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Spend a Day Exploring Arlington, VA’s Military Sights

Arlington has an unmistakable connection to the U.S. military. Not only is it home to Arlington National Cemetery and many military monuments and memorials, the county is also where the Pentagon, the helm of the U.S. Department of Defense, is located.

Arlington also hosts Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, home to several regiments of the Armed Forces including the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard). The Old Guard is the Army’s oldest active duty unit, honoring fallen comrades in arms and conducting ceremonies. In fact, many active duty military and veterans live in Arlington, and quite a few have started businesses of their own. Explore Arlington’s military sights and visit veteran-owned businesses with this one-day itinerary.

Breakfast and Coffee

Compass Coffee in Rosslyn
Compass Coffee in Rosslyn via @deoranjebean/Instagram

Start your day with a latte and fresh pastries at Compass Coffee in Rosslyn. This local coffee chain was started by two former Marines and is dedicated to making great coffee at its Arlington roastery.

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Marvel at the Marine Corps War Memorial

Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima)
Marine Corps War Memorial via eprifold/Instagram

After you’re caffeinated, take a walk to the Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima). The moving memorial is dedicated to all Marines who have given their lives in defense of the United States since 1775. Walk around the monument to experience the magnificent work of art and the stunning views of the nation’s capital.

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Honor the Fallen at Arlington National Cemetery

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery

Make your way to Arlington National Cemetery, the tranquil resting place for more than 400,000 active duty service members, veterans and their families. Stop by the Welcome Center to buy tickets for a tram tour or explore the cemetery on your own. Make time to visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and witness the Changing of the Guard ceremony, performed by the U.S. Honor Guard.

Celebrate the Contribution of Women in the Military

Women In Military Service for America Memorial
Military Women's Memorial

Adjacent to the Arlington National Cemetery Welcome Center, the Military Women's Memorial recognizes women’s contribution to the armed forces. The beautiful building is the only major national memorial honoring all women who have defended America throughout history.

Be sure to check out their newest monument,“The Pledge” which 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.

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Lunch

Shuck Shack corn kiosk at Fashion Centre at Pentagon City
Shuck Shack

Read for lunch? Serving locally sourced, fresh, made-to-order corn with delicious seasonings, Shuck Shack is a must-try. This Black-owned business has people traveling far and wide for the sweet and savory gourmet corn. Owner, Vince, grew up in a military family and began his military service through ROTC at Howard University. Among other duties, he served as a Logistics Officer, as well as a Basic Training Officer at Fort Jackson. After his service and 22 years at Microsoft, Vince began actively pursuing his goal of owning his own business, never realizing it would be corn. After hearing guests at a birthday party rave about this corn, he tried it and decided it lived up to the hype. Fast-forward a few years, and Vince brought Shuck Shack to Arlington, offering Mexican Street Corn, Old Bay seasonings, and the Classic: sweet butter, salt & pepper. Shuck Shack just launched a food truck for catering and small groups.

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Air Force Memorial

Air Force Memorial
Air Force Memorial via @robertriegerphotography

After a delicious lunch, snag a cab to visit the Air Force Memorial, honoring the service and heritage of the men and women in the United States Air Force. The towering memorial affords nice views of Arlington and Washington, D.C., which are reflected off its gleaming three-pronged formation—inspired by the contrails of the Air Force Thunderbirds.

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The Pentagon

The Pentagon
The Pentagon via @deborahgibsondesign/Instagram

After spending the day honoring the military’s legacy, learn about current operations on a tour at the Pentagon. The headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, the Pentagon offers 60-minute tours to visitors Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Friday from noon to 4 p.m. Reservations must be booked from 14 to 90 days in advance.

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Dinner

Good Company Doughnuts & Cafe
Good Company Doughnuts & Cafe via @goodcodough/Instagram

Ready for dinner? Head to Good Company Doughnuts & Café, a veteran and family-owned café specializing in hand-cut doughnuts baked fresh every day. The Ballston neighborhood spot has plenty of dinner options as well, ranging from soups and salads to sandwiches and small plates.