National Arboretum

Capitol Columns National Arboretum 1 DC

The Capitol Columns at the National Arboretum

May is my favorite time to go to the Arboretum.  I’m sure it’s everyone else’s favorite time to go too, but the great thing about the Arboretum, is that even if it’s crowded and the parking lots are full, it doesn’t feel crowded.  And you can always find parking—at least we always have, although sometimes it is a little bit more of a walk.

So, it being May, we planned a trip to the Arboretum.  Natalie had a soccer game, and our plan was to go right after her game.  We had our bikes on the back of the car, all set to go.  But sometimes the best of plans are foiled.  While we were at Natalie’s game, she fell while playing, and broke her wrist.  So the afternoon was spent at urgent care, instead of the National Arboretum.

The next Saturday we made another plan to go to the Arboretum.  Natalie again had a soccer game, but this one was closer to home, so we planned to come home first, load up our bikes, and be off.  We went to the game (broken wrist and all), stopped at the park for a little while on the way home, and finally got home around 12:30.  But by then, we didn’t really feel like going, not even Sterling or me.  We had that feeling of “we’re finally back home again, and it feels really good.”  Kara and Natalie made it clear that they were perfectly happy to be home, and wanted to stay home.

But, I had this nagging feeling; I knew at the end of the day I’d be disappointed if we didn’t make it, so I mustered up my energy, rallied the troops, and we headed out.

As I mentioned, we brought our bikes to the Arboretum, but this was actually the first time we brought bikes.  It can very easily be done without bikes—although the bikes did make it a lot of fun.  You bike on the road, but the traffic is minimal and very slow, and mindful of bikers.  There are some hills—so be aware of that before you go.  Hills tend to make some of my children unhappy.  (If all of my children had been there, I would have said it makes all of my children unhappy.)

But luckily, they didn’t stay unhappy too long because the Arboretum is so beautiful and peaceful.  In fact as we were driving home that day, Natalie said, “This was a great trip, and it was so beautiful.  And I even liked the bike ride.”  So I guess the hills weren’t that bad after all.

Capitol Columns National Arboretum 2 DC

Kara, Sterling and Natalie taking a break from biking at the Capitol Columns

The reason I love going in May is because of all the azaleas in bloom.  Make sure you get out of your car and hike up azalea hill.  Then make sure you head over to the Capitol columns and wander through some of the many other gardens on the grounds.

azalea hill National Arboretum DC

Azalea Hill at the Arboretum

The National Arboretum is a beautiful retreat—reminding me a little of Central Park, and other parks in big cities.  It’s a little bit away from most of the tourist attractions of DC—a little over two miles from the Capitol, and located on New York Ave.   It’s only open from Friday through Monday.   More info is here: