Places to Go - The National Arboretum's Fern Valley, Capitol Columns, & Youth Garden (Washington D.C.)

Fern Valley

A few years ago, the National Arboretum was our go-to place for outdoor adventures. We practically lived there. Then we took a break from it for awhile (as you're likely to do with any place you spend too much time in).

On Tuesday, we went back for the first time in a few months and, yet again, I was BLOWN AWAY by how beautiful the arb is. It's truly Washington D.C.'s hidden treasure as NOBODY EVER GOES THERE. Last Tuesday, we only saw one other person on the trail (security cars routinely drive through the property, so you never feel unsafe). If you are a couple without kids, I can think of few things more romantic than an autumn walk through one of the arb's gardens.

The arb is actually bigger than NYC's Central Park, making it almost impossible to see the whole thing in one day. Luckily, the arb is divided into sections (with separate parking areas), so you can see something new on each visit. On Tuesday, we visited Fern Valley and the Capitol Columns. In the last few years, Fern Valley has had a major upgrade and there are now beautiful wooden bridges overlooking the stream as well as a large beautifully landscaped meadow connecting Fern Valley to the Capitol Columns. The stroller ride through Fern Valley can be bumpy, but it is stroller accessible (trail maps indicate which pathways have stairs).

The fountains at the Columns are under repair, but when functioning they serve as a great place to take children, who love to put their feet in the water (for better or worse). Further, the Washington Youth Garden sits across the street from Fern Valley. The Youth Garden has tons of fun stuff, including a lovely butterfly section (no butterflies in late October) and a worm composter (so we talked about compost for awhile). Plus cotton plants. All in all a great day. And it's free. What a deal.

Fern Valley's Meadow - I love when they hold hands and brush each other's hair.

The Capitol Columns We spent almost an hour alternating between lying in the grass looking at the columns and running through the fields.

The Washington Youth Garden - Cotton & butterflies. I think seeing cotton grow confused the children, as F asked "so how does that become this (pointing to her dress)?" Sadly, I barely know the answer (something about spinning wheels?), so much for living of the grid.

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