Quick Guide: The Capital Wheel at National Harbor

by Carrie McLaren with no comments

The two ‘must do’s’ on the National Harbor/Washington D.C. portion of our road trip — see the Lincoln Memorial and ride The Capital Wheel.

We made it to the Lincoln Memorial (I’ll share my tips soon!), but our ride on the Capital Wheel was just as memorable! It brought out the big smiles and laughs as we caught some pretty impressive views too!

quick guide - the capital wheel at national harbor

image courtesy of NationalHarbor.com

Miss Molly was a little uneasy with riding the wheel, but by the time we made our first complete rotation, she was excited about it. Maggie on the other hand – she was the ultimate big kid – she couldn’t stop looking out the window and asking questions about things we could see outside.

Here’s a look at the fun we had on The Capital Wheel and some things to expect when planning your own visit too!

The Capital Wheel - View from AC Hotels

Things To Know About Riding The Capital Wheel

As we made our way down the pier to board The Capital Wheel, I could feel the excitement building with each of us. We stopped for a quick picture under the wheel and the staff let us know we had the option to purchase it after our ride. And within minutes, we were boarding our gondola!

It takes two minutes to complete a rotation, and you’ll make a few rotations within your ride. The Wheel can load six gondolas at once, so there’s not too much stopping and starting once you are onboard.

The Capital Wheel - Harbor View

Each gondola is air conditioned, there are no seatbelts (don’t need them anyways!) and yep, there’s also an emergency button on the ceiling in case you need to speak with an attendant down below. There’s music playing on the speaker — and we had our own little dance party during our time in the air.

And as soon as we departed, Maggie was already asking when we could go again.

PRO TIP: If you plan to stay within the National Harbor, many of the hotels have Capital Wheel packages pairing up accommodations and tickets! (I highly recommend the AC Hotel National Harbor – they have rooms with views of the Wheel too.)

The Capital Wheel - Boardwalk View

On my next visit, I’m going to plan to spend more time at The Flight Deck – the lounge area underneath The Capital Wheel. With beer, wine, light snacks, sodas, fire pits and happy hour specials (yay!), this open-aired area has great views of the waterfront and the wheel too.

And The Flight Deck is kid-friendly – always a win for traveling families. Plus, you do not have to purchase tickets to enjoy this area. If you plan to ride the Wheel (and you should!), you can purchase a themed Tervis glass to take your drink with you!

The Capital Wheel at National Harbor - Maggie in Gondola

Fun Facts About The Capital Wheel at National Harbor

At its highest spot, The Capital Wheel comes in at 180 feet off the ground. And in addition to the fantastic views from way up there, the wheel in itself is a pretty massive structure.

And being that I love fun facts, I did a bit of researching about the wheel. Check out these cool stats –

  • The Capital Wheel is 180 feet tall
  • Speed – 2 minutes for one rotation
  • Total ride time – 12 to 15 minutes
  • There are 42 climate-controlled gondolas (yes, there is A/C in the summer, heat in the winter!)
  • The wheel can accommodate 336 passengers at once
  • The wheel has 1.6 million LED lights, fully programmable (the colors are incredible at night!)
  • There is a VIP gondola named National Harbor One – it includes a glass floor, leather bucket seats, Amazon Alexa technology to choose your own music, disco lights and a photo package

So many cool facts about this massive structure. Not gonna lie, I found myself looking up from underneath to soak in the view!

Capital Wheel at National Harbor - Night VIP Car

What Can I See From The Capital Wheel at National Harbor? 

We had just seen the Washington Monument close up the day before our ride on the Wheel, so it was extra fun to see it again from high atop The Capital Wheel. I think I saw the top of the Jefferson Memorial too, just to the left of the Washington Monument.

Other points of interest include the National Cathedral, Alexandria and Prince George’s County. We also really loved that we could watch planes flying down the adjacent Potomac River as they made their way into Reagan Airport.

Capital Wheel at National Harbor Views - Collage

Learn More About The Capital Wheel 

To plan your visit to The Capital Wheel, visit www.TheCapitalWheel.com – you can buy your tickets right from the website! ($15 for adults, $11.25 for children. Seniors are $13.50)

Follow along with The Capital Wheel Facebook page for the latest news and events and find them on Twitter at @CapitalWheel. And for tons of great pictures of the wheel – check out The Capital Wheel on Instagram.


Are You Ready to Ride The Capital Wheel?


** My family and I received complimentary tickets to The Capital Wheel from Icon Attractions. We were also surprised with complimentary tickets from the AC Hotel National Harbor, so we were able to enjoy this attraction twice! Thoughts and opinions here are my own. **

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