Washington DC

The Best Coffee Shops and Other Spots to Work Remotely in DC

It's time for a change of scenery.

Maketto
Maketto
Maketto

It’s fair to say that working from home has managed to crossover from being a temporary trend to the new default for many one-time office workers. But because most of us don’t have a home that is quite as expansive as your old office building (alas, it did have its perks), it has become increasingly important to find new places to call a temporary home-at least during working hours. Of course, the ideal abode is chock full of caffeine, delicious snacks, and yes, Wi-Fi; otherwise known as your favourite coffee shop.

There are a lot of things that can make or break your local coffee shop-the seating options, the lighting, the menu, and the noise level are just a few factors to take into consideration. And despite what we might tell ourselves, a full workday is just too high stakes to throw away if you land at the wrong place. Luckily the options here are curated and ready to go for every type of work from “home” situation, because yes, in 2021 and beyond, you’re going to need to call a lot of places home.

Big Day Coffee

Arlington
Located in the Assembly, a new food hall in Rosslyn, Big Day Coffee offers everything from simple drip coffees to a full service espresso bar. This modern coffee shop allows you to place orders (including fresh pastries and fruit parfaits) via your phone so you can focus on getting work done in any one of Assembly’s bright and sophisticated work spaces designed by Wow and Flutter or on the outdoor terrace.

Mah-Ze-Dahr

Navy Yard
If you need a sugar rush to power through the rest of your workday, head over to Mah-Ze-Dahr, an intimate space where pastries are calling. This NYC-born bakery recently expanded with two DMV area locations, bringing cult favourite cinnamon rolls, brioche doughnuts, and, of course, plenty of La Colombe coffee. The bakery space is a bit small, so get there early to spread out with your work and a sweet or savoury pastry.

Bayou Bakery
Bayou Bakery
Bayou Bakery

Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery

Arlington
For the past decade, Bayou has been attracting folks from Arlington and across the river thanks to its casual New Orleans vibe. Monday through Friday, you can dependably get your work done through classic coffees, the whipped coffee that took over TikTok months ago, or spicy sips of the cajun latte, just be forewarned, it does feature bourbon alongside cayenne and cinnamon. Chef, owner, and New Orleans native David Guas also offers a food menu of bites that work for breakfast or lunch, and there’s also beer, frozen daiquiris, and other boozy beverages for when work is done (or dragging on too long).

Big Bear Cafe

Bloomingdale
This affordable, all-day cafe has a menu that spans breakfast, lunch, and coffee shop fare. Most menu items are under $10, so Big Bear Cafe’s Bloomingdale outpost makes a great place to spend the day working on free Wi-Fi (available during weekdays). The recently expanded menu takes advantage of a wood-burning oven, and the coffee and tea are always freshly and lovingly brewed. Inside, the exposed brick, warm wood features, and laid back atmosphere create a homey vibe. But when you walk out onto the gorgeous vine-entangled patio you’ll quickly realize that this relaxed spot could easily be gussied up for a wedding, so spending a workday here is a real treat.

Café Riggs
Café Riggs
Café Riggs

Cafe Riggs

CityCenter
If you’re looking for an elegant place to channel chief executive vibes during the work day, there’s no better place to do so than the effortlessly elegant, spacious Cafe Riggs. There’s free Wi-Fi, excellent brasserie-inspired food, and a beautiful espresso bar to get you through the day in style. It’s the perfect spot to answer emails over breakfast or meet up for a business lunch.

Dolcezza Gelato
Dolcezza Gelato
Dolcezza Gelato

Dolcezza

Dupont Circle and CityCenter
Dolcezza has a number of locations in the DMV, but the Dupont Circle and CityCenter locations are by far the best for your workday. With free WiFi, Italian-inspired coffee, and most importantly, gelato, there’s really no reason to ever leave this workspace.

Doubles

Park View
You won’t be alone pulling out your laptop and settling down to a stool at Doubles (previously named Colony Club). If you’re regimented enough to stay inside on the first floor, you’ll find the minimalist decor provides an ideal backdrop for getting work done. But when you’re ready to reward yourself for meeting your latest deadline or just want to call your work day a wash, Doubles has the perfect setup for that, too. The outdoor patio has picnic tables for soaking up the sun and pretending to work, and there’s an old-school Ping-Pong table upstairs to really entertain yourself. You can also wander next door to sister restaurant/bar No Kisses and Sonny’s Pizza for a break, not to mention some of the best pizza in the city. Be warned, however, Doubles is closed Monday and Tuesday, which works out just fine-after all, too much fun in the first half of the week may spell trouble for the back half.

