7 Things You Need to See At West Point for a Candidate Visit

Jefferson Hall (Library) Photocredit: Chris Pestel USMA 2003 |

Image by Chris Pestel USMA 2003 via

There’s no better way to understand what makes West Point special than to see it for yourself. The good news? Once a candidate has been admitted to West Point, they can get a more in-depth look at what’s to come by scheduling a daily visit at the Academy. During this visit, they’ll have the opportunity to accompany a cadet to class and other activities e.g. eating in the incredible Cadet Mess Hall. Of course, there are loads of not-to-be-missed attractions to make time for during a trip to the academy. Here, are 7 must-see spots to check out for a candidate visit:

The Malek Visitor Center: The original Visitors Center was officially opened May 1, 1952, in the field artillery sheds at the south end of post -- a site now occupied by the provost marshal’s office. The subsequent Visitors Center, which opened September 1, 1989, on the site of the former Ladycliff College Library continues to attract, educate and inform the public about the Academy.

Jefferson Hall: Ranked no. 3 on The Princeton Review’s list of Best College Libraries this year, Jefferson Hall has got it all. Housing the USMA Library, the Center for Enhanced Performance and the Center for Teaching Excellence, and all providers of student-centered information services, Jefferson is located directly along the path from the barracks to Thayer Hall. Here are some MUST SEE items in Jefferson Hall:

- Find your way to the top of this building, complete with 12 collaborative rooms for cadets and faculty use, and you’ll have an unobstructed view overlooking the plain, Trophy Point, Doubleday Field (named for MG Abner Doubleday, USMA class of 1842, and one of the fathers of Baseball), and the Hudson River.

- The Class Ring display located in the library this display shows some of the oldest class rings from the academy’s alumni.

- Replicas of Thomas Jefferson’s effects/inventions.

Arvin Cadet Physical Development Center (ACPDC) : If you want to see a state-of-the-art athletic facility, look no further than Arvin Gym. Named after former First Captain Carl Robert Arvin, who died in Vietnam, the 495,100-square foot building includes two large basketball courts, a state of the art rock climbing wall, an expansive weight room, racquetball courts, and boxing rooms, and multiple pools. If you’re a wrestling fan, you’ll be in awe of the sparkling second floor facility, featuring a wrestlers only lounge complete with a big screen television, treadmills, and stair climbers.

Cadet Mess: Inside Washington Hall, an excess of 4,000 cadets eat together at once. The building has high arched ceilings, dark wooden walls, and its history is proudly displayed on the walls—including photos of decorated generals, former Superintendents, and a mural in the southwest wing that depicts the history of the weapons of warfare used in the twenty most decisive battles in history as visualized by the artist, Mr. T. Loftin Johnson. From start to finish, each of the three daily meals served here takes about 20 minutes. There is a mandatory meal each week on Thursday.

Trophy Point: Home to the Battle Monument, one of the largest columns of granite in the Western Hemisphere, Trophy point is the former site of West Point graduation ceremonies. Designed by architect Stanford White and dedicated in 1897 by American Civil War veterans, Trophy Point gets its name from the numerous displayed pieces of captured artillery spanning from the Revolutionary War to the Spanish-American War. On the main tower transcribed on bronze straps belting the eight monumental "cannon balls" circling the column are the names of 2,230 Regular Army officers and soldiers who died for the Union during the Civil War. From Trophy Point, one can basque in the splendor of the “Million Dollar View” overlooking the narrow bend in Hudson River, with views of both sides of the river’s banks, Constitution Island, and where the Great Chain once hung.

Diagonal Walk: A walkway which bisects the Plain, the parade field at West Point, running north to south from Eisenhower statue to MacArthur statue. It’s forbidden to walk on the plain, unless for a parade, so this is the closest you’ll get to being on the field (until you’re a cadet). Word to the wise: diagonal walk marks the starting point from Quarters 100, where the Superintendent lives, to his office in Taylor Hall, so be prepared… you might just bump into the Academy’s top brass.

The Cadet Chapel: Regardless of your religious affiliation, the cadet chapel—atop the hill overlooking the Academy—is a sight to see. Home to the Cadet Chapel organ, the largest wood pipe church organ in the world, the chapel totes stained glass windows made by Willet Studios of Philadelphia. The chapel is a popular place for West Point grads to get married, but is also open for active duty military and their dependents stationed at West Point. The Chapel is open daily from 8:15 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. for visitors.