evening view of Gaylord National Resort and Capital Wheel from the water
Gaylord National Resort

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

By Jim Meyer
evening view of Gaylord National Resort and Capital Wheel from the water
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.

MGM National Harbor
MGM holiday decor
Robb Scharetg

A major player in the Maryland gaming scene, MGM National Harbor is a  $1.3 billion casino resort featuring entertainment, a spa and salon, high-end retail, meeting space and more than a dozen restaurants. 

Capital Wheel at National Harbor
National Harbor's Capital Wheel at sunset

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.

Get Out on the Harbor
Enjoy water activities around National Harbor's marina.

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.

Marvel at The Awakening
The Awakening statue of a giant emerging from sand

This five-piece cast iron sculpture by artist J. Seward Johnson Jr. has been mystifying crowds for 35 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, unforgettable piece of art.

Pamper Yourself With a Romantic Evening Away
Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center

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. 

Catch a Movie or the Game on the Outdoor Jumbotron
Outdoor Movies on Jumbotron, National Harbor

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.

Shop, Shop, Shop at Tanger Outlets
National Harbor Tanger Outlets
National Harbor

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, and Kitchen Collection, 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.

Go For a Cruise
Tour boat on the Potomac River
Potomac Riverboat Company

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.

Enjoy Fine Dining on the Water
Dine al fresco on a spectacular weekend away in National Harbor.
National Harbor

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.

Catch the Free Summer Concert Series
National Harbor Summer Concert Series
National Harbor

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.