Hey Friends! Happy Tuesday! OH MY GOD. Can you believe who went home on DWTS last night?! I.AM.SHOOK. I thought for sure my favorites were going to be gone AND THEY’RE ALL STILL THERE! (Not naming names, I don’t want to spoil it for anyone!!)
Yesterday’s post was all about Veterans and how we can honor their services and sacrifices. SO I thought I’d continue with that theme today. A few weeks back, I wrote a paragraph on seeing Arlington National Cemetery while you’re in DC. But I realized pretty quickly after I wrote it that Arlington deserves it’s own post.
If there is one thing on this list that you absolutely must do, it’s stop and pay your respects to those who lost their lives fighting for our freedom at Arlington. It is the final resting place for over 400,000 US veterans. While the grounds are stunning, and a great place to spend the day outside, that isn’t what this place is about. It’s about quietly reflecting on the sacrifices these men and women made for us.
There is SO much to see at Arlington that you could spend days there. But let’s be real. You’ll probably have a half day to spend there at the most. So I’m here to help you make the most of your time there.
Know Before You Go. Let’s start with the basics. These are the things you should know before visiting.
- This is a working cemetery. While you and 3 million other people visit Arlington every year, it can be hard to imagine that this is still a working cemetery. I think this is the most important thing to remember. Yes, it’s filled with tourists. But at any given time, it is also filled with people grieving the loss of a loved one, or attending a funeral for men and women who have served in the Armed Forces. Because of this…
- Be Respectful. I can’t stress this enough. This isn’t the place to yell and giggle and run about. While your experience there are going to be amazing, it is still a bit somber. In fact, there are many spots on the grounds where absolute silence is required. So prepare your families (especially young children) by reminding them how important it is to be silent and respectful to those who have passed away.
- ANC open all year long. You can visit Arlington 365 days a year, 8 am- 7 pm. (Winter hours, 8 am- 5pm) Literally, any time is a perfect time to visit, but I might recommend the Spring. It won’t be quite as hot as it was in June. And trust me… it was HOT.
- ANC is HUGE. I’m not joking when I say it’s massive. Good luck walking around it if you’re not in the best shape of your life, because not does it cover a lot of ground, it’s also super hilly. Which is why I highly recommend buying the tickets for the shuttle. But more on that later!
- Getting There. Getting to Arlington is an absolute breeze if you’re taking the Metro. It has it’s own stop on the Blue Line and it’s just a short walk to the visitors center. If you are driving (bless your heart) than you can pay to park. It’s cheap (only $2 an hour) and you honestly shouldn’t have any trouble finding a spot to park. Just don’t lose your ticket… if you do, you’ll have to pay the 7-8 hour daily charge.
The Must Sees.
- Graves of Loved Ones. If you have loved one buried at Arlington, it is obviously a must see for you. But don’t try to find their grave on your own or by memory. Every row kind of looks the same, and you can get turned around so dang easily. Click here to find your loved one’s final resting place.
- The Kennedy Memorials. After John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, the lovely First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy made the decision that her husband belonged to the people. So instead of being buried in Massachusetts like many believed, he was buried at Arlington. And just as Mrs. Kennedy predicted, the American people keep coming to pay their respects to the beloved President. The Kennedy Memorial is one of the most visited spots in all of Washington DC. Laid to rest along side President Kennedy are his wife and his brothers, and infant children. Find The Kennedy Gravesite at Lot 45, Section 30.
- Tomb of the Unknowns. Atop a hill, overlooking all of Washington DC, is The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. On March 4th, 1921, Congress approved the burial of an unidentified soldier from World War I. On the large white marble tomb are the words “Here rests in honored glory, an American soldier known but to God.” It is meant to represent all those lost at war, who remain unknown. The sarcophagus is guarded day and night by an elite band of hand-selected soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment. These guards just may be the most incredible part of The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. For every minute, of every day since 1937, the tomb has been guarded. Which brings us to…
- The Changing of The Guard. The Changing of The Guard just might be one of the coolest experiences we had while in DC. Nothing has stopped the guards from standing beside the tomb. NOTHING. Not horrible weather, threats of terrorism, or even nightfall. Every 30 minutes (in the summertime, hour in the winter, and two hours while the ceremony is closed) the guards change. No, they don’t just walk up, tap each other and say “Dude. My turn.” This ceremony is meticulously perfect. So perfect, that the tracks of the guards are forever embedded in the ground. To read more about exactly what happens during the ceremony click here. If you are planning to see the ceremony (which you should), my absolute number one tip is to arrive just as one ceremony is ending. Wait for the people to clear your, and claim your spot. You’re going to want front row seats for this… trust me. Everyone comes sprinting up the hill with 5 minutes to go, and then spends the entire time trying to bob and weave around everyone else to get a good look. So show up early, and relax for a half hour while you wait.
The Best Way to See Arlington National Cemetery. Remember when I told you Arlington is huge? It’s 624 acres. SIX HUNDRED AND TWENTY FOUR. Y’all. That’s literally almost 500 football fields. You seriously don’t want to walk that. I know some of you are thinking “Well, I don’t need to see the entire cemetery Savannah. I only need to see The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and The Kennedys. I can walk.” And here is where I will roll my eyes. (Sorry. I’m feeling sassy today.) The most visited spots in the cemetery aren’t right next to each other. Like walking from the Visitor’s Center to The Tomb of the Unknowns will take you around 30 minutes. And it’s not an easy walk. And after walking all around DC’s monuments and the Smithsonian, the last thing you’re going to want to do is walk here too. So do yourself and your loved ones a favor and book this tour. We loved the “hop on, hop off” option. We were able to spend as much time as we wanted at each location and it was crazy nice not to have to walk in the 100 degree D.C. heat! We just simply jumped on and off when we felt like it, and got a nice tour of the cemetery in between. Trust me on this one. Suck it up, spend the money, and buy the ticket.
Tips and Tricks.
- Bring Water. Food isn’t allowed at Arlington, but water is. It’s in your best interest to bring it along. It gets super hot in the summertime, and you really don’t want to get dehydrated.
- Go Early. We crammed Arlington and The National Zoo into one day. We went to the zoo first, and Arlington second. Big mistake. Not because of the crowds (I found that even though there were thousands of people there, it did not feel crowded at all) but because of the heat. It was so hot and stuffy I honestly felt like I was going to die because I was breathing in hot air. If you’re planning a summer trip, go first thing in the morning before it gets way too hot to enjoy it.
- Wear Comfy Shoes. This isn’t place for your super cute new Sam Edelman heeled sandals aren’t going to cut it here. Comfort is key (the general rule for sightseeing in DC!)
- Get a Map. If you’re planning to walk around the cemetery, get a map. While everything is well marked, it can be confusing without one because the twisting roads go on forever and they all look similar.
A visit to Arlington National Cemetery is a must for anyone in my book. For more information on Arlington National Cemetery, click here.
Have a great rest of your Tuesday loves! I’m off to snuggle up in a blanket and not move. (You can go away anytime 40 degree weather!)