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What's New for 2021

Let’s face it – we don’t think anyone is sad to see 2020 head off into the sunset. A new year means new possibilities, and hopefully – a return to travel and exploring all Arlington and the Capital region have to offer. However, during this past quarantine year, there have been lots of great new things to experience throughout Arlington that are all ready to welcome you when your travel plans resume.

The Pledge at the Military Women's Memorial
The Pledge at the Military Women's Memorial

New Attractions

One of the most moving examples of service to the nation was recently unveiled at the Military Women’s Memorial (formerly WIMSA), and it’s one that should definitely be on your to-do list for your next visit. “The Pledge” is a bronze sculpture honoring all women in military service along with their service dogs. The monument stands just inside the Women’s Memorial, located at the ceremonial entrance of Arlington National Cemetery.

Created during the pandemic and expanding into an online/in-person visitor experience in the new year is Arlington National Cemetery’s new Education Program, with full online course materials available that tell the story of the nation’s history through the unique lens of the cemetery and some of the notable figures laid to rest there. Materials include online resources, lesson plans and walking tours, which may be used either during an in-person visit or for virtual exploration of the cemetery.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery commemorates its centennial in 2021.

A Centennial Commemoration

While as of this writing, the Tomb of the Unknown Solider at Arlington National Cemetery remains closed to the public, it is expected to resume public viewing in 2021, just in time to honor its centennial. The entombment of the Unknown Soldier of World War I took place on November 11, 1921 as a symbol of the American people’s service and sacrifice for this country. The centennial will honor the Tomb Sentinels who have stood the watch since 1926 and continue to do so 24hrs a day, 7 days a week as well as provide an opportunity to reflect on what the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier means to America.

Arlington House interior
Arlington House is expected to reopen in 2021 after a multimillion dollar renovation project

New Renovations and Reopenings

While it has been closed for nearly two years for a multi-million dollar rehabilitation and restoration project, Arlington House is now likely to reopen sometime in 2021. The nation's memorial to Robert E. Lee and former home to the general and Mary Custis Lee overlooks Arlington National Cemetery. In addition to recognizing Lee's role in promoting peace and reunion after the Civil War, in a larger sense it is a place of study and contemplation of some of the most difficult aspects of American History: military service, sacrifice, citizenship, duty, loyalty, slavery and freedom.

When the project is completed, visitors will see Arlington House as it was in 1860, with rooms restored to their historical appearance. Additionally, the quarters for the enslaved people of Arlington House will be restored to better represent and tell their stories. As visitors move between the mansion and the new museum and bookstore, they will pass along accessible paths that stretch through the restored grounds, including heirloom gardens. People who cannot visit in person will enjoy a robust experience through virtual tours, complete with detailed displays of the rooms and objects that belonged to George Washington and the Lee family.

Renovations are now also complete at the National Pentagon 9/11 Memorial, which has been closed since the fall of 2019. The site is currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but is expected to reopen in 2021.

New Gathering Spots

While we’re still staying away from large crowds, at the moment, several Arlington locations have cropped up or are in the works to ensure your entire group has a place to play when you return for a visit. In the National Landing area, In the Crystal City area of Arlington’s new National Landing region, Bowlero has opened along 23rd Street on a modified schedule to ensure COVID cleaning and safety standards, and it’s ready for the full party when the time is right. The new bowling alley plus sports bar, arcade and more is a great place to unwind or compete with friends.

Not far away in the newly-branded Westpost (formerly Pentagon Row) complex, Nighthawk Pizza is expected to open in fall of 2021. Described as a brew hall/pizza joint/gathering space with a 90s vibe, Nighthawk will be the perfect after-work or after-meeting watering hole for hungry (and thirsty) guests.

Author: Cara O'Donnell