What started out as a 200-acre military cemetery in 1864 at the height of the Civil War has grown to 624 acres of burial plots for more than 400,000 people.
Among those buried here are veterans of all of the nation’s wars, from the American Revolution to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; Supreme Court justices; astronauts; slaves; U.S. presidents; and other national heroes. About 8,000 burials take place each year.
The size of the cemetery is daunting, so what you want to do is access Arlington Cemetery’s interactive map ahead of your visit and pick out the gravesites and other places of interest to you. If you are here to visit the gravesite of a family member or friend, you can board the free shuttle that runs continuously throughout the day transporting visitors to these individual gravesites.
If you are here as a tourist, you can try walking around on your own, once you arrive, or you can board the narrated, hop-on, hop-off tour bus that travels through the cemetery, stopping at the most visited sites, among them the Tomb of the Unknowns, the Kennedy gravesites, and Arlington House, where Robert E. Lee lived before the Civil War. Tickets are required for the bus tour. You can order them online in advance or buy them at the Welcome Center.
In any case, you should start your visit with a stop at the Welcome Center, for brochures, maps, and the latest information.
Metro: Arlington Cemetery, on the Blue Line.