by Claudine Kurp
I finally made it out to the Capital Wheel at National Harbor last weekend. What took me so long? Every time I make my way over the bridge I am reminded of just how close this unique destination is to my home in Northern Virginia. Even in traffic, it was such a quick ride to National Harbor.
After arriving at National Harbor, on a gorgeous Saturday, we parked up and set out for adventure. With all of the shops, restaurants, play areas for kids and now the Capital Wheel, National Harbor is an absolute home run for my family. We were able to have a fun morning followed by lunch and made it home for nap time. If only I could have stayed longer! I have attached some highlights of our visit to the Capital Wheel. I have also splashed in some information about the National Harbor. My advice, get your calendar out and pencil in a trip!
Claudine's Review (a.k.a. Mom)
1. I love the National Harbor and I find it to be a relatively quick trip from Northern VA. I take I-495 over the bridge and we are there. With screaming kids, I opted for the E-ZPass lanes coming and going. It was less than $5.00 and helped make for a nice trip. For the cost of a Starbucks coffee it was worth it!
2. Once there, we checked out the area. We even went up the hill and discovered the Tangier's Outlets. I didn't realize we had an outlet center that was so close. If I didn't have a napper I would have been all over the outlets. Tangiers @ National Harbor is even closer than Leesburg!
3. We picked a parking garage and made our way to the Capital Wheel. I WOULD HIGHLY RECOMMEND STARTING YOUR DAY EARLY! We got there by 10:30am and just skirted a crowd that was starting to form.
4. We had the VIP gondola that was just absolute luxury. Leather seats, binoculars, a TV, music and a few extra rotations around the wheel. While it is a splurge, it could be crazy fun for a surprise for someone's birthday or special occasion. The regular cars are also very nice and offer the same view=;) Once in the gondola you are safely enclosed and I felt very safe with my toddler and busy tween.
5. If you are not going in the VIP gondola, I would bring binoculars for the full experience. It was truly breathtaking to see the Washington Monument, a beautiful view of the Masonic Temple and Old Town Alexandria. What a rush! With or without binoculars, the views are sweeping and amazing!
6. The tickets were simple to purchase. In addition, a fun picture is offered for purchase at the end of your trip. The staff was wonderful and very nice. We went early on a Saturday but I did see "Disney World" style line dividers. If you are going with small children make your life simple and GO EARLY!
7. While you can't bring a stroller on the gondola, they did offer an area for stroller parking that was very close to the entrance of the gondola.
8. Enjoy your moment on the Capital Wheel. Soak it in. Don't take so many pictures that you entire trip was spent looking through your iPhone camera. Even better, give a tour to kids and visitors that might be with you.
9. Pick your time. Think about what would make you, your family or guests happy. Do you want to see a full moon, a sunset, a clear view during the day. You can decide. Make this a fun trip!
10. Plan, plan and plan. The reality is that if you have kids there is no such as a causal day of unorganized fun. You are timing meltdowns, naps, soccer games, lunch, dinner, snacks, etc. Do yourself a favor and get a general idea of how the day will flow. We went early, hit the Capital Wheel, played at the Awakening sand area and then headed to lunch. If your day is somewhat loose I would, at the very least, try to book a lunch or dinner reservation. The National Harbor gets VERY crowded on the weekends after 12:30pm.
Gia's Review (a.k.a. child)
1. The view was awesome!
2. My favorite thing to look when I was on the Capital Wheel was the Washington Monument.
3. The seats were really comfortable and the binoculars were really cool. I took some cool videos of the ride.
4. I loved being so close to the playground. It had a fun sculpture to crawl on that came out of the sand.
5. If you're a VIP you get really cool seats!
6. Lunch was fun after we went on the Capital Wheel. We went to Redstone American Grill. Yum!
7. My dad let me listen to Frozen during the ride.
8. My little sister REALLY liked being so high. She brought her own toy binoculars, but she looked through them the wrong way. Oh well that is Ava.
If you are going for a ride on the Capital Wheel, you must take advantage of the bounty of shops, restaurants, play areas and the carousel at that the National Harbor. The National Harbor routinely offers music and events. During the summer they even have fireworks on select Saturday evenings. Fall and winter months also promise fun happenings. Check the National Harbor website for more information on events and shops. http://nationalharbor.com/
I have tried a number of restaurants at the NH and have not been disappointed. Beware, prices can be high for dining. Lower cost alternative, such as Potbelly, are available. While you might pay extra for the higher end restaurants, most times you are getting an incredible view of a gorgeous day on the water or even a sunset!
The Capital Wheel is open daily, year-round. Tickets, plus tax:
The Capital Wheel is a safe and slow ride for people of all ages and conditions, including pregnant women, small children and babies.
Paid parking is available throughout National Harbor. For more information, visit nationalharbor.com/directory-parking.
Capital Wheel At The National Harbor
174 Waterfront St #215, Oxon Hill, MD 20745
The Capital Wheel Public Relations Department provided me with complimentary tickets in exchange for writing this article. We always disclose whenever a product or service is offered for compensation and all opinions are our own.
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