Tips for Planning Your Visit to Hillwood Estate: A Garden Retreat in DC

With so many museums and attractions to visit in Washington, DC, we didn’t realize a hidden gem in the middle of the city like Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens existed until we finally discovered it this year, playing tourist in our city! Hillwood Estate is the perfect way to spend an afternoon, especially during COVID-19 since there’s tons of beautiful outdoor spaces, and they’re taking excellent safety precautions and limiting the number of visitors.

Hillwood Estate is a decorative arts museum housed in the former residence of businesswoman, socialite, philanthropist and collector Majorie Merriweather Post (yes, of the Post cereal family). Hillwood is known for its large decorative arts collection that focuses heavily on the House of Romanov, including Faberge eggs, as well as 18th and 19th century French art and one of the US’s most impressive orchid collections.

COVID-19 Precautions

Hillwood Estate is taking great precautions to keep visitors and staff safe. We were very impressed and comfortable thanks to all the guidelines they have in place. Face masks must be worn, and all visitors must maintain 6 feet “social distancing” at all times. Sanitation stations are located throughout the grounds

Book tickets in advance

Reservations are required and can be booked online or on the phone. Suggested admission is $18. Visitors are required to select an estate visit entry time to access the estate, and can also select an optional mansion and/or exhibit entry time. Note: Closed Mondays.

Plan Accordingly

Most visitors spend about 3 hours at the Estate, so plan to arrive early to have enough time to relax and enjoy everything the Estate has to offer, and try to plan your visit during the week (open Tues-Fri) since it tends to be less busy than weekends. Also, dress for comfort and bring along comfortable walking shoes, as there are some hills and gravel paths.

Sips + Bites

Pick up sandwiches, salads, snacks, and refreshments (looking at you, froze) from the Merriweather Cafe or bring your own picnic. For safe, contactless pick up and payment, the cafe is offering optional advance ordering. You can sit on the patio at a socially distanced table or grab a spot for a safety distanced picnic elsewhere on the grounds. Note: Cafe hours are from 11 am to 3 pm Tuesday through Friday and from 11 am to 3:30 pm on Saturday and Sunday. 

Explore the gardens.

There is plenty explore outside! You’ll come across a variety of gardens following paths around the estate with plenty of chairs scattered around to sit and enjoy the view. Perhaps the most well-known garden at Hillwood is the French Parterre. There’s also a Russian-style Dacha, Japanese garden with multiple water features, rose garden, cutting garden (hello stunning dahlias, pictured below), and a tucked away little putting green, plus an incredible green house with a vast collection of orchids.

We’ll plan another trip to explore the Museum inside the mansion next time!

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