We partnered with Gaylord Hotel and The National Harbor to provide you with Six Reasons to Take Your Family to National Harbor This Holiday Season. This post is written by Julie S.
If you live within driving distance or driving up or down 95, you must take a stop at National Harbor this holiday season. Situated on the banks of the historic Potomac River and just minutes from the nation’s capital, National Harbor is a waterfront resort destination unlike any other. The vibrant Waterfront District features hotels, boutique shops, restaurants and entertainment options along picturesque promenades.
Six Reasons to Take Your Family to National Harbor This Holiday Season
Gaylord National Resort’s Christmas on the Potomac Experience with Kids
Our family of six was looking for a fun weekend getaway to get into the holiday spirit! Criterion was an easy drive from Richmond, somewhere full of holiday activities for the kids, and an experience that wouldn’t break the bank! Friends had told us about the ICE! Charlie Brown exhibit at theGaylord National Resort on the Potomac at National Harbor. So off we went! (Gaylord is a Marriott property by the way.)
It’s perfect for kids because there are so many stunning images to take in from the moment you drive into the National Harbor where Gaylord Hotel is located just outside of DC. The Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge is a breathtaking background from morning till night. The gorgeous glass atrium in theGaylord National Resort completely wowed us all! It was also decorated with a giant suspended starlight Christmas tree and hanging stars. So beautiful!
The kids’ favorite was taking the glass elevator up to our room while facing the atrium and looking out at the magnificent atrium and harbor views.
Gaylord’s ICE! Exhibit
As for kids activities, Gaylord’s ICE! Exhibit is like something we’d never experienced. It’s a 9-degree winter wonderland tent that features enormous Charlie Brown characters carved out of colorful ice. Dress warm as the kids can enjoy sliding down ice blocks! They do provide blue parkas as an additional protection from the cold. Truly a unique experience for our kids!
DISCOUNTED ICE! Tickets : $4 off on Sundays through Thursdays from November 18 through December 20. The code is SNOW18.
Nine degrees takes its toll so we hopped right out and got hot cocoa in the Christmas Village. Re-energized, Gaylord’s Christmas Village has tons of holiday-themed activities like ice skating, meeting Santa, a miniature train ride and carousel, and gingerbread house decorating, etc, etc.
Picture a huge convention room transformed into a holiday extravaganza for kids. Mine enjoyed the gingerbread house making where we ran into a Gingerbread Man himself who took pictures with us.
ICE! and Christmas Village runs November 16, 2018 – January 1, 2019; Hours vary by day and are subject to change so check the website before going.
A break was certainly in order by this point so parents grabbed a drink at the beautiful lobby bar while the kids enjoyed the sights of the hotel (see above). Retreating to our lovely room before dinner at the Gaylord was fantastic. At 5:30 pm, we were able to view fireworks from our room’s windows. The fireworks run every Saturday night during the holidays and were stunning. What a treat for all!
Cirque Dreams Unwrapped
After dinner (and the options are endless at National Harbor), we enjoyed a new, free show called “Cirque Dreams Unwrapped” that takes place in the gorgeous Gaylord atrium. It’s a 25-minute Christmas themed show that features acrobats flying through the air on ropes and trapeze (very Cirque du Soleil!).
There was also a contortionist that left us spellbound! Lastly, a few young acrobats showed off their flipping skills while their partner would catch and balance them in air. The “catcher” even did it one-handed! Really cool way to end our day. The show can be viewed from different points in the hotel or a limited amount of seats are available in the lobby.
I’ll use my kids’ descriptors to summarize their Gaylord holiday experience: “fun, exciting, cool, tiring… people should go!” Enjoy!!
Air Force One Experience at National Harbor
When we checked into our room, my two year old immediately spotted an airplane from our window on the 16th floor. He kept chanting, “e-pane, e-pane (airplane, airplane!). The views in that area are spectacular but the airplane just a short distance away peaked our interest immediately!
Turns out it is the new exhibit “Air Force One Experience.” It stems from a group of businessmen who wanted to bring “learning alive” for children. In this case, they have transformed a former Pan Am/cargo plane into a replica of the US President’s aircraft, Air Force One. When we asked my other children (ages 9 ,7, 5) if they wanted to go hang out on the President of the United State’s airplane, there was a no-duh, loud cheer. (Clark just continued to chant “e-pane, e-pane.”). What kid wouldn’t want to pretend they were a guest on Air Force One?!
The cool thing about this tour is, while you’re walking around the plane outside and once you walk up the steps to the inside, you can listen to an audio tour on your phone with your earbuds or just play it on speaker like my family did (people didn’t seem to mind since most had earbuds on!). It’s narrated by a former steward on Air Force One for 20 years.
My older children seemed to love hearing the details of the presidency traveling on the awesome Air Force One. The tour does a great job of keeping the information simple but weaves in interesting details to peak their interest. It was fun for them to see pictures on the aircraft of President Obama with his dog on the aircraft and President Reagan doing work in his sweatpants on the plane. They also enjoyed seeing all the different areas of the aircraft like the conference room, the infirmary that is ready for all emergencies, and even the President and First Lady’s sleeping quarters.
Truly “walking through history” is an experience that will stay with them. Not to mention Air Force One is massive: about six stories high and 232 feet long! You can imagine the wingspan!Take your kids and know they will certainly learn and have fun doing it!
Tours will go until at least the first of next year; it may remain for a longer engagement. They go daily from 10am to 6:30pm daily at 801 National Harbor Blvd