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Arlington National Cemetery is one of the most famous military cemeteries in the United States, attracting over 3 million visitors a year. People visit Arlington National Cemetery to pay respects to fallen war heroes, prominent veterans, national figures, ordinary soldiers, and other military personnel who served their country.
Visiting Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery is an active military cemetery, but visitors are still welcome to explore its historic and hallowed grounds. Here are some essential tips for visiting Arlington National Cemetery including how to get there, must-see sites, and more.
In This Post
Where is Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery is in Arlington, Virginia, on the west side of the Potomac River across from Washington D.C. The Memorial Bridge and Memorial Avenue link Arlington National Cemetery with the Lincoln Memorial in D.C. The cemetery’s main entrance is on Memorial Ave.
How to Get to Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery’s close proximity to Washington D.C. makes it easy to get there by public transportation using the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Take the metro’s blue line to Arlington Cemetery station then it will be a short walk to the Welcome Center.
If you prefer to drive, the cemetery can be reached via major roadways in the D.C. area including Interstate 95, the George Washington Memorial Parkway, the Capital Beltway, and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.
Parking at Arlington National Cemetery
The Arlington National Cemetery parking lot is located next to the Welcome Center at the Memorial Avenue entrance. An hourly fee is charged up to a daily maximum amount. Current parking prices and hours can be found here.
To pay for your parking you can use the payment station inside the Welcome Center or on the mid-level of the parking garage just past the stairs. These payment stations take cash and credit cards. You can also pay by credit card at the exit lanes.
Everyone visiting Arlington National Cemetery has to go through a physical security screening like at an airport. Visitors over the age of 18 also have to show a valid government-issued photo I.D. (copies not accepted). If you’re not a U.S. citizen you will have to present a valid passport.
Cost to Visit Arlington National Cemetery
It is free to visit Arlington National Cemetery, however charges apply if you want to take a tram tour.
Getting Around Arlington National Cemetery
Since vehicles and bicycles are not allowed without a family pass (issued to family members of people buried in the cemetery), the only way to get around Arlington National Cemetery is to walk or take a tram tour.
If you plan to explore Arlington National Cemetery by foot, keep in mind that there’s a fair distance to cover (639 acres) and the terrain is hilly.
Tram tours of Arlington National Cemetery offer hop-on hop-off transportation to specific places of interest along a fixed route (more on that later).
To make the most of your visit to Arlington National Cemetery, take the tram tour and get off at each stop, walk around to explore the vicinity, then reboard the tram.
What to See at Arlington National Cemetery
The main categories of things to see at Arlington National Cemetery are famous graves, important monuments, and historic buildings. Here are some ideas of what to see at Arlington National Cemetery.
There are hundreds of thousands of graves in Arlington National Cemetery, but it’s the burials of high profile people that are of most interest to visitors. Here are some notable gravesites to visit:
- President John F. Kennedy and the rest of the Kennedy family plot (includes First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Robert F. Kennedy, Edward M. Kennedy, Joseph P. Kennedy Jr.)
- President William Howard Taft
- Robert Todd Lincoln, son of President Abraham Lincoln
- Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
- Crews of the Columbia and Challenger space shuttles
- Explorer Robert Peary
- Boxer Joe Louis
Read more: Arlington National Cemetery Burials
There are several dozen monuments in Arlington National Cemetery commemorating wars, battles, military units, and significant events. Here are some of the top monuments to see when visiting Arlington National Cemetery:
- Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
- Tomb of the Civil War Unknowns
- Battle of the Bulge Memorial
- Spanish-American War Memorial
- Confederate Memorial
- USS Maine Memorial
- Nurses Memorial
- McClellan Gate
The Memorial Amphitheater is one of the most beautiful landmarks in Arlington National Cemetery. Influenced by Greek and Roman architecture, its design symbolizes sacrifice and makes reference to important battles in American history.
The amphitheater is over 100 years old and hosts three major memorial services each year.
James Tanner Amphitheater
The James Tanner Amphitheater opened in 1873 on the site of the first Memorial Day ceremony held five years earlier.
The modest structure, now known as the “old amphitheater”, features a radial pergola and elliptical stone walkway. Its design reflects the garden landscapes that were popular during the rural cemetery movement of the 19th century.
