Act Presidential on a Capital Trip

What does it mean to be presidential? Find out for yourself on a capital trip.

Enjoy experiences fit for a president in Arlington, Virginia, where U.S. presidents throughout history have left their imprint. Dine where presidents have eaten, walk through their gardens and parks, and wake up each morning to breathtaking views of historical monuments that will renew your supply of American inspiration.

In the early 1900s President Theodore Roosevelt led diplomats and government officials on challenging hikes through the area’s “wild” lands. In Arlington, you can hike Theodore Roosevelt Island, a memorial to America’s 26th president, through ranger-led programs.

Or visit the gardens of Long Branch Nature Center at Glencarlyn Park, property once owned by the first president, George Washington.

We guarantee you’ll work up an appetite, so dine like a president. Arlington’s diverse restaurant scene, with its proximity to downtown Washington, D.C., has long been a favorite for U.S. presidents for dining excursions.

outside crowd at We the Pizza Virginia pizzeria
We The Pizza

Some of the destinations over the years have included El Paso Café and The Liberty Tavern. Shake Shack, We the Pizza and Ben’s Chili Bowl, frequented by presidents, also have Arlington locations.

Staying in Arlington puts you minutes away from the White House. Requests for White House tours can be submitted through your Member of Congress. The tour includes a visit to the family movie theater, which was the East Terrace cloakroom until July 1942.

You can live like a president even if you don’t score an invitation to stay in the White House’s Lincoln Bedroom: Arlington offers as many hotels as American presidents, and several of them have Presidential Suites.

White House
The White House

These suites offer spectacular views, luxurious surroundings and spacious areas for socializing with friends, family or colleagues.

You may even catch a glimpse of a president in Arlington: It’s not unusual for presidential motorcades to come through. Plus, you can personally hear the president speak at annual events in the amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery. The president or a designee lays a wreath to mark the national observance of Veterans Day, Memorial Day or other special occasions.

Veterans Day
Arlington Memorial Amphitheater

Both Veterans Day and Memorial Day ceremonies have always been free to attend and open to the public.

‘I could stay here forever’

President John F. Kennedy paid a visit to Arlington National Cemetery before his assassination in 1963. Standing near the mansion that once was home to Robert E. Lee, taking in its breathtaking view of the Potomac River below and the National Mall rolling out toward the U.S. Capitol, he reportedly said, "I could stay here forever." Today in Arlington, darkness is broken by a dancing eternal flame, Kennedy's final resting place.

You can also visit the grave of President William Howard Taft, the 27th president and the 10th chief justice of the United States who was the only person to have held both offices.

Taft gravesite
President Taft's gravesite

Taft, who also served as a secretary of war, died March 8, 1930, and was the first president buried at Arlington National Cemetery, said Claude R. Marx, an Arlington resident and award-winning journalist who is writing a biography of Taft. President Herbert Hoover’s military aide and the Taft family picked the spot in the cemetery’s section 30 where he was buried with full military honors March 11 following a procession throughout Washington, D.C.

“They picked it because you could see both the White House and the future site of the Supreme Court building, which Taft persuaded Congress to spend money for and was heavily involved in the design,” Marx said.

Author: Kathleen Murphy