Playing Hooky: An Afternoon Off In DC

Hooky pros Ferris Bueller and Crew

Hooky pros: Ferris Bueller and crew.

Many Washingtonian’s do not know the pleasure of a weekday afternoon in the city. In fact, freelancers (like me) count on that. The beauty of weekday afternoons is that most people are working. In places like New York, there are always enough people to go around. But in DC, the streets hush, museums are quiet and parks are empty.

So the next time you have the afternoon off, here are a few activities that are even more enjoyable when nobody else is around.

Brunch: At some point over the last decade, DC became brunch obsessed. I’ve waited for an hour for a table on Saturday, and on Sunday walked away from another due to a three-hour wait. Beat the crowd by getting your brunch ya-yas out during the week. There are a handful of DC restaurants and cafés that do breakfast every day and/or all day. Among my top recommendations are: Tryst (recommended: waffles), The Coupe, Blind Dog Café, Ted’s Bulletin (recommended: Walk of Shame Breakfast Burrito), and Steak n’ Egg—which is soon to be razed, so this is your last chance to get their classic biscuits, sausage and gravy for at least a few years.


Ted’s Bulletin on Capitol Hill.

Public pools: Most public pools close either near the end of August or the beginning of September. You’ll never be alone at the pool, but chances are pretty good that you’ll be able to snag a shady spot on a weekday afternoon. Take advantage before it gets cold again. For an exhaustive list of public pool closing dates, visit The Department of Parks and Recreation, here.

The Museums: I am a big proponent of our amazing museums, and my favorite time to go is on a weekday afternoon where, in many of the exhibits, you could hear a pin drop. Right now, The Freer and Sackler Galleries are showing An American in London: Whistler and the Thames and The Peacock Room Comes to America, which was previously written about on Urban Scrawl, here; the Hirshhorn is showing photo exhibit Sitebound; The National Building Museum is showing Designing for Disaster (natural disaster) and The BIG Maze, a labyrinth open to walkers until September 1st; The National Gallery of Art is showing The Color of Nature: Recent Acquisitions of Landscape Watercolors; and The American Art Museum (at The Portrait Gallery building) is showing Modern American Realism: The Sara Roby Foundation Collection and Pop Art Prints.

Theodore_Roosevelt_Island. Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

Theodore Roosevelt Island. Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Theodore Roosevelt Island: This National Park was overgrown farmland until the 1930s, when landscape architects transformed the space in memorial to President Roosevelt—an outdoorsman and staunch conservationist. Now it is a wooded park of trails and swampland, and a beautiful place to spend a quiet afternoon walking, running, kayaking and bird watching. Theodore Roosevelt Island does not have an entrance fee and is open year-round from 6 am to 10 pm.

The DMV: No one wants to spend an afternoon at the DMV, but I’m going for a lesser evil—and going when others are less likely to go is sooo much better. Starting in May of this year, DC residents renewing licenses walk away with the Real ID driver license. It’s a whole new look. (I still mourn the old, laminated DC license of yester-year.) Go get yours at one of a handful of service centers, here.

NationalsPark-Washington. Photo from the website of POPULOUS, the team behind the Park design

Nationals Park. Photo from the website of POPULOUS, the team behind the building of Nationals Park.

Nationals Park: From now through September, there are a handful of afternoon games at Nationals Park. If it isn’t sweltering (and even if it is), it’s always awesome to spend an afternoon looking over the immaculate green of a baseball field with a beer and a hotdog. It’s the American thing to do.

Potomac Boathouse: I spent afternoons throughout my high school years rowing in an eight-person shell on the Potomac. I still dream about it: the quiet of the landscape, the sinking sun and the sound of oars moving through the water. You don’t need to be part of a team to do this—you just need time and a little spending money. Boats of all kinds are available to rent at Thompson Boat Center, right across the street from the Watergate Hotel. I recommend going in the early afternoon to beat the afternoon rush once school team’s get back on the water.


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