Aquariums around Washington, DC

Washington, DC. The nation’s capital, rich in history, landmark institutions, and a burgeoning, diverse population, picking any one activity to do might seem difficult here when there are so many options. So allow us to recommend to you some of the best the area has to offer in aquatic life. Whether you’re visiting, in the area to see friends and family or a local resident of the DMV, this side of the capital might be less known with everything in the region- but nonetheless more than worth the visit. Read on for some of our favorite aquariums around Washington, DC. 

Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Washington DC’s premier attraction for wildlife of all origins and all types is Smithsonian’s National Zoo, unrivaled in the region for its scope and work. Some of the famous faces visitors can see here include the arapaima, Asian small-clawed otter, beaver, California sea lion, crocodile monitor, electric eel, freshwater stingray, gharial, grey seal, Japanese giant salamander, and the North American river otter. 

Aside from the stunning variety in animals, there is also the exhibits themselves, taking visitors on a tour of the world’s most iconic ecosystems, including the Sahara desert, the Panamanian jungle, the islands of Madagascar and Sumatra, the Chinese interior, the Amazon, and the coastal rocks of California. In addition to these, there are also a number of events celebrating the many inhabitants of Smithsonian’s National Zoo year-round and on special occasions, adding another element of variety to any visit. 

https://nationalzoo.si.edu

Glen Echo Park Aquarium

Just outside the city borders in neighboring Glen Echo is Glen Echo Park Aquarium, a center of learning and exploration for the aquatic wildlife of the Potomac, Chesapeake Bay, and the Capital Region. Here, visitors of all ages and interests can engage their curiosities in a series of interactive exhibits, and meet locals such as the Chesapeake blue crab, the horseshoe crab, mummichog, channel catfish, yellow-bellied slider, American eel, and oyster toadfish. Aside from this, there are also opportunities to interact with the animals in touch pools and learn about the variety of activities from fishing to microscopic life with hands-on exhibits. 

Rock Creek Park

Rock Creek Park is Washington DC’s retreat from the city inside the city, a realm of nature, changing colors, numerous native species, and human activities blended with the reach of nature. Here, visitors can see red and grey foxes, beavers, meadow voles, red-backed salamanders, eastern box turtles, and northern water snakes. Birdwatchers will also find themselves somewhat spoiled here, as Rock Creek Park is home to over 150 species of birds! A number of historical relics also are on-site, meaning visitors can truly step into different ages of our nation’s capital, from before man, to the colonial era, and to the integrated age of the present. Visitors can participate in a ranger-led tour, learn at the range of in-building activities managed by the park, or enjoy golfing and horseback riding for those who want a bit of a more unique experience. 

https://www.nps.gov/rocr/index.htm

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Aquariums around Arlington-Alexandria, VA

On this side of the Potomac are many notable sights: the Pentagon, Arlington National Cemetery, Mount Vernon, and the CIA Headquarters. Yet the region’s best-kept secret is passed by every day? The local aquatic wildlife. Whether you are a visitor compiling a travel itinerary, returning to the area to see family and friends, or a local looking for something to do close to home, all will delight in the beauty of the capital region’s parks and streams. Read on for some of our favorite aquatic life experiences around Arlington and Alexandria. 

Glen Echo Park Aquarium

Just outside the capital borders in neighboring Glen Echo is Glen Echo Park Aquarium, a center of learning and exploration for the aquatic wildlife of the Potomac, Chesapeake Bay, and the Capital Region. Here, visitors of all ages and interests can engage their curiosities in a series of interactive exhibits, and meet locals such as the Chesapeake blue crab, the horseshoe crab, mummichog, channel catfish, yellow-bellied slider, American eel, and oyster toadfish. Aside from this, there are also opportunities to interact with the animals in touch pools and learn about the variety of activities from fishing to microscopic life with hands-on exhibits. 

