UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 03:  Garden views at Dumbarton Oaks in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. (Photo by Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Dumbarton Oaks

Top choice in Georgetown

The mansion's 27 acres of enchanting formal gardens are straight out of a storybook. The springtime blooms – including heaps of cherry blossoms – are stunning. The mansion itself is worth a walk-through to see exquisite Byzantine and pre-Columbian art (including El Greco's The Visitation) and the fascinating library of rare books that date as far back as 1491. From November to mid-March the gardens are free (and they close at 5pm). Enter them at R and 31st Sts NW.

In 1944 diplomatic meetings took place here that laid the groundwork for the UN. The trustees of Harvard University operate the house, so Harvard students, faculty and staff get in free.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Georgetown attractions

1. Dumbarton Oaks Park

0.12 MILES

Next door to Dumbarton Oaks garden, Dumbarton Oaks Park was once part of the estate but is now a public woodland beloved by joggers and dog walkers…

2. Tudor Place


This 1816 neoclassical mansion was owned by Thomas Peter and Martha Custis Peter, the granddaughter of Martha Washington, and lived in by six generations…

3. Oak Hill Cemetery

0.27 MILES

This 24-acre, obelisk-studded cemetery contains winding walks and 19th-century gravestones set into the hillsides of Rock Creek. It’s a fantastic spot for…

4. Islamic Center

0.43 MILES

Topped with a 160ft minaret, this pale limestone structure on Embassy Row is the national mosque for American Muslims and dates from 1957. Inside, the…

5. Dumbarton House


Often confused with Dumbarton Oaks (the mansion and gardens), Dumbarton House is a modest Federal-style historic home, constructed by a wealthy family in…

6. Kahlil Gibran Memorial Garden

0.51 MILES

Located within a wooded ravine known as Woodland-Normanstone Park, this garden memorializes the arch-deity of soupy spiritual poetry. Its centerpieces are…

7. Mt Zion United Methodist Church

0.52 MILES

Founded in 1816, Mt Zion United Methodist Church is DC’s oldest black congregation. Its original site, on 27th St NW, was a stop on the Underground…

8. Mount Zion Cemetery

0.55 MILES

The crumbling graveyard dates from the early 1800s. It takes its name from Mt Zion United Methodist Church, which used to be located beside the site…