From April through September, the cemetary closes at 7pm.
On the Thursday night before Memorial Day, I saw a picture of soldiers putting the flags in at Arlington National Cemetery. I realized that it was the perfect opportunity to take my five year old to experience this important place of remembrance.
We arrived at a very busy Arlington Cemetery at around 9:30AM the Friday before Memorial Day and parked in the parking garage. Despite the crowds, parking was not an issue at all.
There were so many school groups around that we could barely get inside the visitor center. It wasn't a whole lot busier when we left around noon though.
The docents inside convinced me that my five year old couldn't walk all the hills and that I should buy tickets for the tour bus. Now I know that he could have walked it just fine. However, since we are military dependents, we were able to get discounted tour tickets. For 9 dollars, the tour was worth it; even though we just used the bus to get to the top of the hill and walked our way back down. It was a good quality tour and my five year old listened intently.
Due to the crowds and my five year old boy's attention span, I decided to ride the tour bus up to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for the changing of the guard, skipping the JFK gravesite. After the changing of the guard, we walked back down to the parking lot. Since we're local, I know that we can come back any time to experience the parts of the cemetery that we missed. We took a slightly longer path back to the entrance - with less crowds. Even on the mot crowded days it is possible to find areas of solitude at the Arlington Cemetery.
It was really special to see all the flags out, and I'm really glad that we took the opportunity to come and see it.
Arlington National Cemetery is a place everyone should get to at least once in their lifetime. There is so much history here, so much to learn. My husband and I took our kids here during Spring Break last year and found many opportunities to teach them about history from all different eras. It was wonderful being able to walk them to a grave or a memorial and explain who the person (or group of people) was, and what made them so important, even if it was a little thing.
They were able to watch the changing of the guards at the tomb of the unknown soldier, and we walked around inside the little "museum" looking at the different pictures, medals and plaques. We stood and watched JFK's flame burn eternal, and we told them about him and about his family who were also buried there. We pushed ourselves to make it to the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial (amazing) and talked about that day.
There is just so much to see and talk about that I can't fill it up here. Start at the visitor's center and grab a map. Since it's such a large cemetery you probably won't have time to see everything, so find the points on the map that you really want to see, then make a plan attack. That's what we did. It is a lot of walking, so plan for that, too.
As I said, this is a great learning opportunity for you and your children. Mine were 9, 8 and 5 when we brought them. We're heading back to DC this Spring Break for the Japanese Festival, and we may end up one more time at the cemetery.
And one more thing...the cemetery is beautiful when all the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. Beauty, serenity and history. Can't go wrong.
I knew I wanted to take my family to Arlington while we were in DC. And I honestly didn't care whether my kids "liked" it or not. That wasn't the point. I knew it was important for all of them to see the vast cemetery and see the honor that has been given to those who have been buried there, and to those defending our country. It was a good visit and I'm very glad we took the time to walk the grounds.
We walked the 1/2 mile or so from the visitor center up to the Tombs of the Unknowns to see the Changing of the Guard. We got a bit confused as to how often this ceremony takes place in the summer (every half hour? every hour?) but we got to see it on the hour. A tip would be to stand on the right side (facing the tombs) to see the weapons check more closely. After the Changing of the Guard, we were surprised (and honored) to watch a "Wreath-Laying" ceremony performed by the Guards and 4 Boy Scouts. I have a feeling this type of ceremony happens daily, so check with the visitor center to find out when. I can't describe the emotion of hearing taps played while everyone silently watched the flowers being laid at the tombs. Very honorable.
Pick up a map at the visitor center to see the roads and paths leading to various plots and the JFK Memorial. Don't forget that historical figures and not just military people have been buried at Arlington.
Arlington still gives me chills each time I walk through it. It is a peaceful setting and very serene. There is an endless amount of history on the grounds and a definite stop for any D.C. tour. Even if you don't know much about Arlington's history, you should stop by and pay your respects to all those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom.
I visited the Arlington National Cemetary with three teen boys who were so tired they could hardly indulge me in going there. We took an easy subway ride directly to the cemetary. Upon arriving the boys perked up a bit as they saw the grand scale of the cemetary. As we watched the changing of the guards, I believe they understood why I insisted on visiting the cemetary. It was almost 100 degrees and THEY insisted we watch the changing of the guards another three times. You will not regret seeing this!
