The Gardens At Dumbarton Oaks

The Gardens At Dumbarton Oaks

The Gardens At Dumbarton Oaks
4.5
Tuesday
2:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Wednesday
2:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Thursday
2:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Friday
2:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Saturday
2:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Sunday
2:00 PM - 6:00 PM
About
Dumbarton Oaks is an institute of Harvard University dedicated to supporting scholarship internationally in Byzantine, Garden and Landscape, and Pre-Columbian studies through fellowships, meetings, exhibitions, and publications. It opens its doors to the public to visit its historic Gardens, designed by Beatrix Farrand; its Museum, with world-class collections of art; and its Music Room, for lectures and concerts.
Duration: 2-3 hours
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  • Cloud Chaser
    23 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Preferred Gardens to Indoor Museum
    The gardens were my favorite part of visiting. The overall garden design is amazing and reminiscent of European gardens. It's really like walking into a classical painting. I was impressed by the variety of flowers and trees. I loved seeing the willow trees as well as a few bunnies and baby deer roaming around the gardens. In contrast, I didn't enjoy the museum as much. The exhibits were underwhelming in my opinion. The workers including the front desk guard weren't all that warm or welcoming. The few people working there didn't seem enthusiastic. I usually expect workers at smaller museums to go out of their way to promote the sites and exhibits, but the workers really didn't seem all that caring. They were just there for security. A major downside is the current hours. The museum opens at 11:30 am and the adjacent gardens open at 2:00 pm, which is very inconvenient if you want to see both on the same day. You can only expect to browse the museum for about an hour and you'll likely have to explore the nearby sites to kill time before the gardens open. The inflexible hours (even in place during the summer tourist season) only benefit the workers. The inconvenient opening times and mediocre staff left me with the impression that the institution is not all that focused on promotion, which is sad since the mission statement, as well as the academia, nature, and aesthetics, are in need of preservation for future generations. I'm not entirely sure why they keep these specific hours. I partly suspect that they're accustomed to maintaining a smaller visitor crowd in general since this is the quieter Georgetown area and certainly not the National Gallery. If you want to have a quieter and more intimate stroll through the gardens without the traffic of other tourists, good luck. Since the gardens open later, more people tend to visit at the same time. I noticed that other visitors like myself were disappointed by the inconvenient hours. I still overall enjoyed the beautiful Dumbarton Oaks and hope that the operations and indoor exhibits can improve over time.
    Visited June 2023
    Traveled solo
    Written July 31, 2023
  • kleic
    San Antonio, Texas1,075 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Come for the History, Stay for the Art
    My review is for the museum not the gardens, which apparently can only be visited in the afternoon and with an advance ticket (because they sell out). I wanted to visit because the United Nations was conceived of in the extraordinary library here at the Dumbarton Oaks Conference in 1944. What I didn't appreciate was the tremendous quality of Byzantine and art from the Americas before the arrival of Europeans. Oh my! It is true that the front desk person wasn't exactly warm and welcoming and I felt a bit like an interloper looking around but the collections are really quite extraordinary and well, well worth a few hours if you have the time and interest.
    Visited April 2024
    Traveled solo
    Written April 28, 2024
  • Daniel P
    2 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    History and nature combine
    Exquisite gardens. A great place to listen to the birds, view the flowers, and contemplate a post WWII future. The mansion holds memories of 1944 and the birth of the United Nations as well as an art collection started by the original owners. A great destination.
    Visited May 2024
    Traveled as a couple
    Written May 18, 2024
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

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4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles338 reviews
Excellent
237
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85
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11
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3

A B
Baltimore, MD5 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2023
The art is great, the exhibition text excellent. But, the museum staff have been replaced with security guards. Most of them were nice, one of them wasn't. We had booked a garden entry for the wrong day, which wouldn't have happened, had we been able to buy the ticket from a human being and not Eventbright. There was no fixing it. The guard turned us away, told us we were entitled to a refund, and then refused to tell us how to get one. The phone number on the website only leads to recordings.

And word to the wise: The gardens are for US residents only. Foreign cards and Apple Pay do not work. You must have an American debit or credit card. There is no one to call who'll help.