Great Falls Park

Just up the Potomac is one of the most beautiful sights in the region, the Great Falls, a series of turbulent rapids and waterfalls as one of the most dynamic and exhilarating habitats to a number of local species. Opportunities to observe the wildlife of the capital region in their natural state are endless, with whitetail deer, eastern chipmunks, red foxes, beavers, opossums, eastern box turtles, and skinks in abundance. In addition to this, birdwatchers will also delight in the hundreds of species that frequent the park, as part of their migrations or as a breeding ground. There are also plenty of more intense activities for visitors who want to immerse themselves in the park, such as rock climbing, kayaking, and canoeing. There is also a number of hiking trails and camping spots, accommodating a number of plans. 

https://www.nps.gov/grfa/index.htm

Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens

A great chance to see the wildlife of the capital region in its natural state is at Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens, a lush, verdant corner just outside of the city boundaries. Here, numerous species of turtles, skinks, aquatic insects, and reptiles live among vast fields of lily pads and lotuses. Given the variety of fauna, the park is worth a visit any time of the year, with the drastically changing scenery and different events that occur. Birdwatchers will also delight in the more than 236 bird species that live and regularly migrate through the Kenilworth area, an established pastime, and tradition for residents of this neighborhood. With its diversity, beauty, and serenity, Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens provide an escape into the capital region of an older time and allows visitors to explore nature and step away if for a moment. 

https://www.nps.gov/keaq/index.htm

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5 Quirky Date Night Destinations in Arlington

Date night doesn’t have to be the same each time. While we all love cuddling up at the movies or trying new restaurants or embracing a bit of high culture at museums, every once in a while, date night needs to be shaken up. Each city has a hidden world of strange, quirky, and delightful things to do. Try any one of these on your next date night and embrace the weird, whimsical part of life.

Hot Air Balloon Ride

Take an afternoon or early evening to float among the clouds, as if you are one yourself, but do so in a basket with a colorful balloon carrying you higher and higher. Balloons Unlimited Inc. Hot Air Balloons rides are the most popular in the Arlington area. A hot air balloon ride is perfect for both romantic date nights and date nights out of the ordinary.

Bad Axe Throwing

Axe-throwing has become increasingly popular over the past few years, especially for couples who are tired of classic date nights (dinner and a movie). Axe-throwing is perfect for active couples, those looking for a little competition, and those who want adventure. Any trip to Bad Axe Throwing will begin with safety and instructions before getting to the good stuff – throwing an axe at a wooden target and reveling in the satisfying thud when it hits the board. Walk-ins are accepted, but it is usually best to book in advance.

Punch Bowl Social

A three-story “fun factory” with all the cocktails and craft beers you could want alongside popular date night games. There are ping-pong tables, wall scrabble, bowling (mini and full-size), karaoke, and old school, classic arcade games. If you and your date are up for a little friendly competition, then this is the place to be. There is something for everyone and the entire building is bustling with the joy of people letting go and simply playing. 

Escape Room Arlington

Escape Rooms have become popular date night activities because it is outside the typical wheelhouse of date night ideas. At Escape Room Arlington, you’ll love solving the puzzles and challenges required to escape and have a chance to choose from several adventures. Try the Supervillains escape room and become a superhero hunting the city’s most notorious supervillains or play the Secret in the Attic and find what your seemingly innocent Grandmother may be hiding in the attic.

Gravelly Point Park

On the Peninsula of the Potomac River is this beautiful park, well-known for its views. However, the views are not those of the water or nature, but of the many jets and planes that take off from DCA airport. Plane enthusiasts will love stopping at Gravelly Point Park for a picnic and an afternoon scouting the aircraft soaring above you.

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5 Quirky Date Night Destinations in Washington, D.C.

Date night doesn’t have to be the same each time. While we all love cuddling up at the movies or trying new restaurants or embracing a bit of high culture at museums, every once in a while, date night needs to be shaken up. Each city has a hidden world of strange, quirky, and delightful things to do. Try any one of these on your next date night and embrace the weird, whimsical part of life.

Artechouse

If you’re looking for a date night full of color and wacky art, Artechouse is a great place to visit. Rotating installations, more often than not larger-than-life, can be found in this art and technology space that also features a futuristic cocktail bar. The graphics on display in Artechouse are always incredible and will leave you and your date full of wonder and maybe even with some inspiration for your next artistic endeavor.

