5 DC Hangouts for Literary Lovers

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.

Best Bookstores in DC: Politics and Prose branch at Busboys and Poets
Politics and Prose branch at Busboys and Poets

Practical Information:

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.

Best Bookstores in DC: Politics and Prose Bookstore
Politics and Prose Bookstore

Practical Information:

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

Kramer Bookstore

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.

Best Bookstores in DC: Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe & Grill
Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe & Grill

Practical Information:

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.

Best Bookstores in DC: Capitol Hill Books
Capitol Hill Books

Practical Information

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.

Best Bookstores in DC: Bridge Street Books
Bridge Street Books

Practical Information

Hours: Monday-Thursday: 11-9 p.m., Friday-Saturday: 11-10 p.m., Sun: 12-6 p.m.

Address: 2814 Pennsylvania Ave, NW

Neighborhood: Georgetown

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.

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About Iris A

Website: http://www.travelingwithiris.com

Born in the Philippines, but grew up in Texas, Iris has been traveling and writing about her experiences for well over a decade. Her work has been published on well-known travel sites like Hipmunk (#hipmunkcitylove) and D Magazine Online Travel Club. She has been all over Europe, the US, and has recently started exploring Latin America. She loves trying local cuisine and visiting UNESCO deemed World Heritage sites. Her favourite city is New York, with London, following a close 2nd. You can follow her on Twitter @sundeeiris or through her travel blog, Traveling With Iris.

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