National Harbor, Maryland

Last week I went on a spontaneous trip to National Harbor, MD. As someone who frequently passes by National Harbor on trips that have me driving on 495, I’ve always been interested in the place. Originally I thought it was a carnival in town for a few days, but soon realized the giant observation wheel was in fact one of the harbor’s trademark features.

National Harbor is located a few miles South of Washington, D.C. along the eastern shore of the Potomac River. The harbor has a family-friendly, downtown atmosphere with many restaurants and boutiques. We spent four hours on Saturday evening and still didn’t see or do everything the area has to offer.

The first item on our “To-do list” was dinner. The area is a tourist destination, which means it can be a bit pricey. Restaurants in the area include the Crab Cake Café, Elevation Burger, and Nando’s. You can find a complete list of the restaurants here. We decided on the Thai Pavilion as we were craving something we couldn’t really find at home. The food was excellent. I had the Pad Thai with Chicken and a Pomegranate Mojito.



You should know that I’m OBSESSED with mojitos. I’ve even got an entire Pinterest board dedicated to them. Anyway, I loved the Thai food so much that I recreated it, which you can find here.

After dinner we wandered down towards the water. I really wanted to ride on the Capital Wheel. Admission was $9 for adults and the wait for the ride was pretty quick. Then again, you’re talking to someone who used to stand in line for two hours when they opened a new ride at Hershey Park. The wheel itself is composed of 42 gondolas (enclosed), each of which can fit up to about eight people. The ride itself lasts about 10-15 minutes and the views you get of not only the Washington, D.C., but Alexandria, Virginia make the ride worth every penny of admission.

View looking North from our gondola.
View looking North from our gondola.

What I loved most about National Harbor is that it offers visitors a unique experience in dining, recreation and retail. Now you might ask, don’t all harbors do that? The best comparison I can make is to Inner Harbor in Baltimore, Maryland. Inner Harbor is great destination, but it offers a much more specific experience to its visitors than National Harbor. National Harbor offers a great deal more regarding its recreation opportunities including boat rentals, a biking and walking trail, sightseeing cruises, a marina, the Capital Wheel, a carousel and even movies on the Potomac at 6 p.m. every Sunday till September 27. Regardless of age or interest, I’m sure you’ll find something fun and entertaining at National Harbor.

Looking down the pier into National Harbor.
A live performance we got after dinner.
A live performance we got after dinner.