Augment VR Arcade & Bar

Looking for something beyond your typical night out at the bar? Are you a couple that enjoys playing video games together but want to get out of the house? Augment VR Arcade & Bar is the place for you! They are a cocktail bar in all the traditional, beloved ways but have a unique twist. You and your date can rent a VR space with goggles and enjoy games of every style, including puzzle-based, sports, and high intensity FPS games.

International Spy Museum

Fancy a night out like James Bond? At the International Spy Museum, you and your date can test your spy skills at the exhibit “Undercover Mission”. You’ll receive a cover identity, crack codes, attempt to stay undercover, and even crawl through air ducts to spy on others. Before or after this interactive exhibit, you can stroll through an exhibit featuring all the fun gadgets of spy craft through the ages. The International Spy Museum is not your typical museum: fun, intrigue, and mystery lie around every corner. 

Gravelly Point Park

On the Peninsula of the Potomac River is this beautiful park well-known for its views. However, the best views are not those of the water or nature, but of the many jets and planes that take off from DCA airport. Plane enthusiasts will love stopping at Gravelly Point Park for a picnic and an afternoon scouting the aircraft soaring above you.

Catacombs of D.C.

If you and your date enjoy history but are looking for a guided tour outside the norm, then the Catacombs of D.C. are a must-see. Climb down to the hidden, spooky world of dimly lit passages that wind beneath the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America. Your heart may pound as you pass wall graves and keep an eye out for ghosts, but the truly quirky part about these catacombs is that all but one of the graves are fake. The Catacombs may resemble those of Ancient Rome, but they were built by a monk in the 20th century to create a replica of the Holy Land for Americans who couldn’t afford the trip overseas. Still, the catacombs are a fun, adventurous date night idea and are certainly interesting.

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Our favourite ways to spend summer in Washington, DC

Spending the summer in the Nation’s Capital with all of the sights to see, events, museums and memorials means endless items to fit in what is sometimes a limited itinerary. For some of our selections of things to do while in Washington, DC for the summer, read on. 

Library of Congress

A modern library of Alexandria, the Library of Congress is the official research Library of Congress, boasting over 167 million items between books and other formats of print, recording, photographs, maps, sheet music and countless unique items in over 450 languages. For an inspiring wealth of knowledge as one of the world’s largest libraries, visitors will want to come to the Library of Congress. Beyond its massive stores of information and texts in virtually every interest and field, the Library of Congress is also a rare opportunity for the public to personally see important documents such as the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution of the United States, The Gettysburg Address, The Emancipation Proclamation, The Inaugural Addresses of Presidents Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln and the rare Huexotzinco Codex. To personally witness some of our nation’s most important documents and explore one of the largest collections of information, the Library of Congress is a worthwhile addition to any travel plans. 

National Mall

The National Mall is the centre of many important cultural, historic and government institutions, and is a great connecting point to so many of the landmarks and sights in Washington, DC. A walk down this same spot where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous ‘ I have a dream ‘ speech, where crowds have watched Presidents become inaugurated, where Pope John Paul II once celebrated mass with the nation’s citizens and leaders, and visitors will have passed by so many important landmarks. Some of the landmarks directly neighbouring or within close walking distance of the National Mall include the Capitol Building, the Washington Monument, the White House, the National Museum of the American Indian, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Lincoln Memorial and the Smithsonian Institution. 

Smithsonian Folklife Festival

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival occurs every July at the National Mall as one of the capital’s long-standing traditions of appreciation for cultures and expression all over the world. The theme changes with each year, but the scale of attendance and sentiments of exchange only grow. It is free to the public, keeping with the vision of the organisers for the public of the Capital and people of all backgrounds to learn about different groups from over the nation and the world. Events include artwork, live music and dancing performances, cooking demonstrations and tasting, storytelling and speeches told by members of communities from all over the world. 

Fourth of July in Washington, DC

Celebrating the Fourth of July among the institutions, memorials and people of Washington, DC is a truly unparalleled experience to be had, if you are in Washington, DC during America’s birthday. Enjoy Fourth of July festivities and fireworks over the skies of the capital on this day with friends and family in the heart of the American government. 

