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1400 Defense Pentagon (Arlington)
(1) 703-697-1776 | pentagontours.osd.mil
POPULAR TIMESSummer tourist season, vacations
RESERVE IN ADVANCERequired; 8-90 days in advance
WAIT TIME WITHOUT RESERVATIONN/A
HIGHLIGHTSNational 9/11 Memorial; Hall of Heroes
This government complex is the central nervous system of the U.S. Department of Defense, and the tour combines military history with fascinating facts about the building itself (the largest office building in the world). In an hour-long walking tour, you’ll get a glimpse into the workings of the five US military branches and be able to pay your respects at the National 9/11 Memorial and Hall of Heroes. Since the building is an actual workplace, it is not at all unusual to see firsthand the hustle and bustle of the staff.
GO HERE WITH
Parents; families of military personnel; friends interested in military history; people willing to walk up to 1.5 miles
WHY WE LIKE IT
We love that we are able to look in on the activity of a working building (although don’t be surprised if you’re pushed out of the way by an employee in a rush!). With 23,000 employees, the sheer vastness of this operation is truly astounding; it’s like its own mini-city with shopping, dining, a gym, etc. all on the grounds.
WHAT WE WOULD CHANGE
These tours operate with military precision − that means no dawdling or stopping to admire anything not on the script. Also, since they keep the tours moving at a steady clip, this wouldn’t be a good trip for anyone with mobility issues (although there may be scooters available for the tour – inquire when making the reservation). The tour, however, is wheelchair accessible.
GOOD TO KNOW
Preparation is key for this outing. Book early, fill out all necessary paperwork, print all necessary forms, and try to arrive a half hour early to get through security. You must fill out a security roster at least three days in advance of your scheduled date and bring two forms of photo ID as well as your confirmation letter to check in. Visit the Pentagon website for specifics when planning; the FAQ page is extremely helpful. No cameras are allowed, and you will not be allowed to turn your phone on during the tour. One interesting bit of trivia from the tour: there's a cluster of stores in the Pentagon dedicated to selling expensive jewelry, chocolates, flowers, leather handbags, etc. This is known as “Bad Husband Row.” The building was constructed in 1943, but has gone through many renovations over the years, including repairs after the September 11th attacks. A memorial and chapel were built to commemorate those who died, and there is a strong emphasis placed on 9/11 history. There is no parking on sight, so you can either park at the Pentagon City Mall (and follow up your tour with some retail therapy) or take public transportation (the Metro stops at the Pentagon).
All information within this website was checked for accuracy at the time of publication. But since the world moves quickly, things may have changed. Pardon us for any errors as we strive to give you the most up-to-the-minute details!