If you’ve lived in the DC area for a while, you’ve probably explored a number of the wonderful, free museums within the Smithsonian. But if you haven’t strolled through the National Gallery Sculpture Garden, you’re missing out on one of the city’s best kept secrets – especially during the summer months. Here are 4 reasons to check out the Garden, either as part of a day on the National Mall, or as a fun and unique destination in and of itself.
1. Free Outdoor Jazz Concerts
The Sculpture Garden is famous for its outdoor concerts during the summer months. These free concerts feature an eclectic mix of jazz by top Washington-area artists. The Sculpture Garden’s café sells sangria and other drinks, and you can bring your own snacks or a picnic to enjoy. Concerts are held each Friday from 5 to 8:30 p.m. through August 29. The Garden gets crowded quickly on Friday evenings, so be sure to arrive early.
2. Delicious dining at the Pavilion Café
Grab a bite to eat in the Pavilion Café, which features a panoramic view of the Sculpture Garden. The café’s light lunch options include specialty pizzas, sandwiches, salads, pastries and desserts. You can order a variety of beverages including selections from a beer and wine menu. The Café also offers a delicious Sunday brunch with croissant sandwiches, scones, breakfast pizzas and more. And the Jazz in the Garden menu offers selections from the grill as well as tasty appetizers.
3. A large fountain to cool off your feet
The Garden has a large fountain in the middle in which tourists love to dip their feet to cool off. The wall of the fountain is perfect for sitting, and it’s a great place to listen to the jazz concerts, too. In the winter, the fountain is transformed into an ice skating rink, so be sure to come back when the weather gets cold!
4. Beautiful art and gardens to explore
Of course, you’ll want to enjoy the sculptures that are sprinkled throughout the Garden, as well as the beautiful landscape of canopy trees, flowering shrubs, and perennials. The Garden’s contemporary, large-scale sculpture includes an enormous metal tree called “Graft” by Roxy Paine, an interesting rabbit sculpture by Barry Flanagan called “Thinker on a Rock,” and an optical illusion sculpture by Roy Lichtenstein called “House I.”
The Sculpture Garden is located on the National Mall at 7th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. You can see the schedule of upcoming jazz concerts here.