Discover why Washington D.C. is  a great place for a family vacation.


One of my favorite places to take guests during the holidays is the U.S. Botanic Garden. Located next to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, the garden is great any time of year, but is extra special during the holidays.

Photo Credit: Architect of the U.S. Capitol

Each year the East Wing of the building is transformed into an amazing model train display. Both you and your child will be entertained as you watch the trains chug along more than 800 feet of track in an Enchanted Forest.

Photo Credit: Architect of the U.S. Capitol

This year the enchanted forest has outgrown the East Wing and you’ll find other treasures hidden throughout the gardens. See if you and your children can find the wizard’s house, the Fairy-Go-Round or the sneaky snake.

You can’t miss all of the beautiful poinsettias throughout the gardens and you’ll want to take lots of pictures of the amazing replicas of DC landmarks made out of over 70 natural materials. You’ll see the U.S. Capitol, the Washington Monument, the Supreme Court and my favorite, the Lincoln Memorial, just to name a few.

Photo Credit: Architect of the U.S. Capitol

While you’re there be sure to stop in the West Wing to visit the permanent interactive exhibit focused on the senses. Your children can sniff plants and herbs from different cultures and learn about how plants are used in everyday life.

The U.S. Botanic Garden can be a busy place during the holidays. We advise visiting during the weekday rather than the weekend or even better plan a visit on Tuesday or Thursday evening. The gardens are magical at night, the crowds are gone and the museum stays open late with live musical performances from 6pm – 8pm. Visit the U.S. Botanic Garden website for a schedule of performances. Also before or after your visit you can stroll over to the grounds of the U.S. Capitol to look at the National Christmas Tree which is beautiful when it is lit up at night.

  • U.S. Botanic Garden:     100 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington D.C.
  • Metro: As always the best way to get to the U.S. Botanic Garden is by metro. The closest stop is the Federal Center SW station on the Orange and Blue Line. Exit the station, walk north (left) along Third Street SW for two blocks, cross Independence Avenue and continue one more block to Maryland Avenue. Look toward the Capitol and you will see the glass dome of the Conservatory. The Conservatory entrance is on Maryland Avenue.
  • Hours: The museum is open daily from 10am – 5pm. On Tuesday and Thursdays during the holidays the museum has extended hours until 8pm. The museum is open on Christmas Day and there is never a crowd. This would be a great activity once the presents have been unwrapped.
  • Restaurants: Visit our Capitol Hill Restaurants webpage for restaurant suggestions in the area.
  • Strollers: There is no stroller parking available at the U.S Botanic Garden. Strollers are allowed, but passage ways are narrow and if at all possible it is recommended you not bring a stroller.

Do you know about other holiday train displays in the Washington area? Tell us where you love to visit…


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