Arlington is so much more expansive than you can imagine. I didn't realize just how much walking this would entail. It's pretty interesting, row after row of gravestones and then special memorials as well. There are some historical buildings/homes to visit as well, those are always interesting to see.
I have mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand, it was very humbling standing there and seeing the rows and rows and rows of gravestones of our deceased servicemen/women. I particularly loved the eternal flame On the other hand, the kids definitely didn't get/enjoy it.
Arlington Cemetery is a place filled with historical significance. It is not a place for small children, who may be too young to appreciate the seriousness of it. The Eternal Flame is visible from the entrance. Families are allowed to walk among the tombstones to observe and show respect, and can give donations if they so choose. It is a good place to take older children and adults.
This is a special place to take your family, but really only if you have older children who can appreciate it and not disrupt the day. This was not the case for us. We had a 5 year old and 1 year old. It was a hot day. Even though the baby was in a stroller, he was hot and miserable. Unless you are will to pay the price to take the trolley (expensive for 5 of us) through the cemetery, you will walk up some fairly steep hills to get to the most important parts of the cemetery (Kennedy's grace, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier). Disabled families can obtain a special pass to drive through the cemetery. We will return when the kids are older. It is a place to take time and appreciate.
I love Arlington National Cemetery. When we lived in the DC area before kids, my husband and I would take walks and bring family and visitors there frequently. In particular, our MA family loved to visit the Kennedy gravesite. Of course, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is always a moving part of the day.
The Cemetery is very large and most of it is quite hilly. The walk to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, in particular, requires a nearly mile-long jaunt up a rather steep hill. If you can take your time and have the stamina, walking it is a wonderful and quieting experience, especially if you take some of the lesser-traveled paths. You'll get hidden views of DC and Northern VA that are unmatched. If not, the Tourmobiles are well worth the money and wait.
Now, however, we have small and rambunctious kids. No one has ever told us to keep them away, but it is an active cemetery, with funerals daily. It's hallowed ground and we choose to keep our kids away until they're older and can be more respectful.
For kids who are a little older, or at least more subdued, than ours, I highly recommend an afternoon here. Talk to your kids about the Challenger explosion and visit the memorial. Watch a wreath laying ceremony and take the time to linger and watch the precision of the guards marching. If you can find a tour or pamphlet, read about how the guards are chosen and how seriously they take their duties. Perhaps even just stop and take in how many, many people have laid down their lives for their country. Personally, I often find myself reading the grave stones and trying to picture just a few of these individuals. For me, that makes the whole visit even more poignant.
While I am a patriotic person at heart, I'm not usually one to flaunt my patriotism. Arlington National Cemetery brings out the awe and patriotism in almost every visitor I've seen.
Easy access by Metro, also has ample parking (on most days) for a fee. Good visitors center with clean bathrooms, though the rest of the cemetery does not have a lot of public facilities. There are some shady areas, but it can be very sunny and hot during summer, especially if you're walking. Bring your own hydration.
The National Cemetery is truly a overwhelmingly somber place where for me, made me appreciate where I was from and who has fought for our country. As much as I enjoyed this place and could stay there all day to give honor to those lost, I don't think my 5yr old really cared or understood it all. Going to the cemetary with her brought out ALOT of questions. WHY were the people dead, what is dying, where do we go, why is it so quiet, what are the headstones for and so on. I definitely don't mind the questions but this is a very quiet place and if your kids are asking away, they will definately get heard. I recall using "shhhh" a few times but my daughter did well. I just can't imagine some hyper children I've seen do well in a place like this. It's a place of rememberance and honoring the dead and I wouldn't recommend so much for kids. But if you do make the trip, hop onto the tour bus, this gets your around the entire cemetery quickly and you get to see alot of it that you definiately won't see walking unless you plan for an ALL day trip. The place is HUGE!
This destination humbled me. It is breathtakingly beautiful and a true honor to be among so many heros. We decided to take the tour because we had already done a lot of walking that day and wanted the kids (8, 7, 5) to be able to keep up. The cemetary is HUGE and all hills. The tour was well worth the money! We got a tour with commentary throughout the cemetary. We were dropped off at points of interest and then just had to go back to the bus stop to await the next tram. We never had to wait more than a few minutes for the next tram.