Arlington House is a historic mansion that predates the cemetery and now serves as a memorial to Confederate general Robert E. Lee, who promoted peace and reunion after the Civil War. It is the only national memorial honoring a person who fought a war against the United States.
During a tour of Arlington House you can see exhibits about Robert E. Lee, admire artifacts related to George Washington and his step grandson (who was the original owner of Arlington House), and look at period furniture. You can also visit two slave quarters that tell the story of those enslaved at Arlington House.
You should allow 15-20 minutes to tour Arlington House.
Tours of Arlington National Cemetery
There are a few options for tours of Arlington National Cemetery, including tram tours, walking tours, and short visits included as part of a larger Washington D.C. tour. A tour is a great way to learn some interesting facts about Arlington National Cemetery while you explore the property.
The tram tours are live-narrated and allow you to hop on and off at designated stops around the cemetery. On weekdays there are six stops and on weekends there are nine.
The tram tours take you to some of the most notable graves and monuments including JFK’s gravesite, General John J. Pershing’s grave, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and Memorial Amphitheater, Arlington House, and the Ord and Weitzel Gate. On weekends additional stops at Sections 55 and 59, the Columbarium and Niche Wall, and the Pentagon Group Burial Marker are added.
Tram tours of Arlington National Cemetery depart from the Welcome Center every 30 minutes between 8:30 am and 4:00 pm daily. The continuous loop takes about 45 minutes.
Walking Tours and Combination Tours
Here is a trusted site where you can book tours of Arlington National Cemetery, including walking tours and Washington D.C. tours that include a visit to Arlington.
If you prefer exploring the cemetery on your own, you can do a self-guided tour with the ANC Explorer App. This mobile phone app has several themed/special interest tours of the cemetery you can follow along with. The app even lets you customize your tour by selecting the quickest route or easiest route.
Events at Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery hosts several events and ceremonies throughout the year including:
- Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies at the Memorial Amphitheater. It’s tradition for the President of the United States to deliver an address at the Memorial Day ceremony.
- Flags In- an event just before Memorial Day weekend where the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment places small American flags at gravesites.
- Wreaths Across America- an event in December where volunteers from the general public place wreaths at gravesites.
- Wreath Layings at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier- happens during formal ceremonies and state visits of foreign dignitaries
Arlington National Cemetery Grave Locator
To make it easier to find specific graves when visiting Arlington National Cemetery, download the ANC Explorer app to your phone. The app can give you directions to graves, points of interest, and even lets you see photos of the headstones. The app also includes themed self-guided tours you can follow along with.
If you don’t want to download the app you can access a desktop version here or use the app on kiosks in the Welcome Center.
Map of Arlington National Cemetery
To assist in planning your Arlington National Cemetery visit, here is a printable map of the cemetery. You can also pick up a map at the Welcome Centre.
Etiquette for Visiting Arlington National Cemetery
When you visit Arlington National Cemetery there are certain guidelines to abide by to ensure the cemetery remains a place of honor and reflection. Visitors are asked to:
- Speak quietly
- Not bring food or alcohol onto the grounds (water is allowed)
- Enjoy the space appropriately (no running, bicycling, picnicking, climbing etc.)
- Leave pets at home
- Respect the property (do not sit on monuments and gravestones, don’t damage plants etc.)
- Respect funeral services (stay at a distance)
- Show respect to the flag
Hours of Operation
Cemetery Hours: Arlington National Cemetery is open daily from 8:00 am- 5:00 pm. Confirm current hours here.
Welcome Center Hours: The Welcome Center is open daily from 8:00 am- 7:00 pm (April 1- September 30) and from 8:00 am- 5:00 pm (October 1- March 31). Confirm current hours here.
Arlington House Hours: Arlington House is open from 9:30 am- 4:30 pm. Confirm current hours here.
If you’re planning to visit Arlington National Cemetery and need accommodations, here is a list of hotels in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area. Please consider booking your accommodations through the included link. It costs nothing extra and helps support this website.
More Burial Places in the United States
- Cemeteries in Boston- Historic Boston Cemeteries to Visit
- Mount Auburn Cemetery- The First Rural Cemetery in the United States
- Charleston Cemeteries- Discover Historic Cemeteries in Charleston
- Magnolia Cemetery- Charleston’s Oldest Public Cemetery