Eight Fabulous Activities at National Harbor, Maryland

#HNS2019 Conference Preview by Christine Trent, Venue Chair –

The HNS 2019 conference will be held at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, located inside National Harbor, a vibrant shopping and entertainment district just minutes away from Reagan National Airport.  Within easy steps of the Gaylord are more than 60 restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, and nightclubs; including some spectacular waterfront dining options.

The Harbor is also home to more than $10 million in public art.  There’s something to see every time you turn a corner.

But that’s not all!  Within walking distance or just a quick shuttle ride away are:

  1. The Capital Wheel

Want a bird’s-eye view of the Potomac River, Washington, D.C., and Old Town Alexandria?  Hop aboard the Capital Wheel for a 20-minute air-conditioned, leisurely ride 180 feet above it all.  They even offer a “VIP Experience,” which includes leather bucket seats and a glass floor.  Ride at night and experience the 1.6 million LED lights that illuminated it.  See a video here.  And here is a video of someone riding the wheel. For ticket information, visit www.thecapitalwheel.com.

Capital Wheel

  1. Plaza Screen

The “Plaza Screen” is located along the waterfront, in view of the Capital Wheel.  It offers an ever-changing schedule of movies (usually kid-friendly) and sporting events.  Gold’s Gym also holds exercise classes on the terrace in front of the screen.  Keep checking back to see their updated schedule.

Plaza Screen

  1. Water Fun

Open May—September, Boating in DC offers a variety of water rentals—kayaks, paddleboards, and swan pedal boats.  They even offer an evening kayak tour and paddleboard lessons.  Rentals include lifejacket and paddle.  Find more information at Boating in DC.

Pedal Boats

  1. A Carousel

For your kids—or the kid in you—is a beautiful 36-foot Americana-themed carousel with the Potomac River as a backdrop.  The Carousel area features a playground, toddler play area, and picnic tables.  Best of all, adults ride free when accompanied by children!

For more information, visit http://thecapitalwheel.com/carousel


  1. A Pirate Ship!

Yes, you read that right.  Have a swashbuckling adventure on the Relentless.  Fight enemies with water cannons, navigate treacherous waters, and discover hidden treasures.  This 54-foot pirate ship docks at the base of the Capital Wheel (a short walk from the Gaylord), and offers both family cruises and adults-only “bring your own grog” voyages.  You’ll know how to talk like a pirate when you return—sounds like valuable book research, doesn’t it?  Watch a video here.

Pirate Ship

  1. Tanger Outlets

For those who need frequent doses of retail therapy, take the shuttle over to the Tanger Outlets, where you have a variety of over 80 outlet shops, including Kate Spade, Le Crueset, Pandora, Skechers, and so many more.  And yes, there is a Starbucks for your mid-shopping refreshment.  Be sure to stop by Shopper Services to pick up your Little Red Book of Big Savings.

Take a virtual tour of Tanger Outlets National Harbor or visit their web site.

  1. MGM Casino

Take a shuttle ride (included in your resort fee) over to the newly-constructed MGM Casino.  Not just for your favorite slot, poker, or table games; the MGM boasts a state-of-the-art, 3,000-seat theater; multiple restaurants; and vibrant nightlife.

MGM National Harbor

  1. Water Taxis/Sightseeing Tours

Walk a few yards out the rear of the Gaylord and you will be at the Gaylord’s private dock, where a variety of Potomac Boat Co. water taxis and sightseeing boat tours are available for your enjoyment.

Water taxis run on a regular schedule to places like:

  • Old Town Alexandria (history, shopping, dining).
  • Washington Nationals Stadium (if the Nats are in town, consider a “baseball boat” to attend a game without the hassles of driving and parking).

Take a few more steps to the main National Harbor dock to pick up a water taxi to either:

  • The District Wharf (in Southwest Washington, just blocks from many of the Smithsonian museums).
  • Historic Georgetown (in Northwest Washington and known for its small boutiques, galleries, and restaurants).

The Potomac Boat Company also offers sightseeing cruises to Mount Vernon, home of George Washington.

For more info, visit The Potomac Boat Company’s web site.

Water Taxi

Even with all of this, there is so much more to explore at National Harbor.  Want to know more?  Here’s a walking tour video produced by a National Harbor visitor.  You can also visit National Harbor’s web site here.

We can’t wait to see you at HNS 2019! Have fun planning your trip!

Christine_TrentChristine Trent has been a member of HNS since the 2007 conference in Albany, NY.  She writes historical fiction and historical mystery, and is the author of the Florence Nightingale Mysteries (Crooked Lane Books) and the Lady of Ashes mysteries (Kensington Books).  She lives in Maryland, about 90 minutes away from the Gaylord, which is how she became the venue chair.  She can’t wait to welcome you to the conference.

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