Top-Rated Things to Do in Arlington, VA

Virginia

By Lucas Reynolds

Located just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., Arlington, Virginia, is a vibrant and historic city with a rich cultural heritage. There are plenty of top-rated attractions and activities in Arlington that cater to a variety of interests. Whether you’re a history buff, nature lover, or foodie, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this charming city.

One of the must-visit attractions in Arlington is the Arlington National Cemetery. This solemn and sacred site is a final resting place for many American heroes, including President John F. Kennedy and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Walking through the rows of white headstones, you can’t help but feel a sense of patriotism and appreciation for those who have served their country.

If you’re interested in history, be sure to visit the Pentagon Memorial. This outdoor memorial pays tribute to the 184 victims who lost their lives in the 2001 terrorist attacks. The unique design of the memorial allows visitors to reflect and remember the tragedy while also offering a sense of hope and resilience.

For those who enjoy the great outdoors, Arlington has several parks and recreational areas to explore. The Mount Vernon Trail is a popular option for biking, jogging, or just taking a leisurely stroll. With stunning views of the Potomac River and iconic landmarks like the Washington Monument, this trail offers a picturesque escape from the city.

No trip to Arlington would be complete without indulging in the local cuisine. The city has a vibrant and diverse food scene, with a wide range of international cuisines and local specialties to choose from. Be sure to try some of the famous Virginia peanuts, as they are a delicious and iconic snack in the area.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast, nature lover, or food connoisseur, Arlington has something to offer. With its rich history, stunning parks, and culinary delights, this city is a top-rated destination for travelers of all types. Plan your visit to Arlington, Virginia, and experience all that this charming city has to offer.

Explore Arlington National Cemetery

Located just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., Arlington National Cemetery is a must-visit destination for history and military enthusiasts. This iconic cemetery is the final resting place for more than 400,000 service members, veterans, and their families.

Arlington National Cemetery offers a profound and somber experience as visitors walk among the white tombstones and pay their respects to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. The cemetery spans over 600 acres and is a place of solemn reflection and reverence.

One of the most notable sites within Arlington National Cemetery is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This monument honors unidentified American soldiers from World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. The changing of the guard ceremony at the tomb is a deeply moving experience that shouldn’t be missed.

In addition to the countless gravesites, Arlington National Cemetery is also home to several memorials and monuments that commemorate different branches of the military and specific conflicts. Some of the most significant include the Marine Corps War Memorial, the Women in Military Service for America Memorial, and the USS Maine Mast Memorial.

Visitor Information: Hours of Operation: Admission:
Arlington National Cemetery April through September: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
October through March: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Free

As Arlington National Cemetery is a place of remembrance and respect, it’s important to remember proper etiquette when visiting. Visitors should dress modestly and behave respectfully. Photography is allowed, but it should be done discreetly and without disturbing other visitors or any ongoing ceremonies.

Exploring Arlington National Cemetery offers a unique opportunity to pay homage to the brave men and women who have served and sacrificed for their country. Plan your visit to this historic site and immerse yourself in its rich history and significance.

Visit the Pentagon

If you’re interested in history and military affairs, a visit to the Pentagon is a must-do when in Arlington, VA. As the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, the Pentagon is a symbol of American military power and ingenuity.

During a guided tour of the Pentagon, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the building’s rich history and fascinating architecture. From its construction in the early 1940s to its role in shaping global military strategies, the Pentagon has played a significant role in American history.

As you explore the various corridors and offices within the Pentagon, you’ll gain insight into the daily operations of the Department of Defense. You might even catch a glimpse of top military officials hurrying through the halls.

One of the highlights of the tour is the 9/11 Memorial Chapel, a solemn space dedicated to the victims who lost their lives during the September 11 attacks. The chapel provides a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made in the name of defending the nation.

Visiting the Pentagon requires advance planning, as all visitors must go through a security screening and must be U.S. citizens or have a foreign government-issued passport. It’s important to check the Pentagon’s official website for the most up-to-date information on visitor requirements and tour availability.

Whether you’re a history buff, a military enthusiast, or simply curious about the inner workings of the Pentagon, a visit to this iconic building will leave you with a newfound appreciation for the men and women who serve in the U.S. military.

