A New 180-foot Observation Wheel Opens Near Washington, D.C. | Travel | Smithsonian
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The Capital Wheel has 1.6 million programmable LED lights. (Erin Corneliussen)

A New 180-foot Observation Wheel Opens Near Washington, D.C.

National Harbor's newest attraction offers sweeping views of the Potomac River and an LED light show

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National Harbor, a Maryland development on the Potomac River featuring shops, hotels and restaurants, opened its latest attraction just in time for Memorial Day weekend, the 180-foot-tall Capital Wheel. With the addition of the Ferris wheel, the area is hoping to draw families and tourists visiting the National Mall. Visitors can enjoy panoramas of the Potomac, and distant views of the Washington Monument and the Capitol building, in one of 42 climate-controlled gondolas.

The National Harbor marina. (National Harbor)
The Capital Wheel features 42 climate-controlled gondolas. (National Harbor)
Tim Marrone, right, and Mark Lohr engage guests at the opening of the Capital Wheel. (Erin Corneliussen)
Visitors to National Harbor play on 'The Awakening' sculpture. (Erin Corneliussen)
The Capital Wheel seen through the hand from 'The Awakening' sculpture on the shore of National Harbor. (Erin Corneliussen)
The Capital Wheel has 1.6 million programmable LED lights. (Erin Corneliussen)
The LED lights on the Capital Wheel have a 16,387,064-color spectrum. (Erin Corneliussen)
Looking on National Harbor from the Capital Wheel. (Erin Corneliussen)

To get the best views of Washington, D.C., be sure to grab a ride on a clear, sunny day since the wheel sits about 8 miles from the National Mall. If visiting National Harbor in the evening, the Capital Wheel is covered in 1.6 million LED lights that are programmed to change color in coordination with music.

The Capital Wheel opened Friday, May 23. It will be open 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily through August. Tickets are $15 per person for a 12 to 15 minute ride. For those looking for an upgrade, tickets to a VIP Gondola, outfitted with wine chillers, leather bucket seats and a DVD player, are also available.

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