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This post covers how to visit the Pentagon on a guided tour, with tips on how to get here, where to park, and other nearby attractions.
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 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!).
Pentagon Tours must be requested in advance! You may request tickets from 14 days up to 90 days prior to the tour. Requests will not be accepted within 13 days of the tour.
Tours are conducted Monday through Thursday from 10 am to 4 pm and Friday from 12 pm to 4 pm and last roughly an hour. Tours are not conducted on weekends or federal holidays. The tours are free.
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.
How to Get to the Pentagon
The Pentagon is located in Arlington VA, across the Potomac River from downtown Washington, DC and just to the south of Arlington National Cemetery. 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 for 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 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!*
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 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 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:
Visitors 17 years of age or younger who are accompanied by an adult do not need identification.
Checking in for Pentagon Tours:
Once you are through security 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.
You will wait for your tour at the Pentagon Visitors Center. Visitors are not permitted back in 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.
The Pentagon Memorial
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. Read more about the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial.