Thank you to AC Hotel National Harbor for gifting us with a fabulous stay and weekend full of fun activities!
Hi babes and happy Sunday! One of my major goals for 2017 was to not only travel more, but to also incorporate more travel posts into my blog content. I feel so blessed to have experienced many awesome adventures last year – with two different trips to Mazatlan, Mexico (totaling 5 weeks spent there), Dallas, two trips to Kansas City, Charleston, and a Girls Weekend in Washington D.C. with my Blogger BFF’s Kelssey & Cortney! It seems that cities are the most magical during the holiday season, and the D.C. National Harbor was no exception! We spent the first weekend of December there and were so lucky because the weather was perfect for exploring – 40’s and sunny! I hadn’t been to D.C. since 8th grade and when your 13 and on a trip with boys, you’re probably not really paying attention to all of the history around you. So this time around, I made sure to soak in as much history and to make the most out of my time there!
Keep on reading for my EAT, STAY, and PLAY recommendations when visiting the D.C. National Harbor area!
WHERE TO EAT
GRACE’S MANDARIN – Oh my stars, this was hands down the best dining experience I have ever had! Not only was the food incredible and the drinks spot-on, but the service was unlike anything else; from jacket covers, stools for your purses, to hot towels before & after our meal. The two story building is exquisitely decorated with no detail left undone! This restaurant was just a short two block walk from our hotel and is nestled in the heart of the National Harbor! If you only have one meal to experience while saying in the National Harbor, I highly recommend choosing Grace’s Mandarin, you will not be disappointed!
OLD HICKORY STEAKHOUSE – This upscale steakhouse is located in the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, which was super convenient for us after we saw the JOY! show and the Gaylord tree lighting ceremony. I sipped on a vodka & soda water with lemon and ate the roasted chicken with garlic mashed potatoes – yum yum!
ROSA MEXICANO – We stopped here for lunch to give our feet a break from shopping and exploring and it was the perfect choice. My chicken tacos were delightful and we sat by the large windows overlooking the Potomac River and the Capital Wheel!
PUBLIC HOUSE – The bartender at our hotel bar recommended Public House for some music and upbeat atmosphere and we had such a fun time here! Cort, Kelss, and I both love hip hop music and like to dance; making this a great destination if you enjoy those things. It was also just a two block walk from our hotel, easy peezy!
What I wore for dinner at Grace’s Mandarin!
WHERE TO STAY
We stayed at the AC Hotel National Harbor and this.is.the.place.to.stay. Seriously, we had the most amazing view of the Potomac River with the Capital Wheel being front and center! Proximity and location is so important when visiting a new city and we were able to walk to almost every activity during our weekend stay. And when we needed transportation, the super friendly & fast valet brought up the Toyota Highlander we drove for the weekend! Our hotel room featured a chic, minimalistic design with the comfiest Queen beds, cocktail kits, delicious coffee, free & fast wifi (a must for 3 bloggers with laptops and iPhones), and the most perfect full length mirror, made for #selfies haha!
I flew into Reagan National Airport, which was just a ten minute Uber ride to the hotel!
That’s our hotel right behind me! And these stairs take you directly down to the waterfront!
WHERE TO PLAY
Our weekend was jam packed with holiday festivities, activities, and shopping (duh) and it was all within ten minutes of our hotel, which allowed us to squeeze in as much as we could during our stay!
CAPITAL WHEEL – This large Ferris wheel right on the water is not only pretty to look at at, but is a blast to ride! I have to admit I was a bit nervous, but thanks to my encouraging friends, an adult beverage (they have a bar on the flight deck!), and some Pandora rap, I forgot about how high we were going and soaked it all in. The views from the top of the Wheel were breathtaking! I liked that the Wheel doesn’t move super slow (like the London Eye) and you’re able to go around a few times with your ticket. Whether you’re having a romantic date with your significant other or enjoying the sites with your galpals, the Capital Wheel is a must-do & see attraction in the National Harbor!
ICE! EXHIBIT AT THE GAYLORD NATIONAL RESORT – I think this was my favorite activity because I honestly couldn’t believe that the entire exhibit was made from TWO MILLION POUNDS of ICE! They fly in the team from China and it takes months to carve and paint the exhibit. This year’s theme was Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and it most definitley got me into the holiday spirit! We felt like kids again and we even went down the ice slides! They warned us that it would be cold (9 degrees to be exact), but we were not prepared for how cold it would feel. While they provided very stylish blue parkas, I would highly encourage you to dress in your winter gear, as well. I had on socks, ankle boots, jeans, a thermal bodysuit and my suede jacket with scarf and gloves! They advised us to keep our phones and cameras close to our bodies until we needed to use them because electronics can freeze. I, of course, was on my IG Stories the whole time so I could share the experience with y’all, but as expected, my phone literally froze! It was only for a minute until I warmed it up in my coat, but I still panicked for a brief moment haha. Once you made it through the exhibit, they served you delicious hot chocolate and you could continue the fun in the Christmas Village with a visit to Santa, an ice skating rink, a Build a Bear workshop, and the souvenir shop. It was crazy because before we went into the exhibit, it felt chilly outside, and when we left the exhibit and went outside, the mid 30’s temperature felt like a heat wave!
JOY! A HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR SHOW – On our final night in D.C., Cortney, Kelssey, and I saw the JOY! show at the Gaylord National Resort. The show was held in the atrium and it was such a joy (literally) to see! It was basically a mini musical and I loved every second of it. The show runs every hour but be prepared, it is heavily attended, so I would highly recommend getting there early to grab a spot! They also serve adult beverages and refreshments before the show. And to guarantee you have a place to sit, I would definitely purchase tickets!
Once the show was over, the Gaylord Tree Lighting Ceremony began and my oh my, this was truly spectacular! From the theatrical music to the beautiful water fountain, this was truly a magical experience! Whether your 2 or 102, this was such a special moment that everyone of all ages would certainly enjoy!
What I wore to the JOY! show and dinner at Old Hickory Steakhouse in the Gaylord National!
MGM NATIONAL HARBOR – After our morning at the ICE! exhibit, us girls decided to head to the MGM for lunch and football! Cort is a diehard Auburn fan and Kelss is a diehard Oklahoma fan, so we caught the games at the sports bar inside of the MGM! If we had more time, we would have definitely done some gambling and exploring, so I would recommend carving out a good chunk of time to spend there!
TANGER OUTLETS – And a girls trip would not be complete without a little shopping, right?! Needless to say, damage was done and shopping bags were filled at the outlets haha. My personal favorites were H&M, LOFT, Kate Spade, and J.Crew! After my 4th purchase, I had a moment at the register when I realized my suitcase on the way to D.C. was 50 pounds on the nose and I was like uh oh, how the heck am I going to get all my loot home?!? I was quite a site when headed home with a coat in my arms while wearing a coat and a barely zipped carryon. Desperate times, desperate measures! So if you’re planning a visit, either pack lightly or bring a second suitcase because you will shop ’til ya drop!
Be sure to Pin this for your future D.C. vacation!
Have you ever been to the Washington D.C. National Harbor? If so, please tell me your favorite places to Eat, Stay, and Play! xoxo