Are you planning a visit to the United States Air Force Memorial in Arlington, Virginia? The article below will tell you everything you need to know about visiting the Air Force Memorial.
The Air Force Memorial honors the service of United States Air Force personnel. Fittingly, its location offers a spectacular bird’s eye view of Washington, DC. The memorial’s park is a calm area that feels far removed from the busy Washington, DC streets.
I encourage you to pay a visit to the Air Force Memorial to honor the service of United States Air Force personnel and to absorb the tranquility of the memorial’s park. You’ll be glad you went there.
Read on for tips on visiting the Air Force Memorial.
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Driving is probably your best bet
The United States Air Force Memorial is in Arlington, Virginia. It’s south of Arlington National Cemetery and west of the Pentagon.
To get there, you’ll likely want to drive or take an Uber/Lyft. The closest Metro stops are Pentagon and Pentagon City, which are both about a mile away from the memorial.
If you drive to the memorial, GPS is your friend. While you’ll be able to see the memorial’s three spires from miles away, the entrance to the memorial is not immediately clear as you’re approaching. I recommend using GPS to get you to the right spot.
Parking is readily available…except when it’s blocked off
The Air Force Memorial has 18 parking spots at the memorial, with overflow parking available in a parking lot at the bottom of the memorial. There’s also quite a bit of street parking along Southgate Road, which is the road between the Air Force Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery.
That being said, there was a time when I visited that both parking lots and all the street parking spots were blocked off. But the security guard didn’t have any concerns with people parking in the turning lane going into the memorial.
If this is the situation when you visit, check with the security guard before parking in the turning lane.
There are no fees
Parking and visiting the memorial are absolutely free.
While many museums and parks are free in the Washington, DC area, it’s rare to find free parking.
So take advantage of it!
Details honor U.S. Air Force personnel
When you visit the park, you’ll find many wonderful details that honor U.S. Air Force personnel, including:
- Spires: The most obvious feature of the memorial is the three spires, which range from 201 to 270 feet tall. The three spires evoke an image of the Air Force Thunderbirds in “bomb burst” formation. While there are typically four Thunderbirds in this formation, the missing fourth Thunderbird represents the missing man formation used in Air Force military funerals. You can read more about the spires here.
- Medal of Honor Wall: On the north end of the memorial, you’ll see a wall with inscriptions of Air Force Medal of Honor recipients.
- Honor Guard: On the south end of the memorial, a bronze statue honor guard stands watch over the memorial.
I recommend that you take your time at the Air Force Memorial to admire these details and to pay respects to United States Air Force personnel.
Sunset is the best time to visit
The Air Force Memorial is open daily from 8AM to 8PM. It’s open every day expect Christmas Day.
I recommend visiting the memorial later in the day so that you can be there for sunset. You won’t be able to see the setting sun in the west; however, I’ve always loved the pink glow on the eastern horizon as the sun casts its last rays for the day.
The Air Force Memorial is one of the best places to see these pink hues over Washington, DC.
If you’re able to visit the memorial during the fall, many of the trees at the memorial have beautiful fall foliage colors.
The view is spectacular
The United States Air Force Memorial is one of the few places in the Washington, DC area where you can get a bird’s eye view of Washington, DC.
From its location on a hill, you can look over the Washington, DC horizon. You can easily spot the Washington Monument.
You’ll also be able to see the dome of the Jefferson Memorial and the spires of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Crowds are sparse
I’ve rarely encountered crowds when I’ve visited the Air Force Memorial.
The lack of crowds create a calm, tranquil environment where you feel removed from the rush of the Washington, DC streets.
Without the crowds, you’re free to embrace your environment and honor the United States Air Force Personnel.
Restrooms are available
You can find restrooms on the far north end of the memorial, behind the Medal of Honor wall.
Happily, these are real restrooms – not porta potties.
However, I did find that the restrooms were locked during one of my visits to the memorial. Hopefully, you’ll find that they’re open.
Visitors are asked to be respectful
Visitors are asked to be respectful to honor the fact that they are visiting a memorial.
With this in mind, the Air Force Memorial has certain restrictions to maintain the solemnness of the site:
- No animals except service animals
- No food or drink except water
- No running, biking, or using scooters
The Air Force Band performs summer concerts
On Friday evenings during the summer, the United States Air Force Band puts on concerts at the Air Force Memorial.
The concerts are free and no tickets are required. You’ll just need to plan in advance to make sure you get there in time to find parking!
Find out more about the concert series here.
An audio tour is available
If you want to really enhance your Air Force Memorial experience, take advantage of the audio tour.
When you get to the memorial, call 703-440-7030 and press “1” when prompted for the site number.
It’s a great way to find out more detailed information about the memorial.
Visiting the Air Force Memorial is a wonderful experience. I hope these tips help you to enjoy your visit as much as possible!