Arlington Activities

TripWhat's travel guide to Arlington; our list of the best attractions, including Smithsonian National Zoological Park, Tillinghast Pond Management Area and The Birchmere.
  • The best activities in Arlington: Smithsonian National Zoological Park

    Smithsonian National Zoological Park

    3001 Connecticut Ave NW
    Apr–Oct 10AM-6PM, Nov–March 10AM-5PM. Free. This is one of the world's great zoos, with a collection of 400 species, 2,000 animals, all right in the center of the city (in Rock Creek Park). The National Zoo is quite large and filled with more animals and exhibits than one could see comfortably in one day without rushing, so be sure to get a map at the entrance, take your time, and be prepared to walk a great deal. Bring water—the concessions here are insultingly expensive. The most crowded exhibits are nearly always the Pandas and the Ape House. The former is an almost guaranteed letdown—the pandas are perhaps the zoo's shyest residents (the Ape House is fun no matter the crowds, though). Sleeper hits include the Seals & Sea Lions Exhibit, the Reptile House, the remarkable Aviary, and the irresistibly cute prairie dogs.
    Woodley Park food nearby
  • Tillinghast Pond Management Area

    Tillinghast Pond Management Area

    Contains various trails, a historical cemetery, and a variety of animals and plants spread across 1,800 acres. Public fishing areas and a canoe launch are available. Open from 1 hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset. No horseback riding, pets or biking allowed on trails.
    Ashton Heights eat nearby
  • The Birchmere

    The Birchmere

    3701 Mount Vernon Ave
    A locally famous musical hall which has had a spectrum of artists from country acts such as Charles Daniels to classic rockers like George Thorogood.
    Potomac West
  • Arlington National Cemetery

    Arlington National Cemetery

    Memorial Dr
    1 Apr–30 Sep 8AM-7PM daily, 1 Oct–30 March 8AM-5PM daily. Free. Just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., adjacent to the Pentagon, this national military cemetery includes John F. Kennedy's tomb and the house of General Robert E. Lee. Visitors can watch the changing of the guard ceremony in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Oct-March every hour, Apr-Sep every half hour. If you want to explore the entire cemetery, which is enormous and hilly, in a short amount of time, take the Tourmobile tour [1] (Adult: $8.50; Children: $4.25). There is also a large parking garage that is a good place to dump your car and then catch the subway or Tourmobile into D.C.
    food nearby
  • Washington National Cathedral

    Washington National Cathedral

    3101 Wisconsin Ave NW
    Visitor hours: M-F 10AM-5:30PM, Sa 10AM-4:30PM, Su 1PM-4PM; Tours: every half hour (Su: last tour at 2:30PM); Mass (Episcopalian): M-F noon, Sa 7:30AM,noon, Su 7:45AM,8:45AM,10AM (contemporary), 11:15AM; Evensong: usually M-F 5:30PM, Su 4PM; Organ demonstration: M,W 12:30PM-1PM. Suggested donation: $5/3 (child). This is a huge attraction that should not be overlooked in your itinerary. There is a ton of stuff to see and do within the Gothic mammoth, and the impression of walking up to the world's sixth largest cathedral, a hulking mass cut over a period of 83 years of 150,000 tons of stone, is alone worth the trip. Tours are a must if you really want to see the cathedral, as towers and the crypt are off limits without a guide during the busy season. The organ demonstrations are spectacular (and loud). Check the website for events, as there is often children's programming as well as major concerts.
    Glover Park eat nearby
  • Ice Skating @ Kettler Capitals Iceplex

    Ice Skating @ Kettler Capitals Iceplex

    Adult Admission: $7; Skate rental: $3. Year-round ice skating rink built for the Washington Capitals professional hockey team. Public skating is offered every day; check the web site for schedules. Children's and youth lessons are also available.
    Ashton Heights restaurants nearby
  • Tudor Place

