With finals fast approaching, it can be all too easy to feel stuck in Foggy Bottom amid the pressure of studying, but take the time to traverse the DC metro-area blocks lined with new places to read books.
The campus that surrounds the city offers many quiet and hidden locations that are perfectly suited for maximum productivity and impressive views of the iconic places. Instead of hiding out in your dorm room for the next month, try one of these five secluded study spots dotted around the District and its suburbs.
Library of Congress
For your first excursion, stroll through the heart of the District and study at the Library of Congress. Just sign up for a Reader ID Card at the Reader Registration Center in the Madison Building with a government-issued ID card and you’re ready to read the books.
The great main reading room of the Library of Congress is located under a gigantic dome lined with marble columns that reach the base of the floor and contains 226 connected semicircular wooden research desks that round out the entire space. From Egypt to Rome, a mural of 12 empires believed to have contributed most to human civilization circles the dome, which overlooks the reading room far below. Sixteen larger-than-life bronze statues of figures including Plato and Michelangelo representing thought and activity surround the room on a higher level.
The library has a series of reading rooms spread throughout its various buildings themed around genres with books tailored to each subject, including a room for prints and photography and a law library. If you have an ambitious research project due at the end of the semester, you can book a three- to four-hour research appointment for one of the library’s many collection-specific reading rooms. For international affairs students concentrating on Asia, check out the Asian Reading Room, and for those studying drama and dance, check out the Performing Arts Room.
101 Independence Avenue SE. The reading rooms are generally open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, though specific hours vary.
Rather than let finals interrupt your DC adventures, escape early in the morning to this Federal Triangle-based French restaurant and enjoy refreshing beverages, including any formulation of coffee. Enjoy an extensive brunch menu and views of some of the District’s most iconic landmarks, including the Washington Monument and Pershing Park. The brasserie offers an extensive menu for any meal, including a wide variety of coffees like the Italian-inspired iced espresso crema shakerato, espresso shots blended with sugar and syrup to fuel your study.
Cafe du Parc boasts an idyllic location where you can stay visually stimulated while you study and take in the views of DC while avoiding the middle of the bustling tourist scene. As you sit at one of the restaurant’s many outdoor tables or inside its luxurious interior, check out the fountains and statues of Pershing Park and the World War I Memorial across the street. As you start to drift off reviewing your notes, refocus your attention for glimpses of the White House, Washington Monument, and US Capitol in the distance before returning to your focus area.
1401 Pennsylvania Ave. NW at the Willard InterContinental Hotel. Open from 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday and Monday and from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Coffee The Cooperative
Discover a cozy and secluded café near the outer limits of the District at Manor Park. La Coop Coffee offers sweet caffeinated drinks imported directly from the owner’s hometown of Union Cantnil, Guatemala. But be careful not to stumble across this unassuming residential-looking building: its exclusive cafeteria provides the ideal environment for you to conquer your documents inside.
The store’s exterior looks like a suburban house complete with white picket fence, but inside the living room-sized space are plenty of tables, sofas, and counters. Students can study in a quiet space while surrounded by plant-covered white walls and photographs of the Guatemalan farmers who provide the store’s coffee.
If the interior of the store, which can only hold about 10 people at a time, feels too loud or cramped for you, the grassy backyard filled with picnic tables and a wooden porch features plenty of seating in a ambience. quieter, where students can escape. campus and find a comfortable, home-like environment.
5505 1st St. NW. Open from 7 am to 4 pm on weekdays and from 8 am to 3 pm on weekends.
the potter’s house
Instead of spending days amidst the stacks of books and dim fluorescent lights in the Gelman Library, head to this historic bookstore and bistro in Adams Morgan. Between its rustic wooden tables and bookshelves, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a mural of a candle casting rainbow rays of light over the entrance, this cafe gives you the opportunity to seclude yourself between rows and rows of shelves free from the lights. Gelman Library fluorescents. .
Potter’s House offers indoor seating at tables scattered throughout the store, plus limited patio seating. Take a look at the menu, full of caffeinated hot drinks under $5, with flavors like caramel, pecan and chocolate. Read up on Native American culture or the feminist movement to immerse yourself in the store’s books that specialize in topics like fairness and justice; Even if you finish your studies early, you won’t be short of stories on these shelves.
1658 Columbia Road NW. Open 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends.
Take a day outside the district to visit this cozy, southern-inspired cafe in Arlington for a taste of New Orleans. Though vast in size, this cafe offers a laid-back atmosphere with its signature New Orleans cuisine that is heavily influenced by Cajun, Creole, and soul food. With about a 15-minute subway ride from campus to Court House Station, walk two minutes to the hidden spot at the bottom of Arlington’s high-rises. the bakery it hosts patio seating and symmetrical square tables and chairs, sure to suit your studio setup preferences.
Bayou Bakery features an extensive menu of baked goods, most notably its beignets ($3.75), New Orleans-style donuts that are essentially deep-fried cubes of dough coated with powdered sugar. Pastries are the perfect treat if you need a sugar boost when studying wears you down.
1515 N Courthouse Road, Arlington, Virginia. Open from 7 am to 5 pm on weekdays and from 8 am to 4 pm on weekends.
This article appeared in the November 21, 2022 issue of Hatchet.