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An Introvert's Guide to Washington, DC
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An Introvert's Guide to Washington, DC

Picture of Nicole Hampton
Updated: 14 October 2017
It can be difficult to be an introvert in a city, let alone a city that’s on most people’s bucket list. Washington DC boasts some of the best museums in the world, being a total of four of the 15 most visited museums in the world. The monuments are usually packed to the brim with selfie-stick holders and families, eating their vendor midday hotdogs. As well as crowded museums, even walking in parks and down certain streets will leave you liable to potential smalltalk. But there’s no reason to have your headphones constantly while you are out with these helpful tips on where to go if you prefer a bit of alone time.

Find a cozy café

No matter what type of introvert you are, these two cafés will attract you and keep you coming back for more. More of what, you say? Booze, for one. They both have a full-service bar. Are you a foodie who’d like to eat from an extensive menu in relaxed surroundings? Politics and Prose has a cozy area downstairs called The Den where they offer locally sourced dishes, including brunch.

At Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café, choose from eating breakfast, lunch, dinner, or brunch inside, outside, or just get it to go and munch in a corner surrounded by books that can’t ask you to pass the salt. It’s open from 7:30am to 1am on weekdays, till 3 AM on weekends, so go early or late if you prefer not to chance it.

The Den at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington DC, USA, +1 202 364 1919

Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe, 1517 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington DC, USA, +1 202 387 1400

Kramerbooks & Afterwords
Kramerbooks & Afterwords | © Elvert Barnes / Flickr

Something for the vinyl junkies

DC has quite the span of record shops for those who like to listen more than they want to talk. Som Records lets you listen before purchasing, and has imported and rare vinyl to check out. Stroll down 18th St and you’ll find Songbyrd Record Cafe and Smash Records, where you can also browse the vintage rock clothing. No one can bother you if you’re jamming or admiring some new vinyl to bring home.

Som Records, 1843 14th St NW, Washington, DC, USA, +1 202 328 3345

Songbyrd Record Café, 2475 18th St NW, Washington DC, USA, +1 202 450 2917

Smash Records, 2314 18th St NW, Washington DC, USA, +1 202 387 6274

Skip the structures, go to a garden

While everyone is visiting National Mall and Capitol Building, go admire rare and exotic plants at the U.S. Botanic Garden instead. The majority of the plants are inside the conservatory, so this is a great option even on rainy days. If you want a more outdoorsy location, go to the arboretum that has 446 acres of plants and trees to explore. Enid A. Haupt Garden has a centerpiece that changes occasionally, which makes it a good option for someone who wants a go-to garden. If you’re just as much an animal lover as you are a nature lover, Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens is perfect to stroll around, where you’ll find exotic waterlilies co-existing with frogs, turtles, and fish.

Botanic Garden, 245 First St., SW Washington, DC, USA, +1 202 225 8333

Enid A. Haupt Garden, 12 Independence Ave SW, Washington DC, USA, +1 202 633 2220

Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens, 1550 Anacostia Ave NE, Washington DC, +1 202 692 6080

Enid A Haupt Garden
Enid A Haupt Garden | © american_rugbier / Flickr
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Enjoy a cult classic

The movies are a wonderful place to be if you don’t want to talk or even look at anybody! Everyone has their eyes on the screen and no attention is on you – an introvert’s dream. Landmark E Street Cinema shows cool indie films in general, and they also have cult classics at midnight like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Grease, and The Room (if this is a favorite of yours, let your inner oddball out by bringing plastic spoons and wearing a tux to this screening). It’s the chance to be alone in the company of other reticent people who like weird classics too.

Landmark E Street Cinema, 555 11th St NW, Washington, DC, USA, +1 202 783 9494

Bike your own path

DC is a hub for bicyclists, so in the grand scheme, you are a part of a community, but on the other, no one can chat with you when you’re going 20mph on your sweet two-wheeler. If you don’t have a bike, you can easily rent one by signing up to DC’s Capital BikeShare program. You’ll be able to pick up and drop off the bike at multiple locations. You can also rent through vendors throughout the city. In DC you can find hundreds of miles of trail that go through scenic towns, landmarks, nature, and the city.