The Capital Wheel is a 180-foot-tall observation wheel at the National Harbor that opened in May 2014. It is positioned at the end of a new pier overlooking the Potomac river and has amazing views of the Capitol, National Mall, and Arlington National Cemetery. I was intrigued ever since I heard about the wheel coming to DC since it reminded me of the London Eye that I rode while studying abroad in college. The Capital Wheel is only half the size of the London Eye but is still very impressive. I decided to take the girls on a beautiful fall morning after visiting the National Children’s Museum and we all greatly enjoyed the experience.
The Capital Wheel has 42 climate controlled gondolas, so you can ride comfortably in any type of weather. They hold 8 people and also include music and an emergency call button if you need to stop and get out for any reason. Be careful not to bump your head when entering the gondola as they are not tall enough to stand up in…..I know from experience :).
The wheel makes about 6 rotations, so the flight lasts approximately 12-15 minutes. We rode on a clear day, so we had great views of the city and watched planes fly into National Airport.
After riding The Capital Wheel, we went over to The Awakening, a larger than life sculpture embedded in the earth at the water’s edge. The girls enjoyed running around in the sand and playing on the different parts of the sculpture. There are a few Adirondak chairs where you can sit to enjoy coffee or take in the beautiful view from this area.
While at the National Harbor there are a few other fun things to do with children. There is an Americana-themed carousel featuring whimsical creatures located at the north end along the waterfront. The carousel is open only on the weekends and tickets are $5 per child. The area housing the carousel also has a new playground, toddler play area, and picnic tables.
Also while at the National Harbor you can rent kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, and pedal-boats.
The National Children’s Museum is another attraction at the harbor and is just a couple blocks up from the waterfront. See my review here.
I definitely recommend visiting the National Harbor and going for a ride on The Capital Wheel. It is an easy drive from the city or suburbs and an activity that children will enjoy. I would love to go back sometime and ride the wheel at night for a different experience.
Good to Know:
•Tickets are $15 (ages 12-60), $11.25 (ages 3-11), $13.50 (over 60), free (2 & under). You can buy tickets online or at the onsite ticket booth on the pier.
•Take advantage of a Certifikid deal currently being offered now through November 14 – kids ride free with the purchase of a $15 adult ticket.
•Hours: Sun-Thurs 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 10am-11pm.
•Strollers are not permitted on the gondolas. There is a designated stroller parking area just in front of the ramp leading up to The Capitol Wheel.