Celebrate the Holidays Family Style: ICE! and Bond 45

Written by Anita

December 19, 2010

‘Tis the season to be jolly…and to entertain visiting family.  Sure, you know which bars have extended happy hours, but you may come up short when it comes to good clean family fun. Luckily, National Harbor has something for everyone this holiday season.

The Gaylord National Resort hosts Christmas on the Potomac—a dizzying array of events and activities that will enchant the whole family. Start your day at Breakfast with the Grinch, where the Mean One himself will join you for a meal featuring Whoville-themed eats (roast beast, anyone?). Afterwards, kids can enjoy hunting for hidden polar bears in a lobby scavenger hunt, riding the Potomac Express miniature train, or marveling at the Dr. Seuss-themed bronze sculptures. But the Gaylord National’s stunning ICE! Pavilion offers the big draw here: two million pounds of ice, hand-carved over 40 days by 40 Chinese artisans from the world famous Harbin Ice Festival

The “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”-themed wonderland starts with a rare retrospective exhibit showcasing the art of Theodore “Dr. Seuss” Geisel. Kids and adults alike will recognize familiar friends like the Cat in the Hat, Horton, Thing One and Thing Two, and Sam I Am. Then, you’ll be handed your regulation down parka (you’ll need it in the nine degree pavillion!) and it’s on to the indoor wonderland that features ten walk-through scenes from the Grinch storybook carved entirely from ice. While there, zip down one of the exhibits two-story-tall slippery ice slides. The last room of the tour features more traditional clear-ice Christmas sculptures, including a full-sized horse and sleigh, life-sized Nativity scene, and a 20-foot tall angel. End your tour with a few figure eights at the ice rink, made entirely of green ice!

Before heading out to dinner, stick around for the breathtaking tree lighting—when the Gaylord’s 60-foot-tall candy glass Christmas tree comes to life in a dazzling lights show. The Gaylord’s stunning fountain will seem to dance to the holiday music as snow slightly falls throughout the indoor atrium.

All this family fun means you’ll have worked up an appetite, which can be well sated at nearby Bond 45. This Italian-style New York chophouse offers hearty portions, perfect for family-style dining. Now under the direction of skilled DC-area chef Enzo Febbraro, Bond 45 has come into its own with a menu that will suit the whole family’s tastes.

Start your meal with some antipasti. A prosciutto flight platter, a tasting of the delicate cured meats, will perfectly suit the meat-lovers of the family; a mozzarella misto platter will satisfy the cheese lovers.  We flipped for the smoky La Quercia Speck prosciutto and the housemade burrata, filled with creamy mascarpone and rich stracchino cheeses. Kids will dig the giant fravoli—crispy (almost eggroll-like) prosciutto-encrusted rectangles that ooze gooey mozzarella and stracchino when you bite into them.

When it comes to entrees, don’t miss the “guitar pasta,” (the chitarra on which it’s cut resembles a guitar). This housemade specialty is mixed with tender jumbo lump crabmeat and shrimp and bathed in a buttery sea urchin sauce. Or try the 101 layer lasagna—50 layers of impossibly thin pasta and 51 layers of rich Bolognese sauce (count them if you dare!). Steaks and chops may be what traditionalists go for, but we really enjoyed the plump boneless rabbit (sorry tiny Tim!), made crunchy and light from the sparkling water in the batter. Still have room for dessert? Then dig into the moist, boozy tiramisu. A very adult ending to a perfectly family-friendly day!

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*Prices and ticket availability vary—buy tickets in advance to make sure that you’re not left out in the cold!