Only about an hour away from us, this holiday season we decided to take a family road trip to see the highly acclaimed ICE! exhibit, experience the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, and discover National Harbor located in Oxon Hill, Maryland.
I'm not sure why we haven't done it sooner!
The hotel lobby was gorgeous and festive with holiday sparkle. I had reserved this getaway with a fantastic package deal that included an Executive Suite, 4 tickets to ICE!, a family picture, and even a small daily resort credit. Upon first checking into our room, we were excited to start exploring our accommodations for the new few days. The room was perfect for our family and had plenty of room which included a king bedroom, living area with sofa bed, and a dining room with table and chairs. The dining room easily fit the roll-away bed that we requested, and the kids actually had separate rooms.
Ready for a quick drink and snack, we headed over to the Belvedere Lobby Bar that overlooks all of the holiday festivities. We were mesmerized by the abundance of beautiful decorations everywhere. With fresh made sushi and cocktails, it was a great place to unwind and enjoy the view.
We had dinner reservations the first night at Old Hickory Steakhouse for an elegant and leisurely dinner. Chic and stunning decor was the ideal backdrop for a delicious meal. Starting off the evening with sodas for the kids, we enjoyed special drinks from the bar. I went trendy with the Wall Street Mule, although was torn because they also have an extensive wine collection.
Since it was "vacation", we splurged and started off the meal with a gorgeous Seafood Tower. It was fantastic and the seafood was remarkably fresh. My adventuresome son always impresses not only us, but the wait staff as well. So we weren't surprised when he ordered the Beef Tartare. Plated beautifully, he wouldn't share and absolutely loved it.
My pickier eater was happy with his appetizer order of french fries and a side dish of macaroni and cheese for dinner. Our delicious entrees of rib-eye, filet mignon and lamb chops, with a side of garlic mashed potatoes, were traditional steakhouse favorites.
We couldn't eat a bite more but didn't want to miss out on the phenomenal dessert menu and cheese selections, so our waiter graciously packed them up to-go. We headed right up to our room and put them in our mini-refrigerator to devour later on.
Every night during the holiday season, the Gaylord National puts on quite a holiday light show. The place goes wild with music, lights, and even pretend snow that flurries down. It's an amazing event! After experiencing this, we were ready for more and headed out to see the National Harbor area and Capital Wheel festively lit up, too.
The next day, the excitement was building to see the two million pounds of carved, colored ice sculptures and experience the ice slides. Hearing ahead of time that it was all kept at a chilly 9 degrees, we dressed in layers, grabbed our hats and gloves, and headed out to receive our special ICE! parkas to keep us comfortably warm. From the moment we first entered the exhibit, we couldn't stop excitedly looking around at the spectacular ice sculptures and designs. The ice was lit up in festive colors through tunnels and slick slides, which the kids loved as they went flying down. The tour wasn't too long and luckily right when I started to feel the chill through my gloves, we neared the end. (Click ICE! for even more of our amazing photographs we captured.)
Exhausted and hungry, but thrilled from the morning's experience, we headed out to National Harbor to explore the bustling shops and grab a bite to eat. Dodging the rain here and there, we were able to do a little shopping at the unique shops. My boys went crazy in the colorful and sweet Peeps store. And loving culinary finds, we were thrilled to browse (and taste samples) in Stonewall Kitchen for delicious sauces, creative pancake and waffle mixes, and other gourmet food.
Bright and early the next morning, we headed to Pienza for breakfast in the main atrium of the hotel. I had read ahead of time that Pienza sources local ingredients and products, so I was really looking forward to trying it. It was truly a delicious buffet with a terrific selection right down to the decadent chocolate fountain. Perfect!
Disappointed to leave, we were all totally satisfied that it was the perfect holiday getaway with amazing activities, beautiful surroundings, wonderful service and delicious food. We hope to make it an annual event and go back again next year for a trip to the ICE!
My Virtual Vacations Blog
About the Author
Thanks for cruising by! Along with creating this website and blog, I work in an office full-time and as a mom to two energetic teenage boys. With our family's busy work and school schedule, we look forward to traveling during holidays. Although it seems that our family can never agree on anything, we do when it comes to vacations. We typically travel on cruises or stay at luxury hotels. We enjoy upscale dining, beautiful decor, excellent service, and spacious accommodations. However, we still need family friendly and comfortable. When we are not traveling, I enjoy dining out locally, as well as cooking and baking in my own kitchen.
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About the Photos
Our beautiful photographs are creatively captured by my talented freelance husband/photographer located in Baltimore, MD. Click here to explore more of his work.
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