Arlington House

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The Best Panoramic View of Washington D.C.

  • Arlington National Cemetery is a place to honor and remember the service members who have fought so bravely to uphold the freedoms and values of this country, but it is also a place to explore and remember the history of our nation. 

    The most historical structure on the grounds is Arlington House. It was completed in the early 1800s. The original owner was George Washington Parke Custis, the adopted grandson of our first president George Washington. Parke Custis’ only daughter married Robert E. Lee. The Lees lived on the grounds for thirty years before the Civil War. 

    Arlington House or the Custis Lee Mansion sits high on a hill overlooking all of Washington D.C., which made it a strategic high point during the Civil War. Many military bases were erected all around the estate to protect the city. One of those bases, Fort Whipple, was an artillery base that could hit any structure in Washington D.C.

    From Arlington House you will see a panoramic view of the city. From left to right you can see the Lincoln Memorial, the Post Office Pavilion Tower, and the Washington Monument, the top of the Smithsonian Castle, the Capitol Dome, and the Jefferson Memorial. The view from the Custis Lee Mansion rivals views of the District from other landmarks including the Washington Monument, the Post Office Pavilion and the National Cathedral. While you are taking in the view be sure to pay your respects to Pierre Charles L’Enfant, the man responsible for the way Washington D.C. is laid out. 

    If that description of the view isn’t enough to convince you to get off at the Arlington House stop, maybe this story will. Just eight months before President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, he made an impromptu visit to the Custis Lee Mansion. The President spoke to a National Park Service ranger who later recalled the President saying the view was so magnificent he wished he could stay forever. President Kennedy lays to rest just below the Arlington House overlooking the view he loved. 

    Come to Arlington National Cemetery to pay your respects to our fallen heroes, but also to enjoy some history and beautiful views of our nation’s capital. Check out this interactive Arlington map where you find popular sites, such as the Kennedy gravesite, the Arlington House and more.

    Amanda Varnam
    Arlington National Cemetery
    Narrator, driver, trainer and dispatcher.