So here’s a little secret for you: when W- was originally pitching this road trip to me, it was just a tour of some American Civil War battlefields on the way to his best friend’s wedding in Maryland. However, when he realized I have never had the opportunity to visit Washington D.C., he insisted we add a few days to the middle of the trip in order to show me as many of the sites as possible.
For the first day, W- declared that we were going to try to get in as much of the walking out of the way since we had the whole day to ourselves without any scheduled appointments. We drove from our campsite south of town to the metro station, and then took the Blue Line to our first stop of the day – Arlington National Cemetery.
You think you know that Arlington is big, but grasping the sheer size and scope is practically impossible until you’re walking through it. The National Cemetery is 624 acres and divided into 70 sections, which separate the dead by which war and/or battle they died in, or by special groups, i.e. chaplains, nurses, etc. A person could literally spend multiple days there, walking around, attempting to see everything. Some of W-‘s friends from the D.C. area actually mentioned that they often go to Arlington to walk around and think if they’re stressed or just need a break from people.
If visitors have to make Arlington a more condensed trip, however, I’d recommend definitely going to see the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It’s a beautiful and solemn ceremony (the guards will yell at you if you talk at all) that happens rain or shine. Some people near us chose to take videos of the changing of the guard, but I opted instead to actually take in and live in the moment just by watching and absorbing.
Other highlights I recommend are the USS Maine Mast Memorial, the Space Shuttle Challenger Memorial, and the graves of President John F. Kennedy and his family.