Bartholdi Park

Located in the heart of Washington, D.C., Bartholdi Park is a serene oasis named after Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, the French sculptor who designed the Statue of Liberty. Established in 1932, the park is part of the United States Botanic Garden (USBG), and it sits just south of the USBG's Conservatory across Independence Avenue.

Bartholdi Park covers two acres and is designed as a home garden, showcasing an array of plants suitable for urban and suburban landscapes. The park is divided into several sections, each featuring different themes and designs. You'll find everything from vibrant perennial beds to shade gardens, with the plantings changing seasonally, providing a continually evolving spectacle of colors, textures, and scents.

The centerpiece of the park is the Bartholdi Fountain, a majestic work of art sculpted by Bartholdi himself. Originally designed for the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876, the fountain was purchased by the United States government and moved to Washington, D.C., in 1877 and has since become a national treasure. The fountain, illuminated beautifully at night, was intended as an allegory of light and water. It is based on Classical and Renaissance sculpture and depicts three sea nymphs supporting a basin.

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Why visit Bartholdi Park?

  1. Botanical beauty. Bartholdi Park is an enchanting destination for nature enthusiasts and casual visitors alike. The park's myriad of plant species, each meticulously labeled, provides a learning experience for those interested in botany. Its seasonal blooms make it a beautiful spot for spring and summer strolls.
  2. Architectural marvel. The Bartholdi Fountain is an art piece in its own right. It's a beautiful spectacle during the day and transforms into a mesmerizing light show at night. The fountain’s historical significance and intricate design make it a must-see attraction.
  3. Peaceful respite. Amidst the bustling city, Bartholdi Park offers a tranquil escape. It's an ideal place for relaxation, whether you're reading a book, enjoying a picnic, or simply observing the beauty of nature.
  4. Photo opportunities. With its manicured gardens and stunning fountain, the park is a fantastic location for photography. Whether you're an avid Instagrammer or a professional photographer, you'll find plenty of picturesque scenes to capture.
  5. Education and inspiration. The park's demonstration gardens are designed to inspire visitors with ideas for their own landscapes. They showcase environmentally friendly practices, and the horticultural staff members are always eager to share tips and tricks for gardening.
  6. Location. Bartholdi Park's central location, close to the National Mall and the U.S. Capitol, makes it a convenient stop while visiting other historic sites in Washington, D.C.
  7. Free admission. Like many attractions in Washington, D.C., Bartholdi Park is free to the public, making it a budget-friendly addition to your travel itinerary.
  8. Accessibility. The park is designed to be accessible to all, with well-maintained paths suitable for wheelchairs and strollers.

Best places to visit near Bartholdi Park

  • United States Botanic Garden. Bartholdi Park is part of the Botanic Garden, which is a beautiful place to immerse yourself in lush greenery and explore various plant collections. Don't miss the stunning conservatory!

  • United States Capitol. Head east to visit the iconic U.S. Capitol, where you can take guided tours and learn about the country's legislative history. The building itself is a magnificent sight, and the surrounding Capitol Grounds are picturesque.

  • National Mall. Stretching between the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial, the National Mall is a vast green space that features iconic landmarks, including the Washington Monument and various war memorials. It's perfect for leisurely walks and picnics.

  • Smithsonian Institution. It comprises several world-class museums, including the National Museum of Natural History, the National Museum of American History, and the National Portrait Gallery. Each museum, situated on or near the National Mall not far from Bartholdi Park, offers a unique experience and showcases a vast range of exhibits.

  • National Gallery of Art. Located a short distance from Bartholdi Park, this museum houses an extensive collection of fine art, spanning various periods and styles. You can admire masterpieces by renowned artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent van Gogh, and Pablo Picasso.

  • National Archives Museum. If you're interested in history and American democracy, head northwest to visit the National Archives Museum. Here, you can see the original Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
  • 1
    What is the best time of year to visit Bartholdi Park?

    Bartholdi Park is a beautiful spot to visit any time of the year, as it has various plants that bloom in different seasons.

    However, the spring and fall are often considered the most attractive times to visit. In spring, the park is full of blossoming flowers and fresh greenery, while fall offers a spectacular display of changing leaf colors.

    Summer can also be a great time to visit, but keep in mind that D.C. can get quite hot and humid during this period.

    Regardless of when you decide to visit, Bartholdi Park is always free and open to the public from dawn until dusk. The Bartholdi Fountain, a large, ornate historic fountain, is lit up after dark until 11 pm, which can be an enchanting sight.
  • 2

    What are the most interesting and unique facts about Bartholdi Park?

    • The Bartholdi Fountain is not just an ornate structure, but it also demonstrates Bartholdi's engineering prowess. The fountain was initially designed to be illuminated by gas lamps, making it one of the first monuments in Washington, D.C., to be lit at night. Later it was converted to electricity.

    • The fountain does not look very large, but the cast iron, coated with bronze, weighs 30,000 pounds, and each nymph figure is 11 feet tall, while the whole fountain is about 30 feet tall.