Photographing the Changing of the Guard
Favorite thing: The Changing of the Guard is an impressive ceremony. You can photograph the sentinel on his post with no real difficulty before and after the ceremony.
Bear in mind that there will be LOTS of people, so you will want to arrive at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at least 5 minutes before the ceremony.
There are two parts of the ceremony that you will find the most memorable. The problem is that to photograph them successfully you will need to be in different places.
The part of the ceremony where the Sergeant is inspecting the sentinel and his weapon is probably best to photograph from the ground level. You will want to place yourself as close to the plaza entrance as possible, that way you will be able to see it clearly. With all the people at the ceremony you won't get to see much of it. Zoom lens are your friends here.
The classic shot where you have the sergeant and the two sentinels facing the Tomb. This shot is easier to get if you stand near the staircase in the center, perhaps a few steps up if there aren't too many people. I find this shot easier with a shorter lens
If you are visiting during the summer the Changing is every half hour so you can stick around to witness the ceremony again if you aren't happy with your shots.
The problem with this ceremony, particularly in summer, is that there are so many people that it can be difficult to get an unobstructed view. Just keep trying!
- Historical Travel
Views from Arlington
Favorite thing: Lets just say you have walked through the cemetery, seeing the graves of the Kennedys and some of the other well known people. Then you went to see the Tomb of the Unknowns and it was beyond your wildest expectations, and you took a ton of pictures. But the tourist in you just won't quit.
If you still have energy, go up to Arlington House, take out your camera and have a great time. There are a lot of places at Arlington Cemetery you can get some great shots of Washington (especially if you have a good telephoto lens). Be careful not to stand in the road as the tour mobiles might get a bit upset.
Get A Map And Prepare
Favorite thing: Before going to Arlington National Cemetery, get a map with the placement of the various heros you'd like to visit.
The Kennedys, John F., Robert F., and Jacqueline Onassis are probably the most celebrated, but there are many more American and brave souls from other countries who have served this country well and you might want to visit their sites too. God Bless them all.
- Historical Travel
- National/State Park
- Road Trip
Potomac River - "The Nation's River"
Favorite thing: The Potomac River runs 383 miles from the West Virginia-Maryland border to the Chesapeake Bay south of Washington DC. Some of the major cities along the river include Harper's Ferry, WV, Washington, DC, Arlington, VA, and Alexandria, VA. The river forms part of the borders between Maryland and Washington, D.C. to the north and West Virginia and Virginia to the south. At the mouth of the Potomac, the river is 11 miles wide, between Point Lookout, Maryland and Smith Point, Virginia.
Numerous famous Americans were born and lived along the Potomac. Two of the most famous are George Washington and Robert E. Lee. Of course, every President and Congressman has also resided along the river while serving in Washington DC!
Various methods have been used to navigate the river. The Patowmack Canal was envisioned and partially funded by George Washington to connect the area Georgetown with Cumberland, Maryland. Started in 1785, its five short canals were not completed until 1802, and they ceased operations in 1830. The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal operated along the opposite bank of the Potomac in Maryland from 1850 to 1924 and it also connected Cumberland to Washington, D.C.
Today numerous parks line the Potomac. The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park runs is 184.5 miles along the north side of the river. Also in Maryland, south of DC, you will find Oxon Hill Farm, Fort Foot National Park, Fort Washington Park, Piscataway National Park, and Point Lookout State Park. In Washington DC you will find Georgetown Waterfront Park, Theodore Roosevelt Island, Lady Bird Johnson Park, West Potomac Park, and East Potomac Park including Hains Point. In Virginia, you'll find Harpers Ferry National Park, Balls Bluff Battlefield, Great Falls Park, Jones Point Park, Fort Hunt National Park, Mount Vernon, Leesylvania State Park, and George Washington's Birthplace National Park.