Elle

Mount Pleasant
Cafes this cute don’t usually come with room to roam. But this cafe-by-day, restaurant-by-night stretches further back than you’d think and has plenty of nooks and crannies to perch at for the day. Elle doesn’t have Wi-Fi for guests (so make sure your hotspot is charged) and the cafe closes at 4pm so staff can switch gears for dinner service. But you’ll quickly forgive them after sipping your expertly made latte or digging into breakfast and lunch options that include a perfect buttery biscuit, lovely scones, and lots of other rotating pastries, plus sandwiches and pizza once mid-day rolls around.

Emissary

Dupont Circle
This spot is equal parts people Instagramming their avocado toast and K Street lobbyists sipping coffee in their best suit, which makes it an impossibly perfect find in the heart of Dupont Circle. The front of the subterranean coffee shop offers natural light ready for photos and light-hearted meetings while the two rooms in the back have a cozier, more private feel. You can linger well into the evening but once the lights are dimmed and the candles appear on every table, you’ll have to stay in the front room for free Wi-Fi while patrons in the back enjoy a more traditional bar vibe stocked with beer, wine, and cocktails. And yes, there’s a happy hour that runs from 4 pm to 7 pm.

Farmers Fishers Bakers
Farmers Fishers Bakers
Farmers Fishers Bakers

Farmers Fishers Bakers

Georgetown
Whether you have to head off to your 9-to-5 or just want to get an early start, First Bake at Farmers Fishers Bakers is the place to be. The waterfront restaurant opens its doors at 8 am Monday through Friday to serve cheap breakfast staples like cinnamon rolls, breakfast tacos, and glazed doughnuts for just a dollar. Plus, the large dining room remains relatively quiet for spreading out with your laptop, hopping on the Wi-Fi, and getting some real work done.

Grace Street Coffee

Georgetown
Sometimes you just need to plop down and not log off the free Wi-Fi at your temporary desk all day. For that, you have Grace Street Coffee. Get there early if you want a good seat because you won’t be the only one in town with this idea. But if you find a stool or bench at this three-in-one fancy food court, you can comfortably stay all day fueled by coffee and pastries from Grace Street Coffee, a sandwich (one of the best in America!) for lunch from Sundevich, and an acai bowl from South Block as an afternoon snack.

Kogod Courtyard - Smithsonian American Art Museum & Portrait Gallery
Kogod Courtyard – Smithsonian American Art Museum & Portrait Gallery
Kogod Courtyard – Smithsonian American Art Museum & Portrait Gallery

Kogod Courtyard at the National Portrait Gallery

Penn Quarter
Connecting the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Kogod Courtyard is easily one of the best spots to hunker down in the city. You get natural light courtesy of an elegant, undulating glass canopy overhead that brightens up the space even on dreary days. Plus, you’ll feel like you’re outside among trees, shrubs, and shallow pools of water. The high ceilings and wide-open space absorb the sound so, even with the space is packed with people (and it will be), the courtyard feels quiet with plenty of space to set up at a table or stretch out on an oversized marble bench in the 28,000-square-foot courtyard. There’s a cafe with coffee, snacks, and other refreshments, but you don’t have to buy anything to turn this free museum with Wi-Fi into your office for the day. Keep in mind, however, that the hours of the museums have shifted a bit; you can only take advantage of the space from Wednesday to Sunday from 11:30 am to 7 pm.

Las Gemelas
Las Gemelas
Las Gemelas

La Cosecha

Union Market
Connect to the public Wi-Fi at La Cosecha and grab a seat outside for some of the best people watching and tacos in DC. The Latin American food hall has both street-level and rooftop seating options for you to move around throughout the day, and when happy hour rolls around, be sure to grab one of the brilliant cocktails that Las Gemelas and Serenata are offering up.