We witnessed the changing of the guards and my kids were mesmerized. I didn't hear a peep out of any of them! They were amazed by Kennedy's eternal flame and at all the rows of white from the headstones lined up perfectly.
This is a must visit destination.
My family and I live right next to the Arlington National Cemetary and enjoy taking walks about the property. There are also bike trails around it. During certain hours you can get on the grounds and walk around. We like to walk around and give thanks to all. Our little one will hang out in his stroller and just watch everything. An older child would probably not enjoy it to much as it is mainly repetitive scenery and LOTS of walking.
See where America’s military heroes, presidents, and other public figures have been honored, memorialized, and buried. This cemetery isn’t just historical; there are often fifteen or more military funeral services a day, so don’t be surprised if you come upon a service.
Start at the visitor center near the Metro stop and obtain historical information, gravesite locations for notables, and information on Arlington House (also known as the Robert E. Lee Memorial, 703-235-1530). Tour buses (for a fee) shuttle between four stops inside the cemetery gates: the visitor center, John F. Kennedy grave site, Tomb of the Unknowns, and Arlington House.
Visit the Tomb of the Unknowns, which overlooks the Washington, D.C., skyline. The tomb contains the remains of unidentified soldiers from World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. The tomb itself is guarded twenty-four hours a day by the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, also known as the Old Guard.
Changing of the guard, a solemn and impressive ritual, occurs every half hour from March 15 through September 30 and every hour on the hour from October 1 through March 14. The guards change at two-hour intervals during night hours year-round. There is more method to the guards’ marching than one might think. The guard paces from his post and across the crossway in twenty-one steps, turning to pause while facing the memorial for twenty-one seconds. Turning once more, the guard pauses for another twenty-one seconds before repeating the process. “Twenty-one” represents the highest honor of salutation, matching the twenty-one-gun salute.
Additional graves of notables include those of General Philip Henry Sheridan, U.S. Army, a Civil War soldier; Lt. Commander Roger Bruce Chaffee, U.S. Navy, Apollo astronaut, who died while performing test operations for the Apollo One space mission; Lt. Colonel Virgil I. (“Gus”) Grissom, U.S. Air Force, Apollo astronaut, the second American in space on the Mercury mission (1961), and first person to make two space trips on the two-man Gemini flight (1965); the commingled remains of the seven astronauts who died aboard the space shuttle Challenger in 1986; William Jennings Bryan, presidential candidate, secretary of state; Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Civil War veteran, Supreme Court Justice; Joe Louis (Barrow), heavyweight boxing champion; Rear Admiral Robert E. Peary, U.S. Navy, explorer; and William Howard Taft, president, chief justice of the United States Supreme Court. Jacqueline Kennedy’s and John F. Kennedy’s gravesites are home to the Eternal Flame.
Your child may well ask how the flame stays lit: There is a constantly flashing electric spark near the tip of the gas nozzle that relights the flame if it should go out in the rain or wind.
The visitor center and parking facility are open during cemetery hours. There are special events at Arlington House on Robert E. Lee’s birthday (January 19) and on the Lees’ wedding anniversary (June 30).
We went with my 3 and 1 yo and our 6 and 3 yo niece and nephew. It was kind of hard to explain to the 6yo everything since the topic of cemeteries and war had not really been approached yet. We ended up not making the hike to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier because we were told that it was a hike with small children. I am very glad we went as we have many family members who have served in wars so we will be taking our children back when they are at an appropriate age (prob over 10).
This place is powerful. You can see all the headstones from people who died hundreds of years ago in wars. You can visit JFK to pay your respects.
Older children can really learn history especially if they are in shool learning about the different wars in Social Studies. Learning about JFK as a president. This just brings things in perspective.
but fascinating, if history is your thing. The more you know about it, the more names you recognize on the stones -- presidents, senators, Supreme Court justices, admirals and generals and countless everyday soldiers and sailors. Not much for tiny kids, but primary schoolers and up will be impressed by the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns. A somber reminder of how much has been given by how many.
Easy to get to on the Metro. Water fountains and restrooms, but no food that I recall. Not many places to sit, not a lot of shade, and HOT in the summer.