Favorite thing: Shirlington, like the Rosslyn, Courthouse, Ballston, Crystal City, Pentagon City, and other urban communities in Arlington County, is not an actual city, but defined as an urban village under the county's administration. Unlike most of these other urban villages, Shirlington does not lie on the Metro, but rather on busy I-395, also called the "Shirley Highway," hence the community's name.
Shirlington boasts a population of about 10,000, mostly in the 25 to 35 year old age group. This area is younger with more unmarried people than most of Arlington. While Shirlington is popular and trendy, real estate is a little cheaper here than most of Arlington, probably because of the absence of a convenient Metro stop.
The areas businesses, restaurants, nightlife, and theaters are centered around Shirlington Village, a compact, three street area that is one of the busiest little spots in all of Northern Virginia. Shirlington Village began in the 1940s, and was completely revamped in the 1980s, and expanded in 2005 to its current pedestrian-friendly designed with plenty of free parking in the surrounding garages. Shirlington is serviced by the Shirlington Bus Station, a transport hub in southern Arlington that handles some 2,000 commuters daily.
Fondest memory: During our visits we have ventured into several of the bars and restaurants including Busboys and Poets, Ping, Guapos, Carlyle, and the Bungalow. My personal favorite place to eat was Ping, theough the food was cheap and good at Busboys and Poets, and the service was better.
Favorite thing: Clarendon boasts some 60 restaurants and more than 80 shops. This neighborhood is one of several unincorporated urban centers in Arlington County, and it is located on the Metro's Orange Line. Some of the core businesses are giant chains like Whole Foods and Barnes and Noble, but there are dozens of smaller little places tucked in and around these corporate giants like local chain Hard Times Cafe, King Street Blues, and Kitty O'Shea's Irish Pub. Clarendon also has a weekly Wednesday Farmers Market in the summer months with organic produce, baked goods, plants, and other items.
Clarendon is located between the Rosslyn and Ballston areas, with the majority of businesses on Wilson and Clarendon Blvds.
Favorite thing: Rosslyn, an unincorporated urban district in Arlington, VA is one of the densest areas of skyscrapers and office buildings in the DC metro area, really only comparable to nearby Crystal City. This neighborhood is accessible via Rosslyn Station on the Metro Blue and Orange Lines, making it popular for commuters coming or going.
During the day the neighborhood is packed with businessmen and military who frequent the area's dozens of cafe's and sandwich shops. While it gets quieter at night, there is still a lot of pedestrian traffic hitting a few of the big restaurants and handful of bars. This area has a surprising number of residential apartments and condos that actually make up about two-thirds of the Rosslyn area.
I have spent quite a bit of time in Rosslyn for business. In fact I worked here from 2008 into 2009... I have previously stayed in the Holiday Inn and the Residence Inn, and I have eaten at a few of the local restaurants including Ray's Hell Burger, Cafe Asia, Red Hot and Blue BBQ, Spice of Life Cafe, Cu Cu's Cafeteria, Kanpai Sushi, and about a dozens little local cafes.
Rosslyn is home to the Marine Corps Iwo Jima Monument, the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial, and it borders Arlington National Cemetery. This is also the location of historic Fort Corcoran, numerous trails, lots of public art, and a few small neighborhood parks. This area was also once the area's red light district.
Virginia Square and George Mason University
Favorite thing: Virginia Square is a small are in Arlington along the Metro's Orange Line. This are is most famous as home to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and George Mason University's Arlington Campus.
This area also has a collection of new apartment buildings, small churches, small cafes and some larger bars and restaurants. Here you will also find Quincy Park and the Arlington Arts Center.
Virginia Square is between Ballston and Clarendon Metro Stations.
Favorite thing: Fort Meyer, along with Arlington Cemetery, was once part of the estate of George Washington's heirs. Just before the Civil War, Robert E. Lee married into the family and took ownership of this plantation. When the war began, the US government confiscated these lands for military purposes; this was one of many sites used for the ring of forts that defended the capital city. After the Civil War, this became a major signal corps installation, then a cavalry headquarters.
