Even if you’re going to DC to protest the terrible, terrible thing that’s about to happen (and by a number of measures, has already happened) to America, it’s fine to enjoy the city while you do it.
Don’t get us wrong, we’re big believers in using your own two feet to send a message (and we’ll see you at the march!), but a city can also be enjoyed outside of its political mire, especially when the city is running so many deals to benefit charities during Inauguration Weekend. Yep, that’s happening.
We’ve put together a quickie city guide for three days in Washington DC, Jan 20-22. Like most of our guides, it’s full of cheap and free stuff, and includes a few worthwhile splurges. Whether you’re stuck there on 💀Inauguration Day💀 or the day after the Women’s March or all of the above, this guide offers food, drink and culture recommendations from a whole bunch of DC creative types as well as info about discounts, deals and other special happenings during the March. Go enjoy DC before Trump suffocates it in a coat of tacky gold paint.
Friday, Jan. 20: In-AUGH-uration Day
First things first: Coffee. And breakfast. You can do both in one go at Kramerbooks (1517 Connecticut Avenue NW), an airy bookstore & café in Dupont Circle with great espresso and a big menu with something for every budget/dietary preference.
You could schlep up to The U.S. National Arboretum (3501 New York Ave NE), ranked by locals as a good place to breathe, or just wander the shops and neighborhood in Dupont Circle.
Seek out an Amsterdam Falafel location for lunch, 9/10 falafel lovers agree.
In the afternoon, head over to Politics & Prose (5015 Connecticut Ave NW), a spacious-yet-cozy bookstore and coffeehouse. At 4pm catch the Teach-In on Women’s Rights and then browse radical feminist texts in the stacks. Maybe something’ll give you an idea for a protest sign!
For dinner you’ve got plenty of options, but consider choosing from one of these restaurants and bars donating proceeds from Inauguration Weekend to Planned Parenthood and the Human Rights Campaign.
And for a light nate novelty: A blues bar with a spoonerism for a name, Madam’s Organ (2461 18th St. NW) in Adam’s Morgan, gives you cheap beer if you’re a redhead. Go with ginger-locked friends or just pay regular price for a pint and take in their blues-y offerings to soothe your soul before the big day.
Saturday, Jan. 21: The Women’s March
Like NYC, Washington has a few decent chain options for a quick caffeine boost. Pick up a morning boost at Philz Coffee (1827 Adams Mill Rd NW) in Adams Morgan. They’re a California-based chain and according to a local, “their coffee is amazing.” If you’d rather be a little closer to the starting point of the march, DCers also recommend Compass Coffee (1535 7th St NW) in Shaw.
The Women’s March on Washington begins at 10am at the corner of Independence Ave. and Third St. SW. Don’t forget to register in advance for their headcount, and read up on their FAQ page to see what you can and can’t bring, since security in the area will no doubt be high.
IMPORTANT NOTE! Pick a meetup place for your friends before you get there, because you will not have cell service. There will be thousands of people trying to call each other, send Instagram stories, FB Live, whatever, so you won’t be able to reach your friends in the mass of people on the Mall. Set a meeting place and time before/after the event or else you’ll be wandering around like just another lost DC tourist.
Along the way, the Woolly Mammoth Theater (641 D St. NW) in Chinatown is opening their lobby for marchers to warm up and get cheap food and hot drinks. Also consult this roundup of places to pee, warm up and charge your phone.
Warm up after the March with “a half-smoke with the works” at Ben’s Chili Bowl, a landmark restaurant in Shaw that serves up hearty, warming chili and fries below many pictures of the Obamas. Another DCer recommends Crisp (1837 1st St. NW) for “a fried chicken sandwich that is one of the best in the city, if not the best.” It’s $5 for anything behind the bar at happy hour. Caveat: You’ll need a car to get there.
If you’re stuck without a car and still hungry by nightfall, head to bar/events venue The Black Cat (1811 14th St. NW) for a wide variety of food options, including a sizable vegan menu that comes highly recommended by a certain Brokelyn Editor. You’ll also be just in time to catch The Anti-Ball, a benefit concert for Planned Parenthood featuring Kyp Malone, Kimya Dawson, Antibalas and more. Tickets are $30, but it’s well worth it.
Sunday, Jan. 22: The Come-down
Caffeinate and cultivate a hopeful post-march mentality at Busboys and Poets (1025 5th St. NW), a leftist event/space and café that you can use, quote, “ALL DAY ERRY DAY” for food, coffee, drink and respite. Solid coffee, vegan options, etc. There are a number of locations in the city, but this one puts you in the right nabe to take in some culture after your coffee.
And for said cultural visit head to the v. timely National Museum of Women in the Arts (1250 New York Ave. NW), offering free admission all weekend! Anytime between 12pm-5pm, drop in to take a “Nasty Women” tour, check out historical and contemporary art by women and learn about Simone de Beauvoir’s legacy. Yas, so many queens.
Get to the museum early enough and you can hit up Meridian Hill Park (2400 15th St. NW) while the sun is up. It’s no Central Park, but it does have twelve acres of greenery, and dogs, and lots of statues to stare at (no naked Trumps, but that’s probably fitting since he’s the – ugh – president now). Also at 3pm there’s a drum circle. It’s been going on every Sunday for the past 40 years, and this one’s sure to feel extra-powerful after the Inauguration/march.
And if you brought a car or you have a membership to Car2Go (they have it there!), drive over to the neat lookout point Potomac Ave & Newark st NW for a picturesque sunset. “You can see high over the Potomac River,” a local tells us, “very beautiful.” Assuming it’s not so cold your fingers fall off, this is a nice way to round out the weekend.
Grab an evening java jolt at Baked and Wired (1052 Thomas Jefferson St. NW) before you hit the road back to NYC.