No Goodbyes
No Goodbyes
No Goodbyes

The LINE Hotel

Adams Morgan
You’ve seen it on Instagram. The dreamy pillows on the front steps. The tilted mirror positioned with selfies in mind. The dramatic chandelier made from an organ that occupied the space when it served as a church. But the gorgeous digs in this trendy hotel lobby also happen to be a great place to post up for meetings or work with a quiet buzz bouncing off the vaulted ceilings. For those working alone, there are long shared tables reminiscent of a chic library and, if you’re with a group, you can brainstorm on minimalist couches winding around the middle of the space. Order food and drink (including coffee in the morning) from No Goodbyes-a new addition to the hotel-where an all-day wood-burning grill will keep you well fed.

Maketto
Maketto
Maketto

Maketto

H Street Corridor
Maketto contains multitudes: a 60-seat Cambodian and Taiwanese restaurant by Erik Brunner-Yang, a retail store featuring brands from Adidas to Comme des Garçonnes, a dreamy tropical rooftop lounge with plants galore and wicker accents, and a minimalist patio cafe with plenty of space to sprawl all work day long. Plus, early opening hours (7 am for you morning folks) makes this an ideal place to post up before the crowds arrive.

The Royal
The Royal
The Royal

The Royal

LeDroit Park
Carve out a nook in this effortlessly cool Latin spot and snack on empanadas, arepas, and fries with a side of Peruvian yellow chile mayo. The Royal is one of the few coffee shops in town slinging both quality coffee and top-notch cocktails while housing plenty of seats for working on the free Wi-Fi. Plus, an early happy hour that starts at 3 pm and goes until 6 pm is an excellent way to celebrate the end (or middle) of your workday.

Tryst

Adams Morgan
This 16-year-old coffee shop has become a de facto living room for the hip freelancer set in DC. While it’s located on the main drag in Adams Morgan, the eclectic furniture and cavernous vibe make the spot feel hidden but you’ll quickly realize why it’s become such an institution. Tryst has varied seating options and Wi-Fi all day during the week. All of the beverages come adorned with an animal cracker or two, but if you want something heartier, the cafe has a full menu of pastries and breakfast, lunch, and snacking staples.

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Liz Provencher is an associate editor at Thrillist. You can talk to her at [email protected], follow her on Twitter, or see what she eats on Instagram.

Elsie Yang is a Thrillist contributor. Follow her on Instagram.

Washington DC

15 Totally Free Things to Do in DC

A full itinerary, completely free of charge.

Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery
Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery
Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery

Washington DC is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, and for those of us who call the District home, it’s easy to see why. With dozens of world-class museums, murals that transform streets into galleries, and sites brimming with history, DC offers a full agenda-completely free of charge. Whether you want to try a new farmer’s market, explore a new hike, or polish off your roller skating or canoeing skills, here are some of our favourite free things to do in the District.

Flickr/gawnesco
Flickr/gawnesco
Flickr/gawnesco

Hike, bike, or stroll along the C&O Canal

The historic Chesapeake and Ohio Canal is one of the most accessible nature escapes from the District. Thanks to a multi-year restoration project, the first mile of the canal is an idyllic walk that’s easy to access in Georgetown. Stick to a short stroll there, or grab a bike or lace up your hiking shoes for a longer adventure along the 184.5-mile canal.

Jump on the pickleball craze

Pickleball is working its way up the ladder past kickball and softball as one of America’s favourite games. Jump on the craze and practice your paddling at one of the District’s pickleball courts in Takoma Park, the Palisades, and more. Plus, Washington DC Pickleball invites guests to drop in to beginner sessions to try their hand at the sport before signing up for a $30 annual membership.

Flickr/mcfeelion
Flickr/mcfeelion
Flickr/mcfeelion

Bike the Mount Vernon Trail

DC is incredibly bike-friendly, and luckily that applies to the land immediately outside of the city as well. Start in the city and bike along the Mount Vernon Trail, a scenic route that hugs the water and cuts through the woods. It’s about a 10-mile trip from DC to Mount Vernon, but you can cut the trip slightly short and end at the Old Town Alexandria waterfront-just make sure to factor in time for ice cream before pedalling home.

Explore a sculpture park

While not located in the District proper, Glenstone, an expansive sculpture park in Maryland, is worth the 45-minute drive. Tickets to the park are free (just be sure to reserve several weeks in advance), and the 300-acre space offers stunning art, architecture, and open land. In addition to its indoor gallery spaces, you can spend hours walking on paths that wind through sculptures, meadows, and forests.

