Arlington Cemetery gravestones with Washington Monument in the background

Planning a Visit to Arlington Cemetery

Proud. Humbled. Thankful. That’s how I felt during my visit to Arlington Cemetery. It is a peaceful place to sit and reflect on the sacrifice made by so many brave men and women.

Gravestones at Arlington Cemetery

Getting to Arlington Cemetery

Fortunately, the Arlington Cemetery Metro Station is near the Arlington National Cemetery Welcome Center. So, we took the Metro and found it quite convenient.

What to Expect

Arlington Cemetery is open from from 8am until 7pm. It is open later than the museums in Washington DC. So, it is a great place to visit late in the afternoon. We arrived at 4pm and stayed until closing time. I recommend allowing at least 3 hours for your visit.

A Visit to Arlington Cemetery - Sign with hours

Our visit to Arlington National Cemetery began in the Welcome Center. After going through security, we bought tour tickets and viewed the various exhibits.

Arlington Cemetery Welcome Center

There are over 400,000 Americans buried in Arlington National Cemetery. If you plan to visit an individual grave, there is a kiosk in the Welcome Center to help you find its location.

Arlington Cemetery Gravestones

Arlington Cemetery Tour

Arlington National Cemetery occupies over 624 acres. There is no entrance fee. However, a private vendor offers a trolley tour for a fee. In my opinion, the cemetery is so large that skipping the tour isn’t practical.

Arlington Cemetery Tour Desk

I highly recommend using the restroom and picking up a bottle of water in the Welcome Center before going on the tour. You’ll be glad you did!

The narrated tour includes stops at various points of interest throughout the cemetery. The tour is a typical hop on hop off tour. Spend as much time as you care to at any stop and catch another trolley whenever you are ready to move on.

Arlington Cemetery Tour Trolley

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is one of the highlights on the trolley tour. Here you can watch the changing of the guards. This is a must-see on a visit to Arlington Cemetery.

Check with the parks service for the changing of the guard schedule. During our trip, the guards changed every 1/2 hour.

Arlington Cemetery Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with Wreath in Front of the Tomb

This is a solemn ceremony. Observers are asked to stand and remain quiet.

Arlington Cemetery Changing of the Guards: 3 Guards in front of the tomb of the unknown soldier.

The Marine Corps War Memorial

I suggest walking to the the Marine Corps War Memorial on a visit to Arlington Cemetery.

Arlington Cemetery Arlington Cemetery Marine Corps War Memorial

It is less than 1/2 mile from the Ord & Weitzal Gate trolley tour stop. If you follow the path past the Netherlands Carillon outside of the cemetery, it leads to the Marine Corp Memorial.

Arlington Cemetery Netherlands Carillon - Tall tower like monument

The Marine Corps War Memorial is sometime referred to as the Iwo Jima Memorial. This sculpture recreates a famous picture of marines planting the flag on a mountain after the United States took control of the island in 1945.

Arlington Cemetery Marine Corps War Memorial

Be prepared to stop at security at the gate when you re-enter Arlington National Cemetery to rejoin the trolley tour.

Before boarding the trolley at the Ord & Weitzal Gate trolley tour stop, be sure to notice the graves dating back to the Civil War!

Arlington Cemetery Civil War Era Graves

Our visit to Arlington National Cemetery was one of the highlights of our time in Washington DC. I hope that you get to experience this special place on your next DC trip.

Arlington Cemetery Kennedy GraveArlington Cemetery Gravestones

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