The day after I moved in to my dorm in D.C. I was determined to find the perfect place to study. I hated the idea of just using my university library or the study room on the first floor of my building when I had a city full of great, free places just a metro ride away. In the first two weeks, I went to 9 different coffee shops (read about my favorites in this post) and tried to find as many nooks and crannies that I could for when I needed a study spot away from campus.
Here are all of my favorites:
1. The National Portrait Museum: Kogod Courtyard
Metro Stop: Gallery Place
-Hours are 11:30 AM – 7:00 PM every day of the week
-You can bring food and drinks in the courtyard but not in any of the galleries. There’s also a café in the courtyard.
What’s good about it: Because it’s a part of the Smithsonian, it’s free. Also, since you’ll be in a museum it’s typically very quiet. A lot of people study here, and there are tons of tables around the café but also scattered around the entire courtyard. There’s a nice water feature that makes a pretty creek-like noise, and since the entire roof is a skylight the natural lighting is very easy on the eyes. Plus, the fact that you’re studying in a museum is just cool. Did I mention it’s free?
Not as good: Outlets are pretty tricky to find, and none of them are going to be near your table.
2. The Library of Congress (Main Reading Room)
Metro Stop: Capitol South (0.2 mile walk), Union Station (0.5 mile walk),
– Hours are 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM
-Go online beforehand and fill out this registration for your library card. Once you get to the Madison building you’ll have to take a picture and show your ID, but it doesn’t take long.
-No food or drink is allowed inside, so go after lunch
-You’ll have to stop by the front desk and trade your backpack or purse in for a nifty clear plastic bag, so they know you aren’t smuggling any special government books out.
What’s good about it: Outlets near almost every seat, a cool (and free) library card as a memento, and it’s extremely quiet. I mean it, you can hear each and every tap tap on your computer keyboard. But I love that and I think it makes for a great studying environment. Not to mention, the beautiful architecture and the sculptures of old philosophers. Those are decent motivators, too.
3. Peregrine Espresso
Metro Stop: Eastern Market, U Street/Cordozo
-Hours are 7:00 AM – 8:00 PM Monday-Saturday, and 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM Sunday
What’s good about it: The banana chocolate muffins, and the tea. It’s a really relaxed atmosphere which is great for studying, has decent sized tables that you can spread out on, and there’s a lot of seating so you’re almost guaranteed to find a spot. Also, just about every table has an outlet right next to it. They also play good music, but not too loud if you want to put on your own with your headphones.
4. Jacob’s Coffee House
Metro Stop: Union Station
-Hours are 7:00 AM – 5:00 PM Monday-Friday and 7:30 AM – 5:00 PM on the weekends
What’s good about it: Awesome, substantial food (french toast, breakfast sandwiches…), Illy coffee, and outlets galore. There’s plenty of seating outdoor and indoor, free wifi, and it never gets too loud. Granted, I like my study spaces to have some background noise, so if you like total silence this probably isn’t the best spot for you.
5. The National Gallery of Art
Metro Stop: Smithsonian
-Hours are 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM everyday
-No food or drink is allowed (obviously)
-There are plenty of couches throughout the exhibits, but charge your laptop beforehand because you don’t want to be that guy who stretches their laptop cord across the floor when most people are just there to look at the art.
What’s good about it: It’s pretty quiet, seeing as it is a museum, and if you every get bored or your eyes need a break from staring at your computer you can look at some seriously beautiful art.
What’s bad about it: This just depends if you get bothered by this, but there won’t be a ton of studiers. People also aren’t going to really notice you or care that you’re there, but just know that there’s not likely to be another person doing homework on the couch next to you. Also, tour groups can get a little distracting.
6. The Hirshhorn Museum, Third Floor
Metro Stop: L’Enfant Plaza
-Hours are 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM every day of the week
-When you get off of the escalator, go around to the other side of the circle and the lounge will be right there.
-No food or drink is allowed
What’s good about it: This is a little lounge on the third floor of the Hirshhorn Sculpture Museum. Like all Smithsonians, it’s free, and there’s some neat artwork in it. There are four, three-cushion couches (for size reference), four outlets, and it’s naturally lit thanks to floor to ceiling windows that give you a cool lookout onto the national mall. Also, thanks to it being a museum, it never gets noisy which is good for concentrating.
Not as good: It’s in a museum so people will be coming in and out to look at the mall panoramic view somewhat frequently. This isn’t awful because this museum is never too packed, so it’s just a couple people at a time. Also, the outlets are pretty far from the couches so bring a charger extender or you’ll have to sit on the floor by your computer until it’s charged.
Before you go, make sure to check out my post on