You’ll find that there are plenty of fun things to do in Arlington, VA
Living in Arlington, VA could be seen as a dream for some. It’s less than five miles from Washington, DC, the nation’s capital, and less than a two-hour drive from Richmond. However, you don’t have to travel to the DC area to have a good time. That’s because there’s no shortage of fun things to do in Arlington, VA.
This highly revered city has a little something for everyone, from nature lovers to history buffs. Arlington county has it all, thanks to its location on the Potomac River and its many iconic landmarks and monuments. You can also find great restaurants with mouth-watering cuisine and plenty of places to enjoy a little retail therapy.
To help you take in this amazing city as a tourist or a resident, we’ve created a guide that outlines the top fun things to do in Arlington. Read on to find all the gems in Arlington so that you can make the most of this city that neighbors our nation’s capital.
1. No real trip to this city is complete without stopping by Arlington National Cemetery
If you’re passionate about military history and world-famous landmarks, you’ll want to make your way to Arlington National Cemetery. This massive cemetery spans 624 acres and is the resting place for more than 400,000 soldiers who have served our country since the Civil War. This cemetery is located on the grounds of Arlington House, which was once the estate of Robert E. Lee.
Despite its strong ties to the military, Arlington National Cemetery isn’t just for members of the United States Armed Forces. It’s also the final resting place of other notable Americans, including John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
One of the most well-known places in the cemetery is The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This memorial represents all the unnamed soldiers who we lost in battle. Since July 2, 1937, this tomb has been constantly guarded, regardless of the time of day or weather conditions.
Arlington National Cemetery is open every day of the week from 8 am to 5 pm. Everyone who visits, agrees that it is a must-see sight for anyone who is searching for activities in Arlington or the DC area.
2. Go to a show at the Signature Theatre
Signature Theatre is a Tony Award-winning theater that has been delighting visitors since its opening in 1990. You can enjoy contemporary, as well as classic plays and musicals in this impressive space. It’s also a destination for artists who are developing new musical theater works.
People who visit the Signature Theatre appreciate that it’s located in the Village at Shirlington. This is because some of the best restaurants in Arlington, VA are nearby, so you can easily grab a bite to eat or a drink before or after a show.
As with any live entertainment venue, the shows are always changing, so you’ll want to consult the theater’s performance schedule for the latest information.
3. Don’t forget to visit the Netherlands Carillon
When asked about things to do in Arlington, people often recommend visiting the Netherlands Carillon. In 1954, the people of the Netherlands gifted the United States a beautiful carillon, a set of bells in a tower. This gift was a thank you to the US for aiding the Netherlands in World War II. It’s also meant to serve as a symbol of friendship between the two nations.
The Netherlands Carillon contains 50 bells and it plays “Westminster Chimes” every hour. It also plays special songs at noon and 6 pm. The area around the carillon includes walking paths, lion sculptures, and thousands of beautiful tulips.
You can visit this monument any day of the week, and because it’s near Arlington National Cemetery, you can see both sights in one trip.
4. Take a tour of the Pentagon and visit the 9/11 Memorial
The Pentagon is not only a historic building and the headquarters for the US Department of Defense, but it’s also the largest low-rise office building in the entire world. This is another great place for history buffs with an interest in our military to visit.
You can take a 1-hour guided walking tour and learn about the different branches of the military. This 1.5-mile tour will also allow you to see the military display, including the Hall of Heroes. This indoor memorial is located near the crash site of the September 11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon.
If you’d like to go on a guided walking tour, you should plan to go book it at least two weeks in advance. This popular tour is available Monday through Thursday of each week.
While you’re at the Pentagon, you should also pay a visit to the outdoor 9/11 Memorial, which is open every day. This breathtaking installation includes 184 illuminated benches with a shallow illuminated pool of water under each one. This is the only part of the Pentagon where visitors can take photos.
Each bench contains the name of someone who lost their life in the Pentagon or on American Airlines Flight 77 on 9/11. The benches are arranged in order of the victims’ ages, from age 3 to age 71.
5. Allow Twilight Tattoo to delight and entertain you
While we’re on the topic of music and theatrics, it’s important to mention Twilight Tattoo. Despite the name, this has nothing to do with getting inked. Instead, it is a live military performance by soldiers of the 3rd US Regiment and the US Army Band.
Not only will Twilight Tattoo keep you entertained, but it will also help you learn about American history. The performances take place at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, and they run from May through August. So, if you’re in town during the summer months, you can enjoy Twilight Tattoo as one of the most exciting things to do in this city.
6. Nature lovers will want to get out on the Mt. Vernon Trail
The Mount Vernon Trail is an incredible 18-mile paved trail for walkers, runners, and bikers. It runs along George Washington Memorial Parkway and the iconic Potomac River. If you travel the length of the entire trail, you’ll see Theodore Roosevelt Island, the airport, Old Town Alexandria, and George Washington’s Mount Vernon.
This trail is unique because you can see beautiful views of nature and the Washington DC skyline. You can visit the Mt. Vernon Trail from 6 am to 10 pm any day of the week.
7. There are plenty of other parks for nature lovers to enjoy in Arlington
It turns out that the Mt. Vernon Trail isn’t the only place for nature lovers in Arlington, VA. There’s also the Theodore Roosevelt Island Park and Gravelly Point Park.
Located in the middle of the Potomac River, Theodore Roosevelt Island Park is nearly 90 acres of walking and hiking trails and picnic areas. You’ll want to keep your eyes peeled as you walk the trails because you can find plenty of wildlife despite being close to the city. You can also visit the memorial of President Roosevelt on the island.
It’s essential to note that this park is technically part of Washington DC. However, we include it on our list of fun things to do in Arlington, VA because you are only able to access the park from the Virginia side.
Gravelly Point Park is close to Reagan National Airport, which means you can watch planes take off and land right over your head.
Because Gravelly Point Park is on the Potomac River, it’s also a wonderful place to test out new hiking trails, set up a picnic area for lunch, and just enjoy some fresh air. Like many other parks in the area, this one is open daily from 6 am to 10 pm.
8. Don’t forget to enjoy some world-class shopping in the Arlington area
If you like retail therapy, you won’t be disappointed by the options in Arlington. You can stop by the Village at Shirlington to check out dozens of retail spaces and visit the Signature Theatre that we mentioned before. This shopping center opened in 1944, which makes it one of the oldest in the entire United States.
You can also stop by Ballston Quarter to shop in a newly renovated space. The wide variety of shopping and dining options makes it one of the best places to visit in the Arlington area.
You won’t run out of exciting things to do in Arlington
After reading about everything that Arlington has to offer, you might be thinking of relocating here. If you are, we can help. We offer all-inclusive living spaces in National Landing, an up-and-coming and vibrant area of Arlington, located just across the Potomac from Washington D.C. At Common at National Landing, you can rent a fully-furnished private bedroom in a shared suite, or a fully-furnished private apartment with access to beautiful amenity spaces and a built-in community. Enjoy the best of Arlington living and book a tour of Common at National Landing today!