Washington hotel exterior with garden

Walking Itineraries

Washington’s Southwest Waterfront is buzzing with new developments.

Guests of Mandarin Oriental, Washington, D.C. can walk from the hotel in any one of three directions and spend the entire day visiting intriguing locations, both new and old, before returning to the comfort of their home away from home for the night. Our concierge is happy to customise any itinerary or arrange for assistance with admission and reservations. Private and shared tours with knowledgeable, professional guides can also be reserved through the concierge or Guest Relations.

Explore the water and be inspired and challenged

Itinerary 1: Southwest by Southwest

This fascinating walk starts at Mandarin Oriental, Washington, D.C.’s front door Begin by walking down Maryland Avenue where the United States Capitol dome, modelled after London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral, glistens in the near distance. Turn left and walk two blocks north to Independence Avenue where another left takes you past the headquarters of the Department of Agriculture. Here you can enjoy the reliefs depicting some of America’s livestock and crops on the neo-classical building’s façade.

At the corner of Independence Avenue and 14th Street, cross the street and turn left again to visit the United States Holocaust Memorial and Museum. Designed by James Ingo Freed, this striking building opened in 1993, and tells the history of the Holocaust and serves as a memorial to its victims. The museum also acts as a poignant reminder of the dangers of totalitarianism and threats to freedom and human dignity. The Museum charges no admission but timed entrance passes may be necessary during busy seasons.

From the museum, you can then walk half a block south to the Bureau of Printing and Engraving. Here visitors will learn about U.S. currency and watch paper currency printed on the production floor. Walk-up tours are offered Monday through Friday and timed ticketed entry may be required during busy seasons.

From the Bureau, walk south to D Street and turn right to continue walking counter-clockwise around the Tidal Basin. This manmade body of water is ringed by hundreds of cherry trees gifted to the United States by Yukio Ozaki, the Mayor of Tokyo, in 1912. (His great-granddaughter gifted five similar cherry trees to Mandarin Oriental, Washington, D.C. on the occasion of our hotel’s opening in 2004). These trees famously bloom each spring and attract visitors from all over the world.

Capitol and the beautiful architecture of the its dome

Capitol Dome Rotunda

Get an inside view of the Capitol and the beautiful architecture of the its dome.

Martin Luther King Jr. statue

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

Just a few steps away from the Mandarin Oriental nestled in the Tidal Basin is the inspiring Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.

Following the walking path around the Tidal Basin, guests first encounter the inspiring Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. Chinese artist Master Lei Yixin was selected to create the sculpture comprised of 159 granite blocks depicting the image of Dr. King emerging from a mountain.

The second stop around the Tidal basin is the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. Dedicated in 1997, the memorial is a sequence of four outdoor rooms, each commemorating accomplishments from President Roosevelt’s four terms in office.

Finally, visitors will arrive at one of Washington’s grandest landmarks, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. Modelled after Rome’s Pantheon, this impressive white marble building honours the second president of the United States and author of the Declaration of Independence. Sitting on its steps provides visitors with a serene view of the Tidal Basin and the Washington Monument in the distance.

From there, it is only a short walk back to Mandarin Oriental, Washington, D.C. where upon entering you will notice that the hotel’s lobby and ceiling mirrors the Jefferson Memorial dome.


Experience emerging art and culture

Itinerary 2: Southwest by Southeast

Starting from Mandarin Oriental, Washington, D.C. stroll down Maryland Avenue where you will catch views of the U.S. Capitol dome in the near distance. Almost right next door to the hotel is one of the country’s newest and most innovative art spaces, Artechouse. The exhibitions are fully immersive, interactive large-scale installations designed by artists working in a digital medium and can be enjoyed by everyone regardless of age.

As you continue to walk down Maryland Avenue, you will have the opportunity to pass and explore MO Fan I.M. Pei’s brutalist masterwork, L'Enfant Plaza. This complex opened to great critical acclaim in 1972 and is enjoying new attention as its architectural style enjoys a positive revival. Currently the area houses offices, a shopping centre, an outdoor public square and a food court. It also allows easy access to Washington’s Metrorail system as five lines connect through its underground station.

In spring 2018, the International Spy Museum will open in L’Enfant Plaza. Upon completion the building will boast over 140,000 sq. ft. of exhibits and educational resources dedicated to the science and art of intelligence and espionage. SPY’s current location in Chinatown is a very popular attraction and their move into a state-of-the-art custom-designed building will only enhance its public offerings.

