Few people probably plan trips with the intention of visiting burial sites. But how many times have you traveled to a popular destination in the U.S. only to find yourself standing inside the walls of a cemetery or graveyard? For a moment, you may think, “why am I hanging out in a cemetery on my vacation?” But then you look around and see tour buses pull up, and you don’t feel so strange.
The fact is that cemeteries are interesting. Sometimes you go to cemeteries to see a unique burial practice, such as the above-ground tombs in New Orleans or the unique, historic cemeteries in downtown Boston. Other times you visit a cemetery to see the grave of a famous person, such as a president or celebrity.
Here are 22 graves or memorials you may want to consider visiting the next time you travel.
1. Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington National Cemetery Virginia
Visiting the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery is a deeply moving experience for many Americans.
Not only does it remind you of the amazing sacrifice of the members of the U.S. military, but it also is a unique experience to see the precise movements and rituals of the military members chosen to guard the tomb.
2. John F. Kennedy, Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia
Although you can visit the graves of all the previous U.S. presidents, JFK’s final resting place has a particular mystique.
Not only is his grave in the hallowed ground of Arlington National Cemetery, but it is also additionally honored with an eternal flame. His wife Jackie is buried next to him.
3. George Washington, Mount Vernon, Virginia
Our first president was buried near his home on the banks of the Potomac River. When you visit the home, you will see not only his grave but also the room where he died from acute laryngitis and epiglottitis.
He was 67 years old when he died.
4. Abraham Lincoln, Springfield, Illinois
President Lincoln’s tomb is an impressive sight. But as impressive as the tomb is, the way his body reached the place of final burial was just as interesting.
Lincoln’s body was carried by a funeral train from Washington, D.C., to Springfield after his death in 1865. The body was taken through 180 cities and crowds of people gathered to see Lincoln’s embalmed body.
5. Martin Luther King, Jr., Atlanta, Georgia
Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King, were buried in what is now a national historic park in Atlanta.
The site is near the Ebenezer Baptist Church, which is where his father worked as a minister. The grave is surrounded by a series of stepped waterfalls and a reflecting pool.
6. Paul Revere, Boston, Massachusetts
Located along Boston’s Freedom Trail, you will see the Granary Burying Ground. Although Revere’s grave is rather simple in design, you will be fascinated by the elaborate imagery of skulls and angels that adorn the surrounding puritan grave markers.
Founding father Samuel Adams is also buried in the same cemetery, which is across the street from a local pub. It is the only place in the world where you can drink a cold Sam Adams while looking out on the grave of a cold Sam Adams.
7. Susan B. Anthony, Rochester, New York
Women’s rights leader Susan B. Anthony was arrested and convicted for voting in the 1872 presidential election.
Now on election day, women make a pilgrimage to her grave to place their “I voted” stickers on her tombstone.
8. Thomas Jefferson, Monticello, Virginia
It should come to no surprise that Thomas Jefferson designed his own monument for his grave and wrote his own epitaph.
Although visitors to Monticello are no longer able to see the original obelisk-shaped stone since it was in disrepair, it was originally engraved with the following text: “Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, Author of the Declaration of American Independence of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom & Father of the University of Virginia.”
9. Elvis Presley, Memphis, Tennessee
People don’t only flock to the graves of deceased presidents, community leaders, and founding fathers, they also visit the graves of their favorite entertainers.
Thousands visit Elvis Presley’s grave at his Graceland home. Elvis Presley died in 1977.
10. Emily Dickinson, Amherst, Massachusetts
Famously reclusive poet Emily Dickinson died in relative obscurity. Although she published a handful of poems in her life, it wasn’t until after she died that her work was discovered.
Even though she wrote prolifically about death and the afterlife, none of her poems were read at her own funeral.
11. Marilyn Monroe, Los Angeles, California
Even though Marilyn Monroe’s real name was Norma Jean Baker, those who planned her final resting place chose to use her Hollywood name.
The simple marker on her crypt simply states, “Marilyn Monroe 1926-1962.” Thousands of visitors leave a tribute at her crypt each year.
12. Johnny Cash, Hendersonville, Tennessee
“The Man in Black” chose to be buried near his Tennessee home. His death followed four months after the death of his wife, June Carter Cash.
The black stone is simple in design and is engraved with the title of one of his most famous songs, “I Walk the Line.”
