-watching.
There are some areas of the park that are closed off.
Situated between the Vietnam Memorial and the World War II Memorial on the National Mall, Constitution Gardens and its peaceful pond have been described as a hidden oasis in the middle of the city. This is the perfect spot to rest after a long day of sightseeing, or when you want to grab a quick view of the monuments when you’re in the neighborhood.
If you want to splash around, head down to Yards Park in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood. Located near Nationals Park and Navy Yard, the park provides green space and water features along the Anacostia River. At night, you can marvel at the illuminated dancing fountain. If you’re feeling adventurous, take your date through the Canal Basin and Waterwall where you can wade together while holding hands. If you bring your furry friend along, head over to the dog run area. If you’re just looking to picnic and talk with friends, hang out on the Great Lawn.
As America’s most visited national park, the National Mall is where the past, present and future collide. It’s centrally located in DC, stretching more than two miles from the Lincoln Memorial on the west end to the U.S. Capitol on the east end. You can run the length of the Mall or rent a bike from Capital Bikeshare to get around. The Mall has also been known to host exercise classes on sunny days. Explore the swath of land nicknamed “America’s front yard.”
If you’re out in Georgetown and you’re looking for some green space, head to Montrose Park. The 16-acre park is located on the heights overlooking the most historic neighborhood in the city. You can trot along the Rope Walk among the Osage orange trees, or sit and enjoy the sounds of nature at one of the many picnic tables.