Arlington National Cemetery – A must for every first-time visitor to Washington D.C.
A visit to Arlington National Cemetery is an absolute must when in the nation’s capital. However, the visit is not a mere sightseeing. As Americans, our lives are too intimately attached to the 200,000 men and women buried here. They include the famous, the obscure, and the unknown. The graves of Presidents John F. Kennedy and William Howard Taft, General George C. Marshall and the father and son generals Benjamin O. Davis.
Visit the final resting places of war hero Audie Murphy, civil rights martyr Medgar Evers, boxing champ Joe Louis, baseball’s popularizer Abner Doubleday, and Supreme Court Justices Thurgood Marshall and Oliver Wendell Holmes.
Among the iconic sites located in the cemetery’s 612 rolling acres is the Tomb of the Unknowns. The tomb is guarded 24 hours a day. Make sure to witness the changing of the guard every half hour from March through September and on the hour the rest of the year. Stop at the memorial to the crew of the space shuttle Challenger; the Iran Rescue Mission Memorial and Arlington House, built in 1802.
With the ease of touring provided by Tourmobile, Arlington Cemetery should be on every first-time visitor’s list of things to see.
The narrated (mixed live and recorded) Martz Gray Line tour is informative and saves wear and tear on your feet—and at $9 for adults, $8 for seniors, and $4.75 for children under age 12, it’s a good deal for those with limited mobility; note that it is first come, first seated. The shuttle tours leave the visitor center about every 15–30 minutes, You can get off at all the major sites and reboard at your leisure.
But if you want to save a little money and tour the cemetery by foot, just take the subway to the Arlington Cemetery Metro station and walk the short distance to the visitor center or take the Mall Express Shuttle (anctours.com). The website has a downloadable map; you can also download a free iTunes guide called ANC Explorer. There is no food available on site.
The 9/11 Pentagon Memorial and the Air Force Memorial are not far, but you’ll need to take another subway leg to the Pentagon station. The Iwo Jima Memorial and the Netherlands Carillon are about a 20-minute walk from Arlington House, Robert E. Lee’s onetime home (down Custis Walk and through Weitzel Gate).
Also, consider visiting Congressional Cemetery, accessible from the Potomac or Stadium-Armory Metro stations. Among its “residents” are J. Edgar Hoover, iconic Senate orators Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun, legendary Speaker of the House Thomas “Tip” O’Neill, march composer John Phillip Sousa, longtime (30 years) city hangman Robert “Colonel Bob” Strong, and Belle Youngs, who conducted the séances at the White House after the death of young Willie Lincoln.
Plan Your Visit to Arlington National Cemetery:
By car: Arlington National Cemetery is located across the Potomac river and can be reached from Washington via Arlington Memorial Bridge, which crosses the river near the Lincoln Memorial.
By subway: Nearest Metro station Arlington Cemetery.
Contact information Arlington National Cemetery:
Tel: 703-607-8000 – Website: www.arlingtoncemetery.mil
Admission to Arlington National Cemetery is free.
Opening hours: April–September, daily, 8 a.m.–7 p.m.; October–March, daily, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.
You may also be interested in Solemn places to visit on Veterans Day in Washington D.C., and our post about the Vietnam War Memorial.
Tomb of the Unknowns By Jim CC-BY-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Arlington National Cemetery By Sean McCue (Own work) – CC-BY-SA-2.5, via Wikimedia Commons
Iwo Jima Memorial By Sage Ross (Own work) – CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0, via Wikimedia Commons