The 8 Largest City Parks in Washington, D.C.

Written by Patrick MacFarland
Published: February 11, 2024
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As the United States grew, cities started establishing a more uniform way of planning. Parks became an essential part of cities because that is where residents could enjoy walking, exploring, and even playing with their children or pets. There are parks throughout the country, including our nation’s capital, Washington DC. There are local and city parks that are small, but there are also huge national parks. Let’s take a look at the eight largest city parks in Washington DC.

8. Theodore Roosevelt Island

Air View / Theodore Roosevelt Island and the Watergate Complex under the wing.

The island, in honor of the 26th President, formally opened on May 21, 1932.

©Kiyoshi Tanno/iStock via Getty Images

If there’s one thing that Theodore Roosevelt would be happy about is the creation of the National Park Service. In honor of him, the government established a national park called Theodore Roosevelt Island. It is an 88.5-acre Island and National Memorial dedicated to Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States. Furthermore, the island is run by the National Park Service. Lastly, access to the island can only be done via foot, as there are no Cars allowed on the island.

7. National Zoological Park

Smithsonian, Washington DC , United States, American Geography

The National Zoological Park is part of the Smithsonian Museum and is colloquially known as the National Zoo.

©Christine_Kohler/iStock via Getty Images

With a total of 163 acres, the National Zoological Park was established in 1889. In the facilities between the National Zoo in Washington DC and another campus in Virginia, the zoo has 2,700 animals. There are all types of animals in the zoo including birds, Asian elephants, reptiles, marine animals, and even giant pandas. The zoo is open every day (except Christmas Day) and admission is completely free.

6. Glover Archbold Park

DC,_Glover-Archbold_Park,_January_17,_2008_-_panoramio

In 1963, conservationist Rachel Carson visited the park with the Audubon Naturalist Society.

©taylor janis, CC BY 3.0 - License

The Glover Archbold Park is named after the two people who donated the land in 1924, Charles Carroll Glover and Anne Mills Archbold. Run by the National Park Service, the Glover Archbold Park is a total of 103 Acres and it sits west of Georgetown University. It is located in Northwest Washington DC. There are more than 200 fungus species located throughout the park. There is an abundance of different species of trees, wildflowers, and plant species. Furthermore, some of the animal species that you may find in the park include whitetail deer, Virginia opossums, gray foxes, and coyotes. Among the birds that you may find include blue jays, Carolina wrens, American robins, northern mockingbirds, and northern cardinals.

5. National Arboretum

Herb_Garden_at_National_Arboretum_in_April_(14450623140)

Unlike the other parks on this list, the National Arboretum is maintained by the US Department of Agriculture.

©DC Gardens, CC BY 2.0 - License

The National Arboretum was created after Congress passed a law ensuring its establishment in 1927. A whopping 446 acres, the National Arboretum is located northeast of the US Capitol building. Furthermore, there are about 800,000 specimens of plants located in the Arboretum. There are also many, many species of trees, plants, and other greenery.

4. Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens

Blooming pink red open lily flower with pads, insects inside in pond water

Located in northeastern Washington DC, the Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens is run by the National Park Service.

©ablokhin/iStock via Getty Images

The Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens have several cultivated ponds near the Anacostia River, as well as the largest tidal marsh in Washington DC. Furthermore, there is an abundance of plants and Greenery at the park, as well.

3. Potomac Park

Potomac Park is usually divided between East Potomac Park and West Potomac Park.

©iStock.com/Sean Pavone

When divided, Potomac Park serves as two parks. However, they also can be joined together as one large park. West Potomac Park includes the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, as well as other national landmarks like the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. The park also lines up around the Tidal Basin where the cherry blossoms are located. East Potomac Park consists of amenities like a golf course, a public swimming pool, tennis courts, and several sports fields.

2. Anacostia Park

Tree lined path along the Anacostia Riverwalk in Southwest DC

Washington DC’s second largest park, Anacostia Park is located in the southeast region of our nation’s capital.

©Melissa Kopka/iStock via Getty Images

Anacostia Park is run by the National Park Service and there is an abundance of sites included in the park where people can have fun. Moreover, there are basketball courts, tennis courts, and fields for baseball and other types of sports. People can also roller skate there and there are boat clubs with a marina and a golf course.

1. Rock Creek Park

Rock Creek Park

The largest park in Washington DC, Rock Creek Park was created in 1890.

©Luis Molinero/Shutterstock.com

Rock Creek Park is located in the northwest quadrant of our nation’s capital. Congress decided that they wanted to create a large park and thus ensured that in 1890. The park is a total of 1,754 Acres, and it goes along Rock Creek. Furthermore, the park gets about 2 million people every year, and they use nature trails, its golf course, playgrounds, the tennis center, and other facilities. Rock Creek Park is run by the National Park Service.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/SeanPavonePhoto


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About the Author

Patrick Macfarland is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering travel, geography, and history. Patrick has been writing for more than 10 years. In the past, he has been a teacher and a political candidate. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from SDSU and a Master's Degree in European Union Studies from CIFE. From San Diego, California, Patrick loves to travel and try new recipes to cook.

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