Nailing that perfect photo to adorn your holiday card can be stressful. Not only do you need to make sure everyone is looking well-groomed with open eyes and wide smiles, but you’ll want a backdrop that’s nicer than your cluttered living room or garage wall. I like these six stunning spots around the D.C. area, where you can gather your group for a picture that will stand out on your friends’ mantels and refrigerators.

A few tips for shooting in public: Be mindful of the space you’re in, and be respectful of fellow visitors (watch where you’re waving that selfie stick!). Tripods should not be set up in the middle of thoroughfares. No bossing around strangers. Stay calm when asking your family to pose for one more shot. After all, your desire for an iconic image shouldn’t ruin others’ enjoyment of the location.

These spots are all acceptable to use if you’re taking the picture yourself or asking a kind passerby to do the honors. However, if you plan to hire a professional photographer, be aware that many parks require paid permits that must be acquired in advance, and there may be other rules you will need to follow.

The old stone bridge in Tregaron Conservancy

This gem of a park is hidden away in Cleveland Park. There are lots of memorable backdrops scattered throughout the vibrant 20-acre green space, but the old stone bridge is my favorite. To get to there, follow the short path from the Klingle Road gate and make a right just before the small, lily-dappled pond. Tregaron is often bustling with dog walkers, birdwatchers and families, so be patient with passersby as you work to get your shot.

Best time to shoot: Within two hours after sunrise.

Enter through the gate on Klingle Road NW across from the corner of Cortland Place NW. tregaron.org. Free.

The LOVE mural in Blagden Alley

If you want a photo that pops while sending love-is-love inclusivity vibes, this spot in Blagden Alley is for you. The rainbow-bright mural by artist Lisa Marie Thalhammer is a head-turner from every angle, whether close up or from a distance. Think about doing an action shot in front of a single letter, such as everyone jumping in the air at once. The mural is popular, so be prepared to potentially wait before getting your shot. Luckily, it’s right next to La Colombe, so you can enjoy a coffee while you bide your time. Or take a stroll around the nearby alleyways, which are covered with more striking artworks.

Best time to shoot: Within two hours after sunrise or in the late afternoon before dusk.

Blagden Alley NW. instagram.com/thelovemural. Free.

The C&O Canal Towpath

Make a right out of the Fletcher’s Cove parking lot and head northward along the trail. When fall foliage is in full effect, there are plenty of wonderful photo ops along this stretch of the storied canal. One of my preferred spots is just before the century-old Arizona Avenue Trestle, which adds a touch of history to photos. Go early in the morning when the light gives a golden glow to the trees, and there’s mist rising off the water. Keep your eyes and ears open because the towpath is popular with runners and cyclists.

Best time to shoot: Within two hours after sunrise.

Park at Fletcher’s Cove Parking, 4940 Canal Rd. NW. Free.

The fishing pier at Leesylvania State Park

This charming wooden pier, which extends into the Potomac River, is at a picture-perfect junction, with Occoquan Bay to the left and the Maryland shoreline in the distance. Wide-open skies and blue waters really pop in the late afternoon sun. If you want a photo with lots of drama, the fiery radiance of sunset makes for a stunning backdrop. As the name would imply, it’s a popular destination for anglers, so you may have to time your shot in between folks casting and pulling in their catches.

Best time to shoot: Late afternoon until sunset.

2001 Daniel K. Ludwig Dr., Woodbridge, Va. dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/leesylvania. $10 entrance fee per car.

The waterfalls at Great Falls

As water thunders over rocky outcrops, spray rising in the air, it is hard not to be in awe of the falls’ primal power. This striking backdrop will make you look like you’re in Westeros rather than just outside Washington. The observation platform at overlook 3 is the best place to capture the full grandeur of the waterway, though overlook 2 has a good view, too. Given the popularity of the park, go on a weekday morning to avoid the crowds that typically flood in on the weekend.

Best time to shoot: Within two hours after sunrise.

9200 Old Dominion Dr., McLean. nps.gov/grfa/index.htm. $20 entrance fee per car.

The meadows at Rachel Carson Conservation Park

This 650-acre park tucked away on the eastern edge of Montgomery County is worth seeking out. More than six miles of trails wend their way through grassy fields and rolling woodlands. The best photos opportunities are in the sprawling meadows adjacent to the parking lot, where there’s plenty of light and a mixture of swaying grasses and photogenic trees — including many dotted with wild persimmons.

Best time to shoot: Within two hours after sunrise or in the late afternoon.

Open daily from dawn to dusk. 22201 Zion Rd., Olney. montgomeryparks.org/parks-and-trails/rachel-carson-conservation-park. Free.

READ MORE