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Top Arlington, VA Trip Planning Tips for Students & Kids

The capital region is an ideal place for planning an educational trip for your family or a student group.

There are hundreds of historic sites, cultural attractions and enriching experiences in the area to keep your kids busy and learning. With so many choices for your capital visit, planning a successful school trip can be daunting, but don’t worry, we have you covered. Here are some tips for a successful trip to Arlington and D.C. area:

1. Plot an Arlington Course

Decide on your Arlington sightseeing stops to maximize your time. Here are some of the special experiences for students and kids at Arlington’s key sights that are sure to earn A+ reviews:

Arlington National Cemetery:

Arrange in advance for your group to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and witness the Changing of the Guard. You can visit the gravesites of U.S. presidents and other famous Americans, discover Arlington's rich history, take in scenic grounds and ponder the stories of 400,000 servicemembers remembered there.

Faces of Iwo Jima
Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima)

Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima):

See 32-foot-high figures in this bronze monument modeled after the famous photo of the flag raising on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima. Score your postcard moment with panoramic views of the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol building from its grounds.

Air Force Memorial:

Located on a beautiful hillside vista, the Air Force Memorial honors the service and sacrifice of U.S. airmen with three stainless steel spires evoking an image of jet and space vehicle flight.

National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial:

Visit this touching memorial to the 184 people whose lives were lost at the Pentagon and on American Airlines Flight 77 on Sept. 11, 2001. The outdoor memorial is open all hours. Provide your students with the Pentagon Memorial Audio Tour, which recounts a sequential narrative of the events of Sept. 11 by calling the number at the memorial entrance, (202) 741-1004 or stream the audio tour online.

Windows Into History School Group, The Observation Deck at CEB Tower
The View of D.C.

Theodore Roosevelt Island:

Work out some energy between museums and memorials at this scenic National Park on the Potomac River connected to Arlington by a bridge. Arrange for a National Park Service ranger-led tour of this wooded sanctuary, a tribute to outdoorsman and naturalist Theodore Roosevelt, our 26th president.

The View of D.C.:

The Observation Deck offers unrivaled views of Washington, D.C. and the area. The Observation Deck’s “Windows into History” will take your students on an interactive journey through the events and personalities that shaped our nation.

2. Surprise and Delight

Have an unplanned hour or two on your schedule? Drop into the DEA Museum and Fort C.F. Smith, which offer unique experiences and situate you conveniently near your Arlington hotel.

DEA Museum
DEA Museum

The DEA Museum and Visitors Center:

Trace the steps of the war on drugs throughout history. Students can come home with a special badge as a Junior Special Agent after exploring the history of illegal drugs in America. Admission is free, and the museum offers group tours for larger groups.

Fort C.F. Smith:

The Civil War Visitor Center features information about Union soldiers and the Defenses of Washington, DC between 1861 and 1865, as well as artifacts from Forts Ethan Allen and C.F. Smith. Students can try on replica Civil War uniforms and learn about life in a Civil War army camp. Call ahead for a free tour of the visitor center from a park historian, stop by to stroll on park trails or enjoy a green spot for a picnic with a large group.

Fort Cf Smith Visitor Center Tent
Fort C.F. Smith Visitor Center

3. Travel Like a Pro

The D.C. Metro area can be congested and difficult to find parking. That is why we recommend taking public transportation. Secure SmarTrip cards for your group in advance so you can easily and efficiently use the Metro or bus system. You can purchase them online or at most local drug stores. If you are traveling by private bus, see Arlington County’s complete details on tour bus parking locations, hours and fees, plus printable maps highlighting spots in each neighborhood.

4. Eat Smart

Feed picky kids effortlessly with the myriad food options at Fashion Centre at Pentagon City where pre-paid vouchers are available for student groups of 10 or more. The Dining Dollars Program avoids the hassle of using cash, serves large groups quickly and efficiently, and offers one complimentary voucher for every 20 vouchers ordered. Choose from over 50 value meals from 16 eateries for $8.50.

Fashion Center at Pentagon City
Fashion Centre at Pentagon City

Check out all the Arlington Group Dining options and delicious places to feed your group at restaurants ranging from American pub fare to Asian fusion.

5. Make Connections

Need a photographer, transportation or other local services? Arlington has you covered with our local service providers. Large group planners will want to sign up for Arlington Alert to allow the County to contact you in an emergency.

6. Let Us Help You

Get brochures, itinerary suggestions, hotel RFPs, vendor suggestions and more. Reach out to us online at Arlington Convention and Visitors Service! We look forward to working with you to welcome your family and school trips to Arlington!

Author: Kathleen Murphy