Enjoy a stroll along the Mount Vernon Trail

If you’re looking for a scenic and peaceful outdoor activity in Arlington, the Mount Vernon Trail is a must-visit destination. This beautiful trail follows the Potomac River, offering stunning views of the water and surrounding nature. Whether you’re an avid hiker or just looking for a leisurely walk, the Mount Vernon Trail has something for everyone.

The trail is approximately 18 miles long and connects various landmarks and attractions, including the Arlington National Cemetery, the George Washington Memorial Parkway, and the historic Mount Vernon Estate. You can choose to explore the entire length of the trail or simply enjoy a short stroll along a section of it.

Along the way, you’ll pass by charming picnic areas, marinas, and even some sandy beaches where you can relax and soak up the sun. The trail is also popular among cyclists, so don’t be surprised to see bikers whizzing by as you walk.

One of the highlights of the trail is the picturesque Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve, which is home to a variety of bird species and other wildlife. Birdwatchers will particularly enjoy this section of the trail as it offers excellent opportunities to spot rare and migratory birds.

Whether you’re a nature lover, history enthusiast, or simply looking for a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, a stroll along the Mount Vernon Trail is sure to provide a memorable experience. So pack some snacks, put on your walking shoes, and get ready to enjoy the beauty of Arlington’s natural surroundings.

Discover the history of Arlington House

Located in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington House is a historic mansion that offers visitors a glimpse into the past and tells the story of the people who called it home. Built in the early 1800s, Arlington House has a rich history that is intertwined with the development of the United States.

Originally designed as a memorial to George Washington, the mansion was later acquired by the Custis family. It was in their hands that the house witnessed many significant events, including the marriage of their daughter Mary Custis to Robert E. Lee. Lee would later become a general in the Confederate Army during the Civil War.

During the war, Arlington House was occupied by Union troops and served as a headquarters for the United States Army. The land surrounding the mansion was turned into a military cemetery, laying the foundations for what is now known as Arlington National Cemetery.

Today, visitors to Arlington House can explore the mansion’s beautifully preserved rooms and learn about its former residents. The house is filled with original furniture, artwork, and personal belongings, providing a unique insight into the daily lives of the Custis and Lee families.

From the porch of Arlington House, visitors can enjoy breathtaking views of Washington, D.C. and the surrounding area. The peaceful and serene atmosphere of the house and its grounds offers a stark contrast to the bustling city just across the river.

Whether you are a history buff or simply curious about the past, a visit to Arlington House is a must. It is a place where history comes alive, and where you can gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the events and people that shaped our nation.

Go shopping at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City

If you’re in the mood for some retail therapy, head over to the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City. With over 170 stores, this upscale shopping mall offers a wide variety of options for fashion enthusiasts.

From high-end luxury brands to popular chain stores, you’ll find everything you need to update your wardrobe. Browse through the latest fashion trends at H&M, Zara, and Forever 21, or explore designer boutiques like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Burberry.

In addition to clothing, the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City also features an impressive selection of beauty and skincare products. Treat yourself to a luxurious experience at Sephora, where you can find a wide range of cosmetics and skincare products from top brands.

When you need a break from shopping, recharge at one of the many dining options available at the mall. From fast-casual eateries like Chipotle and Shake Shack to upscale restaurants like The Cheesecake Factory and Legal Sea Foods, there’s something to satisfy every craving.

Address: 1100 S Hayes St, Arlington, VA 22202
Opening hours: Monday-Saturday: 10am-9:30pm / Sunday: 11am-6pm
Contact: (703) 415-2400

Whether you’re a fashion enthusiast or simply looking for a day of exploration, the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City is a must-visit destination in Arlington, VA. With its diverse selection of stores and convenient location, it’s the perfect place to indulge in some retail therapy.

Admire the views from the Observation Deck at CEB Tower

One of the top-rated things to do in Arlington, VA is to visit the Observation Deck at CEB Tower. Located in the Rosslyn neighborhood, the CEB Tower offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area.

As you step onto the Observation Deck, you’ll be greeted with panoramic views of Washington, D.C., Arlington, and the Potomac River. The deck is located on the 31st floor, providing a unique vantage point to take in the city’s landmarks.

From the deck, you can see iconic sites such as the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and the U.S. Capitol. On a clear day, you may even be able to see as far as the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.

