AAA Four Diamond High-Rise Hotel with Several Restaurants
About 10 miles downriver from the Lincoln Memorial on the banks of the Potomac, a glass atrium towers 18 stories above the Gaylord National. No other building in the capital contains as many floors. Beneath the massive glass dome, street lamps, sculpted shrubbery, and lighted fountains populate a courtyard that feels more like a town square in scope and activity.
The Gaylord's seven eateries and watering holes present dining options for pretty much any occasion, from date night to Dan Quayle's birthday. At the signature restaurant, Old Hickory Steakhouse, chefs prepare porterhouse and rib eyes sourced from a free-range cattle ranch. An extensive wine collection complements an even more impressive selection of artisan cheese, overseen by the resident maitre d'fromage. On Sundays, the Pienza Italian Market puts on a brunch buffet with fresh pastries, seafood salads, baked pasta, slow-cooked meats, and made-to-order waffles and omelets.
Aestheticians at Relâche Spa perform hair, nail, skincare, and massage services within the 20,000-square-foot spa, which also contains an indoor pool, fitness center, and saunas. After a day of pampering, guests can flaunt new hairstyles and relaxed deltoid muscles at Pose Ultralounge, the hotel's rooftop nightclub, with floor-to-ceiling windows and a wraparound terrace that overlook the marina.
Oxon Hill, Maryland: Potomac Riverside Town Minutes from DC
Gaylord National sits on the banks of the Potomac River, which flows south from DC to the Atlantic Ocean. Outside the resort, a water taxi ferries passengers across the Potomac to the port town of Alexandria, Virginia, a former tobacco trading post and George Washington's hometown, founded in 1749. Visitors can shop along the cobblestone streets, step into a historical museum, or try on replicas of Washington's wooden teeth.
A famous pair of giant pandas reside at the National Zoo in the tree-lined Woodley Park neighborhood of DC, about 15 miles from the resort. Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, two of the United States' few captive pandas, amble about and munch on bamboo in their 12,000-square-foot enclosure, which features streams, a water-cooled grotto, and an indoor habitat. The National Zoo houses about 2,000 animals from around the world, including elephants, cheetahs, and gorillas.
Located just north of the National Mall in downtown DC, the Newseum chronicles the modern history of journalism, with artifacts that run the gamut from the Unabomber's cabin to an exhibit of eight 12-foot-high concrete slabs of the Berlin Wall. One gallery is dedicated solely to Pulitzer Prize–winning photographs, and another to the media coverage of 9/11.