The essence of Arlington County goes beyond highways and high-rises—and reaches deep into the past. More than a dozen prehistoric Native American sites have been discovered within the present boundary of the county, and in the early 17th century Captain John Smith found a large, thriving Necostin village on what is now the site of the Pentagon. From the Revolution to the Civil War to the Great Depression and the postwar boom, Arlington County has been a canvas for American history.
Get a close look at sites that reflect that fascinating heritage with historian Dakota Springston. After an introductory presentation at the Ripley Center, a bus tour travels through diverse neighborhoods in East Falls Church, Fostoria, Clarendon, Cherrydale, Fort Myer Heights, Glencarlyn, and Ballston. All were originally commuter towns that sprang up along the route of the first rail line that connected Arlington with the District around the turn of the 20th century. The bus pauses at numerous locations through the day to tell the story.
Participants visit five historic structures such as the Ball-Sellers House, a circa-1780 log cabin that’s the oldest residence in the country; the Mary Carlin House from around 1800; and the Clarendon post office, opened in 1937. A catered box lunch is served in a firehouse.
Know Before You Go
- The tour departs by motorcoach from downtown Washington, DC. Content delivered by the study leader on the way to the destination is an integral part of the study tour experience. Meeting the group once the tour is en route is discouraged.
- Tour participants meet at and leave by bus from the Ripley Center, 1100 Jefferson Dr., S.W. (Smithsonian Metro, Blue/Orange/Silver lines), and continues by bus, returning to the Ripley Center at its conclusion. The bus makes one official Metro stop in Virginia to disembark before returning to D.C.
- Registration for this tour will end by 2 p.m. ET on Friday, May 5, 2023.
- Smithsonian is a mask-friendly environment. Masks are strongly recommended to be worn on buses at all times and may also be required at various indoor sites.
- For additional tour information: