Beat the heat this summer with an escape indoors to the United States Botanic Garden! At the foot of the Capitol and on the grounds of the National Mall, this living plant museum is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Washington, DC. And if you have kids in tow, there are many hands-on activities in the children’s garden, activity backpacks for certification as a Junior Botanist and other field guides and resources to choose from to make this visit one of your most memorable and fun times together as a family.

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At the gardens, you can explore the rainforest canopy, see hundreds of blooming orchids, discover the primeval garden where dinosaurs would have roamed, and learn how plants have adapted to their environments around the world.

Every day there are tours, concerts and other events going on so take a look at the United States Botanic Garden calendar when you are planning your visit. No matter which day you choose to visit, there will be something special taking place. The museum is open free all year so put this on your museum bucket list for whenever you pass through the Nation’s Capital.

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For some more insight on the Us Botanic Garden, here’s an excerpt from an interview with Devin Dotson, the Public Affairs and Exhibits Specialist:

What makes your museum a great destination for active duty military families?

We can serve as both an escape for a local vacation — a place to immerse yourself in settings and plants from around the world while staying in DC — but also can be a place of exploration and learning for family members of all ages. From our children’s educational programs to multiple self-guided learning and exploring workbooks, we have engaging programs for all ages. Plus, we are open every day of the year and are free of charge.

What is unique about your collections?

Our historic plants dating back to the 1842 U.S. Exploring Expedition are popular with many visitors interested in history. Many others love our orchid collection. With more than 5,000, we have one of the largest orchid collections in the United States, and we keep one room in our Conservatory filled with blooming orchids year-round. Also, we have many rare and endangered plants that visitors can see up-close.

Are there any special programs at the museum that Blue Star Families should add to their calendar this summer if they are in the your area?

A great summer program this summer is our outdoors American Roots Music Concert Series. About every other week throughout the summer and into the fall, we’ll have live outdoor concerts in the afternoon and we’ll stay open until 7:00 pm. The concerts will all feature music styles that are the “roots” of American music — folk, jazz, blues, zydeco, and more. You can see the full concert series, dates, and times atwww.USBG.gov/RootsConcerts

What are your favorite museum destinations?

I’m a museum polyglot! I love to explore museums of every kind — science, history, art, even children’s museums. I love learning and seeing new things, but also love exploring museum exhibits to get ideas for things we can do here at the Garden!

Why does your museum participate in the Blue Star Museums program?

The U.S. Botanic Garden is open for all visitors, but we hold a special welcome for veterans and active duty servicemembers and their families. We consider it an honor to be located adjacent to the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, and we are working with the National Park Service to offer programs for veterans and active duty service members at the Garden in association with the memorial.