A significant portion of the north end of the post is designated as a historical area, as many of the buildings here, mostly large general officers' quarters, were constructed between 1895 and 1908. The most famous is called Quarters One; built in 1899 it has been home to the Chief of Staff of the Army, including Generals George C. Marshall, Omar N. Bradley, Douglas MacArthur and Dwight D. Eisenhower.
This post is also the site of the the first military aircraft flight, when in 1908 Orville Wright flew for over a minute in one flight, then crashed his aircraft the second time it was off the ground. Wright survived, but his passenger, Lt Selfridge, was killed, become the military's first death in powered flight.
Claremont Neighborhood and Historic District
Favorite thing: Arlington County has 55 locations on the National Register of Historic Places that cover over 9,000 buildings.
The county's newest historic neighborhood is the Claremont Historic District. It was designated on August 31, 2006 and includes 125 cade cod style houses and 114 colonial revival style houses built from 1946 to 1949 as well as 36 ranch houses constructed in 1934.
Claremont is located in southwestern Arlington County just north of the King Street-Interstate 395 interchange along the borders of Fairfax County and Alexandria. This area is bounded by South Dinwiddie Street, South Chesterfield Road, South Buchanan Street, South Culpeper Street, 25th Street South, 24th Street South, 23rd Street South, and 22nd Street South. The neighborhood is marked at the entrances by signs displaying this historic designation.
Washington, District of Columbia
Favorite thing: Sure Arlington has a lot of history, touristy sites, restaurants, and nightlife, but I prefer Washington DC. Washington DC, the Capital City of the US, is a diverse city of monuments, historic sites, and government buildings, along with good nightlife, nice restaurants, and a variety of outdoor activities.
During my visits, I always loved to see the major memorials, such as the Vietnam War Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, and the new World War II Memorial. I also enjoy the diverse neighborhoods such as Chinatown, Foggy Bottom, Georgetown, Adams Morgan, DuPont Circle, and across the river, Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia. Now that I live here in the city I am trying to find all of the good hole-in-the-wall restaurants and off-the-beaten-path attractions throughout the city that are overlooked by visitors who are here for just a short time.
Best touristy things to do in Washington DC: visit the numerous monuments and memorials on the mall, see the dozens of museums of the Smithsonian Institution, maybe shop in Georgetown, see the famous government buildings like the White House and Capitol, and maybe check out a few other historic sites like Ford's Theater. Many visitors will also want to see some of the nearby areas like Arlington National Cemetery, Old Town Alexandria, and Mount Vernon.
My favorite not-so-touristy things to do in Washington DC: shop at Eastern Market and the Maine Avenue Fish Market, wander the historic streets and parks of Capitol Hill, eat in Chinatown or Barracks Row, go out for the nightlife at Adams Morgan, enjoy an afternoon at Rock Creek Park, hike or bike the C&O Canal, check out the view from the Old Post Office Tower, visit the Shakespeare Theater, and see some of the non-touristy monuments like the National Law Enforcement Monument and the Navy Memorial.
In November of 2008 I brought an Afghan friend to the Mall for a quick afternoon visit that was cut short buy the cold wind and blowing snow flurries. He was amazed at the size of the Washington Monument and impressed by the White House and Capitol Building. I was a little surprised that he had never heard of Lincoln, but then again they have been dealing with other problems in Afghanistan since well before he was born. I was glad to hear him say, upon his first glimpse of the National Mall, "Wow, for the first time I really feel like I am in America." Makes you proud to be an American.
Court House Neighborhood
Favorite thing: As the name implies, the Court House Station area is home to courts--Arlington's county courts as well as the rest of the county government. This neighborhood also has plentiful shopping, dining, and nightlife options, just two stops from DC on the Metro. Furthermore, the Washington Post calls this neighborhood home.
