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What You Need to Know Before Visiting Arlington National Cemetery

Planning a trip to Arlington National Cemetery can be an amazing and unforgettable experience. You'll find information on what to see, where to go, how to get there, and more. Get ready for an emotional journey as you explore the vast cemetery grounds and pay homage to the brave service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

A sign telling visitors what direction to go to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Sign directing visitors to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Arlington National Cemetery (600 + acres) is located directly across the Potomac River from the Lincoln Memorial on hilly terrain. Arlington National Cemetery is open year-round from 8AM to 5PM. Visitors must pass through airport type security and show valid photo ID. There are restrooms at Arlington National Cemetery Visitors Centers as well as a Gift Shop and ample paid parking. Arlington National Cemetery is on the Metro Blue Line.

Arlington National Cemetery is the final resting place for over 400,000 of our national heroes. There is a ticketed trolley (with narrator) available to take visitors from area to area in this 600+ acre site. Or you may choose to walk. There are maps showing trails and identifying well known gravesites available at the Visitor Center. Wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather. Water can be purchased at the Gift Shop.

Most visitors stop at the gravesites of John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy and then visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers where they watch the Changing of Guard.

There are areas at Arlington National Cemetery where “silence and respect” are required and enforced, and signs are posted letting visitors know when they are in those areas. The Kennedy grave sites and the Changing of the Guard both require silence. During the Changing of the Guard Ceremony everyone who is able is also asked to stand.

The times of the Changing of the Guard ceremony depend on time of year. During late fall and winter, from approximately October 15 to March 15 the ceremony is held on the hour. In spring, summer and early fall the Changing of the Guard Ceremony is held both on the hour and on the half hour.

There is an historic home within Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington House. It was built by George Washington’s step-grandson, George Washington Parke Custis- nicknamed “Washy”. The house sits on the highest hill at the cemetery. Arlington House was owned later by Robert E Lee, the general who led the Confederate troops in the American Civil War. Arlington House is being slowly restored by the Park Service; usually it is open during cemetery hours, but it is sometimes temporarily closed due to construction.

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Aug 20, 2023
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