If you are planning a Washington DC vacation, the Gaylord National Resort is a great place to stay right on the outskirts. With unique entertainment and dining, the resort has a more casual atmosphere than the big city. This summer, the whole family can enjoy the new activities happening at SummerFest featuring Music of America.

Making The Most Of Your Getaway To The Gaylord National Resort

In one day at the Gaylord National Resort, you can enjoy many fun family activities. Whether you want to go shopping, swim, or dance, you can entertain the whole family, and have a relaxing experience.

Explore The Gaylord National Resort

When you first arrive, take in the view of the Gaylord National Resort itself. With a full glass ceiling and front and lined with trees, the atrium has two levels with shops, restaurants, fountains, a small stream, and more. Since glass covers each wall, light pours in and creates a natural, organic look. The inside of the atrium shows the entire harbor of the Potomac River, including all the boats and the 180 foot tall ferris wheel called the Capital Wheel. Being able to look out onto the water from the resort is one advantage of staying here.

View of the atrium from outside the Gaylord National Resort

Whether you are outside or inside the resort, the resort has a relaxing ambiance that makes for a nice escape from the city. When you walk out of the lower atrium, you pass a landscaped garden, large fountains, and plenty of benches where you can stop to enjoy the view of the water.
Landscaped garden outside the Gaylord National Harbor

Walk Around Outside The Resort

Only a short walk away from the resort, you can find plenty to do for children as well as adults. From Italian to Steakhouses, Mexican, and more, you can enjoy dining at one of the many different varieties of restaurants. Whether you are shopping for candy or clothing, you can go shopping at many unique retail stores and food shops.

The National Harbor offers fine dining, casual food, shopping, and more.

One of the most popular attractions at the National Harbor is the Capital Wheel. When the ride takes off, it takes you high above the river. Gaze across the water, and you can spot kayakers, Pirate Cruises, and boats. You can even see the Washington Monument at a distance.

Ride the Capital Wheel at the National Harbor

Across from the Capital Wheel is a free, sandy beach covered in sculptures. Children will enjoy climbing the sculpture and getting their toes in the sand.

Sculptures on the beach next to the National Harbor

Watch An Aquafina®  Summer Movie Matinee

On every Saturday of SummerFest at 4 p.m., you can watch a movie by the poolside as party of the Aquafina®  Summer Movie Matinee. Since the movie screen is located at the indoor pool, you can do this activity in any weather. For parents, the padded seats by the side of the pool are comfortable.

Aquafina®  Summer Movie Matinee at the Gaylord National Harbor

For adults, the pool has one indoor hot tub and two outdoor hot tubs. While you relax outside, the children will enjoy the splash zone fountains.

Dance To The Silent Disco At The Summer Pajama Party!

Starting on Saturdays in August at 8 p.m., you can take part in a unique dance experience called The Silent Disco. Since guests wear headphones to hear the music, any onlookers can’t hear a thing when they see the crowd dancing. You can choose from three channels for different music. Whether you want to listen to ’80s hits, Disney music, or the DJ as he leads the crowd in dance, it’s your decision of what tune gets you up and dancing.

I was given the opportunity to try this experience out at a special media preview of the event, and I really enjoyed it! At first I casually watched while the other families joined in the Cupid Shuffle, but near the end, by the time they played Moana and Taylor Swift, I was dancing too.

The Silent Disco at the Gaylord National Harbor Media Preview - Theresa Pickett - Theresa's Reviews

This was my children’s favorite event of the day. From getting to wear their pajamas to choosing their own music channel, it was a very special and child-oriented activity. Dancing with the other children made it a party worth remembering. I was impressed with the DJ’s ability to get everyone involved, including the parents. He had a good mix of music that both adults and children could dance to and enjoy.

The Silent Disco At The Summer Pajama Party

Watch The Americana Nightly Atrium Laser Light Show

Immediately after The Silent Disco, the Americana Nightly Atrium Laser Light Show begins. If you are already on the dance floor, you can stay there to watch the fountains light up in different colors. Laser lights stream across the hotel rooms above, while music plays in synch with the lights together for a visually stunning performance. Children can get comfortable on the bean bags left from the Summer Pajama Party to watch this late night show. It lasts approximately 15 minutes and is an exciting way to end the night.

The Americana Nightly Atrium Laser Light Show at the Gaylord National Harbor

Enjoy The View From Your Hotel Room Balcony

As you end your evening, tuck the the kids in bed, wind down, and enjoy the atrium view from your balcony. At night time, you can see the Capital Wheel light up in different colors and patterns. You might even catch a glimpse of late night fireworks.