A walk from L’Enfant Plaza east on D Street and continuing onto Virginia Avenue passes the Department of Housing and Urban Development headquarters. Make a quick left on 4th Street and you will see the new Museum of the Bible at the corner of 4th and D Streets. This breath-taking new museum is a centrepiece of Southwest Washington’s regeneration and cost over USD 1b to bring to life. It demonstrates through interactive exhibits how the Bible came to take shape and how it has influenced world culture and American society.

From the Museum of the Bible, set off south on 4th Street and turn left on E Street taking you to NASA’s headquarters and the NASA Exchange Store, where you can purchase a toddler’s astronaut suit, NASA logoed apparel and other fun science-related gifts.

arena stage at night

Arena Stage

The spectacular Arena Stage a short walk from the Mandarin Oriental offers from some of America’s most important playwrights working today and productions headed to Broadway.

A two block walk west on E Street followed by a left onto 7th Street will find you roughly three blocks from the corner of 7th Street and Maine Avenue, where the Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater is located. This vibrant theatre company presents live performances in a variety of stage arrangements. Its offerings include debut shows from some of America’s most important playwrights working today and productions headed to Broadway.

Across the street is the new District Wharf development. Slow down and enjoy the views from one of three public piers, wander through Wharf Street and past the Washington Yacht Club’s harbour making your way to the District Fish Market, a local landmark and the oldest continually operating fish market in the country.

From there, it’s a short walk east on Maine Avenue and up and over the Southwest Waterfront Pedestrian Bridge and back to the Mandarin Oriental, Washington, D.C. to end the day with a spa treatment and a delicious meal.


Take in museums along the south side of the National Mall

Itinerary 3: Southwest by Northwest

The attractions listed are free of charge to enter, making the walk ideal for a day of museum hopping.

Leaving Mandarin Oriental, Washington, D.C., walk down Maryland Avenue where the United States Capitol dome, modelled after London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral, glistens in the near distance. Turn left and walk two blocks north to Independence Avenue and across the street to the Freer|Sackler Galleries , a newly renovated gallery renowned for preserving and exhibiting Asian art and antiquities. James Whistler’s Peacock Room is a not-to-be-missed highlight.

Located next door to the FreerSackler is the Smithsonian Institution, nicknamed the “Nation’s Attic”. This distinctive building, known as the Smithsonian Castle, is a city landmark and a visit to the Visitors’ Centre will help guests make the most of their trip to Washington. As a curious side note, the Smithsonian Castle also houses the crypt of James Smithson, the Institute’s founding benefactor who never visited the United States during his lifetime.

Another short walk east on Independence Avenue arrives at the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. This is the National Gallery of Modern Art and exhibits a jaw-dropping permanent collection along with special exhibitions that are impressive in their own right.

Continuing east, visitors will next encounter the National Air and Space Museum. A true favourite among families, this facility celebrates American achievements in aeronautics and space exploration, and is the single most visited museum on the National Mall. Highlights include the Wright Brothers flyer, Charles Lindberg’s Spirit of St. Louis, the Apollo 11 space capsule, and the Bell X-1 in which Chuck Yeager became the first person to break the speed of sound. On a hot day, watching a movie in the museum’s IMAX theatre provides some welcome relief in the air conditioning, too.

At the corner of Independence Avenue and 4th Street, is the National Museum of the American Indian. The building’s dramatic curvilinear architecture designed by Douglas Cardinal, sweeps visitors into a space that displays hundreds of thousands of artefacts representing Native American life and culture. The museum’s restaurant, the Mitsitam Café, is also one of Washington’s most celebrated dining experiences and a great destination for lunch.

Turning north briefly, visitors can head back west along the National Mall, catching close views of the U.S. Capitol Building and the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art (designed by MO Fan I.M. Pei), along with a commanding view of the Washington Monument. If the Mall isn’t hosting a festival, concert, or march, it’s a great place for jogging or for Younger Fans to burn off a little energy before heading back for a quick pre-dinner dip in the indoor pool in the Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Washington, D.C.

From the Mall, turn left at 12th Street and guests are only a few blocks’ from the Mandarin Oriental, Washington, D.C.

National Air and Space Museum

National Air and Space Museum

One of the most popular museums in D.C., you can see many reminders of American achievement in aeronautics and space exploration.

Freer | Sackler Gallery

Freer | Sackler

The newly renovated Freer | Sackler Gallery is renowned for preserving and exhibiting Asian art and antiquities.

National Museum of African American History and Culture

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Take time to visit the many museums nearby, like National Museum of African American History and Culture.