National Harbor, a 350-acre mixed use development takes full advantage of its views of the Potomac River just south of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge in Prince George’s County, Maryland. There are six hotels, including the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, which was the site of the Katsucon Anime Convention in February, and our reason for visiting the area. National Harbor offers extensive dining, shopping in national retailers as well as unique boutiques and a 700-foot long pier and marina.
During our stay in National Harbor, we stayed at the Aloft, a division of W Hotels. The hotel is modern and sophisticated, and its location at 156 Waterfront Street was only a few blocks from the Gaylord Convention Center, making the walk back and forth easy. The staff at the Aloft was incredible and the nine-foot ceilings in the rooms and full-height windows allow awesome views of the harbor. The bathroom offered a full walk-in shower and the large bathroom sink gave ample room for the make-up and hair needs of four teenage girls putting on anime costumes. There was a refrigerator in the room, but no microwave, and we found that unlike most hotel rooms, there was no bottle opener in the room either. However, the front desk was accommodating when we asked for assistance.
On Friday evening, while the girls were at the convention, I crossed the street and enjoyed a Mango Tropical Margarita, made with silver tequila, mango puree, organic agave and fresh lime and the Queso Fundido appetizer at Rosa Mexicano. The bartender was very friendly and I enjoyed explaining why the National Harbor was full of odd looking people in costume. After enjoying the appetizer, I walked down the street to the Thai Pavilion and enjoyed an Almond Joy martini before heading back to our room to await the girls.
On Saturday, a friend met me around lunchtime and we headed over to Bond 45, a unique Prohibition style bar. I enjoyed a glass of pinot grigio while my friend enjoyed a cabernet. Our lunch was delicious as we chose the soup of the day, which was a Baked Potato and Leek, accompanied by a Caesar Salad. The bowl of soup was large as was the salad, and we were both comfortably full when we left the restaurant.
We then headed to The Tasting Room, an unusual wine tasting bar. There were sample machines around the room, and patrons purchase a dollar amount on a card similar to a gift card. Wine tastings ranged from $2 per ounce up to $10 per ounce, and each tasting could be purchased in one, two or three ounce tastings.
We walked down by the pier and enjoyed the large sculpture that appeared to be a giant rising from the sand, and stopped at McLoone’s Pier House, which boasted the most beautiful sunset in National Harbor. We decided to relax at the bar and wait for the sunset, which was beautiful. While waiting, we enjoyed the Crab Bruschetta, which was very good.
On Sunday, after my friend left, I headed over to the Cadillac Ranch and enjoyed an Orange Crush and a chicken Caesar salad, before returning to the room to relax while the girls finished at the convention.
Everything in National Harbor is within walking distance, and even though it was February, it was not uncomfortably cold when walking from the hotel to the convention center or to the many places to eat. I would highly recommend a trip to National Harbor simply for the food alone.