From your balcony at the Gaylord National Resort, you can see the Capital Wheel light up in different colors and patterns.


    • You don’t have to valet. Self parking is easy. With a parking garage, you can keep your car out of the heat, and it’s very close to the resort. It is a flat overnight fee of $30.
    • If you go back to your room hungry and don’t want to go out, the Chef’s Pastrami Sandwich is very large and filling for $12, and can be delivered to your room. There is also a market in the atrium that has plenty of beverages, snacks, sandwiches, and fruit.
    • If you visit Ben and Jerry’s at the National Harbor, the white chocolate cone with sprinkles is a delicious treat, especially with Cherry Garcia ice cream.
    • When you go to the Aquafina®  Summer Movie Matinee, get there before the movie starts to get a lounge chair. The seating does fill up fast when the movie begins.

For more travel tips and ideas, follow Theresa’s Reviews on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Youtube.

Disclosure: I received a free item, but it in no way influenced my opinion.

35 Responses

  1. Ashley Paige

    The movie playing at the pool! How fun is that?! We have always wanted to take the kids here for a stay-cation. Thanks so much for sharing all about your stay- now we really have to make it happen!

  2. Arlene

    Wow I never heard of this place. It looks amazing, Ill have to check it out someday and it looks like a fun family place we can all enjoy.

  3. Mal

    I’ve never been to Washington DC, and truthfully never planned a visit, but seeing your post about the Gaylord National Park makes me want to reconsider. If I make up my mind, this place will be the first on my list!

  4. Alyson

    Great review! We were there years ago and keep meaning to get back. Now I think I’ll have to move it up on the bucket list!! Love the video too!

  5. Cassie

    This all looks like so much fun!! The sculptures in the sand are so cool and the silent disco is such a great idea for kids! I bet they had an absolute blast!

  6. Kecia | From Mom's Desk

    This resort looks amazing! We are planning a trip to Washington DC for our anniversary in October, so I’ll definitely be checking this place out.

  7. Crystal Green

    This looks like a wonderful place to go visit. I like how it has different kinds of entertainment compared to other places. I love the poolside movie and the dancing events the most.

  8. Karen Morse

    I think this is awesome, it’s a nice resort to spend some time at especially if you’re craving for some much needed R&R! I’d love to go here and just enjoy the summer!

  9. Rachel

    This place looks amazing and I would love to visit. I really need to start saving some money and get across sometime. Thanks for sharing!!

  10. Amanda Love

    I can see my kids having so much fun here! It’s amazing what you can do and still have time to just relax and lay back. I’d love to take the whole family here someday soon!

  11. Erica

    This looks like such a great family vacation. I love that they play a movie by the pool. And the laser light show at night looks amazing. It’s great that you could watch it from the comfort of your balcony. The only time I was in Washington DC was when I was a little kid, and I certainly didn’t stay anywhere as fun as this.

  12. Jessica Joachim

    This looks like you had so much fun! I always love getting out and doing different fun stuff with my kids, and this looks like something they would love. Maybe if we are ever up that way we will check it out.;

  13. Cat

    It looks so beautiful there! Definitely adding this spot to our family travel bucket list and saving to Pinterest–thanks!

  14. Terri Steffes

    It has been years since I have been there. Your fountain photo is gorgeous!

  15. Allison

    How fun! We just visited Gaylord Opryland in Nashville and it was an amazing experience! This one looks just as beautiful and fun!

  16. Charlotte

    oo this looks like great fun and definitely somewhere would suit us if we were ever in the neighbourhood!

  17. Jeanine

    What? a movie and a swim? Now that sounds absolutely amazing. My kids would never want to leave. how awesome!

  18. reesa

    I have been wanting to visit the Gaylord for a while now. It’s not that far from me. I am hoping to go at Christmas time.

  19. Kerri

    I haven’t been to the hotel but I have been to the area many times. My girls love to walk around a go on the Ferris wheel. Is the Peeps store still there?

  20. Jean

    Wow, there seems to be lots to do at this resort! I particularly like the idea of the silent disco…in PJs! Could life get any better than that?! 😀

  21. Glenda

    I totally would love to visit the Gaylord National Resort. The pictures are all so beautiful. Looks like you guys had a blast! 🙂

  22. Courtney

    Omg what a coincidence! I’m sitting at the Gaylord right now as I read this! We saw the laser show tonight! My daughter loved it

  23. Brittany

    I think my kids would love to visit here. They are always asking to go to fun places and I think my husband and I would love it here too!@

  24. Debbie

    I really want to go here after seeing all of your posts and social media pics. The resort looks beautiful!!


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