Franciscan Monastery: An Afternoon in Brookland

The neighborhood of Brookland is an interesting spot because it’s a beautiful place to play tourist while still maintaining that “off the beaten path” feel. Brookland is home to the Franciscan Monastery, a gorgeous place to explore a piece of early American history. Built in the late 1800’s, the Franciscan Monastery served as a place for Americans to go when travel to the Holy Land was difficult. To be honest, travel to the Holy Land is still relatively difficult so this is a perfect spot to relax is beautiful gardens and learn a little history.

The Franciscan Monastery feels like an escape from the city as soon as you step on the beautiful grounds but the best part is arguably the underground catacombs. Underneath the monastery, guests can tour the catacomb replicas. Exploring the catacombs makes a visit to the monastery feel like a unique adventure unlike a typical trip to a museum. The designers of the monastery even traveled to the Holy Land and consulted travelers to capture every detail. They wanted a visit to the Franciscan Monastery to feel as authentic as possible.

The best way to experience the monastery is to join one of their tours. Tours are free and open to the public Monday to Saturday at 10 am, 11 am, 1 pm, 2 pm, and 3 pm as well as Sunday at 1 pm, 2 pm, and 3 pm.  Reservations are only required for groups over 5. Tours will take you through the monastery and through the catacombs.

Tulips in the gardens at the Franciscan Monastery
The gardens are a perfect place to explore and enjoy an escape from the city.
Stained glass windows in the Franciscan Monastery
Inside, there are sweeping ceilings and stained glass windows.
Franciscan Monastery alter in the catacombs
On the tour, guests are invited underground. Tunnels lead guests to both large and small rooms with alters and shrines honoring saints and religious figures.
Alter in the catacombs
Huevos rancheros at Brookland's Finest
An afternoon in Brookland is not complete without brunch – like huevos rancheros at Brookland’s Finest.

While You’re in the Neighborhood 

Before or after you visit the Franciscan Monastery, there are several local spots to grab drinks or a bite to eat:

Brookland’s Finest: Brookland’s Finest is about a 10 minute walk from the metro but it’s worth it. They have all your favorite brunch classics plus several variations of Bloody Mary’s – vodka, whiskey, or tequila!

Brookland Pint: Brookland Pint is also a great place for brunch but I prefer them as a dinner spot. They have a pretty extensive beer menu and lots of great burgers to top off an afternoon in Brookland.

Fox Loves Tacos: If you’re in a rush or not super hungry, stop in Fox Loves Tacos for tacos and coffee. They have both breakfast and lunch tacos. They also have a location in Chevy Chase, DC called Little Red Fox which offers coffee, breakfast, and sandwiches.

Busboys and Poets: Busboys and Poets is well known for their 14th Street location but you can also catch them in Brookland. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner but we’re big fans of their weekend brunch.

Good For:
History buffs of all ages


1340 Quincy Street NE
Washington, DC 20017

Closest Metro:
Brookland – Red Line

About Kelley Smith 87 Articles
I'm Kelley Smith and I love sharing tips on how to best explore Washington, DC. I love pretty much anything I can eat plus really good beer and whiskey served by story telling bartenders. I also like sassy museum guides, photogenic architecture, and colorful urban gardens.
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

1 Comment
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
7 years ago

Your decription of this unusual site makes me want to check it out!