Arlington, Virginia is situated just outside of Washington, DC. From visiting historical sites to shopping, dining and entertainment options, you are sure to find what you’re looking for in Arlington.
What to See
Arlington National Cemetery
Many people come to Arlington as part of a trip to Washington, D.C.. Still, Arlington itself is home to several destinations including the following:
- Arlington National Cemetery: 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 (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. Also, download and print the City Walking Guide to Washington DC to help you explore Arlington National Cemetery.
- Iwo Jima Marine Corps War Memorial: Compelling memorial that commemorates the amphibious landing and eventually victorious battle for the Pacific island of Iwo Jima during WWII. If you walk around the memorial counter clockwise, you’ll notice the optical illusion of the marines planting the flag. On July 4th, this spot also provides an excellent view of the fireworks.
- Pentagon: While lingering is not recommended for security reasons, you should know it is the largest office building in the world, and covers 4 zip codes. Group tours are still available by advance arrangement, but the military no longer hosts other tours. The Pentagon Memorial is open 24 hours to visitors on the Washington Blvd side, where Flight 77 hit. Photography is allowed at the memorial, but is not permitted anywhere else on the Pentagon grounds. If you take photos anywhere else on site, you may face a four hour interrogation by the Pentagon Police and will probably be asked to delete the images. On a lighter note, the interior courtyard is irreverently referred to by employees as “Ground Zero,” as it was the target of a number of Soviet missiles during the Cold War.
- DEA Museum and Visitors Center: Learn about the work of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the flow of illicit drugs worldwide.
- Theodore Roosevelt Island: A lovely nature walk though this small national park gives one glimpses of both the area’s natural woods and the Georgetown (Washington, D.C.) waterfront. Also includes a surprising monument to President Roosevelt himself. Technically a part of Washington, D.C., the island is only accessible by a footbridge from Arlington.
- United States Air Force Memorial: A monument dedicated in Fall 2006 to the US Air Force. The monument is comprised of three soaring spires signifying the Thunderbird’s bomb-burst formation. Also on the site are a few statues and information about various airborne campaigns the US Air Force has participated in. The momument is on a hilltop with an excellent view of Arlington Cemetery, the Pentagon, and Washington DC. The monument is Limited parking is available in the lot across the street from the memorial.
What to Do
- Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse: Recently voted the Best Movie Theater in the Washington DC area by the Washington Post’s Best Bet competition and selected the Best Thing to Do on Friday Night by the Washingtonian Magazine. A unique combination of a full restaurant located inside a movie theater. Also offers live comedy shows and large-screen viewings of major sports events. Over 22 years old, the “Drafthouse” replaced the Arlington Theater or “Old Arlington” as it was affectionately known in 1985. The building itself is over 65 years old.
- Ice Skating @ Kettler Capitals Iceplex: 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.
- Synetic Theater at Crystal City: Great theatre that shows many Shakespeare plays.
- The Comedy Spot: 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.
Where to Shop
Arlington’s main Shopping Districts are Clarendon and Wilson Blvds between the Rosslyn to Ballston Metro Stations, as well as the areas near the Crystal City and Pentagon City Metro Stations. Arlington has just about every type of shop an upscale urban area would have.
- Ballston Common: Includes movie theatres, two indoor skating rinks, wireless hot spots, and one of Arlington’s lowest cost parking facilities.
- The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City: Outdoor skating rink, indoor and outdoor shops including Macy’s.
Local Businesses, Restaurants & Employers
Where to Eat
You won’t go hungry in Arlington. Arlington has over a thousand restaurants to fit every budget and taste. Arlington’s diverse, well educated population has led to a plethora of ethnic restaurants.
The Clarendon neighborhood probably has the largest concentration of restaurants. Within a few blocks of the metro station you can find all types of restaurants — from hole in the wall establishments to pubs to casual dining restaurants. For a slightly less crowded area, try the Shirlington neighborhood, which has about two dozen restaurants ranging from Thai to contemporary American. Note that Shirlington is not served by a Metro rail line.
Crystal City has many fine restaurants for every budget. Some choices include Hamburger Hamlet, Bailey’s, and Tapas. Make sure to venture west of Jefferson Davis Avenue on 23rd street to get a few smaller but equally as good choices. Some shopping malls, such as The Underground, also have full-service restaurants, as well as food courts.
