The Best Christmas Activities to Enjoy at Gaylord National Resort with Your Family

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This post is sponsored by Gaylord National Resort.  We received a complimentary resort stay in order to facilitate this post.  No compensation was received. All opinions are 100% our own.

Christmas on the Potomac + Gaylord National Resort

We recently had the opportunity to stay at Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center to experience many of their holiday activities that help to make up the appropriately dubbed “Christmas on the Potomac” event hosted annually by the National Harbor.  Check our review, along with tips and tricks below to get the most out of YOUR visit! Festivities run through January 1st.

Kids Watching Atrium Gaylord National FEATURE

Christmas on the Potomac

Living just a few short hours by car to Washington, DC, we recently had the opportunity to travel from our home in the Philadelphia, PA suburbs to visit Gaylord National Resort.  Until this trip, we had never stayed at a Gaylord property, though it has been recommended to us a few times by friends over the years.  Every year beginning in mid-November, the National Harbor kicks off a holiday celebration called Christmas on the Potomac. From a spin on the gigantic Capital Wheel to carousel and train rides, hot cocoa, gingerbread house making, to the iconic ICE! experience at Gaylord National, the only thing you need to make sure you bring is enough energy to do it all.  There are so many family friendly activities offered through the end of December!

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you might have caught some of our amazing weekend at Gaylord National. I put together this post to give you some more pics, video, details, tips and tricks of everything we saw and did during our 2-night stay. I hope that it’s helpful as you plan your own trip to enjoy Christmas on the Potomac with your family!

The Hotel: Gaylord National Resort and Conference Center

You guys.  If you want to talk about jawdropping awe… that was my family as we walked up to the hulking 19-story atrium in Gaylord National. I’m not even sure how to describe it and you probably know by now, I’m never at a loss for words.  This stunning atrium looks out onto the Potomac River.  The Capital Wheel (a giant ferris wheel with fully enclosed passenger compartments) looms tall in the background. At Christmas time, you will see a 55 FOOT tall suspended Christmas tree on display as the crowning jewel of the atrium.

Atrium Gaylord National 2

Atrium Gaylord National

I’m going to be honest and tell you right now that you won’t have much need to leave the resort during your stay. This full service resort boasts multiple dining options (yes, they even serve Starbucks!), shopping, a pool, a fitness center and more.

We had an atrium-view room on the 5th floor and we spent so much time on our balcony taking in the sights.  Our room provided a very comfortable amount of space for our family of 4 and had various in-room amenities including a safe, refrigerator, and a coffee maker.

Atrium Gaylord National

Room Gaylord National 2

Room Gaylord National 3

Gaylord National Pool

Best Christmas Activities at Gaylord National Resort

Let’s just jump right in, shall we?  This year’s theme is the classic, A Charlie Brown Christmas. Some of the activities described below include the Charlie Brown and may vary in subsequent years, so make sure you take a look at the Christmas on the Potomac site to get the most current info before you travel.

ICE! (this year featuring A Charlie Brown Christmas)

Don the famous blue parka and head into a climate controlled environment kept at just 9 degrees Fahrenheit and delight in the world of Charlie Brown and friends. Close to 2 million pounds of carved ice take center stage as you wind your way through scene after scene.  Be sure to take a turn on the ice SLIDE and don’t miss the ice walkway underneath the slides!

Ice Charlie Brown Christmas Gaylord National

Snoopy Doghouse Gaylord Ice

Charlie Brown Christmas Ice

We highly recommend wearing your winter coat plus a hat and gloves in addition to the blue parka that you are handed at the attraction entrance. For smaller children, snow pants would be a great idea.  The exhibit is incredibly cold, but we found that having multiple layers on allowed us to linger a little longer than some of our fellow visitors.

Ice Slide Gaylord Resort

Ice Cave Gaylord Resort

Christmas Village

The perfect stop after your ICE! experience is the Christmas Village.  There you can return your blue parka and grab a cup of hot cocoa to warm up. There is a small ice skating rink, a carousel and train ride for kids 36-42″ tall, gingerbread house and cookie decorating, pictures with Santa and more.  Note: these items all require additional ticket purchases that are not included with your ICE! admission.

Don’t miss the Christmas Shoppe for all sorts of Christmas decorations and ICE! souvenirs. See some clips of Christmas Village in our video below!

Breakfast with Charlie Brown and Friends

Offered on most weekends during the holiday season (check website for availability and ticket purchases), enjoy this super fun character meal experience.  We were greeted by our favorite animated pooch, Snoopy, and posed for pictures with him before heading to our table.  (Pictures are then available for purchase at $20/package.)

Snoopy Gaylord National

This is a buffet style breakfast with an inviting spread of classic favorites. Enjoy an omelette station or a waffle bar (complete with an array of toppings that Lily was only too happy to try). The food offerings in the middle of the room included hot foods like bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs and tater tots.  Still other options were avaiable like yogurt, fresh fruit and a variety of pastries.  We thought the food selection was excellent and plentiful!

During our meal we enjoyed live entertainment from two talented singers who not only led the crowd in singing holiday favorites, but also played games with the kids including Simon Says and the Limbo.

We were about 10 minutes into our meal when the characters started to arrive for meet and greets.  Lucy, Linus and of course, Charlie Brown, all made an appearance. Each one worked his or her way about the room stopping at each table for pictures and a quick hello.

The kids LOVED this meal!!  It was a fun experience and a great addition to Gaylord National’s holiday festivities.

Charlie Brown and Friends Breakfast

Cirque Dream Unwrapped

I know that many of you are familiar with the Cirque franchise of shows. Gaylord National is offering the chance to experience the excitement of a live theatrical show right in the hotel atrium! Enjoy the music, the acrobatics and other high flying fun during this show.

Most days offer 2 performances with a 3rd performance offered on Saturdays.  You can find a spot to watch from multiple viewing areas in the atrium, or you can purchase a ticket for guaranteed seating.  Tickets start at $19.99.

Gaylord National Cirque Dreams Unwrapped

A Christmas Wish – laser and music show in the atrium

I’m going to tell you right now – I think this show was my favorite experience during our weekend at Gaylord National. This free show plays 4 times every night and is truly a sight to behold. The atrium comes alive with music, laser lights, dancing fountains, and at the very end, yes, IT SNOWS.

The center of this show is the giant suspended Christmas tree that hangs in the hotel atrium.

The show is truly spectacular and you will want to make sure you see it AT LEAST once during your visit!

Wish Atrium Christmas Show Gaylord National

Watch our adventures in this video I put together:


Best Christmas Activities to Enjoy at Gaylord National Resort with Your Family

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