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Our favourite ways to spend summer in Fairfax County, VA

Opposite of Washington DC and over the Potomac is the animated neighbouring Metropolis of Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax County. A centre of learning, intelligence, the arts and industry next to the nation’s capital, with all that occurs here, the region numbers at near 1.5 million, and continues to grow every year. Read on for some of our favourite ways to spend the summertime in and around Fairfax County.

The George Washington Masonic National Memorial

Visit the majestic George Washington Masonic National Memorial, and learn about founding father George Washington, as well as his relationship with the Freemasonry. Here, a history of freemasonry, the Knights Templar and the life of George Washington are all available for visitors to walk through. On the ninth floor is an observation deck, providing a lovely view of Alexandria and the surrounding region. Tours for groups are available by appointment in advance.

Mount Vernon

The history and presence of George Washington at his plantation is as much tradition as is the public’s relation and ability to freely explore its grounds. In fact, this was his vision since 1794, when Washington himself expressed no qualms over people exploring Mount Vernon. Here, visitors can tour life in every aspect of Mount Vernon including Washington’s household, his life, dine on local Virginia cuisine, a functioning gristmill and distillery, a farm, multiple curated gardens, life for the enslaved on his property and the Washington Library. Tours by staff and self-guided tours via mobile phone links are all available, but be sure to check on the details of your planned visit as some opportunities are by advance appointment only. 

Celebrate Fairfax! Festival

A Fairfax tradition of over 39 years, the Celebrate Fairfax! Festival is a festive way for visitors to enjoy a day of fun memories with a wide range of activities. Enjoy delicious food from local restaurants and try daring fair inventions, shop for arts and crafts with small vendors, share games and rides with friends and family, take a moment to hug a furry friend at the petting zoo and listen to live music. This community festival has seen some pretty big names perform at one of the biggest parties in Northern Virginia, including Better Than Ezra, Smash Mouth, Cracker and EVERCLEAR. 

Fourth of July at Arlington

Celebrate the nation’s birthday at the Capital surrounded by pride and our nation’s bravest. The Fourth of July at Arlington includes a patriotic Car Parade, live music, food and fireworks over the Potomac to culminate the day. Numerous smaller neighbourhood events also take place on this day for those wanting a smaller scale celebration, including bike rides, barbecues and ringing the famous bell of Arlington’s Constitution Garden Park. With the area’s national significance in government, our members of the armed forces and a strong sense of community, Arlington is a great place to spend the Fourth of July with family, friends and all. 

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5 Great Places to Picnic in Washington, D.C.

When the weather cooperates, we all love to get outside and explore the world around us. There is nothing more refreshing and soothing to the soul than a picnic in the sun, surrounded by the beauty of nature. Every city in the United States has incredible locations for picnicking. Below are 5 Great Places to Picnic in Washington, D.C.

National Arboretum

A free living museum with azaleas, lilacs, trees, shrubs, and plants of a wide variety. This entire park is a carefully crafted celebration of nature and the ideal place for picnicking in Washington, D.C. You can enjoy a long walk through the various gardens, learn about the local plant life, stop in the museum or visit the tropical conservatory. The Grove of State Trees Picnic Area is a great spot for picnicking. You will be amazed by how many hidden gems there are to find in the National Arboretum whether they be wildflowers, tucked away pathways or gazebos, or a still pool in front of soaring Corinthian Columns more resemblant of Ancient Greece or Rome than the United States. 

The Bishop’s Garden

One of the best natural refuges in Washington, D.C. Just South of Washington National Cathedral is a garden that was private long ago but is now free and open to the public. The garden’s design was inspired by medieval walled gardens and features a gazebo, stone pathways, lush foliage, terraced landscaping, and small water features. You step into The Bishop’s Garden and out of the city – the Garden is its own private world with only the high steeples of the Cathedral in view as a reminder of the outside world. 

Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens

Follow boardwalks over marshes and ponds and watch for frogs jumping across lily pads. Keep your eye out for cattails and lotuses in bloom or try to listen for birdsong through gardens. Very few cities have an Aquatic Garden to explore, and Kenilworth is truly something special. You can travel by canoe along the marsh, stop at a bench along the trails, or picnic near blooming lotus flowers. The entire park shows nature at its finest whether you’re on the boardwalk or the open fields of the larger Kenilworth Park.

