Real Mom Review: The Observation Deck Washington, D.C.By Lia Hobel & Mariana Perez, CertifiKID Subscribers
Posted Feb 13, 2019
Offering an unparalleled, 360-degree view of Washington, DC's majestic monuments and landmarks, The Observation Deck at CEB Tower, located across the Potomac River from DC in Arlington, Virginia, is the newest and coolest way to experience our nation's capital.
We sent two of our MOM Squad ambassadors and their families to The Observation Deck. They received free admission in exchange for providing an honest review of their experience.
Save up to 46% off admission to The Observation Deck with this CertifiKID Deal.
Mariana: You can wander through the 12,000-square-foot space and look out floor-to-ceiling windows, engage in several interactive experiences, have a snack at the café, and linger for as long as you'd like. It's the kind of place where I'll take my family when they come into town, and stop by once in a while for a drink with friends.
What my family enjoyed the most about The Observation Deck was the view of the city from the open-air terrace. There's something very calming about the space... how quiet and relaxing it is up there! The glass elevator ride was a highlight for my kids, as was the 'selfie station' where they could take a special photo with the Washington Monument and Mall in the background.
Lia: Our family has seen the capital from the ground, but never an aerial view from 310 feet above! Let me say, this is by far the best way to take in the true grandeur of Washington, DC. If you’re feeling more daring, you can even go to the open-air terrace for more scenic views.
Much of the excitement happened on the 31st floor at CEB Tower, as it offers a 360-degree panoramic view of the capital’s monuments and landmarks. There are floor-to-ceiling windows in a 12,000-square foot space, which makes it easy to stroll and admire the stunning sights below.
My children, 4 and 2, loved being able to walk right up to the window and sit and watch the people and cars on streets and bridges and the airplanes landing and departing from Reagan Airport. Everything was wonderful, including the staff. They were so helpful. One staff member spent extra time with the kids telling them the specifics of where the airplanes were flying from and to through an app on the iPad.
As you walk around, there are various interactive touch-screen displays that tell you about each location that is at window view. Us adults enjoyed the extra information and the children loved pressing the buttons, even if they didn’t quite understand the significance of the facts they were being told.
One of the best experiences for the kids was the airborne simulator known as HoverDC. The kids loved putting on the headphones as “passengers” on the hover ship as they flew over landmarks. They truly were immersed visually and enjoyed the extra effects to heighten the experience, such as feeling the wind in their face and the revving of the engines.
The elevator ride up and down was just as much a part of the experience as anything else. My children have never experienced traveling up and down an elevator to those heights with wall to ceiling window views. I’d have to say it was their favorite part.
One of the other great features was the free picture souvenir you can take home with you. All you needed was a smartphone to access the website to turn on the camera they have and you download it immediately to your phone. Voila! It made getting a great family picture easy.
Getting There and Getting In
Mariana: From Falls Church, it took around 45 minutes to get to the location because we left at 4:15 p.m. and traffic was TERRIBLE in Rosslyn. Next time, I’d take the Metro. Much faster! It is very easy to find, right across from the Rosslyn Metro station. The CEB Tower itself is very distinctive.
There is a dedicated parking garage for CEB Tower near the entrance, which would have been the closest and most convenient, but I couldn’t see how much it cost so we parked at a garage a block away for $5, which I found using the SpotHero app on my phone. There are many public parking garages in the area, and if you’re lucky you can find parking on the street for free.
It was very quick to get in! We picked up our tickets at the box office and then immediately went through security, then were whisked onto the elevator.
Lia: CEB Tower was very easy to find. We typed the physical address into our GPS and it took us right to it. Fortunately, the building number is visible.
You can use any of the parking apps, including reserving a parking spot in one of the surrounding garages. We parked right across the street at 1000 Wilson Avenue and paid $6 on a Saturday. There were more than enough options for parking! This parking location is across from the main doors to the building, but there are separate doors on the side of the building for The Observation Deck.
When we arrived we were able to walk right in without any line. We visited on a Saturday around noon.
Recommended Age Range
Mariana: My kids are 11 and 14. Grandma (age 63) also joined us. The Observation Deck is great for all ages!
Lia: My boys are 4 and 2. Honestly, it's something that any age can enjoy. Even though they might not understand the historical significance and importance of what they were listening to on the touch screens and seeing visually, they still had appreciation and curiosity.
Time Recommended to Enjoy Experience
Mariana: To experience everything The Observation Deck has to offer, I'd allow 45 minutes to an hour, maybe longer if you order a meal.
Lia: 1 hour.
Nearby Food and Sights:
Mariana: Visitors to The Observation Deck can order a variety of food and drinks, including alcoholic beverages, from the onsite café and bar. The drinks and snacks are kind of pricey, but there are lots of restaurants in the area within walking distance.
My kids always like walking through the spheres and tunnels in Dark Star Park, also nearby. A little bit further away, but still within walking distance, are Roosevelt Island and the Iwo Jima Memorial.
Would Your Family Visit Again?
Mariana: Yes, we plan on visiting The Observation Deck again! I look forward to seeing the view during different seasons and taking out-of-town guests for the first time when they come to visit!
Lia: I would love to take extended family and friends from out of town here to experience this with us. It's definitely a must.
For more affordable things to do with kids in and around our nation's capital, check out our family-friendly activities & events deals in Washington, DC.
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