Things to Do

Forget About the Midterms for a Bit and Relax at These DC-Area Spots

Exchange the news cycle for kittens, local bookstores, and a new art museum.

While Washingtonians know more than anyone that it’s good to be politically informed, it’s also healthy to take a break from the ever-obsessive news cycle. Tune out the election pundits and relax this week at these DC spots:

Photograph courtesy of Old Town Books.

Find some winter reads at a local bookstore.

There’s nothing like an engrossing read to pull you out of reality for a bit. And with more than 20 independent bookstores in the area, you’re sure to find one that’ll do the trick. Visit one of Politics and Prose’s several locations, where you can attend daily author events; H Street’s Solid State Books, where you can enjoy a drink at its bar; or Alexandria’s Old Town Books, which is easier to get to now that the six Metro stations south of DCA finally reopened.

Need some help finding your next book? Whether you’re looking for a fantasy romance, an essay collection, or historical fiction—here’s what local booksellers are recommending at the moment.

Sip a proper cup of tea.

Skip the coffee caffeine buzz, which can inadvertently increase anxiety, and opt for some tea this week.

When local Fox 5 reporter, Sierra Fox, asked which cafes serve the best teas on Friday, local tea-lovers weren’t shy about recommendations. In the comments, a George Washington nursing professor swore by the house-made chai (once described as “painstakingly made” by Washingtonian) at Seylou Bakery near Mount Vernon Square. Several others commented in support of Teaism, an Asian-style tea house with several locations around DC. The tea house has an extensive list of teas, which it serves in pottery.

Or, if you really must have your caffeine fix, treat yourself to one of these cozy fall drinks this week.

Visit the new wing of the Air and Space Museum.

Let the magnitude of outer space put politics into perspective at the National Air and Space Museum, which reopened eight of its 23 exhibits in mid-October, as part of its roughly $1 billion renovation.

Visit the Apollo 11 command module Columbia in the Destination Moon gallery and “walk” on other worlds via a surround-screen theater in the Kenneth C. Griffin Exploring the Planets gallery. Timed passes are required at the moment, and though weekends tend to fill up, there’s a good chance you can snag a timed pass on a weekday.

Alternatively, set your alarm and catch the blood moon lunar eclipse tomorrow. Reaching totality from 5:17 a.m. to 6:42 a.m., it’ll be the last total lunar eclipse for three years. Here’s how to see it.

Photograph courtesy of Crumbs and Whiskers.

Hang with critters.

The best part about animals? The words “work” and “politics” mean nothing to them. Let their wet noses and bean toes pull you out of the human world at one of the area’s cat cafes or dog-friendly bars. Lounge in a comfy setting with all the adoptable cats and kittens at Mount Purrnon in Alexandria and Crumbs and Whiskers in Georgetown (which recently acquired two kittens rescued from the war in Ukraine). Or collect all the doggy kisses you can at dog-friendly bars, such as NoMa’s Wundergarten or Bethesda’s Bark Social.

Of course, there’s always the Smithsonian’s National Zoo to pull you into the world of exotic animals. The zoo even welcomed two new elephants this week. While they’re currently in quarantine, you might be able to catch them from your desk via the zoo’s web cam. Speaking of which, the National Arboretum’s famous eagle couple, Mr. P and Lotus, are already preparing their season’s nest. You can watch the nest—and listen to the surrounding bird sounds—via the American Eagle Foundation’s popular web cam.

Photograph by David Andrews.

Enjoy the fall colors.

Fall foliage is here, and there are plenty of spaces around DC to soak in its colorful hues. Admire the yellows, oranges, and reds along the Swamp Trail at Theodore Roosevelt Island, or find a moment of quiet among the 440 acres of trees and gardens at the National Arboretum. Aside from the more-obvious Rock Creek Park and National Mall, other leafy areas to check out include Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Great Falls Park, and, most likely, your own neighborhood.

Get artsy.

There’s an entire field called Art Therapy for a reason—painting and drawing have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. Try your hand at watercolor, embroidery, or stained glass at one of Shop Made in DC’s many classes, or blend your own fragrance and pour a candle at the newly opened Lumiere Candle Studio in Alexandria. Though it’s unseasonably warm at the moment, you might even prepare for the coming cold weather by learning to knit at Dupont Circle’s Looped Yarn Works or stock up on Christmas greeting card essentials at Alexandria’s Artistic Artifacts.

Alternatively, some research suggests that even just looking at art can reduce stress, providing the perfect excuse to check out the brand new Rubell Museum, which opened in late October and is free to DC residents. With 24 galleries throughout its renovated 32,000-square-foot space, the museum features contemporary art from the famed art collectors, Mera and Don Rubell.


Jessica Ruf
Assistant Editor