Top 10 Things To Do
In Arlington, VA

Located across the Potomac River from the nation’s capital, Arlington has an eclectic mix of fascinating attractions. You can spend the day exploring historic sites and the scenic countryside. When traveling to the Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia area, consider this list of popular things to do in Arlington, VA.

  • 1

    Arlington National Cemetery

    Established during the Civil War on land once owned by Robert E. Lee, Arlington National Cemetery is home to the Tomb of the Unknowns and the eternal flame marking President John F. Kennedy’s grave as well as the final resting places of numerous other famous Americans. Located near the entrance, Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial, overlooks the Potomac and National Mall. The site features the house, gardens and outbuildings, including former slave quarters. The cemetery is also the location for 28 major and 142 minor memorials and monuments.

  • 2

    George Washington Memorial Parkway and Hemicycle

    Several well-known monuments and memorials are located immediately adjacent to the national cemetery. Situated outside the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery, the George Washington Memorial Parkway and the Hemicycle are erroneously assumed to be part of the famous burial ground. The parkway and Hemicycle are the setting for famous monuments and memorials, such as the Marine Corps War Memorial, commonly known as the Iwo Jima Memorial, the Netherlands Carillon and the Women in Military Service for America Memorial, which incorporates the Hemicycle near the entrance to the cemetery.

  • 3

    Arlington Memorial Bridge

    Due to its location spanning the Potomac River, Arlington Memorial Bridge symbolically reconnects the north and south. The Neoclassical masonry and steel bridge, built in 1932, connects the Lincoln Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery, the former estate of Robert E. Lee. Designed by McKim, Meade and White, the bridge is adorned with statues by sculptor Leo Friedlander depicting valor and sacrifice.

  • 4

    The Pentagon

    The world’s largest office building, the Pentagon is the headquarters for the Department of Defense. During a one-hour public guided tour of select sites in the interior, such as the Hall of Heroes, visitors will hear a narrative about the operation of the Defense Department and little known facts about the building. The grounds are the setting for the Pentagon Memorial dedicated to those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.

  • 5

    Theodore Roosevelt Island Park

    Theodore Roosevelt Island Park is a national memorial situated on an 88.5-acre island in the Potomac River. A footbridge from the Virginia side of the river provides access to the island. In addition to the memorial plaza featuring a decorative fountain and a 17-foot-tall statue of the 26th president, the park has several hiking trails and boardwalks through the island’s natural habitats.

  • 6

    Mount Vernon Trail

    The 17-mile Mount Vernon Trail is part of the larger Potomac Heritage Scenic Trail. The paved hiking and bicycling path travels between Mount Vernon and Rosslyn paralleling the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Stops along the route include Roosevelt Island and Gravelly Point, a popular spot for observing planes taking off and landing at Reagan National Airport. The open-air trail also provides scenic views of the Potomac and the capital skyline.

  • 7

    The DEA Museum

    Opening in 1999, the various interactive exhibits and displays at the DEA Museum chronicle the history of the law enforcement agency as well as illicit drugs and their abuse over the past 150 years. The museum’s centerpiece is the exhibit entitled “Illegal Drugs in America: A Modern History.” Other displays include “Jimmy’s Joint,” a collection of various drug paraphernalia.

  • 8

    Arlington Historical Museum

    Housed in the former Hume School built in 1891, the Arlington Historical Museum preserves the history of the local area from Captain John Smith’s first encounter with the Algonquins in 1608 to the present age. The museum features a rotating display of its collection containing more than 350,000 artifacts. The historical society also operates the 18th century Ball-Sanders historic museum house. Originally built in 1750, it is the oldest extant structure in Arlington.

  • 9

    Fort C. F. Smith Park

    The beautiful 19-acre Fort C. F. Smith Park features a lush tree canopy, nature trails and an open meadow as well as preserved Civil War earthworks and the restored 20th century Hendry House. History buffs can explore gun emplacements and the powder magazine. The nature trails afford the opportunity to see wildlife like deer, fox and rabbits. The park is also home to the ornamental Peace Garden and Bird Creek, a man-made water feature that attracts native and migratory birds, such as Barred and Screech Owls.

  • 10

    Ocean Dunes Water Park

    One of the popular things to do in DC with kids during warmer months is a trip to Ocean Dunes Water Park. The attraction contains slides and a large swimming pool as well as other water play structures like waterfalls, water jets and spray fountains. A favorite place to cool off, the splash zone is located within the larger Upton Hill Regional Park. The recreation area also includes a mini-golf course and batting cages.

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