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Dive into Nature at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Washington DC

Updated: September 1, 2023

Washington DC may be well-known for its museums, monuments, and government buildings, but the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens offer a different kind of experience.

Nestled away in the quiet neighborhood of Kenilworth, this garden is home to a wide array of aquatic plants and wildlife.

The gardens offer a serene and unique escape from the bustling city life. This visitor's guide will help you make the most of your trip to the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens.


What is the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens?

This natural beauty is the only national park dedicated to water loving plants!

As a National Park site, it is free to enter (and parking is free as well!) and there are kids activities to earn a Junior Ranger Badge.

It is open 8am-4pm daily, except January 1, Thanksgiving, and December 25. It stays open late during the Water Lily and Lotus Festival.


How to get there?

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens at located at 1550 Anacostia Ave NE, Washington, DC 20019. If you plan on driving, there is plenty of parking available for free in the parking lot or on nearby streets.

The Gardens are conveniently located at Anacostia River Trail, Washington, DC. so you can also walk there if you're also planning on walking that trail.

You can even kayak/canoe/paddleboard here if you're on the Anacostia River!

You can get to Kenilworth by public transportation as well.

Take the Orange Line to Deanwood Station. Use the lower Polk Street exit. Walk to the end of Polk St. and then take the pedestrian overpass over Kenilworth Avenue/295 and then take a left on Douglas St. Go to the end of Douglas St. and then take a right on Anacostia Ave. and the park will be on your left.


What to expect?

The Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens display the beauty of water lilies, lotuses, and other aquatic plants in close proximity to wildlife.

The gardens showcase a 9-acre pond with an overlook boardwalk, a lotus pool, and a freshwater tidal marsh.

You can explore the gardens' various sections while admiring the natural beauty of the water lilies, cattails, and other flowers that make up the environment.

You can also observe numerous species of wildlife, such as fish, turtles, and herons, in their natural habitat.


Best time to visit?

The Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens are open year-round from sunrise to sunset.

However, the best time to visit is between mid-June to mid-August when the lotus flowers bloom gloriously. The blooming season lasts about a month, and the beautiful flowers come in pink, lavender, and white shades that make the gardens look like something out of a fairy tale.

If you're afraid of crowds, avoid the weekends. Weekdays offer a more peaceful experience, giving you ample time to take photos and explore the gardens.

In the peak of summer, it is also best to visit in the morning or event as some varietals close in the midday sun.

When is the Lotus and Water Lily Festival?

One of the most popular times to visit is during the Lotus and Water Lily Festival.

This festival runs in mid-late July every year to coincide with peak bloom.

The festival will feature eight days of cultural performances, classes, ranger programming and more.

During the Festival, the gardens remain open late on select dates.


What to pack?

Water and snacks are essential, especially during the summer months when the heat can be unbearable.

The park doesn't have food, but you can bring snacks and picnics. There are many picnic tables available.

Make sure to wear comfortable shoes, as you will be walking around the gardens for a long time. The trails are unpaved and can get very muddy so be prepared!

Another key item is a camera, as the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens provide ample photo opportunities.


Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens is a hidden gem nestled in Washington, DC. It's an excellent spot for nature lovers, families, and anyone looking to escape the city life for a few hours. From the stunning picturesque views to the wide variety of aquatic plants and wildlife that you can observe, the gardens are a worthwhile day trip.

So, take a break from your hectic schedule and bask in the beauty of the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens.

About The Author

Canden Arciniega

Follow On Instagram | Canden is a historian & tour guide in Washington DC with 4 published books about the city. She has written for HuffPost Travel and has been featured in the Washington Post, WTOP, and numerous other DC papers. She's also been interviewed by the BBC, NPR, Travel Channel and Discovery Family Channel. Canden is the producer of the podcast, Tour Guide Tell All. She is an authority on D.C. history, and has led tours in the city since 2011. She currently resides in DC, but has also lived in London and South Korea, and has traveled to over 28 countries and every US State but Hawaii. She homeschools her 2 children by exploring the plethora of museums in DC.
Updated: September 1st, 2023
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