West Potomac Park

Ready for a picnic with some of the most iconic landmarks and monuments in the United States in the background? Then, it’s time to head to West Potomac Park. The Rock Creek Trail takes you alongside the Potomac River past memorials to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John Ericsson, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Near the Ohio Drive bridge, on the Rock Creek Trail, you can stop beneath a flowering tree and look across the water to see the Jefferson Memorial and the Washington Monument. The West Potomac Park is far less busy than the East Potomac side which makes it perfect for picnicking amid the famous monuments of Washington, D.C.

The Yards Park

A downtown park on the Anacostia River. The Yards Park has open lawns, a pool, a waterfall, and dancing fountains. At night, the lights surrounding the pool glow with different colors. During the day and evening the park is often used as a performance venue as it is near the heart of Downtown D.C. This is a fantastic, bustling city park with plenty of restaurants and shops nearby to grab some food before lounging in the park.

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5 Great Places to Have a Picnic in Arlington, VA

When the weather cooperates, we all love to get outside and explore the world around us. There is nothing more refreshing and soothing to the soul than a picnic in the sun, surrounded by the beauty of nature. Every city in the United States has incredible locations for picnicking. Below are 5 Great Places to Picnic in Arlington.

Gateway Park

Open spaces, scenic vistas of the city, occasional concerts, or movies in the park – Gateway Park has everything you’d want in a city park. It is a great place to picnic in the tranquility of nature without losing the pulse of the city itself. 

Lady Bird Johnson Park

A park of trails and memorial monuments situated on Columbia Island. Lady Bird Johnson Park looks across the Potomac River to the famous monuments of Washington, D.C., but it is also home to several gorgeous monuments of its own. For a quieter picnic in the D.C. area, this is the place. It will give you stunning views without the typical tourist crowds, and is well-designed with trails, flowers, and Cherry Trees along the river. There are picnic tables available throughout the park as well as open spaces for laying out a blanket.

Bon Air Park Rose Garden

Bon Air Park Rose Garden is a fabulous place to visit because its gardens are so elaborate and well-maintained. Walking through these gardens feels luxurious and joyous with so much beauty surrounding you. Benches can be found everywhere in the garden – in open fields, under large trees, under pergolas, or along the stone paths of the garden. No matter where you choose to sit, you’ll be sure to have a lovely view and a feeling of peace in nature.

Virginia Highlands Park

A true urban, city park designed for play, which makes Virginia Highlands Park a wonderful place for a picnic. You can work up an appetite on the basketball courts or soccer field, at the Children’s Playground and Spray Park, or the Aurora Hills Water Playground. There are even tennis courts and baseball diamonds. There are benches and picnic tables under pavilions everywhere in the park as well as plenty of open grassy spaces for picnicking. Virginia Highlands Park is the perfect place to play and to eat.

Long Bridge Park

Long Bridge Park features a contemporary design unseen in many city parks. Its playground and many of its walking paths look almost futuristic. They are fun, unique, and extremely verdant. The park is also located near the Potomac River, so it has lovely views of the National Monuments as well.

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Fun Summer Things To Do In Dulles, VA

Summer is finally here!  The kids are out of school, and backyard barbecues are taking place all over the nation.  After the year we had in 2020, and most people haven chosen not to take a vacation, you can almost rest assured that families will be out in full force this year.

With this in mind, we thought we would offer a few great vacation ideas to help you plan, as well as some places that would be great for just a few days away.  We all need time to recharge and some well-deserved play in the sunshine.

Here are some of the best places to check out this summer!

