Why You Must Visit the US Botanic Garden With Kids at Christmas!

us botanic gardens

Inside: The US Botanic Garden in DC is the perfect place to take kids at Christmas.

There are many holiday festivities in DC and the region designed to delight the eyes and ears of little kids. One of the best things to do with kids in DC during the holiday season is a visit to the US Botanic Garden.

As you enter the grounds and main conservatory of the gardens, your senses will tickle with delight. Even if the outside weather is chilly, the inside temperatures are always balmy. The main room of the botanical garden often gurgles with the sound of fountains and every corner was filled with lush greenery and bright red poinsettias.

There are a few delightfully festive reasons you must add a visit to the U.S. Botanic Garden to your Christmas family fun list!

Related: 40+ Totally FREE Things to Do in DC With Kids

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Organic Sculptures of all the main buildings and monuments

us botanic garden

The U.S. Botanic Garden’s most lavish display are the organic sculptures of all the main buildings and monuments in Washington D.C. They are amazingly detailed and absolutely beautiful… and then you realize that they are made entirely of organic (plant) materials. That fact alone will cause your jaw to hit the floor at least once as you stroll through the main room of the gardens and marvel at how intricate these sculptures are.

us botanic garden

It also doesn’t hurt that there are bright red poinsettias everywhere. They are hanging from the ceiling, lining the floor. They are everywhere and it makes the entire experience very festive.

In years past there has been a playful fountain installation with the U.S. Capitol at one end and the Supreme Court at the other. (in 2023 this fountain is not present)

us botanic garden

Related: Where to see the Nutcracker in Maryland and DC!

The Holiday Train Display

us botanic garden holiday train

If you can manage it, I would highly recommend timing your visit to avoid the weekends. Why? Because as beautiful as the main room is, a very big kid-friendly highlight will be the holiday train display– and it will be very popular.

us botanic garden holiday train

In years past (pre-COVID) the holiday train display was inside and the line was sooo long. However, starting in 2021, the US Botanic Garden has moved the train display outside. This makes it a lot more accessible.

The 2023 theme is pollinators. As such, the plant-based recreations feature sculptures of pollinators (like birds, lemurs, etc…), and the plants they polllinate!

us botanic garden holiday train

In 2015, the theme of the train display was Pollination Station. The Pollination Station theme continues in 2016, but with a very special twist. Since 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, the trains will journey through plant-based recreations of many of the iconic national parks and historic places. According to the website some of these landmarks will include the Gateway Arch, the Grand Canyon, and the Statue of Liberty. Again, everything about this train display, except the trains and train tracks, will be plant based. How cool is that?

Related: The Best Santa Trains in the DC Area

The rest of the gardens

Since you are already at the gardens, why not check out the rest of the US Botanic Garden exhibits? Your kids might love running (ok walking) through the tropical rainforest area.

us botanic garden holiday train

The variety of desert cacti is super interesting.

And there are beautiful orchids in bloom too!

us botanic garden holiday train

Related: A Longwood Christmas is another phenomenal Christmas garden!

Know Before You Go/FAQ

When does the US Botanic Garden Holiday exhibit take place?

The Seasons Greenings exhibits run from Thanksgiving Day (November 23) through January 1st and is free of charge.

When are the US Botanic Gardens open for the holiday season?

The Garden is open from 10AM-5PM except on select Thursday evenings when the train display is open until 8PM.

Is the US Botanic Garden Seasons Greenings free to visit?

Yes! There is no charge to visit either the outdoor train display or the inside Convervatory.

Can you bring a stroller to the US Botanic Gardens?

There is no stroller parking but strollers are allowed. It is easy enough to navigate the Garden when it is not crowded. I imagine it could be less than desirable when there are large crowds. There are a few stairs to navigate, but nothing untenable.

How do you get to the US Botanic Gardens?

The easiest way to reach the U.S. Botanic Garden is to walk (if you are already on the National Mall), or use public transportation. If you take the Metro, use the Orange, Blue, or Silver line and get off at the Federal Center SW station. The Garden is about 3 blocks north. If you head in the direction of the U.S. Capitol you will easily find the U.S. Botanic Garden, as it is situated within spitting distance of the Capitol.

Can you park near the US Botanic Gardens?

Parking during the week is tricky because there aren’t parking garages that are super close and most of the close parking is reserved. However, on the weekends, the reserved parking is free for anyone to use. You just have to time it right and you can park right in front of the US Botanic Garden for free!

Is there a place to eat at the US Botanic Gardens?

There are no restaurants inside the US Botanic Garden. the nearest restaurants are either at nearby Smithsonian Museums or near the Federal Center Metro station.

What is the website for the US Botanic Gardens?

Click here for the website for the U.S. Botanic Garden.

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