Smithsonian Gardens: Mary Livingston Ripley Garden

D.C. is full of little surprises. However, it might seem shocking that one of these little surprises is nestled within one of the world’s most popular institutions – The Smithsonian. I’m talking about the Mary Livingston Ripley garden, which is right across from the Sculpture Garden and in-between the Smithsonian Castle and Hirshhorn Museum.

The garden is designed to be a secret, peaceful hideaway amongst the craziness that is the National Mall. The garden is full of curving paths, half circles, and benches that are far away enough from each other that even when the garden is crowded, it still feels intimate. All the flower beds are also raised, promoting even more intimacy and seclusion in the hustle and bustle of the city. The fountain in the middle and beautiful lamp posts also help create a slight whimsical feeling.

One interesting thing we did note is the faint smell of maple syrup. We suspect it is one of the flowers or plants…but if you know what flower smells like that, let us know. And, if it wasn’t a flower or plant…someone must have been eating pancakes.

E works downtown, but I work on the mall and finding this little oasis was wonderful. If you work on the mall you know that lunch options are minimal and eating outside is almost impossible as tourists typically crowd every open space…but try grabbing lunch from your favorite food truck and heading to this garden. It might be a little busy, but I bet it’ll be more relaxing than other outside dining options.