Set just across the Potomac River from Washington D.C., Arlington straddles the boundary between the urban center and the countryside of Northern Virginia. Visit its somber memorials and monuments, which pay tribute to the victims of tragic events from America’s past.
For many Americans, Arlington is synonymous with the Pentagon, the imposing headquarters of the United States Department of Defense. Book online well in advance to secure a spot on a guided tour of the building's interior. Look for the Pentagon Memorial outside, which honors the victims of the September 11, 2011 attack on the Pentagon. The memorial features 184 illuminated benches, each of which represents a victim.
Arlington’s other headline attraction is the Arlington National Cemetery, where some 400,000 people, including veteran soldiers and famous figures, are buried. Search for President John F. Kennedy’s headstone and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where a changing of the guard ceremony takes place at least every hour, and more regularly during summer months.
Among the other famous memorials found here are the Space Shuttle Challenger Memorial and the USSMaine Mast Memorial, which includes the main mast from the battleship which was blown up in 1898 while anchored in Havana Harbor. The Iwo Jima Memorial depicts the six soldiers raising the U.S. flag on Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima. Don’t leave the cemetery without seeing Arlington House, the Greek Revival-style mansion that was once home to Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
Walkers looking for some gentle trails in the vicinity can follow the paths of Theodore Roosevelt Island wilderness preserve, which lead past swamps, marsh and forested areas. Rent a bike and pedal your way along the Washington and Old Dominion Trail. Beginning at Shirlington in Arlington, the trail extends for 45 miles (72 kilometers) into the countryside.
Use Arlington’s excellent public transportation system, which includes some D.C. area metro lines as well as an extensive bus network, to get around. From Arlington, it is just a short journey to all the monuments, museums and memorials of Washington D.C.