American Treasures

Where history & fun intersect

A trip to the nation's capital lets you discover what it means to be an American.

Arlington, Virginia has been part of Washington's history since the beginning: You can still see some of the 200-year-old “boundary stone” markers showing Arlington was once part of the original Federal City designed by Pierre L'Enfant. And while we’re proud to have some of our nation's most impressive and world-renowned monuments and memorials, we also have local history-filled explorations that are intriguing, off-the-beaten-path and free.

Visiting the Ball-Sellers House Museum, built in the 1740s, shows how the middle class used to live in Virginia’s Colonial era. Step back in time, and envision farmer John Ball, his wife Elizabeth, and their five daughters spinning wool. Or hear about William Carlin, a tailor for George Washington, who also lived in the house back then.

Learn how Union soldiers lived and protected Washington, D.C., at Fort C.F. Smith, which was constructed by Union Troops in early 1863. The 19-acre park has evolved to include the buildings, forest, meadow, gardens and earth work ruins seen today. You also can peer inside the actual slave quarters at Arlington House, and find out how Maria Syphax connects one African-American family and their descendants to the very foundation of the United States. At Arlington National Cemetery, learn why Mrs. Lee’s flower garden is part of the true story of the founding of the cemetery. 

Check out the Arlington Historical Museum’s model of a local Native American village, Civil War artifacts found in the county, the first television in Arlington (a Dumont!), and artifacts from the Pentagon.