17 Best Things to do in Chinatown Washington DC.

Chinatown is a vibrant neighborhood located in the heart of Washington, D.C. It is a melting pot of culture, history, and delicious cuisine. With its iconic Friendship Archway, colorful streets, and bustling markets, Chinatown offers a unique and immersive experience for locals and tourists alike. In this article, we will explore the best things to do in Chinatown Washington DC, from exploring the rich history and significance of the neighborhood to indulging in culinary delights and visiting prominent landmarks.

The History of Chinatown

Chinatown in Washington, D.C., has a fascinating history that dates back to the late 19th century. It served as a hub for Chinese immigrants who came to the United States for better opportunities. The neighborhood has evolved over the years, witnessing both prosperity and challenges. Despite its small size, Chinatown is significant as a cultural landmark and symbol of resilience. The iconic Chinatown Friendship Archway welcomes visitors into the neighborhood, adorned with intricate artwork representing unity between the United States and China.

Capital One Arena

Located at the heart of Chinatown, the Capital One Arena is a must-visit for sports fans and concert enthusiasts. This multipurpose venue hosts various events, including basketball games, hockey matches, and live concerts. Whether you’re cheering for the hometown basketball team or the Washington Wizards or attending a thrilling concert by your favorite artist, the Capital One Arena promises an unforgettable experience. Be sure to check the event schedule beforehand and secure your tickets for an evening of excitement and entertainment.

Mall Museums

Chinatown is conveniently near some of Washington, D.C.’s most renowned museums. Take a short stroll from the neighborhood, and you’ll be surrounded by a wealth of cultural and historical treasures. The National Museum of American History, the National Air and Space Museum, and the National Museum of Natural History are just some incredible institutions waiting to be explored. Immerse yourself in the rich heritage of the United States and expand your knowledge through fascinating exhibits and interactive displays. The best part? Most of these museums offer free admission, making them accessible to all.

Ford’s Theatre

History enthusiasts should not miss the opportunity to visit Ford’s Theatre, a significant landmark in Washington, D.C. This historic site is best known for being the location of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. Today, Ford’s Theatre serves as a museum and theater, showcasing exhibits that delve into the life and legacy of Lincoln. Take a guided tour to learn about the events that unfolded on that fateful night and gain insight into the impact of Lincoln’s presidency on the nation. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a performance at the theater, bringing history to life through captivating storytelling.

Chef José Andrés

Chinatown boasts a culinary scene that will tantalize your taste buds, and one prominent figure in the food industry who has made a significant impact is Chef José Andrés. His restaurant, China Chilcano, combines the flavors of China and Peru, creating a unique fusion of cuisines. From delectable dumplings to mouthwatering ceviche, China Chilcano offers an innovative and delicious culinary journey. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor the creations of this renowned chef and experience the intersection of cultures through the power of food.


For those seeking a shopping experience like no other, CityCenterDC is a must-visit destination. This urban oasis is home to high-end boutiques, designer stores, and luxury brands. Indulge in a shopping spree as you explore the beautifully designed streets and squares. CityCenterDC also features a variety of dining options, ranging from casual cafes to upscale restaurants. Take a break from shopping and savor a delicious meal, or enjoy a refreshing drink while immersing yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of this premier shopping district.

Duck in Chinatown

One of the most iconic dishes in Chinatown is none other than the famous Peking Duck. Indulge in this culinary delight at one of the neighborhood’s renowned restaurants, where the duck is expertly roasted to perfection and served with delicate pancakes, scallions, and hoisin sauce. Preparing and serving Peking Duck is an art form in itself, and you’ll have the opportunity to witness the skilled chefs in action. Treat your taste buds to an explosion of flavors and experience a dish that has become synonymous with Chinatown.

American Art Museum

Located just a short distance from Chinatown, the Smithsonian American Art Museum is a treasure trove for enthusiasts. The museum houses an extensive collection of American art spanning various mediums and periods. From classic paintings to contemporary installations, there is something to captivate every visitor. Explore the galleries at your leisure and immerse yourself in the creativity and expression of American artists. The museum also hosts special exhibitions and events throughout the year, ensuring there is always something new and exciting to discover.

