Are you on the hunt for the best things to do in Arlington, Virginia for your trip? You have come to the right place!
Arlington, VA is home to many historical and military monuments that make the county a must see for those travelling through Virginia! We have gathered a list of some of the best things to do in Arlington so you don’t have to worry about missing out on a single thing! Whether you’re looking for a monument or a museum, or hunting for a water park or a place to grab a drink, there’s an attraction in Arlington for you!
While being less than half an hour away from Washington D.C., Arlington is a hub for travellers seeking nature, history, and a great spot to grab a bite to eat. We are here to help you make the most of your time and enjoy all of the best things to do in Arlington!
So, pack some comfy walking shoes and let’s get ready to discover the history of Arlington, Virginia!
14 Best Things To Do in Arlington VA You Shouldn’t Miss!
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery dedicated to registered members of the US Military is a must-visit attraction in Arlington, VA! Home to many monuments such as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, John F. Kennedy’s memorial gravesite and Memorial Amphitheater, this cemetery’s 639 acres is filled with amazing history for people of all ages!
While only a short distance from DC and being easily accessible by all major highways and the Metro System, Arlington National Cemetery is definitely a place to visit in Arlington with kids!
Their main website gives you access to tips and answers for questions from children of all ages as well as an activity packet to keep the day interesting while also keeping them learning! Additionally, Arlington National Cememtery has an app called the ANC Explorer which grants users access to guided tours, general information and burial records!
With approximately 400,000 grave sites beginning with the Civil War, visitors are able to pay homage to the members of service who passed. Its space and dedicated sections to minorities, major moments in history as well as their monuments makes Arlington National Cemetery an attraction in Arlington you cannot miss.
Mount Vernon Trail
Spanning 18 miles, this paved multi-use trail connects George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate with Theodore Roosevelt Island making it one of the best things to do in Arlington if you’re looking for something outdoors!
Open from 6am to 10pm, you can bike, walk, or run along the Mount Vernon Trail and experience a fantastic view of the Potomac River.
If you’re ambitious, the whole trail can be done in 6 hours! But if you just want to see a little stretch, there are many points of entry along the trail making this definitely one of the best activities to do in Arlington, VA.
Theodore Roosevelt Island
One of the best things to do in Arlington with kids is definitely to explore Theodore Roosevelt Island!
In the 1930’s, landscape architects reshaped this island into the perfect memorial site for America’s 26th President, making it a haven for people just like him; conservationists and outdoorsmen.
With miles of trails through woods and swamps, Theodore Roosevelt Island is one of the best places to visit in Arlington for kids and adults alike who enjoy being outdoors!
Do you like birdwatching? While the island itself is small, birdwatching here is one of the best free things to do in Arlington! With three different trails featuring different ecosystems, you can find birds of all kinds lurking in the waters and in the trees! The National Park service has even offered a brochure featuring different breeds to keep an eye out for!
Theodore Roosevelt Island pays homage to Theodore Roosevelt who is responsible for protecting over 230 million acres of land during his presidency! Interested in other National Parks while visiting Virginia? Check out our article on the best National Parks in Virginia to visit!
US Marine Corps Memorial
US Marine Corps Memorial in Arlington Ridge Park on the George Washington Memorial Parkway is definitely one of the attractions to visit in Arlington if you’re interested in history and monuments!
Inspired by the photo taken by Associated Press combat photographer Joe Rosenthal in 1945 depicting 6 Marine’s raising a US flag at the top of Mount Suribachi, Japan after the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War 2, the US Marine Corps Memorial was designed by Horace W. Peaslee and sculpted by Felix de Weldon when he was serving in the Navy! This memorial is definitely a cool free thing to do in Arlington that you shouldn’t skip!
It was dedicated in 1954 to Marine’s who gave their lives in combat since 1775! The US Marine Corps memorial is one of the places to visit in Arlington if you’re wanting to see the monuments!
Ocean Dunes Water Park
Are you looking for things to do in Arlington, VA with kids? Look no further because Ocean Dunes Water Park is the place to be!
