If you’ve driven past Maryland’s National Harbor recently, you may have noticed a new addition to the harbor skyline (if you missed it, your kids were probably quick to point it out). A 175-foot Ferris wheel sits at the end of a pier, overlooking the Potomac River and awaiting its first mini-thrill seekers. But they aren’t the only ones who are going to get hooked on this sweet ride. Here’s why a go around on the Capital Wheel (as it is officially being called) is a family affair.

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The views are spectacular.
Pointing out the tiny people and cars from a traditional Ferris wheel is fun, but the views from The Capital Wheel will leave your little ones speechless. Soaring 17 stories into the air and going 1.5 rotations per minute, they can stare across two states and the District of Columbia. Even the London Eye can’t beat that. While taking in the scenery, you can give Junior a pop-quiz for his history class—the U.S. Capitol, Pentagon, Arlington Cemetery, Navy Yards, Washington Monument, and Joint Base Anacostia Bolling are all visible from the top of the wheel.

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The gondolas are climate controlled.
Forget the Ferris wheels of yesteryear where a bar and swinging basket became a ride unto itself as you rotated around and around and try not to lose your sandal. These days, little ones can ride in style with climate-controlled gondolas that seat eight, so the whole family (and then some) can pile in and check out the sites. Also meaning, when the kids are melting from the scorching heat, or freezing from the polar vortex, they’ll stop complaining as they stare in wonder at the planes going in and out of Reagan from their warm and cozy (or cool and chill) gondola.

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The lighting is supercool.
A dazzling array of 1.6 million (!!!) multicolored LED lights illuminate the Wheel day and night, so no matter the time of year little ones can marvel at riding a real life rainbow. Christmas in July? Yes, please.

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They don’t sell deep fried “FILL IN THE BLANK” at the concession stand.
With a concession stand at the base of the ride operated by the legendary Wolfgang Puck, grown-ups won’t be able to muster through with just a granola bar when little (err, big) tummies start growling. Foods made with local, seasonal ingredients definitely beats candied apples and deep fried Twinkies. Kosher, vegan and gluten-free dishes are also slated to make a concession stand appearance.

The Capital Wheel (National Harbor, Md)
Cost: $15/adults; $11.25/kids 3-11; Free/kids 2 and under
Open: Daily, 10 am-10 pm
Online: nationalharbor.com/capitalwheel

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Has your family taken a spin on The Capital Wheel? Tell us about your experience in the comments section below. 

—Hilary Riedemann

Photos courtesy of The Capital Wheel via Facebook