The 5 Most Unconventional Study Spots in D.C.

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When you get tired of studying in your room or the campus library, try turning Washington, D.C. into your new favorite study spot. In a city with so many buildings and coffee shops, you can easily find a new place to curl up with your textbooks and laptop, starting with these popular spots.

1. Kogod Courtyard

If you want to study with natural light and music in the background, the Kogod Courtyard sounds like your kind of place. Located inside of the free National Portrait Gallery, a massive glass canopy covers the courtyard. “I like how the courtyard gets bright and sunny without the bother of bugs and direct sunlight,” said American University sophomore Christine Machovec. The Kogod Courtyard offers free wifi, tables abound and a cute little café. The café can feed your stomach while you feed your brain with information. When you need a break or finish for the day, you can explore the National Portrait Gallery. “…If you need to take a break you can walk around and look into the eyes of presidents and other historical leaders for inspiration,” said Machovec. My favorite part is the portrait of Francis Underwood from House of Cards that will remain on display until mid-October.

2. Library of Congress

Eat your heart out, aspiring politicians—you just found the picture-perfect spot to get your studies and inspiration going. The main issue with the Library of Congress is that the space has no places to sit. Pro tip: Get your own reading card, then you can go into the reading room. There, you’ll find desks and almost 24 million books, so there’s bound to be something for that paper you need to finish. You’ll find desks all over, and you can feel like Nicholas Cage while researching a topic.

3. Busboys and Poets

Busboys and Poets is a DC staple with its variety of speakers, delicious food and a comfy bookstore. “I love how chaotic [Busboys and Poets] is. There’s a lounge, then if you look to your left there’s a bookstore. Studying there is like an excursion,” said AU sophomore Bernadette Mead. If you have dietary restrictions, the menu even offers gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options. They hold multiple open mics held every week, which you can listen to or participate in when you finish studying. The variety of direct trade coffee and tea options will wake you up if you start your studying early, and you can try lattes like the blueberry bliss tea latte. The bookstore has cozy seats all over, and best of all they offer free wifi.

4. Meridian Hill Park

Known for its drum circles, this beautiful park in the middle of D.C. features beautiful cascading fountains and grass all over the park. You’ll want to study here if you need to read a long book or really any homework that doesn’t require a computer. I recommend grabbing a picnic blanket and listening to the beating of the drums or the children playing. When you get tired of studying, you can join the people hula hooping, practicing yoga or painting. They even have benches around the edge of the park and around the basin if you don’t want to sit on the grass. You won’t want to miss this study spot, which will make that 10-page paper feel just a little less painful.

5. National Gallery of Art

Although hordes of tourists come to see the National Gallery of Art, the beautiful art and comfortable couches make for one of the more unusual study spots on this list. “I like it because it has a lot of natural light throughout a lot of the exhibits. The architecture always keeps me interested as well,” said AU junior Andy Lalwani. Each room in the museum has couches; I recommend sitting in front of one of your favorite paintings for inspiration to get your work done. Although you can’t bring your own food, you can grab something from one of the three cafés or the espresso and gelato bar. The Gallery provides free Wi-Fi, and you can sit at their many fountains and gardens. Why limit yourself to the library or your messy room when you can catch up on your reading while surrounded by beautiful works of art?

Shira is a sophomore pursuing a dual degree in print journalism and biology at American University in Washington, D.C. She is a self-described overachiever who grew up near San Francisco and likes to makes sure that you know so. Beyond a passion for journalism and genetics, she enjoys singing, going monumenting, and obsessing over politicians and YouTubers.


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