Many people confuse Arlington and Washington D.C., and although the cities are similar and close by, they’re unique in identity. Arlington has been picking up as a tourist destination lately, with peoples’ renewed interest in politics and what the government can and should do. If you find yourself in the area and aren’t sure what to do to truly appreciate Arlington for all it has to offer, here are the top stops you should make.
If you want a striking and sad way to start your day, begin it at the Korean War Veterans Memorial. It might not sound like an exciting time, but beautiful statues are seen walking through the area’s brush, looking reverent and quiet in their full military garb. This war was fought initially between brothers and cousins before other countries stepped in, which continues to this day, although this war ended in an armistice. There’s a heaviness in this memorial that helps us remember how much there still is left to do in the world.
Sweeping you away from the city, out of sight of heartache-inducing war memorials, lays a beautiful tidal basin. Sparkling, clear waters tumble down onto greenery and rocks beneath them and create a space that looks almost magical against the backdrop of nearby Arlington real estate. Most visitors say they feel peaceful after spending time here, which gives them the energy to go back and face more hard truths within the city.
The artistry of this memorial is unmatched. The MLK Jr Memorial is one that took years of planning and then was completed perfectly. In memory of his incredible vision for humanity, this memorial shows Martin Luther King Jr. emerging from stone, saying that his legacy isn’t complete yet. There’s still so much growth to do, so much left to see and learn, and every step in this park will remind you of that.
If you want to see America’s current government and how it works, the Pentagon is the building to look at. From the museum that’s built into it to the 911 memorials and information on those who we’ve lost. This is another heavy visit with the twist that it pulls up national memories that left generational scars. This visit is one that many skip, but everyone should take in at least once.
Another breath of fresh air, East Potomac Park, is a sprawling amount of green resting just on the side of the beautiful Potomac River. History has happened on these lawns, decisions, and ideas that have spurred our nation forward and onward. Visiting this park is an excellent break between exhibits, but it’s also an exhibit in its sense. Along with the park’s walks are small placards explaining the area, what might have happened in certain spots, and why this conservation of nature matters.
Arlington is a bittersweet mix of sad and reverential that you can’t find anywhere else. It’s a must-go vacation spot for anyone who wants to learn.