Your Tourist Guide to the Arlington National Cemetery

Known as the most famous cemetery in America, the Arlington National Cemetery is a hotspot for visitors curious about the life and death of those who live to protect American citizens.  Although this can be a heavy place to visit, weighing on the minds and hearts of those who come unprepared, it’s also an important place to learn the history of this nation.

If you’re going to the Arlington National Cemetery and aren’t sure what to expect: here’s what you should know.

Do You Have to Pay to Get In?

This cemetery is free to visit, and it’s open every day of the year.  The slowest days of the week, when the least people are there, are Tuesday and Thursday mornings, between nine and noon.  These are the best times to go if you want to avoid memorials and when fewer tours are happening, so you can be in a smaller group while you learn.  If you don’t want to be part of a tour group, you can go solo, but these tours are very informative and interesting.

Who’s Buried In The Cemetery?

The Arlington National Cemetery is the resting place of any eligible soldiers who die while on active duty, retired members of the Armed Forces, and certain veterans and family members.  Although this may seem vague, it does include more people than you’d expect.  Those buried here had to go through an application process and have earned their spot in the cemetery.

Do New Burials Happen Here?

This is the most famous piece of Arlington real estate: and yes, new bodies still get buried here.  Whenever someone dies in the line of duty, a family can request that they get buried here. Unfortunately, the burial can have a waitlist, which means some families may have to wait up to a year for their loved ones to become a part of this cemetery.  If there’s currently a funeral or memorial service going on while you’re visiting, try to avoid going to that portion of the park until it’s over.

How Can I Be Respectful as a Tourist?

Although this is a tourist hotspot, it’s also a place of mourning and respect. Therefore, it’s important to take your time and be respectful while you visit.  One of the best ways to do this is to avoid making a scene.  Dress conservatively doesn’t have to be funeral clothing, and avoid running, yelling, or spectacle.  Although it may be a simple tourist spot, others who are there may have family in the cemetery, and they should be able to mourn in peace.

Why Is This Cemetery Nationally Important?

A large amount of history is buried in this cemetery.  Soldiers from nearly every war, two presidents, and family and loved ones who supported those who fought for this nation are all buried here.  Although it’s a cemetery and they can’t literally tell you their stories, seeing the graves, reading markers and memorials, and seeing the scale of it all can open your eyes to what they’ve sacrificed for this country.

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