From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, National Harbor

2023: The Year of the Rabbit

By Lani Gering

For the last few years I have dedicated the February column to the Chinese New Year themed installation in the Conservatory at the MGM Grand. I just love the Chinese New Year “stuff” and I really get excited when I go to a Chinese restaurant and they have the place mats that have all of the years and animals on them. You know, the ones that tell you who you are and aren’t compatible with, what your personality is like, etc.  According to my reliable source – – Rabbit is the fourth animal in the Chinese zodiacs.

About said Rabbit…legend has it that Rabbit was proud – and sometimes arrogant – about its speed. He was neighbors with the Ox and always made fun of how slow he was. One day the Jade Emperor said the zodiac order would be decided by the order in which the animals arrived at his party. Rabbit set off at day break but when he got there, there were no other animals in sight. Thinking that he would obviously be first, he went off to the side and napped. However, when he woke up three other animals had already arrived. One of them was the Ox that he had always looked down on.

This year’s display, as in the past, has elements of Chinese gardens, the likes of pagoda’s and koi fish, along with 16,000 flowers, massive Chinese lanterns and a glistening pond where the beautiful silk rose koi fish is frolicking. The Money Tree is back as well. As far as the animatronics go…the Rabbit moves his ears and there are wild birds chirping in the trees along with the water fall and koi pond. While not as impressive as the Year of the Tiger – it seriously is over the top cool – this installation is definitely worth a trip to the MGM.

The installation opened in January and will be up through March 20th and is available to view 24 hours a day. I always tell people that they don’t have to care about the Casino to visit the Conservatory. There are a wide range of food and drink options that cater to those looking for fine dining and for those who want an affordable meal. The parking is FREE and it doesn’t cost anything to just go look at something beautiful and do some very interesting people watching! My suggestion is to visit on a Wednesday or Thursday to avoid crowds (unless there is a big concert in the Theater) and avoid Mondays and Tuesdays since some of the stores and restaurants aren’t open on these days.

“Fooduary” – National Harbor’s version of Restaurant Week – runs from the 5th through the 12th this year. You will find prix fixe menus, classes and demonstrations from chefs and bartenders at locations throughout the Harbor. Check out the offerings at two of our very favorites – Bond 45 and Fiorella’s Italian Kitchen!

February in the Harbor is pretty mellow but if you want to see what is happening, check out the Harbor Facebook page and the Gaylord National Facebook page as well as their websites to see what other interesting adventures you can get yourself into. The Capital Wheel always has a “Sweetheart” special so be sure to take advantage of the Wheel Love! Promo. For a mere $50 (regularly $62) you receive 2 tickets, 2 beverages from the Flight Deck – cocktails, mocktails, etc. – and 2 souvenir cups. This deal is available on Saturdays and Sundays only at the Flight Deck during operating hours through the 28th.

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