Book lovers living in Washington, D.C. are spoiled with the number of parks and green spaces available for them to escape with their favorite novel, and though the District isn’t exactly well-known for its literary heritage, it hosts a number of long-standing independent bookstores that contains a great collection of books you likely won’t find in mainstream stores. What’s even better, is that these bookstores often have adjoining restaurants or cafes, or within neighborhoods where great coffee or tea is easy to find. Here are five best bookstores in DC.
5 Best Bookstores in DC
Busboys and Poets
Though technically a restaurant rather than a bookstore, Busboys and Poets is one of the most popular amongst our list of best bookstores in DC. The main location on 14th Street hosts weekly open mic nights, where random people read their poems aloud. Also, just a month ago, it welcomed a satellite location for Politics and Prose, the lauded independent bookstore located on 5015 Connecticut Avenue. The restaurant was named after Langston Hughes who as a busboy before making it as a poet. Busboys and Poets have six locations in and around Washington, D.C. They serve fair trade coffee from PT Coffee Roasting Co. and tea from Rishi Teas.
Hours: Monday-Thursday: 8-12 a.m., Friday: 8-1a.m., Saturday: 9-1 a.m., Sunday: 9-12 a.m.
Address: 2021 14th St NW
Neighborhood: U Street Corridor
Closest Metro: U Street
Politics and Prose
Politics and Prose has been one of the best independent bookstores in Washington, D.C., for over three decades. In addition to its vast selection of adult fiction and non-fiction books, it also carries a great selection of children’s books thanks to its partnership with the Cheshire Cat. The staff has a reputation for being some of the most knowledgeable in the literary industry and can provide guests with recommendations on any category. The main location on Connecticut Avenue also hosts a number of book events including author readings and book club meetings. Politics and Prose has a coffeehouse that serves local pastries from places like Lyn Bakery and La Mano. Their coffee comes from Ceremony Coffee Roasters while their selection of teas come from SerendipiTea.
Hours: Monday-Saturday: 9-10 p.m., Sunday: 10-8 p.m.
Address: 5015 Connecticut Ave, NW
Neighborhood: Tenleytown/VanNess/Friendship Heights
Closest Metro: Van Ness
This Dupont Circle landmark has been a favorite among the nocturnal bookworms. In addition to its great selection of books from independent publishers, it also has one of the hippest bars and restaurants on its side of the neighborhood. Its restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and the bar offers 24 local and domestic craft beers on tap. The bar also hosts live music events four nights a week. Kramer Bookstore has been one of the most popular DC hangouts for literary lovers since it opened in 1976 and many consider it part of the Washingtonian culture.
Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 7:30-2 a.m., Friday-Saturday: 7:30 – 4 a.m.
Address: 1517 Connecticut Ave, NW
Neighborhood: Dupont Circle
Closest Metro: Dupont Circle
Capitol Hill Books
Despite being the only used bookstore on this list, Capitol Hill Books is still a treasure cove and a favorite by locals. It’s a small and quirky independent bookstore that has piles of used books you won’t likely find anywhere else. It also has these funny, sometimes sarcastic, little handwritten notes posted all bookstore, reminding guests of the store’s dos and don’ts. Capitol Hills Books doesn’t have a café, but its location in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, right across from Eastern Market puts it within a block of a couple of excellent coffee shops, Peregrine Espresso and Pound. The latter serves coffee from PT’s Coffee Roasting Co. and tea from Mighty Leaf.
Hours: Monday-Friday: 11:30-6 p.m., Saturday-Sunday: 9-6 p.m.
Address: 657 C Street, SE
Neighborhood: Capitol Hill
Closest Metro: Eastern Market
Bridge Street Books
Another great independent bookstore in Washington, D.C., lies in the historic neighborhood of Georgetown. Bridge Street Books specializes in books about politics, poetry, philosophy, film, and cultural studies. It has a vast poetry selection and usually has good books on sale. The bookstore’s been around for over 30 years, and like Politics and Prose, the staff is one of the most knowledgeable in the industry. Since the bookstore is relative small, it doesn’t have a café but you’ll find that most people take their recently purchased books and head to the popular local coffee shop and bakery, Baked and Wired. It serves coffee from roasters like Stumptown, Intelligentsia, PT’s, and Elixir.
Hours: Monday-Thursday: 11-9 p.m., Friday-Saturday: 11-10 p.m., Sun: 12-6 p.m.
Address: 2814 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Closest Metro: Foggy Bottom
Do you have a suggestion for places to stay near these best bookstores in DC or for other literary hangouts in the area? Let us know in the comments below.