    Tudor Place

    1644 31st St NW
    Tu-Sa 10AM-3PM, Su noon-3PM (tours on the hour). $8, seniors 62+: $6, students 7-18: $3. A stately mansion built in 1815 by the son of the first mayor of Georgetown, and the step-granddaughter of one George Washington. The manor hosts permanent exhibits of 18-19th century American furnishings, as well as a large collections of items owned by George and Martha Washington. The gardens in the back are lovely, and can be accessed separately from the mansion for $3.
    Georgetown food nearby
  • DEA Museum and Visitors Center

    DEA Museum and Visitors Center

    700 Army-Navy Drive
    Learn about the work of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the flow of illicit drugs worldwide.
    Arlington Ridge eat nearby
  • Big Wheel Bikes

    Big Wheel Bikes

    1034 33rd St NW
    M-F 11AM-7PM, Sa-Su 10AM-6PM. $5-8.50/hour or $25-100/day. Weekly and monthly rentals are also available. The largest bike shop in Georgetown, with a wide selection of different styles of bikes available for rent. They are very used to accommodating visitors, and are happy to help you find a good route for exploring the area.
    Georgetown restaurants nearby
  • Dumbarton Concerts

    Dumbarton Concerts

    3133 Dumbarton St NW
    Concerts usually Sa 4PM,8PM. ~$30, students: $25. Dumbarton is a prestigious street, and the Dumbarton Concerts get some prestigious acts. Even if they did not, any candlelight performances of classical music in a historic Georgetown church would be reason enough to come. Get your tickets in advance, as they sell out quickly.
    Georgetown food nearby
  • Eagle Knoll

    5757 East Eagle Knoll Drive
  • Jack's Boathouse

    Jack's Boathouse

    3500 K St NW
    Hours vary based on season. See website for details.. Kayak: $14/hour; Paddleboard: $20/hour. This is where the students all come to have the requisite boating experience on the Potomac. Jack rents single and tandem kayaks as well as canoes. Launches are "weather and water permitting"—the Potomac can be a rough river with very strong currents, and Jack won't let you go out when it's unsafe.
    Georgetown restaurants nearby
  • Old Town Alexandria

    This highly walkable Old Town at the edge of the Potomac River features historic buildings, churches, museums and art galleries, a farmers market, and a variety of places to eat and shop.
    Alexandria Wrest food nearby
  • City Tavern Club

    3206 M St NW
    Built in 1796 as a neighborhood pub, the City Tavern is the oldest commercial structure in the city, and the second oldest building following the Old Stone House. The interior is a beautiful trip back to the 18th century, but it is closed to the public, save for private event bookings.
    Georgetown eat nearby
  • Kreeger Museum

    2401 Foxhall Rd NW
    Tu-F 10:30AM,1:30PM (by reservations only on weekdays), Sa 10AM-4PM (open to public). $10. Little known even to locals is this private house-museum with an impressive collection of paintings by the impressionist and early modern masters. The house itself is a work of art, designed by modernist architects Philip Johnson and Richard Foster. The ride out to the museum will take you through some of the country's wealthiest neighborhoods.
    Berkley restaurants nearby
  • Arlington National Cemetery

    Just across the Potomac River from Washington D.C., adjacent to the Pentagon. Closes at dusk. This national military cemetery includes John F. Kennedy's tomb and the house of General Robert E. Lee. Visitors can watch the changing of the guard ceremony in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. [1]
    Ballston-Virginia Square food nearby
  • Georgetown Visitor Center

    1057 Thomas Jefferson Street
  • Fort Ward Museum

    4301 W Braddock Rd
    Fort Ward is the best preserved of the system of Union forts and batteries built to protect Washington, DC during the American Civil War (1861-1865). Fort Ward Museum interprets the site's history and offers exhibits on Civil War topics, education and interpretive programs, tours, lecture and video series, bus tours, and living history activities throughout the year. The Museum and Historic Site also interpret Alexandria, Virginia as an occupied city, the city's role as a vital Union Army crossroads, life within the Defenses of Washington, and the everyday life of Civil War soldiers and civilians.
    Alexandria Wrest restaurants nearby
  • Eden Center

