Embassy Row Tour

The front entrance of The Cosmos Club

The "it" neighborhood of the Gilded Age

Washington’s Massachusetts Avenue, better known as Embassy Row, is now home to a multitude of ambassador’s residences, chanceries, and other edifices that serve D.C.’s diplomatic community.

It was another set of transplants, the nouveau-riche, who established Embassy Row as the “it” neighborhood of Gilded Age D.C.: the nouveau-riche.

We’ll introduce you to the families who decided to showcase their novel fortunes in the nation’s capital: members of the first ranks of mining, railroads, banking, publishing, politicians, and speculators in the 1880s and 90s.

How Embassy Row went from noveau-riche to diplomats

Spendthrift offspring, the Great Depression, and other misfortune eventually drained the resources of many families. Only 50 years later, embassies, clubs, and other institutions were buying up their mansions for as little as 10 cents on a dollar.  Hear about these dramatic turns of fortune during this Embassy Row tour.

Embassy Row walking tour highlights

  • Beaux-Arts architecture, the area’s dominant style;
  • Luxury micro-apartments carved out of the former home of a countess-turned-newspaper-editor;
  • The high life of the last private owner of the Hope Diamond, Evalyn Walsh McLean, and her spirited (and controversial) chum, Alice Roosevelt Longworth;
  • The country’s oldest patriotic organization (and home to one of the first diplomats to live on Massachusetts Ave);
  • A traffic circle that serves as a virtual time capsule, showcasing preserved turn-of-the-century buildings;
  • The benefits—and challenges—of having embassies as neighbors.

What embassies are on Embassy Row?

Of the more than 175 embassies in Washington, D.C., a majority are found along Massachusetts Avenue and its adjacent Kalorama neighborhood. The segment of Massachusetts Avenue known as Embassy Row starts at Scott Circle and extends all the way to Wisconsin Avenue, NW.--from the Embassy of Australia all the way northwest to the Embassy of Great Britain!

What attendees are saying

"Meg was our guide to the embassies in and around DuPont circle. Before she started talking I saw a bunch of nameless mansions, but through the tour we heard all kinds of stories about the Roosevelts and other famous people who lived there. The embassies were all pointed out, and were fun to see. We’ve been to DC a number of times and stayed more in the area with the monuments and Smithsonians. Had toured the White House and congress and the Supreme Court. This was something new and off the beaten path. Fun!"  -Tripadvisor review


People who liked this D.C. walking tour also liked: Georgetown and Kalorama

Guides that may lead this tour: 

CHERYL grew up in the D.C. area and has seen Washington change a great deal over the years.  Having traveled nationally for her work and internationally for fun, she still thinks D.C. is one of the most fascinating cities in the world.

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CHRISTINA attributes her love of walking tours to Sunday afternoon family strolls at historic spots in her native Ohio. She is a long-time resident of the D.C. area and had a career in electronic libraries.

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MARTIN has been enchanted by the city of Washington since arriving in 1980 to pursue a government career in economics.  He found he enjoyed pounding the sidewalks of the city as much as crunching numbers and began leading special interest tours for friends and community groups.

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MARY ANNE, a Washington area resident since 1972, is a former travel writer who rates the nation’s capital the most fascinating city she ever covered. She’s an avid architecture and history buff and shares broad knowledge of both fields on all her Washington Walks.

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MEG is a native of Queens, NY, where she previously worked as a Ranger on the High Line in New York City. She has lived in the D.C. area for over 7 years, moving here 3 separates times — she loves the city so much that each time she had to leave she had to come back!

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Saturdays April 2 - November 19, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.  Not offered November 26.

Also available for private and group tour bookings. Please email info@washingtonwalks.com for more information.

Approximately 2 hours
Reservations REQUIRED and limited to fifteen (15) participants on public tours.

$35 per person for public tours. 

Please email us for a private or group tour quote.

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Embarks from outside the Dupont Circle Metrorail station (Dupont South exit--by the entrance to Krispy Kreme on 19th Street, NW)
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