Washington, D.C., is continually ranked among the nation’s most literate cities. And that’s why the area is the perfect place to enjoy a literature-themed day trip! Even better? You won’t need a car!
Start your adventure at the Library of Congress (METRO: Capitol South), which occupies three large buildings on Capitol Hill in Southeast D.C. Grab a quick bite from a street vendor outside its doors or at one of the LOC’s many cafes or snack bars.
You'll get the chills when you first set foot in the Library of Congress' stunning main reading room. — Photo courtesy of Library of Congress
From there, take a free one-hour walking tour of the Jefferson Building, which was the original library. It’ll help you get your bearings before striking out to absorb the countless exhibits.
Apply for a free Reader Identification Card, and then use it to browse the shelves. And when you carry your selection to the main reading room . . . try not to swoon at the grandeur.
When you’re done with the LOC, cross the street and pay a visit to the Folger Shakespeare Library, whose impressive collection of manuscripts, Renaissance books and works of art will captivate any Bard lover. Like the Library of Congress, entry to the Folger is free, so you can save your money for lunch.
Speaking of which, you’re probably hungry again by now. From the Folger, hop on Metro, get off at the Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter station and then walk a couple blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capital Grille. A lobster and crab burger with a side of house-made tartar sauce is just the thing to fuel your reading-rich day.
Read the nation's foundational literature at the National Archives. — Photo courtesy of Franck Cordes / Foundation for the National Archives
Once you’re sufficiently sated, take a short walk to the National Archives. Here, you’ll be able to gaze upon the nation’s foundational literature, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. (Don’t be surprised if you get a little teary-eyed.)
When you’re ready, swing by the Archives’ onsite gift shop to look through its history-heavy titles. But don’t buy too much, because you’ll be doing lots more shopping at your next stop: Politics and Prose Bookstore in Cleveland Park (METRO: Van Ness).
A Connecticut Avenue mainstay, the indie Politics and Prose continues to thrive in the Amazon age. Wander its two stories of bestsellers, little-known tomes and everything in between. This bookstore's always hopping, so odds are good an author reading or other event will be happening during your visit.
If, after a couple hours, you feel yourself getting peckish, head downstairs to the bookshop’s café. Or, for something even more memorable, stroll up the street to Comet Ping Pong for some fantastic pizza and a rousing game of table tennis. You’ll have energy to burn after a day spent reading!
Politics and Prose is one of the District's indie-book stalwarts. — Photo courtesy of Politics and Prose