The Observation Deck offers both indoor and outdoor viewing areas, so you can choose whether you want to experience the views from inside or venture out for an open-air experience. There are also binoculars available for rent to get a closer look at the surrounding sights.

In addition to the breathtaking views, the Observation Deck also features interactive exhibits that provide information about the landmarks and history of the area. You can learn about the significance of each monument and gain a deeper understanding of the city’s rich heritage.

Whether you’re a visitor to Arlington or a local resident looking for a unique experience, the Observation Deck at CEB Tower is a must-visit attraction. Take some time to admire the views and gain a new perspective on the city and its surroundings.

Attend a performance at the Signature Theatre

If you’re a fan of live theater, a visit to the Signature Theatre is a must when you’re in Arlington. Located in the Village at Shirlington, this Tony Award-winning regional theater is known for its top-notch productions and commitment to showcasing diverse and innovative works.

The Signature Theatre features a wide variety of performances throughout the year, including musicals, plays, and intimate cabaret-style shows. The theater’s artistic director, Eric Schaeffer, is known for his bold and imaginative productions, which often feature talented actors and singers from both the local area and Broadway.

When you attend a performance at the Signature Theatre, you can expect a truly immersive experience. The theater offers state-of-the-art facilities and a unique seating arrangement that brings the audience closer to the action. No matter where you sit, you’ll feel like you’re an active participant in the performance.

Before or after the show, you can also grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants located in the Village at Shirlington. From casual eateries to upscale dining options, there’s something to suit every taste and budget.

Whether you’re a theater aficionado or simply looking for a memorable night out, attending a performance at the Signature Theatre is sure to be a highlight of your visit to Arlington. Check their website for the latest schedule and make sure to book your tickets in advance as shows often sell out quickly.

Take a tour of the United States Air Force Memorial

When visiting Arlington, Virginia, make sure to add the United States Air Force Memorial to your itinerary. This striking memorial is dedicated to the men and women of the United States Air Force who have served and defended our country.

The memorial is located on a hilltop in Arlington, offering breathtaking views of Washington, D.C. and the surrounding area. Designed to resemble three soaring arcs, the memorial honors the core values of the Air Force: integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do.

During your tour, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the history and significance of the Air Force. Knowledgeable guides will provide insights into the brave individuals who have made sacrifices for our nation. You’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the Air Force’s role in protecting our country and its contributions to aviation and technology.

Don’t miss the chance to see the impressive statues at the memorial. One of them, the “Missing Man Formation,” pays tribute to fallen airmen. It serves as a reminder of the ultimate sacrifice made by those who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

While at the memorial, take a moment to reflect and pay your respects. The serene atmosphere and beautiful surroundings make it a tranquil spot to honor those who have served in the Air Force.

In conclusion, visiting the United States Air Force Memorial is a must for anyone interested in the history and achievements of the Air Force. Whether you have a personal connection to the Air Force or simply want to learn more about our nation’s military, this memorial offers a meaningful and enlightening experience.

Important Information:

Location: 1 Air Force Memorial Dr, Arlington, VA 22204

Hours of Operation: Open daily from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm

Learn about space exploration at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

If you’re interested in space exploration, a visit to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is a must-do in Arlington, VA. This incredible museum is an extension of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, located in Chantilly, Virginia.

At the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, you can explore exhibits that showcase the history and achievements of space exploration. The museum is home to some of the most iconic artifacts in aerospace history, including the space shuttle Discovery, the SR-71 Blackbird, and the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima during World War II.

As you walk through the center, you’ll have the opportunity to see real spacecraft, satellites, and other vehicles that have been used in space missions. You can also learn about the different stages of space exploration, from the early days of the Mercury program to the current advancements in the International Space Station.

In addition to the fascinating exhibits, the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center also offers interactive experiences. Visitors can try their hand at landing a space shuttle in a simulator, or take a virtual tour of the universe in the Albert Einstein Planetarium.

Whether you’re a space enthusiast or just curious about the wonders of the cosmos, a visit to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is a great way to learn about space exploration and gain a deeper understanding of the incredible achievements of mankind.