Flickr/Geoff Livingston
Flickr/Geoff Livingston
Flickr/Geoff Livingston

See the monuments at night

When the sun goes down-and the summer humidity somewhat dissipates-head to the National Mall for the rare chance to see the monuments without busloads of tourists. Moonlight will give you a different perspective as you traverse the marble steps of the Lincoln Memorial or gaze up at the Washington Monument set aglow with lights.

Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery
Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery
Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery

Museum hop the day away

One of DC’s greatest strengths is its world-class Smithsonian museums that are open to the public free of charge. There is no shortage of options, from the intimate Renwick Gallery, to the sprawling National Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonians offer something for everyone. Pro tip: Some of the museums are open late in the evenings, making for an ideal date night.

muralsdc
muralsdc
muralsdc

Explore the city’s murals

Washington is home to hundreds of murals that are becoming as much a part of the city’s landscape as the monuments on the National Mall. Take a self-guided tour of these colourful creations no matter which neighbourhood you happen to be in. MuralsDC, the organization behind 150 of the District’s public artworks, is a great resource for mapping out a route to explore the city’s street art.

Hotel Washington
Hotel Washington
Hotel Washington

Take in a birds-eye view of the city

Washington looks pretty stunning from up high, and there are few spots within the city that make for phenomenal vantage points. Rooftop bars and restaurants offer epic views for the price of a drink or two, but there’s no more iconic sight than seeing the city from the top of the Washington Monument, which is completely free. Book a ticket ahead of time and ride an elevator all the way to the top of the monument and step out on the 500-foot observation deck.

Flickr/Nicolas Raymond
Flickr/Nicolas Raymond
Flickr/Nicolas Raymond

Wander through a garden

DC is home to some of the most beautiful urban gardens in the country, and many of them are open to the public for free. There is nothing like an afternoon spent strolling through, or picnicking, at the expansive 446-acre United States Arboretum or wandering through the Botanic Garden on the edge of the Mall. For something a bit smaller, explore the grounds at Tudor Place or Dumbarton Oaks (free in the winter), both of which are in Georgetown.

Flickr/ehpien
Flickr/ehpien
Flickr/ehpien

Hike the Billy Goat Trail

You can catch one of the District’s most popular hiking trails, the Billy Goat Trail, from the C&O canal. The full trail is 4.7 miles and ranges from easy to strenuous, so hike a section in and back or make the full loop for the variety.

Pay your respect at Arlington National Cemetery

Just across the Potomac from DC, Arlington National Cemetery is the final resting place for more than 400,000 veterans. The cemetery is an expanse of 639 hallowed acres and the ANC Explorer allows visitors to locate graves, notable sites, and take self-guided walking tours to spots including the tomb of the Unknown Soldier as well as the final resting place of President John F. Kennedy.

Lace up your roller skates

When was the last time you went roller skating? Chances are it’s been too long. So get back into this nostalgic activity at the Anacostia Park roller skating pavilion. You can rent skates for free, just show proof of a government-issued ID, and the skating pavilion is open from 9 to 5 every day.

Help clean up the Anacostia River

We all know there’s a lot of work to be done to keep our waterways clean. Do your part, and have some fun, by participating in the city’s Green Boat initiative. On select weekends, DCers can join a two-hour guided paddle along the Anacostia River to collect trash and monitor the river’s progress.

Eastern Market
Eastern Market
Eastern Market

Stroll your local farmer’s market

DC’s close proximity to the farms of Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and beyond mean that the city’s farmers’ markets always have something to offer. Check out the year-round markets like Eastern Market in Capitol Hill and the Sunday market in Dupont Circle or head to seasonal markets like the pop-up in front of the White House that draws vendors like Cucina al Volo and Call Your Mother Deli.

The Library of Congress
The Library of Congress
The Library of Congress

Play tourist all around the city

It’s easy to forget that all those traditionally touristy activities can be fun for locals too. If you haven’t been on a tour of the White House, the National Archives, the Library of Congress, or the Capitol, this is your sign. All are free with advanced reservations. Plus, tucked in the northern quadrant of NW, the Washington National Cathedral is free and open to all. Tour the cathedral’s impressive architecture, 215 stained glass windows, 112 Gothically-inspired gargoyles, and enormous pipe organ. See if you can spot the sculpture of Darth Vader.

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Madeline Weinfield is a Thrillist contributor.

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