Arlington, Virginia: Blending National History with Local Flavor
By Renan Leahy
I had visited Washington, D.C. before, but had never crossed the Potomac River into the state of Virginia. Oh, how much I was missing! I discovered that the charming city of Arlington, with its art, culture and cuisine mixed with national historic monuments, making for an intriguing local flavor.
In addition to enjoying it all, I also discovered that some lodging options here are at least 20 percent cheaper than on the other side of the river. Public transportation is interconnected between the two cities, ensuring easy access to all the attractions on both sides of the river.
National Monuments Abound
Meaningful national historical monuments can be found throughout Arlington, and visitors from around the world come here year round to see them. I don’t usually visit cemeteries on my vacations, but Arlington National Cemetery is no ordinary graveyard, starting with its beautiful fields that invite you for a pleasant stroll through the arboretum.
Soldiers who served the United States are buried here, as are family members, and you’ll find touching tributes to them everywhere, including the Changing of the Guard Ceremony, which takes place every hour at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Keep an eye on the cemetery’s calendar of events: Some solemn ceremonies can bring together up to 5,000 people in the Memorial Amphitheater.
Famous figures from history and politics also are buried here. Among the most-visited gravesites is that of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy, marked by an Eternal Flame. The former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis is buried next to him.
Adjacent to the Arlington National Cemetery is the U.S. Air Force Memorial, a must-see monument for all aviation aficionados and others. The impressive, 82-meter, stainless-steel structures are engineering marvels, soaring into the Virginia skies like jet fighters. The memorial hosts several events throughout the year and features an astonishing view of Washington, D.C., and the Pentagon, the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense.
Shopping and Nightlife Destination
If you’re looking for a shopping trip, I have the place to recommend in Arlington: The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City features such stores as Apple, Armani, Hugo Boss, Michael Kors, Nordstrom, Tourneau and many others. And if you're staying at the Ritz-Carlton in Pentagon City, you will have access to Fashion Centre straight from the lobby.
After a day of sightseeing and shopping, the best way to unwind is to visit a vibrant Arlington neighborhood. In Clarendon, amid the beautiful architecture, shops, bars, restaurants and clubs, you’ll find excellent refreshments and cuisine, live music and a bustling arts scene. My choice for the night was the Clarendon Ballroom, with its huge rooftop where many beautiful and fun people gathered to enjoy the end of the day al fresco, with a cold beer or their favorite cocktail.
It is this mix of American history, spiced with a local flavor and easy access to the attractions of Washington, D.C., that ranks Arlington high among my favorite travel destinations. But don’t just take my word for it: Come, check it out and draw your own conclusions about this amazing place.
For more information, please visit us:
Official Arlington Travel Information
Arlington Convention and Visitors Service