Explore the exhibits at the Arlington Historical Museum

The Arlington Historical Museum is a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts. Located in the heart of Arlington, Virginia, the museum offers a unique glimpse into the rich history and heritage of the area.

One of the highlights of the museum is its extensive collection of artifacts, documents, and photographs that showcase the history of Arlington. Visitors can explore exhibits that depict various aspects of Arlington’s past, from its early settlement to its role during the Civil War and beyond.

A notable exhibit is the “Arlington During the Civil War” display, which provides a detailed account of the county’s experience during this pivotal time in American history. Visitors can learn about the military occupation of Arlington, the establishment of Freedman’s Village, and the lasting impact of the war on the community.

Another fascinating exhibit is the “Arlington’s Changing Landscape” display, which chronicles the growth and development of the county throughout the years. From its early agricultural roots to its transformation into a bustling suburb of Washington, D.C., this exhibit offers a comprehensive look at the evolution of Arlington.

The museum also features interactive displays and multimedia presentations that engage visitors of all ages. From virtual reality experiences to touch-screen exhibits, there are plenty of opportunities to learn and interact with the history of Arlington in a unique and immersive way.

Visitors can also take advantage of guided tours and educational programs offered by the museum. Knowledgeable staff members are on hand to provide insights and answer questions, ensuring a memorable and informative visit.

Location Hours Admission
1805 South Arlington Ridge Road, Arlington, VA Wednesday-Saturday: 12pm-4pm Free

Whether you are a history buff or simply curious about Arlington’s past, a visit to the Arlington Historical Museum is a must. Immerse yourself in the exhibits and discover the rich history that has shaped this vibrant community.

Relax in the beautiful Theodore Roosevelt Island

If you’re looking for a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of Arlington, Virginia, head over to Theodore Roosevelt Island. Located in the middle of the Potomac River, this island offers a serene retreat from the urban landscape.

Named after President Theodore Roosevelt, this 88-acre island is a national memorial to the conservationist president. It features winding trails, scenic overlooks, and abundant wildlife, making it the perfect destination for nature enthusiasts.

One of the highlights of the island is the Memorial Plaza, which houses a larger-than-life statue of Theodore Roosevelt. This impressive sculpture pays homage to the president’s love for nature and his dedication to preserving the environment.

As you explore the island, you’ll come across several walking trails that wind through its lush forests and wetlands. These trails offer a great opportunity to admire the island’s diverse plant and animal species, including white-tailed deer, turtles, and various bird species.

Whether you’re an avid hiker or simply seeking a peaceful place to relax, Theodore Roosevelt Island has something for everyone. Pack a picnic and find a shady spot along the Potomac River, or simply wander the island’s trails and enjoy the solitude.

When visiting Theodore Roosevelt Island, be sure to bring your camera to capture the island’s natural beauty. From the picturesque views of the river to the stunning foliage during the fall season, every corner of this island is a photo-worthy spot.

So, if you’re in Arlington, take a break from the city and spend some time in the beautiful Theodore Roosevelt Island. Whether you’re a nature lover, history buff, or simply seeking a serene environment, this island is the perfect place to unwind and enjoy the great outdoors.

See the animals at the Gulf Branch Nature Center

Enjoy a day filled with nature and wildlife at the Gulf Branch Nature Center in Arlington, VA. This nature center is home to various animals and provides educational opportunities for visitors of all ages.

At the Gulf Branch Nature Center, you can see a variety of animals that are native to the area. From turtles and frogs to birds and snakes, there is always something to see and learn about. The center offers informative displays and exhibits that teach about the local wildlife and their habitats.

In addition to observing the animals, the Gulf Branch Nature Center also offers interactive programs and activities. You can participate in guided nature walks, where you can explore the nearby trails and learn about the plants and animals that call this area home. The center also hosts workshops and presentations on various nature-related topics.

For those interested in hands-on experiences, the Gulf Branch Nature Center has an outdoor classroom and a touch table, where visitors can get up close and personal with some of the animals. You can touch a turtle’s shell or feel the texture of a snake’s skin.

Visiting the Gulf Branch Nature Center is a great way to connect with nature and learn more about the wildlife in the Arlington area. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast or just looking for a fun activity, the Gulf Branch Nature Center is worth a visit.

