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In Bloom: Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens


In Bloom: Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

I bent over to snap a picture of the blooming lilies from a unique angle and, while my attentions were briefly elsewhere my dogs lunged forward in another failed attempt at frog hunting. They reluctantly climbed out of the lily pond coated up to their necks in mud, wearing what could only be described as the equivalent of a doggie smile. Ooey was observing all of this from within the baby carrier I wore on my waist and had decided she wanted in on the action, I put my phone away, lest my next distracted moment end with a mud coated human baby, and took her out of the pouch.


While technically a garden, Kenilworth felt more like a water lily maze designed for a contemplative afternoon stroll. Ooey was now pack leader and we all followed as she toddled down the grassy paths that made their way between the man made lily ponds that the wealthy Shaw family had constructed decades prior. A dog on either side of her, their leashes prevented her from opting into a pond and we made our way to a leaf the size of a large dinner plate. She grabbed the leaf with her chubby little hand and swirled around a drop of water that remained after the night’s previous shower, completely unaware of the blooms and seed pods looming many feet above her head. She pulled the leaf too forcefully and the water fell into the pond, and we continued on.


We found our way to the entrance of a boardwalk leading into a seemingly endless wetland. Peering over the boardwalk I saw tiny fish navigating through the fingers of a trickling stream that had made ruts in the silt. Pieces of garbage strewn throughout the wetland, discarded water bottles and empty oil containers of unknown origins, broke the illusion that I was miles from civilization. In the distance stadium lights were visible, reminding me I was indeed still within DC city limits, and had been sweating in midday traffic only five minutes before arriving.


Out of water, hot, and running low on patience for the varied interests of my companions, namely the set of stairs ooey had found, we wandered out of the marsh and back through the lily maze. Visitors were sprinkled throughout the garden all intent and calm as they observed the tropical flowers with their fingers and cameras. The muddy dogs flopped down in the car and went straight to napping, Ooey was properly tired and began a  rare but glorious car nap. Within five minutes I was away from the serene lilies and back in traffic.



Website: Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens


Open year round

April 1- October 31st: 9am-5pm

November 1- March 31st: 8am-4pm

Blooms expected to last through August

Closed December 25th, January 1st, and Thanksgiving Day

Getting there:

1900 Anacostia Ave SE
Washington , DC 20020

Parking ( Free lot on site, I recommend driving )

Cost: Free

Additional Supplies: Picnic supplies, sunscreen, lots of water

Nursing Friendly: Sure, plenty of places to sit but no designated spots

Attention Level: High

Disclaimer- I have created a level of alertness scale; low, medium, high.  based on factors such as play area location in relation to traffic, strangers, dogs, etc. A low rating in no way indicates you should not keep an eye on or engage with your child, it simply means your child is in less danger here should you become distracted.

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