Nearly 400,000 American war dead, as well as many notable Americans (among them presidents William Howard Taft and John F. Kennedy, General John Pershing, and Admiral Robert E. Peary), are interred in these 624 acres across the Potomac River from Washington, established as the nation's cemetery in 1864. While you're here, there's a good chance you might hear the clear, doleful sound of a trumpet playing "Taps" or the sharp reports of a gun salute. There are an average of 30 funerals held every weekday (it's projected that the cemetery will be filled in 2060). Another six to eight funerals are held on Saturday for people who did not require or request military honors. Although not the largest cemetery in the country, Arlington is certainly the best known, a place where you can trace America's history through the aftermath of its battles.
To get here, you can take the Metro, travel on a Metrobus, or walk across Arlington Memorial Bridge (southwest of the Lincoln Memorial).
If you're driving, there's a large paid-parking lot off Memorial Drive, next to the skylighted Welcome Center.
For a map of the cemetery or help finding a grave, download the cemetery's app, ANC Explorer, or use the computers at the Welcome Center.
Arlington National Cemetery tour trolleys leave every 15–25 minutes from just outside the welcome center April through September, daily 8:30–6, and October through March, daily 8:30–4. You can buy tickets inside the welcome center, at any of the trolley stops or online (www.arlingtontours.com). The 45- to 60-minute tour includes stops at the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, Kennedy gravesites, U.S. Coast Guard Memorial, U.S. Army Gen. John J. Pershing's gravesite, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and Arlington House. Weekend tours include stops near sections 55 and 60 and the September 11 memorial.
Touring the cemetery on foot means a fair bit of walking, but it can give you a closer look at some of the thousands of graves spread over these rolling Virginia hills. If you decide to walk, head west from the visitor center on Roosevelt Drive and then turn right on Weeks Drive.