    6751 Wilson Blvd
    Eden Center, with its colorful arch, cultural vibrancy, and frequent Vietnamese cultural events, is just about the only strip mall in Northern Virginia that can rightly be considered a bonafide tourist attraction. The main reason to come is of course the peerless Vietnamese cuisine in its restaurants, but the shopping can be fun too, be it food or tchotchkes (or just useful, if you are Vietnamese and want some DVDs from the home country). There are more than 100 shops and restaurants packed into this small mall.
    food nearby
  • Arlington Historical Museum

    1805 South Arlington Ridge Road
    Saturdays and Sundays 1PM-4PM except in February, when the Museum is closed. Interesting museum housed in a historic school building.
    Arlington Ridge eat nearby
  • The Comedy Spot

    4238 Wilson Blvd
    Stand up acts and local variety shows. One good show is "competitive improv" -- two teams doing improv games with audience suggestions to help direct them. The early shows are Family Friendly and the late shows are adult only. Early shows generally have more people competing and that lets the performers rotate a bit and be fresh and ready to go when it's their turn.
    Ashton Heights restaurants nearby
  • Old Stone House

    3051 M St NW
    House: W-Su noon-5PM, garden: dawn-dusk daily. Free. Built in 1765, this is the oldest original structure in Washington, D.C. For a while it was a used car dealership, but since the 1950s it has been operated by the National Park Service as a house museum showcasing pre-revolutionary colonial life in Georgetown, as well as a small English garden in the back.
    Georgetown food nearby
  • Oak Hill Cemetery

    3001 R St NW
    M-F 9AM-4:30PM, Su 1PM-4PM. Free. The Gothic chapel and gates were designed by the same architect who designed the Smithsonian Castle. It was the original resting place of Abraham Lincoln's son, Willie, before he was reinterred with his father in Illinois, as well as other figures. In addition to being a cemetery, it is also a botanical garden well set for a leisurely walk.
    Georgetown eat nearby
  • Thompson Boat Center

    2900 Virginia Ave NW
    Spring-Summer only: M-Sa 6AM-8PM, Su 7AM-7PM. Single Kayaks: $10/hour or $28/day; Double Kayaks: $17/hour or $40/day;Sailboats: $10/hour; Bikes: $7/hour or $28/day. Thompson's also rents bicycles. Accessible by car only via Virgina Ave from the West End.
    Foggy Bottom restaurants nearby
  • Dumbarton Oaks

    1703 32nd St NW
    Museum: Tu-Su 2PM-5PM, Gardens: Tu-Su 2PM-6PM (15 Mar-31 Oct), Tu-Su 2PM-5PM (1 Nov-14 Mar). Museum: free, Gardens $8, $5 in the summer for seniors 60+, students, and children under 13, free in the winter. Most famous for its role in 1944, when world leaders convened here to draw up the United Nations charter. But that's not why you should come. The extensive gardens are the biggest draw; they are extraordinarily beautiful—almost palatial—and peaceful, uncrowded. The best time to come is a Spring weekday, when the gardens are practically empty, and the trees are budding with bright pinks and purples. The mansion, built in 1800 for John Calhoun (one of the most powerful senators in American history), houses an extraordinary collection of pre-Columbian and Byzantine art. And rest assured a stroll around the mansion would be worthwhile even without the exhibits. Don't thank Sen. Calhoun for all this though; he was rather a boor. The second owners, the Blisses, a wealthy couple from the U.S. Foreign Service, are responsible for the magnificent landscaping and collections. If you are up for a little homework, look for Stravinsky's Dumbarton Oaks Concerto, commissioned by Mrs. Bliss for their 30th wedding anniversary.
    Georgetown food nearby
  • House of Sweden

    2900 K Street NW
    usually Th-Su 1PM-6PM. Free. A striking, award-winning modern building (2006), currently home to the Swedish Embassy. Bills itself as the "crown jewel of the Swedish presence in the U.S.," hosting a large exhibition space open to the public and devoted principally to current international issues dear to the Swedes.
    Georgetown eat nearby
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EDIT THIS ITINERARY Our list of activities in Arlington uses some content from Wikipedia and Wikivoyage.