Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens | PARK AT A GLANCE

Water lily at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens

Water lily at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens


Kenilworth Park is part of Anacostia Park, a unit of the National Park system in Washington, D. C. Within Kenilworth Park, which is a typical city park complete with athletic fields, is the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, the only National Park Service-owned property dedicated to water plants. Since there is nothing special about sports fields, National Park Planner focuses on the more interesting Aquatic Gardens.

The Aquatic Gardens has its roots in a land purchase of thirty acres along the Anacostia River by Walter Shaw in the 1880s. He began growing water lilies in a pond that was on the property, and what started out as a hobby soon became a booming horticulture business specializing in water plants such as lilies and lotuses (or loti). The gardens were a popular tourist attraction, and when the marsh along the river was being drained for flood control purposes in the 1920s and 30s, Congress approved the purchase of eight of Shaw’s thirty acres in 1938 to preserve the aquatic gardens and surrounding marshland. Today this is all that remains of the original ecosystem.

Begin your visit to the park at the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens Visitor Center where you can learn about water lilies and lotuses. Afterwards, tour the gardens along various paths that run between the forty-four ponds. If you want to see the marsh, take a short boardwalk that begins at the back left corner of the gardens. There is also a trail that connects to the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, a paved, multi-use path that is open to hikers, bikers, and those on roller skates.


The Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens Visitor Center is open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM from April 1st through October 31st, and from 8 AM to 3:30 PM the rest of the year.

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens grounds are open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM from April 1st through October 31st, and from 8 AM to 4 PM the rest of the year. Park gates close for entry one hour before official closing time, which gives visitors at least one hour to see the gardens.

The sports fields and grounds of Kenilworth Park are open daily from 8 AM to dusk.

The entire park is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

Times can always change, so before making travel plans be sure to get the latest schedule by visiting the official National Park Service Operating Hours and Seasons web page for Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens.


There is no fee to tour the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens or to join scheduled Ranger activities.


allow 15 minutes

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Last updated on April 26, 2020
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