It may not be officially summer yet, but are you already looking for a way to beat the heat? If you’re downtown it can feel like the relief of a swimming pool is far, far away, however, our classes have some favorite hidden gems that we’re going to share with you today! Whether you’re looking for a cooling mist or a full-on splash session, we’ve got the places for you and your family downtown.
1. Haupt Garden – The Enid A. Haupt Garden behind the Smithsonian Castle is gorgeous no matter what time of year you visit. Flowers, trees, artwork and more await you in this multi-faceted garden, but come summer time our favorite spot is the Fountain Garden. Bring along some water toys like a water wheel (our kids love ones like these), or bring something simple like tupperware that young children can enjoy filling and dumping as they please.
2. National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden – The fountain in the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden provides many opportunities to learn while you’re cooling down. There are often ducks in this fountain (in fact, they even have a ramp into the fountain that is specifically for the ducks), so bring along a favorite duck story and read it while you observe the real ducks swimming around. Another exciting feature of this fountain is the jets that start off small, and get bigger and higher before shrinking again. Observe the jets’ progress with your young one. Predict what they’ll do next. And lastly, while you can’t get in the fountain, our classes enjoy dipping their feet in the water to cool down after a long walk.
Be sure to stop back by in the winter as National Gallery of Art turns its fountain into an ice rink during cold months!
3. German American Friendship Garden – The fountains at the German American Friendship Garden, aren’t big, but it’s a nice spot in between the Washington Monument and the White House with plenty of green space around it. Plan a picnic in this garden and afterwards cool off in the water.
4. City Center – While we usually stick around the museums downtown, we also take advantage of spaces and objects in the larger DC community. One of these spaces is City Center at H and 9th Street NW. City Center has lots of upscale shopping and restaurants, but it also has a several large fountains with jets of water that spout up from the ground. Our toddlers especially love this fountain and enjoy splashing amongst the shooting water.
5. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden – Can you find all the water features around the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden? They’re quite a few! In the middle of the building there’s a fountain that grows higher as you watch. There’s also a smaller fountain right next door in The Livingston Ripley Garden, which was originally allocated for a parking lot, but the garden’s namesake had a vision for this space to become a fragrant garden and succeeded! Walk around smelling the plants, and then stop at the fountain for a refreshing mist. Finally, there is a small pool of water in the Sculpture Garden located across Jefferson Ave from the main Hirshhorn building. While you cannot get in and splash, it’s low level allows children to get up close and observe the way the water moves.
Want to pair a trip to a fountain with a museum visit? Check out or Water Pinterest Board for water related art and objects around the Smithsonian.