A reader asked us where to nap on their lunch break in D.C. Here are a few suggestions on where to nap in D.C. We tried to pick places that are relatively safe and OK to catch some Z’s. It’s not OK to sleep in libraries. Security guards wake you up in libraries.
PRO TOOLS FOR PRO NAPPERS
If you’re going to make a habit of sleeping in public, then you need to invest in the right tools. Sure, casual nappers might not want to carry around an eye mask and a neck pillow everywhere you go, but professionals always have the right equipment. It’s 50% of what makes them a professional (or 60%? whatever, I don’t know). If you want to have the best possible sleeping in public experience, I highly recommend you invest in some of these crucial items. You can thank me later.
Forget normal u-shaped neck pillows, they’re just as uncomfortable as not having a pillow and sometimes they’re even more uncomfortable. I’d rather rest my head on a stranger’s shoulder then use a neck pillow. You’re better than a u-shaped, so spring for a j-pillow. They look really weird and they’re not going to completely change your life, but it makes side sleeping much easier and it supports your lil chin. These are perfect for napping on public transportation, movie theaters, libraries, or park benches.
If chin support is not enough, then get one of these weirdos. They’re long and go across your chest so that you kind of cuddle the pillow if you want. The only problem with this one is they’re made for cars and airplanes, so they only work if you can secure them to a seat, but I’m sure you can get creative. At the very least you can definitely use it in a movie theater or on a bus.
I don’t know about you guys, but I can’t sleep unless I’m covered head to toe by blankets. No matter how hot it is, a blanket is 100% necessary for a good napping experience. For public napping, you want something that folds up well, doesn’t take up space, and is easy to clean. This blanket also kind of transforms into a snuggie, so it’s perfect for sleeping upright or laying down.
If you’re super serious about outdoor naps, then you’re going to want to invest in a sleeping bag, Like a travel blanket, you want it to be light, easy to carry, and easy to clean. While REI is kind of expensive, this is a pretty good summer sleeping bag. It will keep you safe from bugs without overheating and you can stuff it inside another sleeping bag in the winter. It also comes in a lot of colors, which is cool because it’s important to look stylish at all times.
If you’re going to do this, go all the way and make sure you’re comfy. Footie pajamas are hilarious and comfy and most people will just think you’re being silly and not suspect you have plans to spend your day napping.
If you’re too embarrassed to wear footie pajamas, just go out and buy some joggers and wear a comfy t-shirt. You’ll look less like a weirdo, but you’ll still be cozy. Also, you could just replace all your pants with joggers because they are the best. -Kaylee Dugan
WHERE TO NAP
The key with sleeping on any college campus is learning what kind of schedule the school runs on. As long as you get there at the right time, you should have 90ish minutes to sleep before classes let out and the calamity begins all over again. I recommend sleeping at AU specifically because they have gorgeous grounds, it’s out of the way (which means minimal traffic sounds), and as long as you look younger than 30, no one will question your midday nap. That’s the beauty of college. – Kaylee Dugan
One of D.C.’s most secret neighborhood parks is also one of its most primo for an afternoon nap. Tucked between rows of historic Victorian row homes, Crispus Attucks Park hosts adorable puppies, young families, hipster picnics and the occasional hammock-ensconced book reader. It’s never too crowded, so grab a snack at the nearby Big Bear Cafe and head here to waste a few hours napping under the impeccably maintained flowering trees. –Kate Warren
Napping in public can be like plucking a hair without tweezers. You’ve almost got it, when the parent of a toddler asks, “Is anyone sitting here?” and you lose grip on the thick, dark sleep you’re grasping for. It curls away from your fingernails, and you want to throw in the pillow! Finding the right location, like finding good tweezers, is of the utmost importance. A nap in a DC9 booth is Tweezerman-caliber for a few reasons: live music = lullaby, beer = warm bottle, and booths = baby bjorns. But, like Louis Pasteur said, “chance favors the prepared mind.”
