As the headquarters of the Department of Defense for the United States, you may not think the building is open to the public.
However, with advance planning and some background checks, you can take a Pentagon Tour for you and your family.
The tour itself is FREE but advanced reservations are required.
It is 60 minutes long and you must stay with the group the entire time.
You'll find that the guide almost always walks backward for the entire tour (so he or she can keep his eyes on you!).
How to Get a Pentagon Tour
Pentagon Tours must be requested in advance! You may request tickets from 14 days up to 90 days prior to the tour. .
Tours are conducted for U.S. Citizens only on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:00 am and 1:00 pm.
The tours are free of charge and last roughly an hour.
To submit your reservation request, you will need to provide the total number of persons, your requested date and start time, and the name and phone number of the person requesting the tour.
If you know someone who works at the Pentagon and they have a Pentagon badge, you can take a self-guided tour of the Pentagon with them.
The Pentagon is located in Arlington VA, across the Potomac River from downtown Washington, DC, and just to the south of Arlington National Cemetery.
(NOTE: Technically, the Pentagon is located within the District of Columbia)
We recommend using this link for directions to the Pentagon from anywhere in the DC area.
The best way to reach the Pentagon is by Metro (Washington DC's subway).
The Pentagon Metro Station services both the blue and yellow lines of the DC Metro.
The security check-in for Pentagon Tours is adjacent to the Metro station exit at the Pentagon Visitor Center.
Be sure to read our post on how to use the DC Metro system.
There are also many bus lines that service the building.
There is no public parking at the Pentagon. We highly recommend using public transportation.
If you need to drive, you can find cheap parking at a garage at 900 Army Navy Dr.
You can pay ahead of time online for a guaranteed space in this garage with SpotHero.
It is a 10-15 minute walk to the Pentagon by crossing through the parking lot and underneath the interstate (follow signs to the Pentagon Memorial to enter the access tunnel to get to the Pentagon Parking Lot).
Click here for directions from the parking garage at the Pentagon City Mall to the Pentagon.
*Be sure you always stay in the crosswalk and designated sidewalks as many areas of the grounds are secure!*
Security Check-in at the Pentagon
All tours begin and end at the security checkpoint just outside the Pentagon Metro entrance.
It is well-signed and the guards are very friendly in assisting you to find the correct entrance.
What time should you arrive for the Pentagon tour?
Arrive 60 minutes prior to your scheduled time to allow for the entire group to pass through security.
What ID do you need for the Pentagon tour?
You will need to bring with you a copy of the confirmation of your tour.
Additionally, anyone in your party who is 18 years or older will need one form of proper identification which must be current and contain a photograph.
Proper forms of ID include the following:
- U.S. Passport
- U.S. Passport Card
- Driver's license or identification card issued by a State or outlying possession of the United States provided it contains a photograph and meets the REAL ID standards
- An identification card issued by Federal, State, or local government agencies, provided it contains a photograph
- U.S. Government PIV Card (CAC for DoD Personnel)
- DoD Affiliated Identification Cards (Retirees, Dependents, and Inactive Reservists)
- Native American Tribal Document
- U.S. Border Crossing Card
- Permanent Resident Card or Alien Registration Receipt Card (INS Form I-551 or I-551)
- Foreign passport with a temporary (I-551) stamp or temporary (I-551) printed notation on a machine-readable immigrant visa
- Foreign passport
Visitors 17 years of age or younger who are accompanied by an adult do not need identification.
- Large bags such as backpacks, camera bags, and suitcases are not allowed.
- No weapons or sharp objects permitted
- All purses are subject to search but are allowed
- Small electronic devices like cell phones, tablets, GPS devices, storage devices like flash drives, laptops, and smartwatches are not allowed.
- Photography is prohibited on Pentagon property, both inside and outside the building (with the exception of the Pentagon Memorial).
There are no storage lockers, so be sure not to arrive with any of the prohibited items. Read the full list of prohibited items.
There is a small box where you can store small devices like phones but laptops will not fit.
Checking in for Pentagon Tours:
Once you are through the security scanners, you still have to check in! After you clear security turn left and find the Pentagon Tour Window to check in your group.
Groups that do not check in at the tour window forfeit their tour.
Pentagon Visitor Center
You will wait for your tour at the Pentagon Visitors Center.
Visitors are not permitted back into the visitors center once the tour has finished so now would be the time to visit the gift shop and restrooms.
Here you can take photos at the only place photos are permitted inside the building - at the replica Press Briefing Room podium.
Food is not permitted while on tour and the tour guide will not pause the tour for any guest to eat.
You may coordinate with Pentagon personnel who will escort you to an area where your group may eat before or after the tour.
All tours will cover the history and interesting facts pertaining to four branches of the military (Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps).
You may also have the opportunity to visit the indoor September 11th memorial adjacent to the crash site as well as the 9/11 Memorial Chapel.
Some tours will also visit the Hall of Heroes where all of the names of the recipients of the Medal of Honor are listed as well as an actual Medal of Honor medallion.
Tour itineraries and commentary topics are subject to change at any time.
There are no stops when you are on the tour and the tour is almost always in a walking motion.
After your tour, we encourage you to walk around the building following signs to the National September 11th Pentagon Memorial to visit this thought-provoking site before you exit the grounds.
The memorial, which honors the 184 victims who died in the Pentagon or on American Airlines flight 77, is approximately 15 minutes by foot from the Pentagon Metro station where you will exit the building after the tour.
Keep in mind that photos are prohibited until you arrive at the memorial.
The memorial is open 24 hours a day and bathrooms are present though sporadically they are not open.