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For many, the most sobering experience of their Washington is gazing across the seemingly endless rows of small, white headstones, all marked with U.S. flags. Here, in the grounds of Arlington National Cemetery, the graves of veterans from America’s wars, past and present, are lined up in military precision.
Located directly across the Potomac River from the Lincoln Memorial, the Arlington National Cemetery hosts around 30 funerals a day, five days a week. More than 400,000 service women and men are buried here in 70 different sections. A somber, peaceful atmosphere pervades the immaculately maintained 624-acre (252-hectare) grounds.
Unless you know exactly where you’re going, make the Visitor Center your first stop. Here you’ll find maps, guides, and have the chance to take one of the interpretive shuttle bus tours that run from the center to Arlington House, the highest point of the cemetery, which offers rewarding views across Washington. Nearby, you’ll find a monument dedicated to the unknown soldiers who died during the Civil War.
Take a moment to reflect at the cemetery’s other popular memorials. The gravesite of John Fitzgerald Kennedy — marked with an eternal flame — and his wife Jacqueline are two of the most visited graves. Other popular sites are the September 11 Memorials, the Lockerbie Cairn and the Pentagon Group Burial Marker, and Section 46, where the seven astronauts from the ill-fated space shuttle Challenger are memorialized.
Many American heroes who didn’t serve in the military are honored with a burial at Arlington, including heavyweight boxer Joe Louis, novelist Mary Roberts Rinehart and inventor George Westinghouse. Behind Arlington House you’ll find the Arlington Memorial Amphitheater, which hosts state funerals and Memorial Day Services.
The Arlington National Cemetery is open to visitors every day of the year. It is just over two miles (three kilometers) from downtown, over the Arlington Memorial Bridge. It is an easy trip by bus. Alternatively, you can walk across the bridge, which is immediately adjacent to the Lincoln Memorial. The cemetery grounds are extensive though, so some prefer to have a car to get around once there.
There are loads of ways to get the most out of this attraction. Here's a list of things to do at Arlington National Cemetery:
For many more things to do, peruse our Washington things to do page.
Located in Rosslyn, this hotel is within 3 mi (5 km) of Kennedy Center, Pentagon, and Iwo Jima Memorial. Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and Washington Monument are also within 3 mi (5 km). Courthouse Station is 14 minutes by foot.
This family-friendly Arlington hotel is located near the airport, within 2 mi (3 km) of Fashion Center at Pentagon City and Birchmere. National Aquarium and National Mall are also within 6 mi (10 km). Crystal City Station is 14 minutes by foot and National Airport Station is 21 minutes.
Situated in Arlington, this hotel is within 3 mi (5 km) of Iwo Jima Memorial, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and Arlington National Cemetery. Georgetown University and Korean War Veterans Memorial are also within 3 mi (5 km). Courthouse Station is 17 minutes by foot and Clarendon Metrorail Station is 17 minutes.
Located in Foggy Bottom, this luxury hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Kennedy Center and Georgetown Waterfront Park. Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Lincoln Memorial are also within 1 mi (2 km). Foggy Bottom Station is 7 minutes by foot and Farragut West Station is 19 minutes.
Located in Radnor - Fort Myer Heights, this hotel is within 2 mi (3 km) of Iwo Jima Memorial, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and Arlington National Cemetery. Georgetown University and Korean War Veterans Memorial are also within 3 mi (5 km). Rosslyn Station is 8 minutes by foot and Courthouse Station is 16 minutes.
Located in Court House, this hotel is within 3 mi (5 km) of Iwo Jima Memorial, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and Arlington National Cemetery. Georgetown University and Korean War Veterans Memorial are also within 3 mi (5 km). Courthouse Station is only a 5-minute walk and Clarendon Metrorail Station is 15 minutes.
Located in Rosslyn, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Georgetown Waterfront Park, Iwo Jima Memorial, and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Georgetown University and Arlington National Cemetery are also within 2 mi (3 km). Rosslyn Station is only a 2-minute walk and Courthouse Station is 16 minutes.
Located in Capitol Hill, this boutique hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Union Station Shopping Center and United States Capitol. Supreme Court of the United States and Capital One Arena are also within 15 minutes. Judiciary Square Station is 6 minutes by foot and Washington Union Station is 6 minutes.