Address: 3608 N Military Rd, Arlington, VA
Phone: (703) 228-3403
Website: https://parks.arlingtonva.us/locations/gulf-branch-nature-center/

Go for a bike ride along the W&OD Trail

If you’re looking for a fun and adventurous way to explore Arlington, VA, hop on a bike and ride along the Washington & Old Dominion Trail (W&OD Trail). Stretching over 45 miles, this scenic trail is perfect for biking enthusiasts of all levels.

As you pedal along the trail, you’ll be surrounded by beautiful scenery, including lush greenery, tranquil streams, and charming small towns. The trail is well-maintained and offers a smooth ride, making it suitable for beginners and experienced cyclists alike.

The W&OD Trail is not only a great way to enjoy the outdoors, but it also provides access to some of Arlington’s top attractions. Along the way, you’ll pass by popular spots such as Bluemont Park, Bon Air Park, and the historic town of Falls Church.

Whether you’re looking for a quick ride or a longer adventure, the W&OD Trail offers a variety of options. You can choose to explore the entire trail or pick a section that interests you the most. There are also many bike rental shops in the area if you don’t have your own bike.

So grab your helmet, pump up your tires, and get ready for an unforgettable bike ride along the beautiful W&OD Trail in Arlington, VA.

Enjoy a picnic at Potomac Overlook Regional Park

Escape the hustle and bustle of Arlington and indulge in a peaceful picnic at Potomac Overlook Regional Park. This scenic park offers breathtaking views of the Potomac River and is the perfect spot to relax and recharge.

Bring a blanket, some delicious snacks, and your favorite book to enjoy a leisurely afternoon in nature. The park has plenty of picnic tables and grills available for use, so you can also bring some barbecue essentials and savor a delicious outdoor meal.

If you’re feeling adventurous, take a hike along one of the park’s many trails. The trails range in difficulty, providing options for both casual strollers and avid hikers. Along the way, you’ll encounter lush forests, enchanting meadows, and maybe even catch glimpses of wildlife.

For those who want to learn more about the local flora and fauna, visit the Nature Center located in the park. The Nature Center offers educational exhibits and programs that will enrich your understanding of the surrounding ecosystem.

Before leaving, don’t forget to explore the charming gardens and admire the beautiful flowers in bloom. The park is known for its well-maintained gardens, which showcase a variety of native plants and flowers.

Whether you’re seeking solitude or a fun family outing, a picnic at Potomac Overlook Regional Park is a memorable way to spend a day in Arlington.

FAQs

What are some of the top-rated things to do in Arlington, VA?

Some of the top-rated things to do in Arlington, VA include visiting the Arlington National Cemetery, exploring the museums at the National Mall, taking a tour of the Pentagon, shopping and dining in the vibrant neighborhoods, and attending live performances at the Signature Theatre.

How can I visit the Arlington National Cemetery?

You can visit the Arlington National Cemetery by taking a guided tour or exploring on your own. The cemetery is open to the public and you can walk through the grounds to see the gravesites of notable figures such as President John F. Kennedy and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

What can I see and do at the National Mall?

There are plenty of museums and landmarks to explore at the National Mall in Arlington, VA. Some of the popular attractions include the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, and the National Gallery of Art. You can spend hours exploring the exhibits and taking in the iconic sights.

Are there any good shopping and dining options in Arlington, VA?

Arlington, VA is known for its vibrant neighborhoods that offer a wide range of shopping and dining options. From trendy boutiques and upscale restaurants to local markets and food trucks, there is something for everyone. Some popular areas to check out include Clarendon, Ballston, and Crystal City.

What types of live performances can I see at the Signature Theatre?

The Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA offers a diverse range of live performances, including musicals, plays, and contemporary shows. You can catch Broadway-caliber productions, original works by emerging playwrights, and even cabaret performances. The theatre is known for its high-quality productions and talented performers.

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Lucas Reynolds

Lucas Reynolds, the mastermind behind TravelAsker's compelling content, originates from the charming Sedona, Arizona. A genuine local, he shares deep insights into the region, unveiling its enchanting attractions, tranquil resorts, welcoming accommodations, diverse dining options, and engaging pastimes. Lucas invites readers to explore captivating experiences within the stunning landscapes of Sedona and beyond, ensuring unforgettable adventures.

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