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Exploring Maryland's National Harbor with the AC Hotel

Located just across the Potomac River from Virginia and D.C.

This November, the AC Hotel National Harbor hosted me at Maryland’s National Harbor to do what I do best — explore, take pictures, and eat. I started the day by self-parking in the Mariner Garage on Mariner Passage Street, then checked into the hotel's Upgraded Queen Room. The room overlooked the Potomac River with the most amazing views of the Capital Wheel and Washington, D.C.

The AC Hotel National Harbor by Marriott was the first AC Hotel to launch in the Northeast. The eight-story hotel is a European-inspired, design-led hotel with easy access to all the happenings throughout National Harbor. Speaking of all the happenings...

Here's what I did while visiting National Harbor for the first time:

Took the National Harbor Circulator Bus to Tanger Outlets

Just down the road from downtown, you'll find more than 80 name brand stores including Coach, Michael Kors, Theory, Vince and more at the Tanger Outlets. The Circulator bus is free with your AC Hotel resort fee and will take you in a loop to Tanger Outlets, MGM National Harbor and downtown National Harbor. Access the bus via the bus stop on St. George Blvd and you'll see it make its rounds about every 30 minutes. The Tanger Outlets offers a wealth of shopping from brand name stores to local offerings, you’ll find something that makes you feel like a million bucks, without having to spend it. I am a traveler on a budget, so I enjoyed the prices at the outlets.

Rode the Capital Wheel

The Capital Wheel is a massive Ferris Wheel and the focal point of the Harbor. It stands at about 180-feet and offers incredible views of the Potomac River. The Capital Wheel is climate-controlled, which I appreciated on a cold night. I was treated to the VIP Experience at the Wheel including leather bucket seats, a glass floor and music by Alexa. The VIP gondola can accommodate up to 4 passengers; tickets are $50 per person. I also stopped by the Capital Wheel’s waterfront open-air lounge, the Flight Deck, which is open seasonally offering a great spot to watch the sunset or just chill with beer, wine or soft drinks. They offer super fun insulated souvenir cups so you can take your drink with you on your ride.

Enjoyed Dinner at National Harbor Staple, The Walrus Oyster & Ale House

The Walrus is located right next to the AC Hotel and serves an all-scratch menu, made with fresh seasonal ingredients for seafood lovers and landlubbers alike. You can feast on Crab Soup, white wine Steamed Mussels, fresh seasonal fish choices or classically authentic Maryland crab cakes. Since I am a vegetarian, I munched on the Truffle Fries (the best ones I've ever had), Queso Frito, Half Pound Walrus Burger (made with an Impossible patty), and the Smith Island Cake. Everything tasted delicious and the service was detail oriented. I'd recommend this restaurant to anyone in the DMV.

Visited the Gaylord National 80’s at Replay Pop-Up Rooftop Lounge

The Replay Lounge at Pose Rooftop at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center is a pop up 80’s experience full of Instagrammable views, retro arcade games, and neon. The signature cocktail menu is inspired by the best of the 80’s films, and the over-the-top milkshakes are available with or without alcohol. I ordered the chocolate milkshake without alcohol, and it was one of the best milkshakes I've ever had. It's so massive and I recommend bringing friends to share it with. The newly introduced fall cocktail options include Pumpkin Spice Milkshake, the Scarface, the Pretty in Pink, and the Ardi’s Spiked Cobbler.

Ended the Night with a Drink at the AC Lounge

Located in hotel lobby, the lounge is a twist on the traditional hotel bar. It offers a distinctive beverage program including craft beers, on tap wines, and handcrafted cocktails served by the hotel’s bartenders. These bartenders were friendly can provide you with insider tips and recommendations to help you experience the local area if you ask.

Slept in and Brunched at Sauciety at The Westin Washington National Harbor

Sauciety at The Westin Washington National Harbor is right in the Waterfront District and serves American classics with a twist with flavorful sauces, dips and more. This spot would be perfect for sunset view dinners and sunrise view breakfasts! I kept it simple with the French toast, scrambled eggs, breakfast potatoes, and fruit. Sipping my Earl Grey tea by the water was such a relaxing way to start my Sunday morning.

There is so much to see and do in National Harbor! I hope you can visit. There are over 50 bars, restaurants and retails stores, there is something for everyone!



Hi, thanks for stopping by!

Emily Moore from is a travel and lifestyle blogger based in the D.C. metro area.

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