There’s something timelessly romantic about a ferris wheel. Snuggle with your date, and watch the sunset as you rise above the river. Or bring your kids, and give them a thrill ride high in the sky.
The Capital Wheel is this year’s biggest addition to National Harbor. It was created as Washington’s version of the observation wheels that have become popular around the world, such as the Singapore Flyer, the Las Vegas High Roller, and the London Eye. The Capital Wheel is smaller than those similar rides, but it’s a fun outing if you’re looking for a new adventure.
The Capital Wheel opened at National Harbor in May of 2014. This 180-foot tall observation wheel has 42 enclosed, climate-controlled gondolas that offer a comfortable and safe ride. Even if you prefer to stay on the ground, you’ll enjoy this dramatic addition to the cityscape at National Harbor. The Capital Wheel is the first thing you see as you cross the Woodrow Wilson toward Maryland, and it’s visible from many of the streets and restaurants of National Harbor.
I visited National Harbor recently with a group of adults and children. We began our outing with a picnic lunch by the water. The Awakening sculpture rises from a sandy beach near the entrance to the Capital Wheel. People are welcome to climb on the statue, which makes it a quirky play area for children. We sat by the river and enjoyed the view for a while before heading to the Wheel.
Tickets cost $15 per person. We visited the Capital Wheel on a busy Sunday afternoon, yet there was no line for the ticket booth. The line for boarding is deceptive, though, because a building at the base of the Wheel conceals the people waiting to board. So at first we thought that there was no line at all, but then we soon discovered a 15 minute wait. Considering the large number of people visiting National Harbor on that weekend, we were content with that. It was a pleasant wait by the water.
Soon we were rising above the river. The Wheel offers a grand view of National Harbor and the Potomac. It’s located about ten miles from downtown Washington, D.C., but you can still see the Washington Monument and many other DC landmarks in the distance. I particularly enjoyed the aerial view of the layered colors and architecture of National Harbor. This beautifully designed community looks great from the street, but even better from the sky.
The ride lasted about 20 minutes, and was gentle and comfortable. In our group, the unanimous response was positive. The kids raved about it for hours, and even the adults with fears of heights enjoyed it.
If you visit the Capital Wheel, be sure to include time to wander around National Harbor and enjoy the variety of shops and restaurants. End your evening at the newly opened Walrus Oyster and Ale House for local seafood, or stay close to the water and sit on the patio of Redstone American Grill as the sun sets behind the Capital Wheel.
If you’d rather keep it simple, find a bench by the water to enjoy the riverside scenery that we are lucky to have here in the DC area. From now on, we also have an enchanting ferris wheel to enhance that skyline.
The Capital Wheel is located on Waterfront Street in Oxon Hill, Maryland. To get there, take the Beltway south. After you cross the Potomac on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, take the first exit toward National Harbor.
Have you ridden the Capital Wheel yet? What did you think? What else do you recommend at National Harbor?