Meadowlark Botanical Gardens – a Northern Virginia Gem

Meadowlark's new Korean Bell Garden


I’m not super familiar with Fairfax, so last week when I was looking for an outdoor meet-up spot that was fairly convenient from there (as well as here), I turned to Google. After typing in something like “nice outdoor places near Fairfax” and selecting the first link that came up, I quickly determined our destination: Meadowlark Botanical Gardens.

How in the world had I not heard about the place before?  From the the photos I saw and descriptions I read online, it looked and sounded wonderful.  And once we arrived, there was not a shred of disappointment.  Meadowlark is absolutely glorious. space!

After paying the entrance fee in the Visitor Center, we headed out to the gardens.  Paved paths wind through the grounds, but my city kids were having none  of it; when there’s a large expanse of open green space, that’s where they want to be. They took off, running and frolicking on the sweeping lawn (I decided to follow suit — it was way too enticing not to). The grassy stretch leads down to a couple of small ponds, where we stopped to look at a few turtles.

Spotting turtles basking in the sun

Little did we know that the wildlife sightings would get way better a little later when we walked over to another pond.  A wooden walkway leads to a gazebo in the middle, and from both we could see tons of turtles, fish, and geese in the water below.

Turtles & koi in the gazebo's shadow

A flock of geese makes landing

After spending a good chunk of time watching the action there, we meandered over to the new Korean Bell Garden, a pretty and peaceful area with Korean inspired structures and art.  There are two pavilions, one with a large bell inside (though it doesn’t dong; we tried), a lovely fountain with a small waterfall flowing over the stones, a row of whimsical totems, and several seating areas, including the Hall of Harmony where we relaxed and had a snack.

The Bell Pavilion

Wooden jangseung totems

Fountains and the Hall of Harmony

We slowly made our way back toward the Visitor Center, taking a different route from the way we came.  We stopped to inspect a turtle shell  the kids found in the grass, and spent some time crossing and recrossing a couple of foot bridges spanning a small creek in little woodsy area. Once firmly on the other side, we passed through the Butterfly Garden, though didn’t stay long because of the many bees, and stopped at the delightful pine cone sculpture that sits below a pine tree.

A super cool find for the kids

As Sasha would say: a "troll" bridge

Quick visit with the butterflies...and bees

Checking out the giant pine cone

We ended our outing at the Visitor Center, where there are a few creatures and some nice art to see.  And I know from our map there is even more to Meadowlark that we didn’t get a chance to see on our two-hour visit, but what we did experience was superb.

Meadowlark Gardens is located in Vienna, not far from Wolf Trap. Hours are 10am – 8pm in August, but it closes an hour earlier every month until November (then stays open later again beginning in March). Admission is $5/adults, $2.50 for ages 7-17 and 55 and up, free for kids 6 and under.


Filed under All ages, Animals, Educational, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

4 Responses to Meadowlark Botanical Gardens – a Northern Virginia Gem

  1. The Korean Bell Garden looks really interesting! Thanks for posting this, I wouldn’t have known it was around this area otherwise. . . will definitely have to go check it out now that I know it’s there!

  2. Yoga mom

    I want to take my three year old this morning. Did you experience Mosquitos at the park? Thanks!

    • Linda @ KidFriendly DC

      Sorry, I just now saw your question. Mosquitoes weren’t too bad the day we went. If you went, hope you had a good time!

  3. Michelle

    Always love your posts, as you frequently reveal places that I have never visited or even heard of! This is one time where I can say “OH! I KNOW that place!” but we have never visited during the day! Rather, we visited Meadowlark during their Winter Walk of Lights in December! I definitely recommend returning to this hidden gem during the holiday season at night! The kids will love it…and the walk ends at a fire pit where you can purchase makings for s’mores and roast your marshmallows RIGHT THERE! 🙂

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