This past weekend, my family and I visited the Gaylord National Harbor Resort & Convention Center to experience SummerFest, a season of activities and amenities perfect for a family getaway from Memorial Day to Labor Day, which is presented by Aquafina. From atrium light shows to Silent Disco dance parties, families are constantly entertained, even without going far from the resort itself! Although we only stayed for a weekend, the resort offered so much, as did the general National Harbor area, which has shopping, dining, and the Capital Wheel!
Celebrating Summer with Gaylord National SummerFest
Looking around the resort as we arrived, the first thing we noticed was the incredible, 19-story garden atrium with a fantastic view. After a long week, seeing the boats as they go by on the Potomac River and catching the sunset reminded us to slow down and enjoy our time together.
As we settled in for the night, we started by watching the view of the light show in front of the water. My children enjoyed dancing to the music with the other guests. Seeing it all up close made us feel that we were really celebrating our off time.
For the second light show of the evening, we went up to our 10th floor, atrium-view room. The view was spectacular! Seeing the light show from above helps show the incredible effects, while enjoying it from the comfort of a private balcony was a nice family moment.
The next morning, we began the day with breakfast at Pienza before the children decorated SummerFest bags and painted rocks. If you visit during the independence week Block Party Bash from July 2 through July 6, the kids’ craft corner is part of the event in addition to trivia nights at the National Pasttime Sports Bar & Grill.
Later on, we took part in trivia too, and all the bloggers were surprised with family passes to see ICE! We already got a hint at the theme for the Christmas celebration on the Potomac and can’t wait.
In our downtime, the children enjoyed doing a free bug scavenger hunt activity. It kept them active, while also teaching them about nature.
Not that there was much down time! There was much to do in the National Harbor area. While you can find lots of delicious candy and ice cream, our favorite place to dine outside the resort is Succotash, which has one of the best hamburgers ever and delicious fried green tomatoes. Since I’m originally from Nashville, I miss down home southern cooking, and this place really did southern cooking justice, even with its unique Korean fusion that gave a tasty flavor to classic dishes.For children, there is a wonderful beach play area with a unique sculpture that provides lots of climbing opportunities. Even with all the exciting activities nearby, playing in the sand has a huge appeal for children. We could have stayed there for hours!
Heading back to the hotel, we went for a swim in the junior Olympic-size pool. The kids enjoyed the splash pad, while I relaxed listening to live music in the fantastic hot tub.
Up until this moment, everything had been documented diligently on my phone for my Instastories and Twitter. When we went to the ‘Campfire and S’more’ experience, the camp leader explained that a campout is the time to turn off technology and truly unplug!
This was the perfect reminder that a family getaway is the perfect time to get off your cell phone. The Gaylord National Resort has lots of fun photo opportunities, but the campfire experience was one of my favorite experiences. My daughter even got to play the lead role of the Stinky Cheese in the play, while the children all enjoyed S’more treats!
We made sure to visit the Silent Disco Party, where all the children and parents were having the best time. On Saturday nights, the Silent Disco Party has a live DJ who plays music through headphones. Don’t like the song? Simply switch channels! Non-guests can join in too for $10.
One more must-do experience at the National Harbor is the Capital Wheel. Soaring 180 feet above the Potomac River waterfront offers an incredible view! Although during the day you can see the Washington Monument and other interesting nearby attractions, the visit at night is even more spectacular. The Capital Wheel lights up in different colors, and you can see all the lights of the city.
With everything that the Gaylord National offers during SummerFest as well as an entire walkable waterfront destination to explore right outside the atrium doors, this is the ideal family summer getaway. If you book an overnight stay in advance, rates start at $179 or you can get the resort credit package including accommodations and a $50 resort credit for on-site dining or the Relaché Spa for $229 from May 24 through September 2.
Disclosure: I received a free item, but it in no way influenced my opinion.