Moreover: In replacing staff with hired guards, the museum and garden administrators have created a punishing atmosphere, where the only personnel to be seen are the personnel charged with disciplining you. It's elitist to the core: the transformation of a walled museum and garden into a walled correctional facility, where you're allowed to learn things, sure, but under the watchful gaze of the guardians, whose power is unchecked by any other visible authority.
Written August 8, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

ISyzigi
New York City, NY146 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2022 • Couples
These extraordinary gardens melded, to my mind, Wave Hill in Bronx, NY and the hills of Ravello, Italy. The ever-surprising twists and turns of the paths, the well-placed folly around the bend, and the glorious sculpture and water features were just perfection. I spotted fallen from its trees a pear, a pomegranate, and a lemon.The museum, entered just around the corner, was a splendor of diverse artifacts, my favorite being the grand music room with its coffered ceiling, Renaissance paintings, and detailed tapestries. Both are so worth visiting. The staff is pleasant and helpful. On-street parking can be had nearby for 2 hours whether you have a resident's permit or not.
Written October 6, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

ElvisAndrus
Arlington, TX918 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2023
Lots here, including a museum, a park and a garden. We stayed a few blocks away and our AirBnb host and a woman who had lived her whole life in Georgetown that we met at a bustop both "begged" us to go. We only got to the park and I have a very soft spot for being able to have a rural feel in the centre of a city and this does exactly that. A river bed where you can really forget things. I can't comment on the garden and house other than to say there was a long lineup to get in the garden and everyone seems to be upbeat about the place.
Written May 5, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

LMSP
London225 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2023 • Solo
An unexpected gem up the hill in Georgetown. A well designed, planted and maintained garden with lots of garden rooms, different levels and vistas. A good mix of highly manicured areas, some quite formal, to semi wilderness. I suspect it peaks in mid/late spring. The house is also well worth visiting as there’s an eclectic collection of Byzantine art and what seems to be a top class collection of ancient Latin American art with informative labelling. And it’s all free to visit.
Written February 16, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Daniel P
2 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2024 • Couples
Exquisite gardens. A great place to listen to the birds, view the flowers, and contemplate a post WWII future. The mansion holds memories of 1944 and the birth of the United Nations as well as an art collection started by the original owners. A great destination.
Written May 18, 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Lucy B
Hyattsville, MD87 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2023 • Friends
Wonderful garden to explore. In early spring, there were daffodils, hellabores, and forsythia. The smaller fruit trees were in full blossoms, the large cherries just had buds on them. The magnolias were gorgeous.

Some practical notes: the garden opens at 2 pm. From March 14 to October, there is a charge ($7 for all). Totally worth it.
Written March 17, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Steven H
2 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2022
The museum is very fascinating with antiquities, and the gardens are beautiful.
There seems to be a surprise around every bend when you explore the vast gardens.
Be sure to leave yourself plenty of time to take it all in. The different levels are really unique and it's much larger an area than it looks like from the street.
Written December 6, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Resort21106
Houston, TX11 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
April 4, 2006
I have just returned from Washington, DC and visiting friends in McLean, VA. Visiting DC to see the Cherry trees in bloom was the #1 thing to do. It was GREAT! But even better, believe it or not, was visiting Dumbarton Oaks Gardens in Georgetown. I had no idea what a wonderful surprise I was in for. There are 16 acres at Dumbarton and the gardens are absolutely awesome. While I was there the trees were in full bloom; Crabapple trees, pear trees, Japanese Magnolia, Cherry Trees and many more I couldn't even name! The air was filled with blossoms and color. As the sunshine was shinning down through the blossoms and the breeze gently blew through the heavily loaded trees some of the petals would float to the ground. I was spellbound!
While I was walking the grounds moving from garden to garden I was aware of how lucky I was to be there in time to see the trees in bloom yet too early to find the tulips blooming, the buds full but not ready to open. The rose bushes, all 1000 of them, filling out with their new growth but not ready to make buds quite yet, and the wisteria was just beginning to open a very few blossoms at the very top where the sunshine was brightest. I believe anytime visitors go to Dumbarton there will be a feast for their eyes with these works of art - the Gardens of Dumbarton Oaks.
I enjoyed every minute of my visit and wish I could travel from Houston, TX back to Georgetown again next month to see the new palette of color.
Written April 5, 2006
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

WoodyInMass
Bedford, MA77 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
We went to the Dumbarton Oaks gardens at the end of May, and took the docent-lead tour at 2:15. The place was an unkempt mess. Lawns weren't mown. Flowers weren't dead-headed. A large display that was supposed to be under water had no water. Fountains were a dirty mess. Very little was in bloom even though it should have been a great time of year to go. Etc. Etc. Etc. Very, very disappointing. It looked like nobody had any interest in maintaining the place.
Written June 2, 2009
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Rich W
Pleasantville, NY240 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2019
This less popular D.C. attraction should get more visitors. It is a wonderful mansion that contains a world class collection of pre-Colombian and Byzantine art and artifacts. In addition the grounds and gardens are spectacular. Go when the weather is nice.
Written September 4, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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THE GARDENS AT DUMBARTON OAKS (2024) All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)

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