Steven F Udvar-Hazy Center

14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway, Chantilly, VA 20151

The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center also called the Udvar-Hazy Center, is the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s annex at Washington Dulles International Airport. It holds numerous exhibits, including the Space Shuttle Discovery, the Enola Gay, and the Gemini 7 space capsule. The 760,000-square-foot facility was made possible by a $65 million donation in October 1999 to the Smithsonian Institution by Steven F. Udvar-Házy, an immigrant from Hungary and co-founder of the International Lease Finance Corporation, an aircraft leasing corporation. The main NASM building, located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., had always contained more artifacts than could be displayed, and most of the collection had been stored, unavailable to visitors, at the Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration, and Storage Facility in Silver Hill, Maryland. A substantial addition to the center encompassing restoration, conservation, and collection-storage facilities was completed in 2010. Restoration facilities and museum archives were moved from the museum’s Garber facility to the new sections of the Udvar-Hazy Center.

Farm Park Visitor Center

12000 Government Center Pkwy, Fairfax, VA 22035

Frying Pan Farm Park is a park that has a variety of attractions of both a historic and recreational nature. The park contains the Frying Pan Meetinghouse, listed on the National Register of Historic Places and dating from the 18th century, and the Old Floris Schoolhouse, constructed in 1911. One of the attractions of the park is Kidwell Farm, a working demonstration farm. It recreates a 1930s farm and still has many animals, including cows and horses. Frying Pan Farm Park hosts many equestrian events throughout the year at the Activities Center, featuring an indoor riding arena and two outside rings, and has a 4-H club. For many years turkeys pardoned in the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation were sent to live at Frying Pan Farm Park.

Dulles Golf Center & Sports Park

21593 Jesse Court, Sterling, VA 20166

Our covered, lighted, and heated extra wide tee stations feature Power Tee, the world’s leading automated teeing system.  Recognized as one of the Top 50 Stand-Alone Golf Rangers in the U.S. by the Golf Range Association of America.  An onsite miniature golf course, appropriate for all ages 3+, features fountains, moguls, and stone traps.  Mini-golfers are sure to enjoy the miniature course challenges.

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Fun Summer Things To Do In Arlington, VA

Summer is finally here!  The kids are out of school, and backyard barbecues are taking place all over the nation.  After the year we had in 2020, and most people having chosen not to take a vacation, you can almost rest assured that families will be out in full force this year.

With this in mind, we thought we would offer a few great vacation ideas to help you plan, as well as some places that would be great for just a few days away.  We all need time to recharge and some well-deserved play in the sunshine.

Here are some of the best places to check out this summer!

Arlington National Cemetery

1 Memorial Ave, Arlington, VA 22211

Arlington National Cemetery is a United States military cemetery in Arlington County, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., in whose 639 acres the dead of the nation’s conflicts have been buried, beginning with the Civil War, as well as reinterred dead from earlier wars. The United States Department of the Army, a component of the United States Department of Defense, controls the Cemetery. The National Cemetery was established during the Civil War on the grounds of Arlington House, previously the estate of Mary Anna Custis Lee, a great-granddaughter of Martha Washington and wife of Robert E. Lee. The Cemetery, along with Arlington House, Memorial Drive, the Hemicycle, and Arlington Memorial Bridge, form the Arlington National Cemetery Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in April 2014.

The Pentagon

Washington, DC 22202

The Pentagon is the world’s largest office building, with about 6.5 million square feet (150 acres; 60 ha) of floor space, of which 3.7 million sq ft (85 acres; 34 ha) are used as offices. Some 23,000 military and civilian employees, and another 3,000 non-defense support personnel, work in the Pentagon. It has five sides, five floors above ground, two basement levels, and five ring corridors per floor with a total of 17.5 miles (28.2 km) of corridors.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

1 Memorial Avenue, Arlington, VA 22211

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a monument dedicated to deceased U.S. service members whose remains have not been identified. It is located in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, United States. The World War I “Unknown” is a recipient of the Medal of Honor, the Victoria Cross, and several other foreign nations’ highest service awards. The U.S. Unknowns who were interred are also recipients of the Medal of Honor, presented by U.S. Presidents who presided over their funerals. The monument has no officially designated name.

National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial

901 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20001

The Pentagon Memorial is a permanent outdoor memorial to the 184 people who died as victims in the building and on American Airlines Flight 77 during the September 11, 2001 attacks—designed by Julie Beckman and Keith Kaseman of the architectural firm of Kaseman Beckman Advanced Strategies with engineers Buro Happold, the memorial opened on September 11, 2008, seven years after the attack.

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