Located in Upton Regional Park, Ocean Dunes Water Park gives the vibe of the beach without the drive and with all the fun making this a fun thing to do in Arlington! Equipped with all the slides you can imagine, fountains, platforms and a 500 gallon dumping bucket, this water park is kid friendly and good for all ages looking for a great time!
Their hours and prices vary depending on a weekday or weekend visit but you can pay to access just the water park or additional amenities like softball or hardball batting cages! There’s also a miniature golf-course with 18 holes if you’re looking to take a break from the water!
Whatever you’re looking for, whether it be some time to relax in the water, or getting buckets of water dumped on your head for laughs, Ocean Dunes Water Park is one of the best activities in Arlington, VA to do with the family!
If you’re looking for less water fun and more adventure, Climb UPton is a neighbouring facility featuring a 90 element vertical adventure course!
Artisphere (Arlington Arts Center)
Artisphere is a local collective of contemporary art for the Mid-Atlantic region and is definitely a must visit for people looking to experience local art!
The Arlington Arts Center focuses on bringing artists with less exposure than big names to the forefront!
With 9 gallery spaces and a large lawn for public art, this is definitely a fun thing to do in Arlington if you’re interested in walking through art and enjoying atmosphere! Their main exhibit changes with each quarter but their main goal is to curate an experience worth coming back!
Artisphere is definitely an attraction in Arlington, VA to visit if you’re looking for a calm afternoon or need a break from busy crowds!
Long Bridge Park
Long Bridge Park is 36 acres of public green spaces, high quality sports fields and recreational facility making it a sure thing to do in Arlington, Virginia with kids!
Made to be an environmentally friendly space, Long Bridge Park is a free thing to do in Arlington if you’re wanting to stay active and enjoy the outdoors or take a break from memorials and monuments.
Let the kids run free in their playgrounds and fog area! With equipment and play areas for pre-schoolers and young children alike there’s something fun for kids of all ages and abilities.
Long Bridge Park boasts a three-quarter acre rain garden which manages run off from their sports fields and parking lots and focuses it towards native shrubs and perennials! It also features a three-quarter mile long esplanade overlooking the Potomac River and Roaches Run Water Fowl Sanctuary!
There’s something for everyone at Long Bridge Park making it one of the best things to do in Arlington, VA!
Arlington Historical Museum
Arlington Historical Museum is home to 350,000 artifacts, making it one of the best free things to do in Arlington, Virginia.
With artifacts dating from 1608 to 9/11, the Arlington Historical Museum has small bits of history for everyone looking to learn something new! They even have virtual exhibits for those who want to learn more after visiting or when you return home. Their vast resources and information makes the Arlington Historical Museum an attraction in Arlington you can’t miss!
With special exhibits focusing on major points in history, Arlington Historical Museum doesn’t skip over any moment. They have exhibits focusing on the African-American Experience, Native Americans, Antebellum Era in Arlington and the Pentagon. Their many artifacts and research makes this Museum a must visit attraction in Arlington!
Are you a history buff that’s looking for some other places to visit? Here’s our list of the Best Historical Sites in the South!
New District Brewing Company
One of the best things to do in Arlington, VA (or anywhere for that matter) is hit up a local brewery! New District Brewing Company is a great place to spend an afternoon or evening indulging in a flight and tasting all the popular flavours they have to offer!
With seven brew’s featured year round, New District Brewing Company is definitely a location to put on your list of things to do in Arlington! They have a roster of rotating seasonal brews for both weather and holidays meaning that no matter when you visit there will be something new and exciting to try!
Long Branch Nature Center
Next stop for things to do in Arlington, Virginia is the Long Branch Nature Center at Glencarlyn Park! If you’re looking specifically to step into nature and spend a day exploring and learning about animals and insects this is the place to be!
The Center itself hosts seasonal exhibits, live animal information sessions, interpretive gardens, viewing pond and discovery room for children! If you have children who love nature, Long Branch Nature Center is a must visit and one of the best things to do in Arlington with kids!
