Local Attractions

Welcome to Arlington, Virginia, and its neighboring cities! Just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., Arlington is your gateway to exploring Alexandria, the Smithsonian museums, and the National Mall. Whether you’re into history, nature, or food, the Nation’s Capital area has something to offer every visitor.

Arlington, VA: Historical Landmarks and Tours

Arlington is perhaps best known for the Arlington National Cemetery. Visitors can witness the Changing of the Guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and explore the gravesites of notable figures like President John F. Kennedy. Nearby, Arlington House offers guided tours that delve into its connections to the Civil War and its significance in shaping Arlington’s history.

Outdoor Activities

Embrace the outdoors with a visit to Theodore Roosevelt Island, where hiking trails through wooded landscapes lead to a memorial plaza honoring the 26th president. The Mount Vernon Trail offers scenic views of the Potomac River and is perfect for walking, jogging, or cycling with glimpses of Washington, D.C.’s skyline.

Cultural Experiences

Experience Arlington’s vibrant arts scene at the Signature Theatre, known for its innovative productions, or explore contemporary art exhibitions at the Arlington Arts Center. These venues provide cultural hubs that reflect Arlington’s creative spirit.

Food and Dining

If you’re exploring dining options near George Mason University’s Arlington campus, you’ll find various restaurants and cafes catering to different tastes and preferences. Here are some notable spots to consider:

  • Sweetgreen: At 4075 Wilson Blvd, Sweetgreen offers healthy salads and bowls made with fresh, seasonal ingredients. It’s a popular choice for those looking for nutritious and customizable meals.
  • Me Jana: Situated at 2300 Wilson Blvd, Me Jana is a Lebanese restaurant known for its flavorful mezze dishes, grilled meats, and vegetarian options. It’s perfect for a relaxed dining experience with friends or colleagues.
  • Four Sisters Grill: Found at 3035 Clarendon Blvd, Four Sisters Grill serves traditional Vietnamese cuisine with a modern twist. Their menu includes pho, banh mi sandwiches, and rice noodle bowls, accommodating various dietary preferences.
  • Silver Diner: At 3200 Wilson Blvd, Silver Diner offers a diverse menu featuring classic American diner fare with healthier options. It offers vegetarian, gluten-free, and plant-based dishes suitable for different dietary needs.
  • Northside Social: A cozy cafe at 3211 Wilson Blvd known for its specialty coffee, pastries, and light bites. It’s a great spot to grab a quick breakfast or enjoy a leisurely lunch break.

Alexandria, VA: Historical Landmarks and Attractions

Explore Old Town Alexandria, a charming district known for its well-preserved 18th and 19th-century architecture. Visit historical sites such as Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, where notable figures like George Washington once dined, or stroll along the Alexandria Marina waterfront.

Shopping and Entertainment

Discover unique boutiques, art galleries, and antique shops along King Street in Old Town Alexandria. These shops offer a mix of historic ambiance and modern shopping experiences. Enjoy waterfront dining with scenic views of the Potomac River, creating a perfect blend of relaxation and exploration.

Food and Dining

  • The Majestic: Historic eatery offering modern American cuisine in a charming, vintage setting.
  • Virtue Feed & Grain: Rustic American fare in a beautifully restored feed house.
  • Vola’s Dockside Grill: Fresh seafood with waterfront views for a perfect dining experience.

Family-Friendly Activities

Families can enjoy a day at Cameron Run Regional Park in Alexandria, featuring water slides, miniature golf, and picnic areas. Explore educational exhibits and hands-on activities at the Alexandria Archaeology Museum, offering insights into the city’s rich archaeological history.

Washington, D.C.: Must-See Attractions

Cross the Potomac River into Washington, D.C., and immerse yourself in the iconic landmarks and cultural institutions that define the nation’s capital. The National Mall stretches from the U.S. Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial, encompassing several of the country’s most significant monuments and museums.

The Lincoln Memorial: Dominating the western end of the National Mall, this iconic Greek Revival structure honors the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. Its grand marble statue of Lincoln and the surrounding Reflecting Pool create a poignant and picturesque setting.

The Washington Monument: Standing proudly at the Center of the National Mall, this towering obelisk is a tribute to George Washington, the first President of the United States and a symbol of the nation’s founding ideals. Visitors can ascend to the observation deck for panoramic views of the city. Tickets can be reserved online through the National Park Service’s website. Booking in advance is recommended, especially during peak times.

-The U.S. Capitol: At the opposite end of the National Mall, the U.S. Capitol serves as the seat of the United States Congress. Its majestic dome and historic chambers are open to visitors through guided tours that explore the nation’s legislative history and architecture.

Smithsonian Museums and Cultural Institutions

Along the National Mall, the Smithsonian Institution offers a wealth of museums and galleries that span art, history, science, and culture. Highlights include:

  • The National Museum of American History: Explore exhibits covering everything from the Star-Spangled Banner to cultural artifacts that define American life, including the First Ladies’ inaugural gowns and the Greensboro lunch counter.
  • The National Air and Space Museum is home to iconic aircraft and spacecraft, including the Wright Brothers’ Flyer, the Spirit of St. Louis, and the Apollo lunar module. Interactive exhibits and IMAX films provide a deeper understanding of aviation and space exploration.
  • The National Gallery of Art: This museum offers a vast collection of European and American art, from Renaissance masters to modern painters. Highlights include works by Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, and Vermeer.
  • The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History: Discover the world of natural wonders with exhibits on dinosaurs, gems, minerals, and human cultures. Highlights include the Hope Diamond, the Hall of Mammals, and the Hall of Human Origins.
  • The Smithsonian American Art Museum and Renwick Gallery: Explore American art from the colonial period to the present, including paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts.
  • The National Museum of African American History and Culture: Explore African Americans’ rich history and culture through interactive exhibits, artifacts, and multimedia presentations. This museum offers a profound exploration of the African American experience from slavery to today.

Cultural Experiences

-The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is a must-see for performing arts lovers. Located on the scenic banks of the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., it offers stunning architecture, a variety of performances, from classical music to modern theater, and a vibrant cultural atmosphere. The Center is open daily and offers some free events.

-Discover American history at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. See iconic documents like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Enjoy guided tours and immersive exhibits. Reservations are recommended for an enriching visit to this essential destination.

Things to know before you go:

  • Check information about the sites you want to visit for hours, tickets, and advisories. Note that some venues require reservations or sign-ups ahead of time.
  • Plan to visit each Smithsonian museum for a few hours and anticipate lines and security checkpoints.
  • Summer in our area can get higher than 100º (F)/40º (C), so visiting the outdoor monuments during the evenings is advisable. You can try one of the Washington DC Night Tours.

Still looking for other things you might want to do?

Here is a list of additional activities and venues that you can visit in the area.