Arlington National Cemetery contains graves of soldiers from every war the United States has fought since the American Revolution. It is a resting place for such notable American leaders as President John F. Kennedy, jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes, and civil rights activist Medgar Evers. With some 400,000 graves, famous and otherwise, the 624-acre (252-hectare) site has become a must-see historical site for any trip to Washington DC.
Arlington National Cemetery is free to visit, and travelers should start at the Welcome Center, where maps, exhibits, and information services can be found. Notable sites within the cemetery include the President John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame; the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial; and the Memorial Amphitheater. Choose a hop-on hop-off tour that stops at the cemetery, a walking tour of the grounds, or a tour that combines a visit to the cemetery with stops at National Mall monuments, war memorials, Mount Vernon, or other DC landmarks.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Keep in mind that the cemetery is a shrine honoring fallen members of the US Armed Forces and that a visit is a solemn affair. Exercise an appropriate level of respect.
- Be prepared to go through a security screening before entering the cemetery.
- No food or drink other than bottled water is allowed in the Welcome Center or on the cemetery grounds.
- The cemetery is wheelchair and stroller accessible, but you must bring your own.
- Download the ANC Explorer mobile phone app or use it at the kiosks on site to locate gravesites and monuments around the cemetery.
How to Get to Arlington National Cemetery
To reach Arlington National Cemetery via the Metro from Washington DC, get off at the Arlington National Cemetery Station on the Blue Line. By car, it’s off of Memorial Avenue, across the Potomac from downtown DC.
When to Get There
Arlington National Cemetery can be visited 365 days a year. The site is open to the public from 8am to 5pm in October through March and until 7pm in April through September. It’s less crowded in winter, but be prepared for cold temperatures.
The Changing of the Guard
The Changing of the Guard ceremony outside the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a must-see when visiting Arlington National Cemetery. From October 1 to March 31, it takes place every hour on the hour, and from April 1 to September 30, it occurs every half hour. The start of the ceremony is announced by a relief commander, and visitors are expected to stand and stay silent throughout the ceremony.