Downtown DC is a major tourist spot. You can’t walk ten steps without running into someone taking a picture – sometimes in the middle of a crosswalk. Your trip to the National Gallery is always interrupted by loud tour groups, crowds of people blocking your view to your favorite masterpiece, or security guards reminding tourists not to take pictures.
Luckily, there is one spot you can appreciate art in a more quiet setting. The National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden is located in the heart of DC, but a wall of trees surrounding the garden causes most tourists to pass it by.
The six-acre garden has 21 different art installations nestled among the trees and flowers. Most of them are modern and contemporary art pieces, but even if you’re not a fan, the garden is still well worth the visit. The paths wind through the tree-enclosed space and acts as a tiny oasis away from the hustle and bustle of downtown life.
The Pavilion Cafe sits along the edge of the garden where you can eat pastries, sip espresso, and people watch outside during the spring and summer. When the weather turns cold, the wall of windows offers a view of the garden from the warmth of the cafe.
The garden opened during 1999, and is the most recent addition to the National Gallery. It’s open year-round and often hosts outdoor jazz performances.
In the center of the garden sits a large fountain, which is transformed into a skating rink during the winter. You can sit back and watch the skaters slide in front of the National Archives building, or shell out the $11.50 for skate rentals and join in yourself.
The garden is open Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The area is handicap and stroller accessible, and is a short walk away from the Archives metro stop.