- China Garden: For those in search or dim sum, look no further.
- Delhi Club: Stylish, modern Indian plates with a specialty in lamb and egglplant. If you would like something different, try the Indian take on the Chesapeake crabcake!
- Guajillo Grill: Mexican food, including some great mole. The food is always fresh and wonderful. The place is difficult to spot and parking can be a problem.
- Me Jana: Upscale Lebanese cuisine (mostly mezzes) in a trendy, casual dining room, and accompanied with a fine selection of Lebanese wines.
- Piola Pizzeria: Based in Treviso, Italy, this small but international chain serves great, vaguely Neopolitan style pizzas. Later at night it morphs into an attractive lounge playing house and trance.
- Pho 75: For a really good bowl of Vietnamese pho, Pho 75 has been declared the best by several local food critics.
- Quarterdeck: For a great Maryland style crab feast by D.C. you should go to… Virginia! Paper on the tables, buckets full of crabs, pitchers of beer, and an elbow-deep mess of Old Bay seasoning.
- Ray’s Hell Burger: This place is best summed up by one of its signature burgers: named the Fat Joe, which adds seared foie gras with a balsamic glaze, white truffle oil, crispy shallots, and vine-ripened tomato. Yes, the burger with truffle oil and foie gras is called a Fat Joe. Ray’s Hell Burger has an incredible tunnel vision-focus on burger quality to the exclusion of anything else—the seating area is at best an overcrowded, functional fast-food restaurant. But the burgers are worth whatever journey it takes to get here.
- Rays the Steaks: One of the DC area’s best steak houses, this no-frills steak house offers some of the best steaks at a reasonable price in the DC area. The restaurant has moved from its original location and now takes reservations.
- Taste of Morocco: A great Moroccan restaurant with lovely ambiance (precisely the sort you’d want of a Moroccan restaurant), great service, and one mean Chicken Bastilla, a sweet pastry filled with savory, spiced chicken.
- Teds Montana Grill:Teds is a classic American restaurant serving authentic American cuisine in the style of a 1890’s eatery. Featuring bison and beef steaks and especially burgers it offers a made from scratch experience unmatched in Arlington.
- Willow: American food. Great experience, great food, great atmosphere
- Arlington Transit Buses (ART): The County of Arlington operates its own independent bus system. Arlington uses smaller, natural gas powered buses painted distinctive green. These buses can also carry bicycles at no additional charge. Arlington’s bus service is designed to compliment the metro.
- Metro Bus: The Metro bus operates throughout the Washington DC area. An easy Metro bus for tourists and locals alike is the 38B aka “Orange Line with a View” begins at Farragut West and takes you through Georgetown, Rosslyn, Courthouse, Clarendon, Virginia Square/GMU Law and Ballston areas.
- DC Circulator: The DC Circulator operates buses between Rosslyn Metro Station and Dupont Circle.
- Taxi: Arlington taxis are available at taxi stands around the County, by phoning the taxi company directly, or occasionally by street hail. All taxis are metered.
- Zipcar: If you need a car for only a few hours, Zipcar is your best alternative. These cars are located in desginated parking spaces near metro stations and can be used by anyone registered with the car share company.
- Capital Bikeshare: Arlington features a unique network of dedicated bike paths that crisscross the county as well as dedicated bike lanes on many major roads. The paths are well labeled and patrolled regularly for safety. They also offer beautiful scenery and the chance to ride your bike or walk without interruption form motorized vehicles. You can cross any of the bridges into Washington using your bike, but be aware that the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge has a very narrow path with barely any protection from the interstate right next to you. Note that children are required to wear helmets, and it’s probably a good idea if you wear one too.
Arlington is a rapidly growing county with a dynamic economy. The prospects for employment here are excellent, even as the rest of the country goes through recessionary times. The bedrock of Arlington’s economy remains the Federal government, the military, and companies that directly do business with the government. The process to start a career with the government is considerably longer than the typical entry process in the private sector. Those seeking Federal government employment in Washington, D.C. or elsewhere can generally apply from their current location, anywhere in the US.