Hidden away in the Enid A. Haupf Gardens between the Sackler Gallery and Smithsonian Castle, the Moongate Garden is a small oasis of calm. It’s inspired by the much larger Temple of Heaven Garden, a Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) landscape in Beijing.
The centerpiece is a black granite pool with a small pink granite island and walkways. At two of the corners are round granite moongates.
The Moongate Garden is part of the Enid A. Haupt Garden at the back of the Smithsonian Castle, directly behind the entrance to the Sackler Gallery.
From the National Mall, go through or around the Castle. From Independence Avenue, just go through the gates. The closest metro stop is Smithsonian (Orange and Blue lines); L’Enfant Place (Orange, Blue, Yellow, and Green lines) is only a couple of blocks away. Depending on the day of the week and time of day, there’s some on-street parking, but you’ll have to contend with the usual competition for spots.
There’s no problem using flash or tripods, and there’s easy access. But they do close the gates overnight; the gardens are open 7AM to 7PM.
If you're coming in from out of town, here are some of the most popular guidebooks that can help you make the most of your visit.
And here are some interesting options for less traditional guidesbooks if you'd like an emphasis on exploring DC on foot or diving into some of the region's rich history.