Long Branch Nature Center is surrounded by a wooded stream valley, boasting a wide array of animals and invertebrates such as foxes, flying squirrels, salamanders, turtles, frogs and butterflies!
Wanting to give back a bit while visiting Arlington? This is a great place to do it! Long Branch Nature Center offers a volunteer opportunity in aiding the preservation of the valley in their Long Branch Invasive Plant Removal team! Simply go to their website and email about their volunteer opportunities to get more information.
On our list of things to do in Arlington, Virginia, Signature Theatre is a must visit!
Founded in 1989, this Tony Award winning regional theatre has hosted 59 world premiere productions as well as 19 musical commissions. It is renowned for its renditions and productions of Steven Sondheim’s work as well as for taking risks and doing their best to produce fresh and new work yearly! If you’re looking for things to do in Arlington at night, you can’t go wrong with a trip to Signature Theatre!
While their shows are intended for adult audiences, they recommend looking into their shows warnings and leave it up to their patrons to decide what’s good for their children, however kids under the age of 6 will not be permitted in the theatre.
They offer discounts for families purchasing more than 4 tickets, as well as for educators, first responders, front line workers and military servicemen, all that’s required is you show your credentials and they’ll hold your tickets for you! Some restaurants around the theatre such as Osteria de Nino offer discounts on meals if you show your ticket and say ‘Signature’!
Signature Theatre definitely proves to be one of the best things to do at night in Arlington!
The Pentagon is absolutely a must-visit on our list of things to do in Arlington, Virginia! How often do you get a chance to visit such a cool location?
You can book a guided tour of approximately 1.5 miles of the Pentagon itself lasting 1 hour. The tour discusses the different branches of the military, walks you past the indoor memorial near the crash site of American Airlines Flight 77 on 9/11, the Hall of Heroes and other prominent memorial displays.
These tours are very popular so they recommend you purchase your tickets 2 weeks in advance! The high demand makes the Pentagon one of the most unique and best activities to do in Arlington!
While you’re there, make sure to have time to see the external 9/11 memorial site. This memorial was made to honour those that died on the American Airlines Flight 77 and in the Pentagon building. The dedication was named in 2008 and features 184 benches with victims names on them, written from youngest to oldest. This memorial is open daily.
Observation Deck At CEB Tower
At 387 feet from the ground, the Observation Deck at CEB Tower is a must-visit location and one of the best activities in Arlington, VA!
With floor to ceiling windows and vast views where you can see all the great monuments Arlington and Washington have to offer, such as the Washington Monument, US Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, the Pentagon and the Arlington National Cemetery! The Observation Deck is a really cool addition to our list of things to do in Arlington, Virginia and we think you’ll love it!
They have timed ticketing to assure there’s not too many people on the observation deck so you can step back and enjoy the views without having to fight your way to the windows! They also offer interactive views into historical moments of both Arlington and Washington making it a cool attraction in Arlington that you cannot miss!
Samuel Beckett’s Irish Gastro Pub
Looking for things to do in Arlington at night? Samuel Beckett’s Irish Gastro Pub is a must stop for you!
With events running every night and a happy hour that lasts from 2pm to 6pm, this Gastro Pub is a great place to stop no matter the time of day! If you look to their online site, they have a detailed schedule of evenings events spanning from music to general trivia, sports nights, and wine nights so there’s something for everyone! They also have a detailed schedule of live events with Friday’s being their night for Irish bands and music!
Open Sunday to Saturday from 11am to 2am, this Gastro Pub is one of the best things to do in Arlington, VA because no matter when you arrive, you’ll get a healthy dose of Irish hospitality and comfort to keep you going!
Arlington, VA is such a great place to visit! With a great mixture of nature, history, and great food, you’re never too far away from a great time in Arlington!
Now that we’ve gathered a list of the things to do in Arlington, Virginia that you cannot miss, what are you going to do first?
Looking to venture outside of Arlington? Here’s our Ultimate Bucket List for the state of Virginia! What are you going to check off?