10 Can't-Miss Things to Do in the National Harbor

By Jim Meyer


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Featured Places

At the heart of the National Harbor is this resort which boasts a huge spa, beautiful atrium and easy access to local attractions.
Gaylord National Harbor & Resort
Photo By: Gaylord National Resort

Dine with celebrity chefs, shop ‘til you drop, stroll the boardwalk along the beautiful Potomac River, take your vacation to new heights on the spectacular Capital Wheel—and that’s just your first day! There’s always something new, and so much to do in National Harbor.

Soar above the Potomac on the Capital Wheel in National Harbor. Photo By: National Harbor

1 Ride the Capital Wheel

See the Capital Dome against the skyline of our Nation’s Capital from your gondola 180 feet above the Potomac River. For something extra special, try one of the VIP gondolas complete with wine chillers and a glass floor.

More about Capital Wheel at National Harbor


116 Waterfront St
National Harbor, MD 20745

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Enjoy water activities around National Harbor's marina.

2 Get Out on the Harbor

Rent a kayak, canoe, paddleboat or even a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) and hit the river. If you’ve never been, National Harbor has SUP classes that will have you walking on water in no time. If you’ve got your own boat, the fantastic National Harbor Marina is a great destination dock.

ICE Gaylord Holiday Extravaganza

3 Celebrate the Holidays at ICE

The holidays are all about magic, and there’s nothing more magical than ICE, the Gaylord’s annual holiday extravaganza. Step into a frozen world of lights, music and wonder. Buildings, characters and even a giant flume, all made of ice, will dazzle, surprise and melt the heart of any Grinch. Each year features a different holiday theme so you can make this an annual holiday tradition.

The Awakening - National Harbor

4 Marvel at The Awakening

This five-piece cast iron sculpture by artist J. Seward Johnson Jr. has been mystifying for thirty-five years. The sculpture, depicting a massive iron giant emerging from the sand, was originally installed near the Jefferson Memorial but moved to National Harbor in 2008. It’s an impressive artwork never to be forgotten.

Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center

5 Pamper Yourself With a Romantic Evening Away

With its signature glass atriums and remarkable waterfront location, the four-diamond-rated Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center is the perfect place for a vacation or just a night away from it all. If your preference runs more boutique, sample the full service luxury of The Westin. 

Jumbotron in National Harbor

6 Catch a Movie or the Game on the Outdoor Jumbotron

The big game is always better with a big crowd and on a big screen, and National Harbor’s got you covered. The massive 18 by 32 foot outdoor Jumbotron is the perfect way to catch the game or the big awards ceremony with all of your friends (and you will probably make some new ones while you’re there). For the cinema lover, the Jumbotron’s Movies on the Potomac series offers a great selection of free films.

National Harbor Tanger Outlets Photo By: National Harbor

7 Shop, Shop, Shop at Tanger Outlets

Find the best deals on the coolest stuff at Tanger Outlets. With dozens of stores including Michael Kors, Polo Ralph Lauren outlet, Brooks Brothers outlet, Swarovski, Kitchen Collection and Toys R Us, Tanger Outlets are a true one-stop for all your needs and wants in a shopping destination. A shuttle makes the short trip up the hill from the river even easier.

Cruise in style (and see some spectacular sunsets) on the National Harbor Water Taxi. Photo By: National Harbor

8 Go For a Cruise

Take a water taxi to historic Mount Vernon or the National Mall and see the cherry blossoms from the water, or take in a sunset on one of National Harbor’s charter vessels. Charter the Cherry Blossom, a classic stern-wheeler riverboat perfect for seeing the sights, dance the night away on the glass-enclosed Odyssey cruise ship, or board any of National Harbor’s many luxury and family tour boats. Check ahead for availability.

Dine al fresco on a spectacular weekend away in National Harbor. Photo By: National Harbor

9 Enjoy Fine Dining on the Water

There’s just something about the moonlight reflecting off the river that makes the perfect meal even more perfect. From the sophisticated Old Hickory Steakhouse to the whimsical Walrus Oyster Alehouse to local favorites like the Crab Cake Café, National Harbor offers a world of dining options in one beautiful location.

National Harbor Summer Concert Series Photo By: National Harbor

10 Catch the Free Summer Concert Series

Friday nights come to life to the sounds of great live music at the National Harbor Marina’s free outdoor concert series. Some of the best local and national acts grace the gorgeous riverside stage from May through September. Ride the grooves between the river and the stars. 

Featured Places
116 Waterfront St
National Harbor, MD 20745

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