I love Washington, DC, during the holidays. The decorations, lights, music, and festivities are like no other city I have been visited. We typically go the the National Tree and Botanical Gardens, but this year, we decided to go to Chinatown and see the area, especially the decorations at the CityCenterDC.

You can get to the area by Metro (Gallery Pl-Chinatown on the Red, Green, Yellow Lines), and the area attractions are Chinatown, Capital One Arena, Spy Museum, CityCenterDC and lots of retail and restaurants.

One of the big attractions is the Chinese gate called the Friendship Archway over H Street. It is very prominent and very ornate. It was a gift in 1986 by the city of Beijing, and this caused some controversy as residents objected the involvement of the communist government in their area. As a compromise, there were plans for two archways – one from China and one from the community, but the community one never was able to gain enough traction be completed.

Friendship Arch
Friendship Arch

Near the arch, there are crosswalks with Chinese symbols which really are colorful and symbolic additions to the Chinatown area.

Walkways on the intersection of H and 7th Streets
Chinese symbols on the crosswalks

Capital One Arena

Not too far from the Friendship Arch is the Capital One Area where the Washington Capitals (NHL), Washington Wizards (NBA), and a few other teams play. This complex is not just a sports area, but a shopping mall, movie theater, and restaurants.

Outside of the Capital One Arena
Shopping Mall adjacent to the Capital One Arena


CityCenterDC is a mix of residential, retail, restaurants, and hotels. It is a beautiful addition to the area, and one of the attractions is the outdoor decor during different seasons and times of year and digital displays of graphics and movement on the sides of buildings.

Large reindeer on display for the winter holidays

This wall was a moving graphic display of everything from CityDCCener Ads to swirly graphics of planets. It was built as an archway into the center and the graphics even go over the ceiling of the arch.

Digital displays of ads and other graphics in this archway

This is what we wanted to see. This time of year the walkway has metal snowflakes hanging down from a lighted wire grid. During the cherry blossoms, they hang cherry blossoms or in the summer they will hang little beach balls. I can’t wait to go back in different times of the year.

Hanging metal snowflakes across the pedestrian sidewalk. This attraction changes with the season and holidays