The United States Botanic Garden

The United States Botanic Garden (USBG) is an enchanting living plant museum located at the heart of Washington, D.C. Established by Congress in 1820, it is one of the oldest botanic gardens in North America, proudly showcasing an impressive collection of plants from around the globe. The garden spreads over three primary sections: the Conservatory, the National Garden, and Bartholdi Park, each featuring distinctive displays and themes.

The Conservatory is a magnificent glass-domed building that houses diverse ecosystems, ranging from desert to tropical rainforest. Here, you'll see exotic orchids, delicate ferns, and towering palm trees. The National Garden, opened in 2006, celebrates the beauty of Mid-Atlantic plants and offers a Butterfly Garden and a First Ladies Water Garden. Bartholdi Park is a beautifully landscaped garden that presents innovative ideas for home gardeners and features a stunning fountain created by the designer of the Statue of Liberty, Frederic Auguste Bartholdi.

A haven for plant lovers, the USBG aims to demonstrate the aesthetic, cultural, economic, therapeutic, and ecological importance of plants to human life. It offers free admission year-round and provides a variety of educational programs, exhibitions, and tours for visitors of all ages.

Related tours:

Why should you go?

  1. Diverse flora. The garden is home to around 10,000 living specimens, some of which are rare and endangered. You'll witness a range of ecosystems and plant varieties that you wouldn't typically see in one place, from cacti and succulents of desert regions to lush tropical rainforest vegetation.
  2. Year-round beauty. Regardless of the season, there's always something blooming in the USBG. The indoor gardens ensure you can enjoy vibrant plant life even in the depths of winter, making it a perfect spot for year-round visitation.
  3. Educational experience. The USBG is more than just a garden; it's an outdoor classroom where visitors can learn about plant biology, diversity, and conservation. Engaging exhibits and interpretative signage throughout the garden provide information about the vital role plants play in our ecosystem.
  4. Peaceful retreat. The serene environment of the USBG offers a perfect urban oasis to escape the city’s hustle and bustle and enjoy a relaxing atmosphere.
  5. Cultural and historical significance. The USBG is a living piece of American history. By visiting, you can appreciate the vision of early American leaders who understood the importance of plants for the well-being of citizens.
  6. Special events and exhibits. The USBG hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including concerts, festivals, and educational workshops. The annual holiday show, featuring model trains and plant-based recreations of iconic American landmarks, is a must-see.
  7. Free entry. Unlike many attractions in big cities, the USBG offers free admillion to all its sections, making it an affordable and enriching experience for individuals, families, and groups.
  8. Proximity to other attractions. Located near the U.S. Capitol, the USBG is within walking distance of other major attractions, making it easy to incorporate into a broader sightseeing itinerary.

Best places to visit near the United States Botanic Garden

  • U.S. Capitol. Located just steps from the Botanic Garden, the U.S. Capitol is a must-visit landmark. Take a guided tour of the building and explore its iconic architecture and historical significance.

  • National Mall. Adjacent to the Botanic Garden, this vast green space is lined with iconic monuments and memorials. Visit the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and other notable sites along the Mall.

  • Smithsonian Institution. Explore the world's largest museum complex, which includes 21 museums and galleries, situated within walking distance of the Botanic Garden. Don't miss the National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of American History, and National Museum of Natural History.

  • National Gallery of Art. Located on the National Mall, this museum houses a vast collection of European and American art. Discover masterpieces by renowned artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent van Gogh, and Claude Monet.

  • Library of Congress. Just a short walk from the Botanic Garden, the Library of Congress is the largest library in the world. Take a tour of its impressive reading rooms, explore its extensive collections, and marvel at its stunning architecture.

  • National Archives. Head to the National Archives Building to see important historical documents, such as the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Dive into the nation's past through interactive exhibits and displays.

  • International Spy Museum. Experience the intrigue of espionage at the International Spy Museum. Explore interactive exhibits, learn about the history of intelligence agencies, and engage in spy-related activities.
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    What is the best time of year to visit the United States Botanic Garden?

    The United States Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., is open year-round and offers a different experience each season.

    • Spring (March to May): This is arguably the most beautiful time to visit as many of the outdoor plants are in bloom, including the cherry blossoms, one of D.C.'s most famous springtime attractions. The temperature is also very pleasant during this time.

    • Summer (June to August). The garden is lush and fully leafed. It is a great time to see the tropical plants in the conservatory, and the outdoor gardens are in full bloom. However, it can be hot and humid in D.C. during the summer, so make sure to stay hydrated.

    • Autumn (September to November). The fall foliage in D.C. is quite beautiful, and the weather is usually mild and pleasant. It is also a great time to see the chrysanthemums and other late-blooming plants.

    • Winter (December to February). While it's cold outside, the Botanic Garden's indoor exhibits are still open, including the conservatory with its tropical and subtropical plants. The holiday season is a special time to visit as the garden usually hosts a seasonal display, including a holiday train exhibit.
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    What are the most interesting and unique facts about the United States Botanic Garden?

    • One of the most fascinating sections of the USBG is "The Jungle," a large, multi-story room that recreates a tropical rainforest. A catwalk allows visitors to walk through the canopy of the rainforest, providing a unique perspective.

    • The First Lady's Water Garden pays tribute to the First Ladies of the United States, recognizing their contributions to the nation, and also focuses on the role that water plays in the well-being of plants, animals, and people. It features a fountain in an intricate pattern inspired by the Colonial-era quilt pattern known as “Martha Washington”.
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    What are the 3 biggest botanical gardens in the USA?
    • New York Botanical Garden. It covers an area of 250 acres, contains 50 different gardens, features over one million living plants, and is considered the largest in any city in the USA.

    • Chicago Botanic Garden. It is situated on nine islands in the north Chicago suburb of Glencoe, covers 385 acres, and has 50,000 members, the largest membership of any U.S. public garden.

    • Morton Arboretum. This tree-focused botanical garden spans over 1,700 acres in DuPage County, Illinois, and is one of the largest botanical gardens in the United States.