For these and more reasons, all-in-one destinations that take almost no planning to enjoy are on the rise. National Harbor, Maryland’s premier waterfront destination, is a prime example. Everything about National Harbor is easy and pleasurable – getting there, a range of hotel options, plenty of dining and entertainment, blockbuster shopping, stunning sunsets and activities within walking distance for couples, friend-cations and families.
Here are the highlights for vacation (non-) planning 101 at National Harbor:
Embrace the best of Maryland by attending the 10th Annual Chesapeake Crab, Wine & Beer Festival on August 24th. Two ticketed four-hour sessions take place right on the waterfront and will attract over 35,000 attendees and well over 50,000 crabs. Coupled with live music and family fun, this is the ideal event to pair with a summer stay at National Harbor. The Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center and AC Hotel National Harbor have overnight packages, which includes two VIP tickets that offer “all you can taste” crab, beer and wine.
Come together for an evening filled with hope, unity and creative energy as friends and family join to illuminate the Harbor through a celebration of light. The One World Water Lantern Festival is an event for all ages and will empower your creativity as you decorate a lantern before setting it free onto the harbor (the festival performs a thorough cleaning effort after the event). The festival is to be held on August 3rd. Act fast as the event sells out quickly.
This summer on Saturdays at 7 pm, the Salute the Sunset Series offers performances by bands from the nation’s Armed Forces. Some of performers include: the official chorus of the United States Air Force, The Singing Sergeants and the premier jazz ensemble, Airmen of Note.
Movies on the Potomac is another summer favorite, with free movies every Thursday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 6 p.m. on the Harbor’s Plaza Screen showing classics such as The Little Rascals to last year’s Academy Award Winning Green Book. The full schedule of summer screenings is available online now.
Sit on top of the world and watch the sun set on The Capital Wheel. Ascending 180 feet above the Potomac River waterfront, The Capital Wheel marks the ultimate vantage point to take in majestic views such as the Washington Monument. Afraid of heights? Kick back at Flight Deck, The Capital Wheel’s outdoor lounge, perfect for gazing at the sunset and enjoying a drink while your friends take on the wheel. And pay no mind to the heat, temperature-controlled gondolas are completely enclosed and provide a reprieve from the summer sun.
History buffs can step back in time with a trip down the Potomac to National Colonial Farm to experience what life was like for Maryland’s first settlers during the 1700’s. Explore the thatched roof houses of the village and hear interpreters recall the experiences of early Americans such as the Bolton Family and their slaves.
Tanger Outlets is a tangible proof point that National Harbor is an all-in-one destination that offers the convenience of knocking out high quality shopping. The outlets are a personal shopper experience that maximizes retail time with a curated style spree for top brands such as Elie Tahari, Coach, Theory, Michael Kors, Under Armor, Nike and H&M. At National Harbor, the outlets are more than just for shopping. Tanger is also an activation zone with organized runs on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Trail, Mommy & Me events (Back-to-school made easy!), pop up events and more.
What’s the fun in a vacation without a few late nights? National Harbor’s entertainment district, better known as Fleet Street, is the nightlife center of the Waterfront District. With back-to-back bars and restaurants, visitors can easily stroll in and out of a variety of venues for non-stop revelry. From karaoke at The Brass Tap, outdoor fire pits at Public House, and even bull riding at Cadillac Ranch, Fleet Street keeps the action going to the wee hours. It’s also home to Bobby McKey’s, the area’s only Dueling Piano Bar.
The action continues at the stunning and sleek MGM National Harbor Resort and Casino. Offering 308 rooms for business and leisure travelers alike, the hotel boasts one of the largest gaming floors outside of Las Vegas with over 160,000 square-feet of table games and slot machines. Additionally the property has a 3,000 seat entertainment venue for comedy and music performances (the summer line up is available online), a luxury spa and salon for the ultimate in pampering, nearly 20,000 square feet of retail shops, including Sarah Jessica Parker’s SJP shoe boutique, Nene Leakes’ recently opened Swagg Boutique and 14 restaurants of varying cuisine. It’s reason enough for a sophisticated weekend away.
If you seek an indulgence for yourself, find your “ahh” moment at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center’s Relâche Spa. Honey harvested from the hotel’s own bee hive is used in treatments along with milk to provide a relaxing and sweet summer surprise.
EAT & SIP
The Gaylord National Resort, a foodie hub of its own, has plenty of delicious dining options, including: Old Hickory Steakhouse, a premier dining destination in the harbor, known for top cuts in an elegant setting. Pienza Marketplace is the go-to for a variety of farm-to-table fare. Known for its healthy breakfasts, this eatery partners with local area farms for the freshest of ingredients. Lastly, the National Pastime Sports Bar and Grill all but guarantees you’ll never miss a big game while on vacation.
If you’re hanging with your crew, space is not an issue at National Harbor. Grace’s Mandarin restaurant offers some of the most spectacular views of the Potomac. Its fusion of modern Asian inspired dishes in elaborate surroundings gets the party going – especially if you book the 3,000-year-old Buddha executive table for 20 of your closest friends.
Located inside MGM National Harbor, visitors can find a buzz-worthy dining portfolio led by several established celebrated chefs. Maryland natives and Bravo’s Top Chef alum, Bryan and Michael Voltaggio’s Voltaggio Brothers Steak House is a crowd pleaser with prime cut beef served in a modern setting. For a taste of the Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay Watershed, head to Fish by José Andrés, where live seafood tanks and interactive cooking stations create dinning with flare.
Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center is the hands down favorite for National Harbor family visitors. Spacious accommodations, shopping, dining and a stunning 19-story glass atrium are the big draw for family time together. Running through September 2nd is SummerFest at Gaylord National, which includes resort style entertainment and activities such as music, atrium light shows, silent disco parties, campfires, scavenger hunts and more. The fun also extends to adults with spa packages, cocktails and a block party. Advanced purchase rates from $179 per night.
For the style seeker, AC Hotel National Harbor with its European-inspired décor, is an ideal location to kick back and relax with some pizazz. Ideally situated in National Harbor’s Waterfront District, AC Hotel offers stunning views of the Potomac and is literally steps away from all of the top restaurants and stores. Start your exploration of the harbor at the AC Lounge, which offers innovative cocktails and tapas. An added treat is the hotel’s outdoor patio, with yes, more stunning views of National Harbor. Advanced purchase rooms rates are from $169 per night.
Harborside Hotel is National Harbor’s only independent boutique hotel and the property’s modern, chic design and amenities attract visitors from far and wide. Harborside’s bar “Portum” is a hip hangout, with a retro 80’s vibe, and serves as a fabulous spot for pre-partiers attending the latest entertainment at the Theatre MGM National Harbor, especially via the hotel’s convenient complimentary shuttle. Jazz nights, artisanal cocktails and lavish Sunday brunches round out the experiences to be had at Harborside. Rooms from $189 per night.
For more information on all that National Harbor has to offer this summer, please visit www.nationalharbor.com.