So, over Memorial Day weekend, we decided to do a little stay-cation nearby. We had originally planned to go to Philadelphia, but just couldn’t make it work. Instead, we decided to do a few things around DC and then spend an overnight in National Harbor.
We spent Saturday at Mount Vernon. We have been a few times before but I feel like it is such a huge place that you can see something different every time you go. Mount Vernon constantly has special events and talks from character interpreters. There are also a number of specialty tours you can book in addition to your regular admission.
The day we went, there was a “Hamilton” sing-a-long so it was extra crowded, but well worth it. We had such a blast singing along with some really talented kids from the Mount Vernon Community Children’s Theatre. The mansion is always wonderful to walk through, but the grounds are equally impressive. There are so many out buildings to see and paths to walk. You can even grab a river tour if you want.
We especially liked the Museum & Education Center. There are tons of interactive experiences, several theaters, and a huge collection of memorabilia. We learned so much about our POTUS #1. The Center is really well done and on a level that is readable and enjoyable for all ages.
On Sunday, we headed up to National Harbor. National Harbor is a small area just the other side of the Potomac from Alexandria, Virginia. You can see lots of the DC “skyline” on the drive over. It was a glorious, sunny day that got hot quickly. We arrived mid-morning and dove into the fun. There’s lots to do in such a small area. There are quite a few shops around the area that we enjoyed popping in to. My husband was happy to see a Carhartt store (cue my eye roll), but I actually found the coziest hoodie ever in there so I guess the joke is on me. The kids really loved A is for America and the Peeps store. There’s a Tanger Outlet Center nearby if you need to do some more intense shopping as well as the MGM Grande if you are more into high end shopping and casinos.
There were lots of fun activities for everyone. We chose to enjoy the paddle boats after lunch. You can choose between a swan or a dragon and the price is reasonable for this area. We had to flip a coin to determine which animal we would ride because the kids could not come to an agreement. We also loved the Capital Wheel! We decided to save it for sunset and were not disappointed. Even on a cloudy evening, we were treated to a lovely sunset through the clouds and a great view of Washington, D.C. in the distance. For younger kids, there is a play area with a playground and carousel. It’s $7/child for unlimited rides and playtime.
There are fun art installations all over National Harbor, many with historical significance. They were really fun to look at and talk about. We enjoyed dinner at the Granite City Brewery. I highly recommend the pulled pork waffle. Our daughter enjoyed her Bedda Chedda Burger as well. There are lots of fun events scheduled on the big screen and stage in the center common at the Waterfront. The night we were there, it was the Lego Batman Movie, but there are often concerts, group workouts, sporting event viewings, and a weekly Farmer’s Market. Once we had sufficiently worn ourselves out, we spent the night at the AC Hotel by Marriott. We had some Marriott points to use, so we figured why not. It was a really nice hotel, but not particularly kid friendly. I think that my husband and I would have enjoyed it if we were just on a night away together, but the room was small for 4 people and our hall was noisy late into the night. On the other hand, the courtyard was lovely, the lobby area very nice with a bar, and they offered a European style breakfast option.
Overall, we had a great time and recommend spending a day in this incredibly fun place. The only thing we did not enjoy was the volume of the music in pretty much every restaurant and shop we went into. It was sooooo loud that it made it uncomfortable to be in the place. It wasn’t everywhere, but it was many places. Still, too much fun to pass up.