Each year, one of the busiest holiday activities near DC is the United States Botanic Garden holiday exhibit. Every single time someone finds out that I have yet to visit, I get a mini-lecture on how it is one of the “must-do” holiday experiences in the DC area. As a result, making a holiday visit (I’ve visited in summer) to the United States Botanic Garden has been on my lists for years. The holiday exhibit typically features a collection of DC landmarks made from all-natural materials and a model train exhibit. This year, however, a special exhibit featuring National Parks and Historic Places was created to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act.

As a self-professed National Park Nerd, there was NO way I was going to miss the holiday exhibit this year! After talking to Hubs, I made plans for us to visit on my birthday, which happens to be a week before Christmas. The original plan was to visit the United States Botanic Garden holiday exhibit in the morning and view the National Parks Adventure 3D IMAX film at the National Museum of Natural History in the afternoon.  Little did I know that I would need to have an unplanned surgery a few days before our scheduled visit. I’m fine now, but it threw a wrench in our plans and we had to cut out the IMAX film as I was completely exhausted by the time we finished the National Parks and Historic Places portion of the holiday exhibit.

National Parks and Historic Places Exhibit

As a newbie to the United States Botanic Garden holiday exhibit before, I had very few expectations upon arrival. While I walked with subdued hope that the National Park Service units I love would be well done, I was completely blown away by how frickin’ amazing they all were! I loved every aspect of it! There were over 50 different national parks and historic places represented in the exhibit. I honestly could have spent hours there looking at each in great detail. I’ve included photos of my favorite models below.

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Gateway Arch National Historic Landmark

Gateway Arch National Historic Landmark

Mount Vernon National Historic Landmark

Mount Vernon National Historic Landmark

Monicello National Historic Landmark

Monticello National Historic Landmark

Various Historic Buildings

Various Historic Buildings

Harry S. Truman National Historic Site

Harry S. Truman National Historic Site

Statue of Liberty National Monument

Statue of Liberty National Monument

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

John Muir National Historic Site

John Muir National Historic Site

Philippi Covered Bridge

Philippi Covered Bridge

Taos Pueblo National Historic Landmark

Taos Pueblo National Historic Landmark

Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve

Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Yellowstone National Park

Front of the Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Back of the Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Old Faithful Geyser (it was active – see steam) at Yellowstone National Park

National Park Service Emblem and Bison

National Park Service Emblem and Bison

DC Landmarks Exhibit

The following images are some of the famous DC Landmarks that were featured during the United States Botanic Garden holiday exhibit. I was so exhausted by the time we reached this portion of the exhibit, we did a quick drive-by and got on the road. In the positive side, I have a great excuse to visit again in the future.

United States Botanic Garden Holiday Exhibit

US Capitol Building

United States Botanic Garden Holiday Exhibit Supreme Court

Supreme Court

Washington Monument

Washington Monument

United States Botanic Garden Holiday Exhibit White House

White House

United States Botanic Garden Holiday Exhibit Einstein

Albert Einstein Memorial

United States Botanic Garden Holiday Exhibit Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

United States Botanic Garden Holiday Exhibit Smithsonian Castle

Smithsonian Castle

United States Botanic Garden Holiday Exhibit Jefferson Memorial

Jefferson Memorial

Travel Tips

  • There is no admission fee to visit the United States Botanic Garden holiday exhibit.
  • If possible, visit on a weekday as there are significantly fewer crowds during the week. We visited the weekend before Christmas and waited an hour in line (totally worth it).
  • Arrive early in the day, as lines are typically shorter earlier in the day. We visited around 11:00 a.m. and had to wait an hour in line.
  • Limited parking is available on Maryland Avenue SW in front of the Botanic Garden. Fortunately, metered parking spots are available within walking distance.
  • Whenever possible, visitors are encouraged to visit via public transportation. Two blocks south of the Conservatory is the Federal Center SW Metro Station (Orange, Blue, and Silver lines). Metrobus routes (32, 34, and 36) also stop near the Conservatory.
  • Hand-held photography is encouraged. Permission is needed to use tripods within the premises.