Quoting the old song by the Carpenters, “Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.” And it’s true that if you had a day planned taking in the sights and sounds of Washington, D.C., stormy weather would be a disappointment.
A rainy day on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. — Photo courtesy of Robert Neff
But there’s no need to feel down. D.C. is probably one of the best places to be if you’re going to be inside much of the day. Thanks to the nation’s most incredible museums, wonderful bookstores, entertainment venues and plenty of dry, cozy places to nosh, you can have a fantastic and full day no matter what the weather outside.
Start your morning with a stop at Busboys & Poets. It’s a combination restaurant, coffee house, bookstore and arts venue. Breakfast is served every day until 11 a.m., so while away a few hours over coffee while exploring the literary and artistic offerings.
Next, head over to the Newseum, a relatively new D.C. attraction that explores the history of journalism in America and around the world. Perfect for a day of inclement weather, the Newseum features a tremendous exhibit about one of the biggest weather events ever: Hurricane Katrina. There are also powerful exhibits about September 11, 2001 and many other pivotal moments in world history. Finally, if you have kids, you must stop at the Newseum’s “TV station” on the first floor where little ones can stand in front of cameras and pretend they are newscasters, sportscasters and, on this rainy day, meteorologists.
Visitors to the Newseum experience the New Media gallery — Photo courtesy of Newseum
While the rain continues to fall outside, stop by the famed Lucky Strike bowling alley and make some thunder of your own inside. Lucky Strike, with its dark, nightclub-like lighting, neon-rimmed lanes and party vibe will make for a devilishly fun afternoon. Better yet, it has a great lunch menu and a full bar – perfect for any grown-ups who are ushering around a pack of kids on this wet day.
No rainy day would be complete without a stop at a true, old-fashioned bookstore (online bookstores just don’t cut it when you’re looking for some place to hang). There are plenty of great ones in D.C., but on this day, we recommend Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe. This lovely spot features the perfect mix of mainstream bestsellers and more eclectic titles all aligned on neatly arranged shelves. Better yet, there is a café with food and cocktails (yes, a bar in a bookstore) to make lingering here a pleasure.
Shoppers spend an evening browsing among the bookshelves at Kramerbooks — Photo courtesy of apium
If you’re still hungry despite nibbling all day, head over to Oyamel – a Mexican restaurant that gives new meaning to south-of-the-border cuisine. The guac prepared tableside is plenty "piquante" and absolutely delicious. Pitchers of margaritas help cool your tongue and from there, a rich and diverse menu awaits. And yes, they really do have grasshoppers on the menu. We’ve never tried them. Will you?
A delicious bowl of the made-to-order guacamole at Oyamel — Photo courtesy of Yosoynuts
It would be unusual for it to rain all day in D.C. – showers tend to come and go pretty quickly. So if the evening skies have cleared, head out for a nice walk through Penn Quarter, Chinatown or Adams-Morgan. All are great for people-watching and interesting bars, bistros and clubs await around every corner.
If you’ve still got energy or it’s still no good outside on the weather front, direct your feet to the 9:30 Club, a great music venue that features some of the biggest acts of the day as well as plenty of lesser-known up-and-coming bands. They’ve got someone on the stage nearly every night, so take a chance. You might just wind up partying away a rainy night after having a perfectly relaxing rainy day.