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Hit the Trail: Arlington Sightseeing Ride

Don your helmet, grab a bike and embark on this 10 mile-roundtrip journey featuring many of Arlington's top sights! Or, enjoy all or part of this route on a fun run or walk.

Start the day in Arlington's vibrant Rosslyn neighborhood, sitting outside at Eclairons to savor fresh, local pastries or a breakfast sandwich and a cuppa joe or hot tea.

Eclairons

Make your way to the beautiful Mount Vernon Trail and on to your first stop at Theodore Roosevelt Island. Park your bike and walk over the foot bridge to explore this 91-acre wooded island sanctuary dedicated to the United States' 26th president.

Theodore Roosevelt Island

Continue heading south along the Potomac River shoreline, enjoying iconic Washington, D.C., skyline views including the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol.

Stop at the beautiful Navy and Merchant Marine Memorial for postcard-worthy shots of this sculpture, aptly nicknamed "Waves and Gulls."

Navy & Merchant Marine Memorial

Take a short jaunt off the trail to Lady Bird Johnson Park to see the Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove on the Potomac and Columbia Island Marina on the Pentagon Lagoon.

Columbia Island Marina

Hop back on trail and ride to Gravelly Point Park, a local favorite spot for picnicking and watching planes take off and land (right over your head!) at Reagan National Airport.

Reagan National Airport

Halfway through this adventure, you might be ready for another coffee break! Follow the trail signs to Crystal City and soon you'll be in Arlington's lively National Landing area (comprised of Arlington’s Crystal City, Pentagon City & Potomac Yard neighborhoods and home to the new Amazon HQ2). 

Make your way to Commonwealth Joe Coffee Roasters, whose mission is to breathe new life into an ancient craft and make amazing coffee approachable. Choose from Nitro Cold Brew and other craft beverages on tap.

Commonwealth Joe

You'll be glad you had a quick pick-me-up as you make the uphill trek to the Air Force Memorial, with its three gleaming stainless-steel spires reaching 402 feet above sea level. Honoring the service and heritage of the men and women of the United States Air Force and its heritage organizations, the memorial also offers sweeping views of the Pentagon and Washington, D.C.

Just a two-minute ride from the Air Force Memorial is the Freedman’s Village Historical Marker overlooking Arlington National Cemetery. In June of 1863, on the grounds of the federally confiscated Custis Arlington estate (today's Arlington National Cemetery), the U.S. government established Freedman's Village as a temporary wartime refuge for emancipated and fugitive ("contraband") slaves. The settlement evolved into a unique and thriving community with hospitals, churches, schools, and social services.

Air Force Memorial

Your trip nearly complete, continue on your way passing the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, offering a somber tribute to the 184 people whose lives were lost at the Pentagon and on American Airlines Flight 77 on September 11, 2001. Self-guided tours are available, although the memorial is currently closed to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Next, you'll ride near the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery. Although this route takes you along the perimeter of this hallowed place, plan to go back and explore its many notable memorials and gravesites, including the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Challenger Space Shuttle Memorial, and the gravesites of John F. and Robert Kennedy.

Another place for a return visit at the entrance to the cemetery is the Military Women's Memorial, which honors and tells the stories of women, past and present, who serve our nation.

Marine Corps War Memorial

Wrapping up your last major sights, you'll see the the Netherlands Carillon bell tower, a gift from the Dutch people in gratitude for U.S. aid given during World War II, and the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial. Often called "Iwo Jima," this iconic memorial also affords panoramic views of the Washington, D.C. skyline and sights, including the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol. 

You've now arrived back in the Rosslyn neighborhood. At just under 10 miles, this trip features an hour of actual riding; the total outing with stops is approximately 2.5 hours. Check out this snapshot of the complete route here!

Now it's time to park the bike and find a spot for lunch. Head to popular and delicious District Taco for an array of homemade, fast-casual Yucatan favorites.

Author: Scott Baker