Caffeine Zing

If you need a caffeine fix, Chinatown has you covered. The neighborhood is home to many coffee shops and cafes, each offering its unique twist on your favorite brews. Whether you’re in the mood for a perfectly brewed espresso, a velvety latte, or a refreshing iced coffee, you’ll find a cozy spot to satisfy your cravings. Take a moment to relax, recharge, and soak in the neighborhood’s vibrant atmosphere as you sip on your favorite cup of joe.

U.S. Mint

For a glimpse into the history of American currency, a visit to the U.S. Mint is a must. Located near Chinatown, this facility is responsible for producing coins that circulate throughout the United States. Take a guided tour to learn about the intricate coin production process and witness the impressive machinery. From observing the coin-making process to exploring exhibits highlighting the importance of currency in American history, visiting the U.S. Mint offers a unique perspective on the monetary system that drives the nation.

Mary Surratt House

History buffs will be fascinated by a visit to the Mary Surratt House, located just a short distance from Chinatown. This historic landmark was the boarding house where Mary Surratt, a conspirator in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, resided. Today, the house has been preserved as a museum, allowing visitors to step back and learn about the events leading up to Lincoln’s assassination. Take a guided tour to gain insight into this dark chapter in American history and explore the rooms where the conspirators met to plan their ill-fated actions.

6th and I Synagogue

Chinatown is home to the historic 6th and I Synagogue, a significant religious and cultural institution. Serving as a place of worship for the Jewish community, the Synagogue also hosts various cultural events, lectures, and performances. Take a tour to learn about the rich history of the Synagogue and its role in the community. If you’re lucky, you may even have the opportunity to attend a concert or lecture that showcases the diverse talents and voices that make up the neighborhood’s fabric.

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial

Located just a short distance from Chinatown, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial is a powerful tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. This memorial honors the brave men and women who serve and protect our communities, paying homage to their dedication and sacrifice. Take a moment to reflect and pay your respects as you walk among the memorial’s beautifully designed walls, which bear the engraved names of fallen officers. The memorial serves as a reminder of the courage and selflessness displayed by law enforcement officers daily.

Capitol Steps Show

Prepare to be entertained and enlightened at the Capitol Steps show a unique political satire performance that takes place near Chinatown. This comedy troupe consists of talented performers who deliver hilarious musical skits and parodies, poking fun at current events and political figures. Sit back, relax, and enjoy an evening of laughter as the Capitol Steps provide a lighthearted perspective on the world of politics. Whether you’re a political junkie or simply appreciate a good laugh, this show is a must-see when visiting Chinatown.

Victorian Temperance Fountain

As you explore the streets of Chinatown, you may come across a unique landmark known as the Victorian Temperance Fountain. This ornate structure, adorned with intricate details, was erected in the late 19th century as part of the temperance movement to promote abstinence from alcohol. The fountain served as a source of clean drinking water for pedestrians, encouraging them to choose water over alcoholic beverages. Take a moment to appreciate the historical significance of this beautiful fountain and marvel at its intricate design.

The National Museum of Women in the Arts

Situated near Chinatown, the National Museum of Women in the Arts celebrates the achievements and contributions of women in the arts. The museum houses a vast collection of artwork created by women throughout history, showcasing their creativity and talent. From paintings and sculptures to photography and installations, the museum comprehensively explores women’s artistic expression. Take your time to admire the diverse range of artwork and gain a deeper understanding of women’s impact on the art world.

National Portrait Gallery

Located just a short distance from Chinatown, the National Portrait Gallery is a must-visit for art and history enthusiasts. This museum showcases an extensive collection of portraits that span various time periods and styles. From iconic figures in American history to contemporary cultural icons, the portraits on display offer a glimpse into the lives and legacies of individuals who have shaped the nation. Explore the galleries and immerse yourself in the captivating stories that unfold through the art of portraiture.

Chinatown Friendship Archway

No visit to Chinatown would be complete without visiting the iconic Friendship Archway. This vibrant and ornate structure symbolizes the strong ties between the United States and China. Adorned with colorful artwork and intricate details, the archway stands as a testament to the neighborhood’s rich cultural heritage. Take a moment to walk beneath the archway, capturing a memorable photo and immersing yourself in the energy and charm of Chinatown.

Chinatown, Washington, D.C., offers a wealth of experiences that showcase the neighborhood’s rich history, culture, and culinary delights. From exploring iconic landmarks to indulging in delicious cuisine, there is something for everyone in this vibrant and diverse community. Whether you’re a history buff, an art enthusiast, or a food lover, Chinatown has it all.

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