Washington DC may be the star, but DC’s next door neighbor, Arlington, deserves some attention too. Just across the Potomac from DC, Arlington is full of young professionals and families looking for less dense communities than the capital without sacrificing their easy commutes. During a recent business trip to DC, I realized that I had never actually explored Arlington, Virginia. Whenever I traveled to DC, I usually spent the duration of my trip in the capital, so I decided to make last-minute adjustments to my travel plans so I could see what Arlington had to offer.
To book my last minute hotel room, I used HotelTonight, which offers great deals on last minute hotels in Arlington. As soon as I had my hotel room booked, I crossed the Potomac and set out to explore Arlington, Virginia.
Even though I had promised myself to avoid major tourist attractions during my brief stay in Arlington, I knew that I couldn’t visit this Virginia city without wandering through such a historic cemetery. Arlington National Cemetery is the largest military cemetery in the country, and the entire cemetery acts as a moving tribute to the soldiers who have dedicated their lives fighting for freedom. As soon as I stepped foot on the cemetery grounds, I was overwhelmed with emotions, ranging from inspiration to sadness. I ended up taking a guided so that I could learn more about the history of the cemetery as well as the history of some of its most famous graves, including those of John F. Kennedy and Thurgood Marshall.
This neighborhood in Arlington is described as an “urban village,” and it brims with great shops, restaurants and entertainment options. Shirlington, which is considered “Arlington’s Arts and Entertainment District,” is home to a charming outdoor shopping center, where visitors can choose from a variety of great restaurants and shops. As I walked up and down the streets of Shirlington, I began to understand why Arlington locals frequent the Village at Shirlington – this shopping and dining center is charming, lively and full of great spots to kick back and have a good meal.
Just outside of Arlington is Alexandria, Virginia, an idyllic town full of colorful colonial buildings and charming tree-lined streets. I popped over to Alexandria so that I could wander down King Street, the historic street that features cobblestone alleyways and architectural masterpieces from hundreds of years ago. I then meandered down to the waterfront and spent the afternoon people watching along the Potomac. After a busy, stressful week of working long hours, relaxing alongside the Potomac River allowed me to unwind and truly recognize the beauty and energy of this beloved Virginia town.
One of the most popular things to do in Arlington is to tour the Pentagon, the legendary home of the U.S. Defense Department. However, you need to make reservations two weeks in advance if you want to tour the Pentagon, so this activity didn’t fit into my last-minute travel itinerary. Instead, I visited the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, located right across the street from the Pentagon. This memorial honors the victims of 9/11’s deadly Flight 77 and it’s a touching, yet heavy, tribute.
After a full day of exploring Arlington and its surroundings, I headed back to my hotel in Ballston to wash up and change for dinner. Ballston is one of the hippest, most walkable areas surrounding DC, and it’s now home to many young professionals and families. From my hotel, I could walk a few blocks in any direction and pass numerous restaurants, bars, and shops, which is why Ballston is such a popular place to live for people working in DC. Ballston combines the feeling of a big city with the comfort and convenience of a small town, and it’s just a quick metro ride into DC. After a great dinner and a drink at one of Ballston’s hippest watering holes, I called it a night and headed back to my hotel to get some rest before my early flight the next morning.
I never expected to love Arlington, Virginia as much as I did. I had always assumed that Arlington was essentially a big suburb of DC, but in just one day I discovered that Arlington has plenty of its own vibrant neighborhoods and terrific attractions. Considering its convenient commute into DC, and its much more affordable prices, I’ll definitely considering staying in Arlington on any future trips to our nation’s capital. And when I need to find a great hotel in one of Arlington’s coolest neighborhoods, I’ll be sure to use HotelTonight to book my accommodations. Now that I know more about Arlington, I’m excited to plan my next trip to this popular East Coast destination.