7 Most Famous Graves In America And The Stories Behind Them

From hallowed grounds commemorating national heroes to final resting places of pop culture icons, famous graves in the U.S. hold a unique power. These sites transcend simple memorials, becoming pilgrimage points for history buffs, music devotees, and movie enthusiasts alike. Whether it’s the stoic grandeur of Arlington National Cemetery or the flamboyant Hollywood Forever Cemetery, these final resting places offer a glimpse into the lives and legacies that continue to shape America’s story. So, join us on a journey to explore the seven most famous graves in America, where history whispers from beneath the headstones. This list is compiled of the most frequently mentioned gravesites across eight expert lists. If we’ve overlooked a gem you’ve visited, drop us a comment below.

The List: 7 Famous Graves To Visit In The U.S.

1. President John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy's grave with the eternal flame at the Arlington National Cemetery
John F. Kennedy’s grave with the eternal flame at the Arlington National Cemetery (Photo by Charlie Hutton on Shutterstock)

After he was shot and killed in Dallas, many expected President John F. Kennedy to be buried in his home state of Massachusetts. But, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy arranged for him to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Since opening to the public in 1967, Funeralocity says “tens of millions have visited” the gravesite, which is why it tops our list of the most famous graves in the U.S.

Kennedy’s widow, Jackie Kennedy is now buried beside him. According to Eastern Memorials, the graves have a view of the Washington and Lincoln Monuments. An eternal flame, lit by Jackie, continues to burn.

Graveside Flowers reminds us why JFK was buried in Virginia instead of Boston. Jacqueline insisted that “he belongs to the people.” Only one other president is buried in the same cemetery: Willian Howard Taft who died in 1930.

2. President Abraham Lincoln

The Lincoln Tomb in Springfield, Illinois
The Lincoln Tomb in Springfield, Illinois (Photo by Reel creative on Shutterstock)

President Abraham Lincoln’s grave is also a popular tourist spot. It’s located in Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois. According to Titan Casket, Lincoln’s tomb is built from solid granite and has four flights of stairs.

While Lincoln’s tomb is impressive, it’s also interesting how his body arrived in Illinois. Join Cake says a funeral train traveled through 180 cities, where crowds gathered along the way, to see the 16th President’s preserved remains.

Lincoln’s gravesite was named one of the first National Historic Landmarks. He is buried there along with his wife and three of his four sons, according to Eastern Memorials.

3. Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley's grave at Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee
Elvis Presley’s grave at Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee (Photo by Dietmar Rauscher on Shutterstock)

More than 600-thousand people visit Elvis Presley’s grave every year on the grounds of Graceland in Memphis. The King’s daughter Lisa and grandson are also buried there, after their untimely deaths. According to Wanderlust, this resting spot was a second choice. Presley was originally buried in “a mausoleum in Forest Hills Cemetery in Memphis, but his body was moved to the meditation garden at Graceland after someone tried and failed to steal his body.”

If you plan to add Graceland to your travel itinerary, you may want to go at the end of the summer. According to Funeralocity the “Elvis Walk” takes place on August 26th to honor the King of Rock and Roll.

It’s free to see Elvis’ grave one hour a day. Phaneuf Funeral Homes notes you can visit the Meditation Garden from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. without paying a fee — every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas.

4. Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra performing at the reopening of the Warner Theater in Washington, D.C. in 1992
Frank Sinatra performing at the reopening of the Warner Theater in Washington, D.C. in 1992 (Photo by mark reinstein on Shutterstock)

Frank Sinatra was born in New Jersey but is buried across the country in California. The famous crooner was laid to rest with “a bottle of Jack Daniels and a pack of Camel cigarettes,” according to Wanderlust. Just in case he needed to still be the life of the party.

MSN reports Sinatra’s grave in Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City has “the best is yet to come,” the title to one of his famous songs, carved into his original tombstone. But in 2021, it was mysteriously changed to “Sleep Warm Poppa.”

Sinatra’s final resting place is also home to songwriter, Jimmy Van Heusen, who Graveside Flowers says, “wrote some of Sinatra’s most famous songs.”

5. Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe's grave in Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park & Mortuary in Los Angeles

Despite the fact Marilyn Monroe was a big star, her grave in Westwood Village Memorial Park is quite simple and unassuming. Titan Casket says the marker reads “Marilyn Monroe 1926-1962.” You’ll find the crypts of other celebrities nearby, including Hugh Hefner, who bought the plot next to her, years before he died.

According to Wanderlust, Marilyn’s remains are in crypt #24. The website writes, “The marble is discolored from all the lipstick kisses” and the nameplate has to be replaced now and then. You can also see the graves of Jack Lemmon, Roy Orbison, and Truman Capote nearby.

Since so many stars are buried in this small cemetery, Graveside Flowers says it is often very crowded, but certainly open to the public. You will find Marilyn’s grave off to the left.

6. Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee and son, Brandon Lee's gravesite at Lake View Cemetery in Seattle
Bruce Lee and son, Brandon Lee’s gravesite at Lake View Cemetery in Seattle (Photo by HansPhotoFactory on Shutterstock)
If you’re a Bruce Lee fan, head to Seattle’s Lakeview Cemetary to see his modest grave. The Kung Fu master’s son, Brandon Lee is buried beside him. According to Wanderlust, legend has it three Mongolians went through five pairs of shoes each, trekking 3,700 miles to pay their respects.

It’s been more than 40 years since Bruce Lee died, and people continue to flock to his final resting spot. His official cause of death was an allergic reaction to aspirin, but Graveside Flowers says rumors persist he died “as a result of an evil curse.”

You can’t miss Lee’s bright red headstone which MSN points out features only one accomplishment: “Founder of Jeet Kune Do.”

7. Toto The Dog

The grave of Toto the dog at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles
Monument for Toto the dog at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles (Photo by Walter Cicchetti on Shutterstock)

If you’re a fan of The Wizard of Oz, here’s a tidbit you’ll find intriguing. According to Titan Casket, Terry, the Cairn Terrier from California who famously played Toto in the movie, originally had a different resting place which was unfortunately disrupted by freeway construction. Thankfully, devoted fans came together, donating funds to construct a new memorial in honor of Toto at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. It rounds out our list of the most famous graves in the U.S.

Ironically, Judy Garland, who played Dorothy in the movie, is also buried in this cemetery, but her grave is not as popular as Toto’s. Wanderlust says you will probably recognize the cemetery if you visit because it has been featured in countless horror movies.

When Toto’s headstone was dedicated, the great-grandson of L. Frank Baum, the author of “The Wizard of Oz” was among those in attendance, according to MSN. The cemetery is located at 6000 Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles.

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links in which we receive a commission if you make a purchase.


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About the Author

Amy Chodroff

Amy Chodroff is a recovering Morning Radio Show Host and award-winning broadcaster who recently retired from DFW’s Morning News on KLIF in Dallas. Fondly known as the “Chief Googler” by her friends, it was a seamless transition for StudyFinds to enlist her expertise for their “Best of the Best” franchise. Amy has an innate curiosity and a penchant for thorough research before any purchase and she’s constantly on the hunt for top-notch products. Outside of her digital explorations, Amy loves to explore the world with her husband and is the proud mother of two adult daughters. You can also find Amy on the pickleball court, perfecting her dink and drop shots.

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Comments

  1. You left out Mark Twain buried in Woodlawn cemetery in Elmira, NY. His study where he wrote several of his books while living in Elmira is on the campus of Elmira college.

  2. Come on! The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier isn’t on this list!?!?? At #1!!!

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