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6 Things to See & Do in National Harbor

National Harbor - Maryland

Close to DC and Alexandria, this waterfront zone bubbles with hotels, restaurants and riverside attractions.

Located on 300 acres along the Potomac River, National Harbor holds dozens of shops, eateries and hotels, plus a slew of water-focused entertainment. Read on for all that’s in store at this scenic riverside hub.

1 Fly high on the Capital Wheel
Fly high on the Capital Wheel Visit National Harbor

Soar 180 feet in the air on the area’s only Ferris wheel, which whirs right on the waterfront. 42 climate-controlled gondola cars, each seating up to eight, circle around every day and night of the year, providing stunning views of Alexandria, the Potomac River and the changing seasons. In the summer, a nighttime spin is particularly scenic.

2 Float (or paddle) your own boat
Float (or paddle) your own boat Visit National Harbor

From May through September, head to Boating in DC's National Harbor location and rent a kayak, paddleboat or standup paddleboard (SUP) to enjoy the Potomac River. The company also offers SUP lessons and guided kayak trips, including popular sunset treks. A quick how-to and life jacket is included with each rental.

3 Enjoy the public art

@ejg_photo - The Awakening - National Harbor, Maryland

Murals, statues and other works of art pepper the landscape at National Harbor. The most notable might be “The Awakening,” J. Seward’s dramatic metal sculpture of a giant emerging from the ground (it’s great for kids to play on, too). Other highlights include Albert Paley’s pair of 4,500-lb. steel eagle statues, which perch over the main plaza. There’s also a wall mural, “Maryland’s Bounty,” which depicts crab pickers and fishermen.

4 Score bargains at Tanger Outlets

Shoppers at Tanger Outlets National Harbor - Places to shop at National Harbor - Maryland

Shop the Tanger Outlets at National Harbor for deals at more than 85 brand name stores including Polo, Diane von Furstenberg, Cole Haan, Bass and J.Crew. Free shuttles from the hotels at National Harbor trek to the open-air center.

5 Live the Vegas lifestyle at MGM National Harbor

The MGM National Harbor is a resort campus with Las Vegas-style on-site gambling, dining and entertainment. Test your luck at any of the 3,600 slot machines and 140 gaming tables or catch an A-list performance in the 3,000-seat theater. Eateries include the highly acclaimed Fish by José Andrés, Marcus by Marcus Samuelson and Voltaggio Brothers Steakhouse.

6 Grab a bite at a hip restaurant

Rosa Mexicano - National Harbor, Maryland

More than 30 dining spots—many with outdoor seating—dot the landscape here, with choices including Rosa Mexicano (cool twists on South-of-the-Border fare and legendary, strong pomegranate margaritas), sleek New York steakhouse/speakeasy Bond 45 and Fiorella Italian Kitchen, an upmarket pie- and pasta-slinger with a bright, farmhouse-style interior.

Now that you’ve plunged into National Harbor, explore other nearby attractions like Old Town Alexandria.