13. Frank Sinatra, Cathedral City, California
“Ol’ Blue Eyes,” Frank Sinatra, was one of America’s most famous musical performers.
Because of his iconic status, thousands flock each year to visit the grave of the famous member of the Rat Pack, which also included Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin, and others.
14. Orville and Wilbur Wright, Dayton, Ohio
The Wright family plot is located at a cemetery in Dayton, Ohio.
Near it are the grave markers for the most famous members of the family. Orville and Wilbur were known for their contribution to the world of aviation.
15. Babe Ruth, Hawthorne, New York
Visitors to Babe Ruth’s grave often bring baseballs, ball caps, and other items bearing the New York Yankees logo.
His impressive-looking monument depicts the image of Jesus caring for a young boy. Ruth died of cancer when he was in his 50s.
16. Elizabeth Taylor, Glendale, California
Hollywood icon Elizabeth Taylor may have been just as famous for her personal life as she was for her career as an actress.
Her grave is decorated with a large statue of an angel. Many news sites reported that the actress left instructions that her funeral would start 15 minutes “fashionably late.”
17. Bruce Lee, Seattle, Washington
Martial arts guru Bruce Lee is buried in a cemetery in Seattle near a stone depicting his photograph.
Lee’s son, Brandon Lee, who was killed from an accident on a film site, was laid to rest next to his famous father. People come from all over the world to pay their respects to these film stars and martial arts experts.
18. Mark Twain, Elmira, New York
Although one would think that classic American author Mark Twain (born Samuel Clemens) would have been buried near his childhood home of Hannibal, Missouri, he is actually buried in New York.
Thousands of people flock to Twain’s grave each year. Twain wrote Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
19. Al Capone, Hillside, Illinois
Famous Chicago gangster Al Capone was buried in a Chicago suburb. Even though he spent time in Alcatraz, he was a free man when he died. Visitors to Al Capone’s grave leave bottles of alcohol.
20. Walt Disney, Glendale, California
Although there have been many rumors that Walt Disney was cryogenically frozen, his family has said that his ashes are interred in a cemetery in Glendale, California.
Many of Hollywood’s elite are buried in the same cemetery as Disney, who died in 1966. Check online to find a map on how to find a specific grave in the cemetery.
21. Buffalo Bill, Golden, Colorado
Buffalo Bill, (born William F. Cody) was known for capitalizing on his wild west persona.
He was a U.S. Army Scout, a Pony Express rider, a buffalo hunter, and known for the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. His grave overlooks the Rocky Mountains in Golden, Colorado.
22. Sacagawea, Fort Washakie, Wyoming
Sacagawea was known for helping Lewis and Clark explore the Louisiana Territory.
And although the cemetery near Fort Washakie seems to be the place where Sacagawea was buried, some historians wonder if this is true.
Finding Famous Graves
Many of the celebrities and famous people on this list are buried in public cemeteries, which can cause a unique problem. Of course, there is nothing wrong with visiting the grave of someone famous who you admire. At the same time, it is important to realize that there will be other mourners present.
Know the proper etiquette involved in visiting a cemetery. Remember to whisper and avoid walking on monuments. You may also want to learn grave flower etiquette as well if you plan to leave a bouquet to honor the life of a historical figure or celebrity you admire.
- Barbash, Fred. “Lincoln’s corpse and its grand yet ghoulish odyssey.” The Washington Post. 16 April 2015. www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/04/17/the-grand-yet-ghoulish-odyssey-of-abraham-lincolns-corpse/
- Dwyer, Colin. “‘I Voted’ Stickers Pile Up In Emotional Tribute At Susan B. Anthony’s Grave.” 6 November 2018. NPR. www.npr.org/2018/11/06/664852948/i-voted-stickers-pile-up-in-emotional-tribute-at-susan-b-anthony-s-grave
- “Jefferson’s Gravestone.” The Jefferson Monticello. www.monticello.org/site/research-and-collections/jeffersons-gravestone
- Klein, Christopher. “Who is Buried in Sacagawea’s Grave?” 3 September 2018. www.history.com/news/whos-buried-in-sacagaweas-grave
- “The Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave.” www.buffalobill.org/
- “Visit the final resting place of George and Martha Washington.” George Washington’s Mount Vernon. www.mountvernon.org/the-estate-gardens/the-tombs/.