Tip One: Choose an Artist Who Will Conk You Out.
I had my nap at a Holly Herndon show. I meant no disrespect, but to someone who’s worked all day, her music is the programmatic equivalent of a head massaging claw. Her commands commanded me to snuggle in for the duration.
Tip Two: Order a Sleep Aid!
Regional beers can put you in the mood for a location-specific nap, and this bar, as luck would have it, serves DC Brau! Suckle your publicly-sanctioned NyQuil, and drift into the pink cloud. (For sober nappers, guzzling a Sprite or cranberry juice has the same sweet and tranquilizing traits of mother’s milk).
Tip Three: Get a Booth Buddy!
You must get there a little early to secure your booth, but that’s the easy part. The hard part is luring a human scarecrow into the bench opposite you to insure you don’t get robbed or molested. For me, this was an older gentleman in a Grateful Dead jean jacket standing on the bench across the table for a better view. He may have seemed shady to some, but only judge a scarecrow by his stuffing! He was more interested in the music than in stealing my Rudolph chapstick or ear virginity, allowing me a peaceful slumber.
Follow this recipe and you’ll be napping in no time! -Morgan Fecto
Dupont Circle, known for messy, congested traffic jams at a roundabout that no one in D.C. knows how to maneuver, is strangely an ace place to take a quick catnap. The circle itself is pretty lively, but the fountain is pretty relaxing to sit near by. There are a ton of trees and shaded areas at the circle too. It’s not an awful idea to lie down and take a quick nap. If you can’t seem to nap, people watching is not a bad alternative either. -Sarah Park
I never was big on napping until I went to college, then I became a professional. Of all of the public places I’ve napped in D.C., never was I more comfortable than at Landmark’s E Street Cinema. Their theaters have everything you need for an amazing nap experience. First, you’re going to have at least 90 minutes of undisturbed napping time. No creepy homeless people or angry cops ruining your slumber. You don’t even have to worry about anyone stealing your things, because it’s dark enough that no one will be able to tell you’re asleep. Plus, if you pick the right movie, it might even be quiet enough. Second, they have booze. Go up to the bar, order an Old Fashioned, drink all of it, and order another Old Fashioned. You’ll be dreaming in no time. I recommend a good amount of booze for any and every sleeping in public scenario. -Kaylee Dugan
D.C. is rife with parks fit for napping. We live in an incredibly lush city that is filled with beautiful little green oases, but sometimes parks are loud and distracting. Their filled with children, people throwing frisbees, and adorable puppies. So when you want to nap in the great outdoors, but don’t want to sacrifice peace and quiet, your best bet is probably a cemetery. Okay. I can see the look you are giving me through your computer screen, just hear me out. I know some people think cemeteries are creepy, but let’s be real, if we’re comfortable doing yoga and watching Alfred Hitchcock movies in them then I feel like we should be totally comfortable sleeping in them. Let’s just take a look at the facts:
- They’re quiet. Dead people usually don’t make a lot of noise and their visitors are usually sobbing quietly, so no one is going to bother you.
- They’re well maintained. No overgrown grass or trash, so you can lay out a blanket and not have to worry about sleeping on someone’s leftover picnic trash.
- No one else is doing it so you should probably start before all the good napping spots are taken.
If you’re willing to live in a murder house (and who isn’t?) you should feel totally comfortable sleeping in a cemetery. It’s basically the same thing. If you’re looking for a good cemetery to get some temporary rest (as opposed to the eternal kind), I highly recommend Glenwood Cemetery. It’s pretty large, so there are lot of different places you could catch some z’s, it’s not near any really major streets, and it’s just a cool cemetery, so before you go to sleep (or when you’re done napping) you can take a couple minutes to wander around and enjoy the sights.
If you don’t want to trek over to north east, I also recommend Oak Hill Cemetery in Georgetown because it’s old and beautiful, and on a very quiet street. On the other hand, I would stay away from Holy Rood Cemetery in Glover Park because it’s right off Wisconsin Avenue and it’s not very large so you definitely hear a lot of traffic/people noises. -Kaylee Dugan
The wavy glass and steel roof floods the courtyard with natural light making this is a primo reading space. You feel like your outside, but with the comfort of air conditioning. Of course after some relaxing personal reading time, you’ll want to shut your eyes—if just for a moment—and if you do, no one here is likely to stop you. First, because its an art museum, which, after libraries (where its illegal to nap), are the quietest places on the planet. Second, the only people here are tourists, who don’t know anything about where it’s appropriate to nap in the District, or most things in general. One would only ever wake you up to get directions to the Mall. -Zeke Leeds
The Lincoln Memorial is probably the number one tourist spot on the National Mall. Although its pretty crowded with families trying to take photos for their family vacation album, or couples trying to take selfies with Mr. Abe himself, the steps to the memorial is the perfect place to take a quick nap. Waking up to a view of the Washington Monument isn’t all that bad either. Not going to lie- I’ve fallen asleep there more times than I would like to admit. Whether it’s at noon or at 3 a.m. We are not recommending to take a nap at the Lincoln Memorial at 3 a.m. -Sarah Park
This D.C. “bodywork studio” (which has four different locations in the District) offers free naps. While I have no idea what this free nap situation entails, their website advertise free naps. They’re philosophy is that “massage should be available in an affordable, noncheesy neighborhood context.” I believe this notion should apply to naps as well. -Zeke Leeds
Spread across 12-acres, there’s no lack of nap space at this historic AdMo Park. There’s also a huge cascading fountain, which is totally soothing. You can set-up camp in the large common area, though this may put you at risk of being disturbed by a stray Frisbee. Or you can find your own secret corner of the park aware from prying eyes. Either way, falling asleep here is basically like having a nap in an Italian aristocrat’s private garden (which is what the park was designed based off). That is to say if homeless gentlemen doing calisthenics and drinking rotgut often frequented said Italian aristocrat’s private residence. -Zeke Leeds
The Sculpture Garden is probably one of the most beautiful places to fall asleep in DC. There is so much lawn space to sprawl out and shut your eyes for a few minutes. Tons of shade too which is important to beat this DC heat. Although, don’t find yourself there on Fridays during the summer. Jazz in the Garden will probably disturb your nap-getaway. -Sarah Park
Provided you get there at just the right time (in between lunch but right before school lets out), Stead Park is an excellent place for a quick sleep, three blocks due east of Dupont Circle. The large multipurpose field provides plenty of room, plus the surrounding business on all sides provides an adequate sound buffer from the noise of the city. On a nice day, it’s ideal for cloud gazing or a small picnic lunch with a friend, but if it gets too sunny there are parasols to provide a nice shade. Plus if you wake up hungry there’s a bunch of awesome restaurants right around the corner, as well as the 14th Street Corridor. -Connor Mclnerney
If you’re looking to nap while immersed in nature (and want to be within reach of the Metro system), then Theodore Roosevelt Island is your best bet. 88 and a half acres comprise the island, which means ample napping space. The park is open from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m., so there is by all measure time for a midday or afternoon nap following work, especially for those looking to escape the city for a couple hours. -Connor Mclnerney
The Washington Monument is an oasis for nap advocates. There is a ton of lawn space so it’s no surprise to see people falling asleep, tanning, or relaxing. The open space is a perfect spot to bring a blanket and take a relatively quiet nap. -Sarah Park
Yards Park has a lot of green space, but not a lot of shade, so if you’re sun averse, definitely avoid this spot. For me though, I’ve spent a few lazy afternoons on a blanket in the grassy area next to the water. Pro tip, take a backpack to use as a makeshift pillow. Also, if people try and jack your stuff, they will at least have to wake you up first. Covert sunglasses and a prop book for this one are a must, in order to be left alone by the district police patrol. -Maddie Clybourn