When visiting the nation’s capital, if your only foray into Arlington, Virginia includes a trip to Arlington National Cemetery, you’re missing out on an amazing number of attractions, opportunities, and cultures. For example, there’s the National 911 Pentagon Memorial (yes, the Pentagon is in Arlington, not D.C.), the Air Force Memorial, and the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial. The DEA Museum just reopened after being closed for several years for renovations, and the Arlington House just reopened last fall after a $14 million renovation that began before the pandemic.
Hoping to get a little exercise in on your trip? Arlington was recently voted the fittest city in America for the fifth straight year (a record) by the American Fitness Index and College of Sports Medicine. Arlington’s biking and hiking trails contribute to that award, especially the fabulous Mount Vernon Trail that takes visitors right along the shores of the Potomac River and provides a great spot for plane-spotting at Gravelly Point Park as well as stunning views of Washington, D.C.
Theodore Roosevelt Island is a 92-acre nature preserve located in the Potomac River that is dedicated to the 26th President of the United States, who was a naturalist. The only access to the island is from Arlington, and the island provides trails and wooded spaces that are secluded from the rest of the world, even though it’s only a short distance away from Georgetown and the George Washington Parkway.
Need to fuel your body up first? Arlington has an exceptional number of different cuisines to sample.
“One thing people don’t know about here is our global dining,” says Cara O’Donnell, Public Relations Manager for both Arlington Economic Development and the Arlington Convention & Visitors Service. “Being home to the Pentagon and other federal offices, we have people who live in Arlington who are from all over the planet. When all of those people come to work here, they bring the flavors of their homeland with them. Afghani, Balkan, Bolivian—you name it, and you can find the cuisine here in Arlington.”
To give that statement credibility, 110 different languages are spoken in Arlington County Schools. It’s why Arlington likes to say they offer the world in 26 square miles.
Not sure where to start? O’Donnell is happy to share some of her favorite dining establishments.
- Ambar. Located near the Clarendon Metro station, the restaurant offers delicious and unique small plates featuring Balkan fare.
- Assembly. A modern food hall that is not your typical food court experience. Order from seven unique dining outlets and four bars using your smartphone to get anything from breakfast to cocktails. Located near the Rosslyn Metro station.
- Ruthie’s All-Day. From the creative mind of James Beard semi-finalist comes a breakfast, lunch, dinner, and brunch stop with a family-style feel and a barbeque focus. Located in the Penrose neighborhood, just off S. Glebe Road.
- Sfoglina Pasta House. High-end Italian food from celebrity chef Fabio Trabocchi, not far from the Rosslyn Metro stop. Two words: Mozzarella bar.
- The Freshman. Located in the growing National Landing neighborhood, the Freshman is a community gathering space that’s perfect for a coffee meeting in the morning or a cocktail at after-work happy hour. Near the Crystal City Metro stop.
- Whino. Offering charcuterie, crudos, salads, small plates, and shareables, in a setting that’s half cocktail bar and half art gallery. Located on the second floor of Ballston Quarter, off Wilson Boulevard.
To take in the entire Arlington experience, why not make it your base?
“You’re actually closer to the National Mall and many D.C. attractions when you stay in Arlington versus uptown hotels in Washington,” says O’Donnell. “The Rosslyn and Crystal City Metro stations are only a few stops away from many of the major tourist attractions, and visitors traveling into town by Amtrak can easily get to Arlington Metro destinations from Alexandria or Union Station. If you need to get your steps in, you can take a leisurely stroll to Georgetown from Rosslyn via the Key Bridge.”
Prices for Arlington hotels also average about 20 percent less than D.C. hotels, so you can take home extra souvenirs or indulge in an extra dessert since you’ll have the opportunity to walk it off on your visit.
“We have nearly 40 hotels for every need and every price point,” says O’Donnell. “In addition to being convenient to D.C., we’re very centrally located within the region, and everything is easily accessible. You can get to Old Town Alexandria. You can get to Tysons Corner to go shopping. You can go out to FedEx Field. Anywhere you want to go around here, we’re a great hub for your getaway.”
Ready to start planning? Visit stayarlington.com to learn more fun facts about Arlington, find accommodations, review a full restaurant listing, and read helpful blogs to help make your stay even more exciting and fun.
PHOTOS BY KRISTIAN SUMMERER