The grand Georgetown estate, Dumbarton Oaks, is celebrating its 91st birthday tomorrow. The estate was once owned by Mildred Dumbarton (a laxative heiress) and Robert Woods Bliss (a U.S. diplomat). Both were collectors and philanthropists, so their home is full of gems, quite literally.
Entrance to the grounds is $7, but it’s well worth it for a blissfull afternoon outdoors. Here are some suggestions to make a day out of it.
First, coffee: After fighting the Georgetown crowds for a parking spot, you’ll want some caffeine. Head to Yellow for a halva honey latte or a Turkish nitro brew and some unbelievably flaky pastry. Oh, and grab a brown butter cookie for later. Patisserie Poupon is a great alternative right up the road with traditional coffees and quiches.
The museum: Walk a couple blocks to the Dumbarton Oaks Museum (entrance on 32nd Street) which is free and open to the public. The museum is full of Byzantine and Pre-Columbian art collected by the Blisses. The textile gallery and the reading room are especially worth a visit. In total, the museum will take no more than 30 minutes.
Mesopotamian artifacts on display at the estate museum. (Kaela Cote-Stemmermann/City Cast DC)
The gardens: This is the crown jewel of the estate — 54-acres of pristinely planned and groomed English-style gardens. It would be easy to spend all afternoon here, and I always regret not allowing more time to explore. Tickets are $7, and I recommend getting them ahead of time as you have to do it online and service there can be spotty. Some highlights include:
- The Orangery: Attached to the main house, this greenhouse is like a mini botanical garden.
- The rose garden: Directly east of the main house, the rose garden is my favorite, with hundreds of types of roses completely taking over the walls. Feels like you’re in Wonderland.
- The pebble garden: Behind the house, you’ll find the pebble garden with fountains, canopies, and lots of wisteria.
Sweet treat: End your day with some Thomas Sweet’s ice cream or chocolate on your way home. Or, you know, break out that cookie from earlier if you still have it.
P.S. If you’re a fan of hidden D.C. parks, also check out Crispus Attucks Park. It’s a City Cast DC favorite ever since our podcast covered the park’s creation and history.