National Harbor is very conveniently located to Washington, DC area as well as Old Town in Virginia. Happily for us it's only about half an hour from Annapolis too!
Gaylord Hotel - National Harbor
I am not exaggerating when I say that this hotel is one of my favorite hotels in the world and I think it is hands down my favorite hotel in the US. Pulling up to the hotel it is very striking as it sits on the water and the beautiful enormous glass atrium is impossible to miss. At this time of the year everything is especially beautiful because they are in the midst of decorating for the holidays. Sadly we don't get to see the full festive decor because it's still too early but I look forward to going there after Thanksgiving once we move to the area so I can fully check it out!
The hotel is huge! And it all surrounds a beautiful indoor atrium which has shops, bars, restaurants and places to sit and admire the view.
We got a hotel room with a balcony overlooking the atrium which was a real treat. (I can't imagine ever booking anything different from now on because we enjoyed it so much!) The first 2 nights we were there they were testing the lights and such so we got to see some of the spectacular decorations.
The rooms are very nicely done with great bedding, wonderful shower and clocks with iPod docks. The suites (which we had) also have a living room area with a couch, a second TV (there's one in the bedroom as well) and a table. This made the room absolutely perfect for our pre-party for the Marine Corps Ball.
Perhaps one of the best things about the hotel though is their attention to customer service. Anything you need they will be sure it is taken care of and any issue that you might have they will ensure it is resolved right away! If you are ever in this area - especially around the holidays - I HIGHLY recommend spending at least 1 evening at the hotel.
Thursday night Ken, Jared and I headed into Old Town to check out one of Jared's favorite places for dinner - Columbia Firehouse. The ambiance is fantastic - it's an old firehouse as you might have guessed by the name. The wait staff were very attentive and very knowledgable about not only the food menu but the drinks as well. They have an outstanding selection of draft and bottled microbrews and it made me very happy to not see a single crappy beer on the list of beers offered!! We started off with some mussels that had ground mustard as part of the dish and they were delicious! They also have a wine based mussel appetizer that I fully intend to try the next time we go back there! For dinner the Hangar Steak came highly recommended and we were not disappointed! The meat was tender and delicious! I would absolutely go back to this place for dinner again!
Chick & Ruth's - Annapolis
Friday we had to pick up the Van Dykes from the airport so we decided to take a quick trip into Annapolis to show them around. We were in desperate need of lunch so we headed first to Chick & Ruth's Delly which is an absolute institution of Annapolis. (and yes they do spell Delly that way!) It's an old style dinner/delly with an enormous menu of nearly anything you could possibly want. We got a variety of sandwiches and all of them were very tasty! Definitely take them up on their offer of a bowl of pickles. Those are fantastic too!
Harrington's - National Harbor
That evening we had fun Happy Hour-ing on Don & Anne's boat. Afterwards we headed to Harrington's for a bite to eat. It was rather sleepy when we came in. (It's an Irish restaurant and bar.) I can't speak too much to the food cuz I wasn't too hungry but I think everyone enjoyed what they got. After they kicked us out of the dining room we hung out in the bar which picked up tremendously after about 11:30pm. All in all an okay place to hang out.
We were in desperate need of some brunch Saturday morning (I know this is so shocking to many of you) so we headed to Rosa Mexicano in National Harbor. Great views and they offer brunch options on the weekends. The drinks were definitely not anything to write home about. In fact they offer 3 different types of Bloody Marys and 2 types were tried at our table and neither was any good. They are allegedly well known for their pomegranate margarita which was also short of fabulous. The food was tasty but definitely different than we expected. I think I would be willing to give this place one more try but I am still not entirely sold on it.
Pienza Italian Market
Sunday morning was a bit of a struggle for most of us so we just hauled ourselves downstairs for a quick breakfast in the hotel itself. Pienza has a great buffet as well as good general menu options. All of us who had the Virginia Ham & Cheddar omelet were quite happy as were those who ordered the American Breakfast. Would definitely recommend this place!
Well that wraps up the general National Harbor and such stuff... next blog will be about the ball itself I promise! :)