One of the centerpieces of the neighborhood is Courthouse Plaza, a pedestrian mall with 19 shops and restaurants, and outdoor concerts in the summer. This area also has a movie theaters with six screens and a Saturday farmers market. For dining, not many places in the entire DC area beat Ray's The Steaks or Ray's Hell Burger. For nightlife, Court House has several Irish pubs including Kitty O'Shea's and Ireland's Four Courts.
This area also has some small historic sites such as remnants of the Civil War forts that once formed a defensive ring around the capital city. Fort Woodbury once stood near the site of the current Arlington County Courthouse, where Woodbury Heights, a high-rise condominium, now stands.
Virginia's Northern Piedmont Region
Favorite thing: The Piedmont Region of Virginia is a part of the East Coast's greater Piedmont region that stretches from New Jersey in the north to central Alabama in the south, through parts of nine states. The region is on the edge of the Appalachian Mountain, generally between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the "fall line," or areas of rapids or falls that marks the end of the navigable portion of the river from the ocean. Numerous towns grew up along the fall line including Richmond, VA; Trenton, NJ; Wilmington, DE; Baltimore, MD; Georgetown (in Washington DC); Petersburg, VA; Columbia, SC; and Augusta, GA. The US Piedmont region has diverse agriculture including tobacco, orchards, dairy farms, and other types of basic crops.
In Virginia, the North and South Piedmont areas are considered by some as distinct regions both geographically and culturally. Virginia's Northern Piedmont stretches from the falls of the Potomac, Rappahannock, and James Rivers to the Blue Ridge Mountains. The region is about 50 miles wide and 100 miles long. At its northern corners are the major cities of Washington, D.C., and Harpers Ferry, West Virginia; on the southern corners, Charlottesville and Richmond, Virginia. It encompasses the counties of Loudoun, Fauquier, Prince William, Culpeper, Madison, Greene, Orange, Louisa, Albemarle and Fluvanna in Virginia. This area even has its own dialect called the Virginia Piedmont.
During my drives through the Northern Piedmont Region, I have noticed that the areas closer to the Blue Ridge Mountains tend to be poorer and more hilly, while closer to the ocean is flat and generally more wealthy, particularly nearer to Washington, DC.
Favorite thing: Crystal City is one of numerous Arlington County urban villages that grew up around the Washington Metro. Today this neighborhood is famous for its large underground shopping center, the Reagan Washington National Airport, dozens of high-end hotels, and tons of restaurants. The only housing in the neighborhood is generally high-rise condos and apartments, but some of the areas west of Jefferson Davis highway have small, single-family homes. For recreation you can track down Gravelly Point Park and the Mount Vernon running path that runs from Rosslyn to Mount Vernon.
The vast majority of Crystal City was once part of Abingdon Plantation, a a 2,700 acre farm granted to Robert Howson in 1669 and built in the 1740s. It was home to the Alexander family (after whom Alexandria was named), as well as George Washington's stepson John Parke Custis and Nelly, his granddaughter.
Today Crystal city is home to just 16,000 people, but it is said that 60,000 people work here each day. Many of the workers are part of the federal government's workforce, with jobs in the Department of Defense, US Patent and Trademark Office, and the Department of Labor.
Favorite thing: The nation watched and mourned when the president of the United States, the youngest ever, was buried at Arlington National Cemetery Nov. 25, 1963, his term in office cut short by an assassin's bullet.
John F. Kennedy, born May 29, 1917, served just two years, 10 months and two days as president, yet his grave remains among the most visited locations at Arlington. Two children who died in their infancy are interred beside him, as is his widowed first lady, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. Robert F. Kennedy, to whom the family's political torch had passed, is buried nearby, also the victim of an assassin, killed in 1968 while seeking the high office of president.
At the site they also have an enternal flame burning. As I was walking up the hill to this location of the cemetary everyone was heading to the same spot. Once you get there there are lots of his famous quotes.
Fondest memory: http://www.jfklibrary.org
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