Note: The museum is closed for renovations until December 2016, but the gardens remain open. Also note that the entrance to the gardens is on R St. NW at 31st St., around the corner from the museum entrance.
It’s always a good idea to explore the back streets of Georgetown when visiting the neighborhood for the obligatory shopping run. Dumbarton Oaks is among the gems awaiting your discovery.
Located at the northern end of the neighborhood, off of traffic-jammed Wisconsin Ave., Dumbarton Oaks offers two very different experiences in one setting: a truly sensational 10-acre formal garden and a 19th century mansion and its modern annex that house Byzantine and Pre-Columbian art, as well as some European masterpieces. It is these galleries that are being upgraded.
Locals mostly associate DO with its gardens, which include every kind of flower and artful landscaping design you can think of: lilacs, lilies, winding paths, rose gardens, wisteria-covered arbors, an orangery, waterfalls, fountains, stone walls, orchards, and ornamental urns and other objects. This is a perfect place for romancing couples to wander.
Perennials bloom on schedule year-round, but spring through fall is when the gardens are most captivating—and sometimes crowded: you may have to wait in line to enter the grounds March through May. In fact, mid-March through October is the only time of year that visitors must pay to tour the gardens.
If your meandering has made you hungry, head back to the main drag, Wisconsin Ave., where many eateries await, including Martin’s Tavern.