in partnership
AC Lounge (Photo courtesy: AC Hotel)

Weekend Staycation: National Harbor Bar Crawl

Every now and then, it helps to unwind with a good, old-fashion staycation. And this fall, one of the best deals in town is at National Harbor.

For this overnight, you’ll want to gather your best group of guy or girlfriends because the AC Hotel is offering a special weekend deal, where they’ll cover the first-round of booze, plus any cover charges on your bar crawl adventure.

The package starts at $294 per night and includes free valet parking. This European-styled hotel, run by Marriott, has river views and features a lobby bar and dining room with an old-school meat slicer.

Your check-in includes two welcome cocktails at the AC Lounge, plus there is a wide range of Spanish tapas and charcuterie. Eat up because you have a long night ahead. The hotel package includes three $20 gift cards to be used at neighboring bars and restaurants.

Start at the Walrus Oyster & Ale House and slurp down a dozen raw oysters. Your bartender will be able to help you pick a wine pairing or sample a few varietals from the dozen or so wines on tap.

Next up is Granite City, a microbrewery, currently featuring a special Oktoberfest menu. Order a few rounds of beer and say “Prost!” Your last stop is Bobby McKey's, National Harbor’s only dueling piano bar. By this point in the night, you should be feeling confident enough to volunteer your squad for an onstage singalong and performance.

On Sunday morning, carbo-load on fresh pastries at the AC Lounge breakfast bar before heading to MGM Casino to test your luck at the slots and table games.

If gambling is not your thing, the casino’s galleria features several luxury shopping brands, including Bryce Harper’s go-to suit store, Stitched, and Sarah Jessica Parker’s shoe boutique, SJP. Meanwhile, some of the best outlet shopping in the area is just a quick five-minute shuttle ride away.

MGM Casino also has bragging rights to top-rated restaurants, including Steak House from Bryan and Michael Voltaggio and Marcus from Chef Samuelsson.

But your best bet is Fish by Chef José Andrés. Snag a seat at Fry Bar. This limited five-seat tasting menu features a wide range of seafood dishes. There are two ways to try the dining experience: “José’s Way”—11 courses, $50 per person, or the “Classics”—eight courses, $40 per person. Either way, be sure to tack on the $20 wine pairing, for a five-star experience that won’t do major damage on your wallet.

Of course, no trip to National Harbor is complete without a ride on the iconic Capital Wheel. Just be sure to reserve your tickets in advance and try to time it for sunset, when the Potomac River reflects the entire spectrum of golden hour.