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Family Vacation at the Gaylord National Near Washington DC

I have loved my stays at the Gaylord Resorts in Texas, Tennessee, and Florida. When we decided to go on a family vacation to the Washington DC area, I knew that I wanted to take my kids to the Gaylord National Resort. Located in the relatively new National Harbor area in Maryland, the Gaylord National is the newest resort in the collection. I booked the hotel directly via the Marriott website, and we drove from our home west of Boston to the resort.

Where can you feel like you are outside when you are actually indoors? The Gaylord National Resort is located in popular National Harbor, MD, minutes from Washington, DC.

Location of the Gaylord National Resort

We pulled up to the valet area around noon on our check-in date, and was greeted immediately by a friendly employee. Despite the fact that we were checking in early, our room was ready. We headed up to drop off our bags, and immediately went to lunch at the hotel. After lunch, we set out to explore National Harbor.

The National Harbor area was developed in 2008, and includes several hotels along with many restaurants and shops. It was very busy on this beautiful Saturday afternoon, and we enjoyed exploring the area. We also went on a ride on the new Capital Wheel, which offers a nice vantage point of the National Harbor area. The location is in Maryland, right along the Potomac.

Capital Wheel at National Harbor

The Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center is located about 12 miles from that National Mall, 5 miles from Alexandria, Virginia, and 11 miles from Mount Vernon. There are several options for getting into the city, including driving, cabs/Ubers, and public transportation. There’s also a water taxi that travels between National Harbor and Alexandria, or National Harbor and the Washington Nationals baseball stadium.

We decided not to drive for most of our trips right into DC, and took a cab. There was an Earth Day event happening downtown, and the resort’s concierge advised against driving. I’d recommend talking to the concierge to get your best options during the time of your stay.

Interior of the Gaylord National


Rooms at the Gaylord National Resort

If you’ve been to any of the hotels within the Gaylord hotel brand, you are familiar with the iconic atriums that definite that brand. The Gaylord National features a 19-story glass atrium. It’s smaller than the other Gaylords that I’ve been to, but is still beautiful.

Our room at the Gaylord National was comfortable and perfect for our family. It included two queen beds, a mini fridge, a balcony overlooking the atrium, a coffee maker, and a work desk. A resort fee of $18 per day includes complimentary WiFi, two bottles of water per day, and access to the pool/fitness center.

There are other options for guest rooms including standard guest rooms, atrium view guest rooms, standard suites, and riverview suites. Atrium view rooms have a patio that overlooks the beautiful atrium. Although these rooms are usually more expensive than the standard guest rooms, I’d recommend getting one if it’s within your budget. I always love people watching over the atrium.

Atrium at the Gaylord National

Gaylord National Harbor Restaurants

The Gaylord National also offers several restaurants on property, in addition to the many restaurants that you can easily walk to right in National Harbor.

The Old Hickory Steakhouse – a restaurant common among all of the Gaylord properties, the Old Hickory Steakhouse is a delicious place to dine for a special experience. The menu includes steak specialties and premium wines. I’ve always enjoyed my meals there, but probably wouldn’t take a young kid because it’s a little more upscale for kids. The dress code is smart casual, so be sure to pack those items if you want to eat there.

Pienza – open for breakfast, Pienza offers fresh, local foods. We ate one breakfast there, and really enjoyed it. Pienza is the perfect spot if you want to start your day with a larger breakfast.

The Cocoa Bean – for coffee, snacks and quick bites, you can stop in at the Cocoa Bean, which is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Belvedere Lobby Bar – offering light bites and drinks, the Belvedere Lobby Bar offers beautiful views of the Potomac River.

Pose Rooftop Lounge – this rooftop lounge on the resort’s 18th and 19th floors has a wraparound terrace. It’s free for guests of the hotel to visit, but is only open to those 21+, so it’s not an option for families.

National Pastime Sports Bar and Grill – Our favorite place to eat during our vacation, the National Pastime Sports Bar and Grill is a casual place to eat lunch or dinner. It offers a 36-foot video wall so you can watch your favorite teams play while eating your meal.

Room service is also available if you’d prefer to dine in your room. I’d also recommend walking over to the adjacent National Harbor for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

The Exterior of the Gaylord National

The Gaylord National Resort Amenities

Although we never had the time to swim, we did check out the indoor pool area. The Olympic-sized pool area is great for families. Since this resort does seem to cater to business conference travelers mid-week, the pool area was pretty quiet during most of our vacation. Definitely pack swimming suits.

The resort also offers a fitness center that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It includes cardiovascular equipment and free weights. Admission is included as part of the resort fee.

The Gaylord National is also home to the full-service Relâche spa, which offers treatments like massages, body wraps, facials, and manicure/pedicures. Reservations are required, so if you are thinking of having a treatment, you’ll want to review the services menu online first and call to schedule.

There’s also a game room, a daily evening fountain show, shops, and lots of banquet/conference facilities. If you need help scheduling activities or tours, there’s a concierge desk that’s staffed with helpful employees. Several sightseeing tours depart from the resort, and you can book those with the concierge.

Gaylord National ICE!

Like the other Gaylord hotels, the Gaylord National Resort is also home to a huge Christmas event. Running from November through the start of the year, Christmas on the Potomac features the world class ICE! event with ice sculptures and displays.

The themes change annually, and in 2018, the theme for the event is a Charlie Brown Christmas. Activities include a train ride, carousel, Breakfast with Charlie Brown, a Build-a-Bear Workshop, ice skating, a lightly atrium tree lighting, and so much more. I haven’t attended Christmas on the Potomac, but loved the Christmas events at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville.

An additional fee applies to these events, and there are some hotel packages that you can book to save money. ICE! Is definitely worth visiting at least once. It’s cold in there (a parka is provided, but you’ll want to bring your own gloves and hat), but it’s so impressive to see the sculptures. Even if you aren’t staying at the Gaylord, you can still purchase tickets.

If you are visiting in the summer, the Gaylord National Resort offers Summerfest for families. This annual event includes entertainment, scavenger hunts, and more.

We loved our stay at the Gaylord National, and would definitely stay there again when staying in the DC area.

To learn more, visit the Gaylord National website.

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