Madams of DC Tour: Uncover Hidden History
65 Ratings
Uncover the hidden history of DC on the Madams of DC Tour. Explore the red light district of Pennsylvania Avenue during the Civil War and learn about the influential women who worked in brothels.
Duration: 2 hours, 30 minutes
Cancellation: 1 day learn more
  • Freedom Plaza - Where Freedom Plaza is now once used to be the notorious neighborhood known as Murder Bay. As we walk through this spacious open area currently used for festivals and music events, you’ll hear all about the taverns, gambling houses, and brothels popular with Northern Arm soldiers that used to stand there.
What's Included
  • Two hours of engaging tour with an expert guide.
  • No additional entry fees required.
What's Not Included
  • Refreshments at Hill Country BBQ half-way stop.
Additional Information

This excursion is made available every first Friday and the third Thursday of every month. Please refer to the website for the precise timing. Private tours for all excursions are available as well.

The ‘Madams in DC’ tour provides a unique view of DC’s past that can’t be found elsewhere. The Civil War profoundly changed the Capital, converting Pennsylvania Avenue into a prominent street in the red light district adorned with brothels, pubs, theaters, and commercial businesses. It’s challenging to visualize, especially now that it’s populated with towering government structures! You’ll gain knowledge about how the women who were employed in these bordellos navigated their lives, and even influenced governmental matters.

  • Guests must be able to be on their feet for at least 2 hours.
1401 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
The meeting point is in front of the Willard Center, next to the Occidental on Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Look for the guide wearing the costume!
Cancellation Policy

For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours before the scheduled departure time.

Customer Ratings
(65 Ratings)
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Apr 25, 2024
Makes History Come Alive - Katie gave a great tour! Her storytelling makes DC history come alive. She’s clearly done her research. The walk is well paced and the midpoint stop gives a nice break for those who may need a breather. This is the fourth tour that I’ve been on and look forward to signing up for my next one.
Review provided by Tripadvisor
Apr 22, 2024
Engaging way to know the city - This tour with Katie really made the city and era of Madams come alive. Katie knows the history well and gave a thorough description of what was happening in each area of the “red light district,” who frequented the brothals, what they wore and even what they ate. Fascinating information and made even more fun by Katie’s personality!
Review provided by Tripadvisor
Mar 20, 2024
A wonderful tour of the history of DC during the civil war, but from the perspective of some DC's notorious women! - Katie was a very knowledgeable, friendly, and charismatic tour guide. I loved getting to learn more about DC as a city and spend time exploring away from the National Mall. It expanded my appreciation for our nation's capital. I'm lucky to live nearby and will gladly return to partake in Katie's other tours!
Review provided by Tripadvisor
Nov 7, 2023
Fantastic tour in DC - Katie was a fantastic guide! The 11 of us enjoyed learning about the legal madams and brothels from the 1st to the 3rd class establishments. How government and military played a role in the brothels. The areas and the how they looked prior to 1901. Very good tour and will definitely be back for another tour. Thank you for making it a success!
Review provided by Tripadvisor
Nov 6, 2023
Interesting and colorful historical look. Highly recommended. - Wonderful walking trip in DC on a crisp fall evening and heard a history of the area and its colorful history. Highly recommend.
Review provided by Viator
Oct 23, 2023
great unusual tour - Loved the history. Guide was very good at describing the photos when she realized my wife was blind.
Review provided by Viator
Sep 25, 2023
A great experience to get a new perspective - It was a great history lesson on the history of DC, how it grew up, and the role the sex trade played. Added a great perspective of another part of the civil war impact in the states, and good visuals of DC in the 1800s. The stories were amazing and well documented. Great experience and highly recommend for a different perspective.
Review provided by Viator
Sep 2, 2023
The tour changed my perspective on sex workers. - The Madams of DC tour is a unique perspective on the civil war era and survival. We enjoyed the stories of the Madams and how the industry delineated the quality of the brothels based on location which was also based wealth and influence of the clientele. After this tour I really feel that the current state of the industry should be criminal. The public’s health would be better served by making the business legal, returning control to the workers and putting Pimps out of business.
Review provided by Viator
Sep 2, 2023
A Must-Do 'Madams of DC' Tour with Off the Mall Tours - Just experienced the 'Madams of DC' tour by Off the Mall Tours, and I can't recommend it enough! Katie Kirkpatrick, our guide, was absolutely amazing—engaging, knowledgeable, and passionate about D.C.'s hidden history. She took us on a journey through time, revealing how madams, soldiers, and officers were the backbone of D.C.'s economy during the Civil War. With an astonishing 6% of the population in this line of work and 95% of the businesses being women-run, Katie made sure this was more than a tour—it was a revelation. If you're in D.C., this is a must-do.
Review provided by Viator
Sep 1, 2023
Great walking tour option for DC! - Katie was very knowledgeable and the tour was very informative and fun! Good pace and a well timed break in the middle. Highly recommend!!
Review provided by Tripadvisor
Select Date and Tickets
up to 15 guests
1 Adult
July 2024