If your socially distant weekend getaway requirements include a beautiful pier, a grand casino hotel reminiscent of Las Vegas, Chesapeake blue crabs, an outlet shopping mall and one of the most luxury ferris wheels that you may ever find, look no further than the National Harbor. Maryland’s hidden gem may be off the radar for outsiders and non-locals, but that’s what makes visiting even more special. 

Perfect for a girls’ trip, baecation, or even a family getaway, the National Harbor has it all —and did we mention that the food is insanely good? Here’s your guide on where to eat, sleep, and hang at the National Harbor— because if you weren’t planning your visit before, you definitely will be now.

Stay

There’s something for every budget at the National Harbor, but throwing down a few extra dollars for an indulgent hotel experience is well worth it — especially if it’s the MGM. Offering 308 rooms for business and leisure travelers alike, the MGM National Harbor boasts one of the largest gaming floors outside of Las Vegas with over 160,000 square-feet of table games and slot machines. The hotel, which is enforcing socially distancing requirements throughout the casino and property has nearly 20,000 square feet of retail shops, including Sarah Jessica Parker’s SJP shoe boutique, Nene Leakes’ Swagg Boutique and over a dozen restaurants of varying cuisine. What more could one possibly need from a hotel stay?

But even if you don’t stay at the MGM, stopping by for a meal at Voltaggio Brothers Steak House is a must (for world-class steaks and cocktails)—and if gambling and running up a tab are your thing, this building needs to be high on your list.

Eat

There are so many places—too many, really—to eat and drink way too much at the National Harbor (because carbs don’t count when you’re on vacation). And the best part? If you’re hanging with your crew, space is not an issue at National Harbor — perfect if you’re trying to avoid crowds and stay 6-feet away. For spectacular views of the Potomac, you’re going to want to head straight to Redstone American Grill. Don’t pass go. Don’t stop. If you’re more in the mood for delicious cocktails in an elegant and historical setting, go to Bond45. And looking for the perfect brunch destination? The Sunset Room by Wolfgang Puck is your best bet.

Visitors can also find a buzz-worthy dining portfolio led by several established celebrated chefs at the MGM National Harbor. Maryland natives and Bravo’s Top Chef alum, Bryan and Michael Voltaggio’s Voltaggio Brothers Steak House is a crowd pleaser with prime cut beef served in a modern setting. For a taste of the Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay Watershed, head to Fish by José Andrés, where live seafood tanks and interactive cooking stations create dining with flair.

Play

If you’re a fan of shopping, the National Harbor actually has a lot to offer — most of which are helmed by Black women. Stop off at ZAAF for amazing products inspired by Ethiopia, Messy Treatz and The Furlough Cheesecake for delicious desserts, or BrookieGirl for locally sourced bath and body products.

Or stop by Tanger Outlets for a tangible proof point that National Harbor is an all-in-one destination that offers the convenience of knocking out high quality shopping. The outlets are a personal shopper experience that maximizes retail time with a curated style spree for top brands such as Elie Tahari, Coach, Theory, Michael Kors, Under Armor, Nike and H&M. 

Sit on top of the world (like Brandy) and watch the sunset in private, climate-controlled gondolas at The Capital Wheel. Ascending 180 feet above the Potomac River waterfront at a perfect 72-degrees, The Capital Wheel marks the ultimate vantage point to take in majestic views such as the Washington Monument. Afraid of heights? Kick back at Flight Deck, The Capital Wheel’s outdoor lounge, perfect for gazing at the sunset and enjoying a drink while your friends take on the wheel.

The National Harbor is also a great place to walk around and explore. You’ll have a gorgeous pier as a background to those Instagram photos you’ve been deprived of taking all summer due to more time spent at home, a convenient water taxi that doubles as a boat ride to Alexandria, restaurants at every corner or you can stumble into Bobby McKey’s, the area’s only Dueling Piano Bar.

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