My family recently stayed at the Gaylord National to experience Summerfest, courtesy of a hosted trip. I admit that for as much as our family travels none of us have ever stayed at a Gaylord resort or hotel before. Even though I’ve heard great things about Gaylord properties, we weren’t sure what to expect. Since we love taking road trips, especially for long weekend getaways, this was the perfect opportunity to check it out. With kids who are 6 years apart, at times it can be challenging when traveling to find something for everyone. Not only did the Gaylord National Summerfest excel in this area, but it exceeded expectations. Find out why everyone should put Summerfest, which runs from May 24-September 2, on their family travel bucket list.
Where is the Gaylord National Resort Located?
The Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center is located in Oxon Hill, Maryland at the National Harbor. My family and I drove down on a Friday evening after rush hour from the Philly area, and it was an easy road trip that took about 3 hours.
Once we arrived and were quickly checked-in, we went to see our room, which was on the 15th floor. Our guest room was spacious, had 2-Queen beds and a balcony with an atrium view (which I highly recommend). The resort’s 19-story atrium overlooks the Potomac River and it’s quite impressive.
I love that this resort is central to many things such as Washington D.C., Ronald Reagan National Airport, Alexandria, VA, and it even provides transportation to the MGM and Tanger Outlets on the Harbor Circulator Bus as part of the resort fee.
10 Exciting Things At Gaylord National SummerFest
1. Start With A Family Picture
If there is one thing I have learned to do more of in the past year, especially when we travel as a family, is to get a picture together. My kids are getting older (my son just turned 15) and it’s so important to have these memories for us to look back on someday.
The Gaylord National Resort has a themed outdoor display, complete with rocking chairs, right next to the check-in area that is perfect for a fun photo op to kick off SummerFest.
There is also a large blue Adirondack chair right outside of the resort that also makes for a great family and friend #SummerFest picture opportunity.
2. Enjoy Delicious Food
There are 7 options for dining right inside of the Gaylord National Resort. You can also visit the National Harbor area, which is only steps away and offers a variety of places to eat.
Throughout our weekend we dined at Pienza and National Past Time Sports Bar and Grill within the resort. Our group participated in a fun game of trivia at National Past Time Sports Bar and Grill (which we all won tickets to ICE, so we will definitely be back for another one of these long weekend getaways).
Trivia will be part of the Gaylord National SummerFest Independence Block Party Bash event (July 2-July 6).
- Pienza – During our stay we enjoyed two wonderful buffet breakfasts here. I was impressed to know that the Gaylord partners with local-area farms, which source many of the ingredients in their breakfast dishes. This restaurant has a lovely patio area (which is inside the atrium), but it is always kept at 72 degrees, so you feel like you are dining al fresco.
- National Past Time Sports Bar and Grill – we are big sports fans in our family, so we loved all the sports decor plus the 36-foot video wall to watch games. We were treated to a variety of comfort foods, drinks and desserts.
3. Creation Station and Kindness Rocks
All the kids (ranging in ages from 6 to 15 years old) experienced the Creation Station, which will also be a part of the SummerFest Independence Block Party Bash.
There were tables set up with a variety of crayons, markers and paints for the kids to decorate SummerFest themed canvas drawstring bags. Once they were finished, they filled them with goodies (colorful sunglasses, chocolate covered peeps and pop sockets). Then they decorated kindness rocks, to place around the property later for other guests to find.
The best part was watching all of the kids, from the youngest to the oldest, interact and have fun doing this activity together.
4. Bug Quest
SummerFest is all about interactive family fun, which this activity definitely provides. Spend time exploring the atrium’s indoor garden while on a scavenger hunt and learning about a variety of bugs (don’t worry, they aren’t real).
If you find all the bugs (which thanks to my kids our family did), make sure to turn in your clue sheet for a chance to win a free stay at Gaylord National Resort.
5. Pool Party Fun
The kids and even some of the adults in our group had a great time swimming at the indoor pool, which was perfectly heated.
Adults can enjoy beverages at the outdoor pool bar, while listening to Sunset Jams (live music from 4-7 every Saturday), and the kids can play in the outdoor splash pad.
It was such a nice surprise to learn that during Gaylord National SummerFest, the resort provides complimentary activities like chalk, bubbles, pool inflatables and more. This mean that parents don’t have to travel with or purchase pool toys when they visit.
- Children under 16 years of age must be supervised by an adult or guardian.
6. Campfire Tales and S’more
Families can gather around the campfire (which is right inside the lower atrium) and listen to a story while enjoying a yummy s’more. This event was the perfect place for families to relax while having a sweet snack together.
This SummerFest event takes place on Saturdays at 5:30pm, 6:30pm and 7:30pm and is free for registered hotel guests.
7. Best of Summer Atrium Show
This free show, which happens every night at 8:30pm and 9pm, can be viewed from all over the atrium. Another way to view the show is from a balcony with an atrium view.
I really loved watching all of the kids and adults dancing around together to some fun summertime music, while the kaleidoscope of colorful laser lights and dancing water jets from fountain lights up the Gaylord National Resort.
You truly feel like you are at a family friendly concert, complete with an awesome laser show!
8. Movies Under the Stars
Get your family and friends together and grab a seat or a blanket, then head down to the lower atrium for Gaylord National’s Movie Under the Stars. This event takes place on Saturdays at 9:15pm and is free for hotel guests.
During our stay they played the movie Over the Hedge, which even my teenage son was excited for since he hadn’t seen it in a while.
9. Silent Disco Party
Now I have to say this was our family’s first time being part of a Silent Disco Party, and now we don’t want to travel anywhere that doesn’t offer this form of entertainment. My kids have not stopped talking about all of the Silent Disco Fun since we left the resort.
Every Saturday from 9pm-11pm hotel guests can pick up special Silent Disco headphones at the Belvedere Lobby Bar area ($10 fee for visitors). The headphones have 3 channels, which are tuned to select music mixes that are created by a DJ. Pick you favorite station or keep switching it up so you can dance and lip sync while having the time of your life.
If you want to see some of our awesome moves from this evening, check out my Instagram highlight titled SummerFest to watch all the fun.
10. Capital Wheel
The Capital Wheel isn’t actually a part of Gaylord National SummerFest, but since the National Harbor is only about a 5 minute walk from the resort, it’s definitely an exciting thing to do.
Take a ride (approximately 12-15 minutes) that is full of #WheelFun, 180 feet in the air over the National Harbor. Each gondola can hold 6-8 people and they are air conditioned and heated, so it really is a comfortable ride.
During your Gaylord National Summerfest experience, make sure to check out the views of the Capital Wheel. It’s especially beautiful all lit up at night.
Gaylord National SummerFest is perfect for an overnight stay, long weekend getaways and more. My family and I were so impressed with the resort and all the activities for every age that we want to make a return visit this summer.
Get started making your family’s most unforgettable summer ever by booking your stay now! Gaylord National Resort is making it extra special with a $50 resort credit per night, which can be used toward dining or at the luxurious Relache Spa.
Which one of these exciting things at SummerFest would you want to do first?
* My family and I received a weekend stay at the Gaylord National Resort, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.
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