From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, National Harbor

Stayin’ Cool in the Casino!

By Lani Gering

Stayin’ Cool in the Casino!

It’s a numbers game here! 3 lively bars, 7 happy hours during the week, 8 full service restaurants, 9 food vendors in the National Market, a gorgeous 400 room hotel and spa, a 3,000 seat theater and 24 Hour Gaming – All under one “air conditioned” roof!

I have to admit that I really do like this place! If I had a tad more expendable income, I would probably be considered a “regular” here. I do tend to spend a bit more time at the restaurants than I do in the casino at this point but that is another reason that I like the MGM. Jose Andres’ FISH is my full service restaurant of choice at this point but I haven’t had the pleasure of dining at Voltaggio Brothers Steakhouse yet. However, their bar and lounge is quite inviting. Tap Sports Bar is just that – lots of big screen televisions and large portions of typical bar food and some good cold beers. Marcus’ Classic American and Ginger’s Asian are the only two restaurants that don’t have access to the great waterfront views but they are inviting nonetheless. The National Market food court is one-of-a-kind. You won’t find any chintzy chain restaurants here (unless you consider Starbuck’s in that category). Nine unique venues from the Bento Box to Honey’s Fried Chicken and Waffles grace this space. All with very reasonably priced fare and drinks.

The Theater is a very special space! The sound system and acoustics in this place are over the top! The fact that it only seats 3,000 people also makes for pretty much not having a bad seat in the house! I am looking forward to seeing one of my old favorites, Cher, this month. It’s my birthday present to myself. I hear that her show is fabulous considering her “advanced” age. And….I don’t really care if she is sporting a bit of cosmetic alteration! It is entertainment!

There are some really interesting works of art both inside and outside of the MGM. One of my favorites is the huge Cinderella Shoe by Liao Yibai that is near Sex and the City’s Sarah Jessica Parkers boutique located in The District section of the resort. Music Icon Bob Dylan even has a large sculpture that stands on the perimeter, but my favorite is the piece that welcomes you to the hotel. The Conservatory is a very special area that spans two floors with the best view from the lobby of the hotel. You will miss this if you enter from the parking garage unless you make it a point to walk to the main entrance to the casino. The displays in this area are changed seasonally and are truly works of art. The photo here doesn’t really do it justice. This makes it a welcoming place for everyone.

There are several high end shops in The District section as well. I’m not a big shopper so I don’t really frequent these unless I have shopping guests in town. I do have my eye on a pair of sunglasses in one of the shops so I may have to break down soon and spend the $$$. You pass all of them on the way to the restaurants so window shopping is definitely in order.

Let’s talk about the main attraction – this is the area’s truly “Las Vegas” style casino. The Horseshoe in downtown Baltimore is a close second but has a ways to go to compete with the MGM. A Poker Room that rivals many others, Black Jack and Craps tables, Roulette Wheels and a plethora of slot machines round out the gaming. However, at this point there isn’t any sports betting offered here. There is gambling for the high rollers in the high stakes rooms and plenty more for those of us “low” rollers. I actually like to play Black Jack but at this point in my life can’t justify spending $25 a hand so I have taken up the penny slots! Don’t laugh, I have held my own with these 2017 versions of the “one armed bandit”. My favorite is one of the Buffalo Herd themed machines located in my “secret” section of the main floor. There are several of them but there is “my” special one and I’m not saying where it is. You can have a lot of fun with $20 on a penny machine if you don’t get carried away. Be sure to secure your MLife Rewards card on your first visit. You will be surprised at what you might win. I know I was.

If you haven’t taken the opportunity to explore the MGM National Harbor, it is worth the trip whether or not you gamble. It is designed such that there is no need to even enter the casino if that isn’t your thing. Just a visit every time they change out the Conservatory display to take in lunch or dinner is worth the trek. Like with everything else these days, you can log on to the MGM National Harbor website and other social media outlets to get details on everything under their roof.

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