1. Local

Pentagon Tours – Reservations, Parking, and Visiting Tips

By

The Pentagon

The Pentagon

Photo © Peter Gridley

The Pentagon, the headquarters of the Department of Defense, is one of the world's largest office buildings with about 6,500,000 sq ft. providing office space and amenities for more than 23,000 employees, both military and civilian. The building has five sides, five floors above ground, two basement levels, and a total of 17.5 miles of corridors. Guided tours are given by military personnel and are available by reservation only. Pentagon tours last for approximately one hour and provide an overview of the mission of the Department of Defense and the four branches of the military (Navy, Air Force, Army and Marine Corps).

Arranging a Tour

To take a guided tour of the Pentagon, you must make a reservation in advance. Tours are conducted Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Reservations must be booked from 8 to 90 days in advance. U.S. citizens can reserve a tour online or by contacting their Congressional and Senate Representative. Foreign residents must contact their embassy to reserve a tour. All visitors must pass through a security scanning device. No photography is allowed.

Getting to the Pentagon

The Pentagon is located off of I-395 on the Virginia side of the Potomac River. See a map and directions. The best way to get to the Pentagon is by Metrorail. The Visitor Center is located next to the Pentagon Metro Station. There is no public parking at the Pentagon. Visitors may park at the Pentagon City Mall and walk to the entrance through a pedestrian tunnel. If you are not familiar with the area, it is confusing, so be sure to leave plenty of time to find your way to the Visitor Center. You must arrive at least 15 minutes before your scheduled tour. The tunnel is located across the street from Macy’s on the far side of the Reserved Parking Lot. Once through the tunnel, walk to the right until you see signs for the Metro Station and the Visitor Center. (When leaving, note that the tunnel is at the far end of parking Lane 7). You must bring a photo ID and your confirmation letter.

Major Points of Interest on the Pentagon Tour

  • The Hall of Heroes - includes the names of all the recipients of the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government
     
  • Overlord Embroidery – 34 tapestries created by Sandra Lawrence depict the story of the Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944
     
  • Faces of the Fallen Memorial – the exhibit features individual portraits in honor of the service men and women killed in Afghanistan and Iraq
     
  • POW-MIA Corridor – the exhibit recognizes United States military personnel taken as prisoners of war (POWs) or listed as missing in action (MIA)
     
  • Soldiers and Signers of the Constitution Corridor – numerous paintings commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence and portray the founding fathers of our nation
     
  • 9/11 Memorial and Chapel - commemorates those killed in the terrorist attack at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. The indoor memorial displays the names of the 184 victims. The chapel provides space for prayer and remembrance. (The outdoor Pentagon Memorial is open to the public with no reservations required. It is not included in the guided tour)
     
  • 9/11 Memorial Quilts - project initiated by Jeannie Ammermann to honor those killed on September 11, 2001 evolved into a multi-quilt project that drew volunteer quilters from all parts of the U.S.
     
  • Pentagon Center Courtyard – 5.5 acres of outdoor space in the interior of the building includes food concessions and casual seating areas

Visiting Tips

  • Arrive 30 minutes before your scheduled tour to allow time to go through building security.
     
  • The best time to take a tour is mid-day when transportation is less congested.
     
  • Wear comfortable clothing and shoes. The tour includes walking a distance of about one and a half miles through the Pentagon corridors and staircases.
     
  • Be sure to visit the Pentagon Memorial after your guided tour of the Pentagon.
     
  • Enjoy a casual lunch at the Pentagon City Mall before or after your tour. The mall has one of the nicest food courts in the area and more than 170 specialty shops.
Contact Info:
Pentagon Tours Office
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense
Public Affairs
1400 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1400
Phone: (703) 697-1776
Email: tourschd.pa@osd.mil
Website: pentagontours.osd.mil

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.