11 Reasons Why I Love North Carolina’s Outer Banks

NC's Outer Banks

NC’S OUTER BANKS

There are so many things to do in NC’s Outer Banks! We’ve been going for years and we never get bored. But, there are a few things you should know before going. The Outer Banks are about 100 miles of beach towns from Cape Hatteras to Corolla, NC. It will take you over two hours to drive from end to end, so you may not be able to do everything all in one trip. In addition, there’s a ferry from Hatteras to Ocracoke Island that is another experience all by itself (but well worth it)!

Here’s 11 reasons why I love the Outer Banks:

  1. Go see the wild horses. If you drive past Corolla, NC to Carova, NC you will immediately see the Wild Spanish Mustangs hanging out on the beach. There is just something absolutely magical about wild horses. It is illegal to go within fifty feet of them…but they seem to be pretty used to the people, so you can easily get great pics! You can choose to do a tour (typically in an open air jeep) or you can drive onto the beach on your own if you have four-wheel drive. Do not drive in your car…you will get stuck…and then you’ll be super embarrassed that you have to be towed out. Sigh…there’s always someone who thinks they can do it.NC's Outer Banks- Wild Spanish Mustangs in Carova
  2. Outdoor Water Sports. This might seem like, Duh…but there are so  many awesome water sports to take advantage of in the Outer Banks. From kayaking, to stand-up paddle boarding, to surfing…the options seem endless. You can choose to rent the equipment on your own or give it a go with a guide.NC's outer banks- surf lessons
  3. Explore from Above. You can register for classes with the hang gliding school or go tandem with a guide. Literally anyone can go! My five year old (at the time) to my 7o year old mother-in-law all tried it and loved it! There’s also airplane tours for those who like a little less adrenaline.Explore NC's outer banks from the air- try hang gliding!
  4. Get your history lesson on at the Wright Brothers Memorial or visit the Lost Colony: these are two of NC’s top historical landmarks. The Wright Brother’s Memorial is fascinating…if you can catch one of the “ranger talks,” you’ll get even more out of it! It’s been awhile since I visited the Lost Colony, but I remember two things: I enjoyed it and the mosquitos were awful. Take bug spray!NCs Outer Banks
  5. Take your kids to the Pirate Adventure in Manteo. Although my kids have aged out now…we can’t recommend this excursion enough! We did it two years in a row…it was that good! They let your kids dress up like a pirate, entertain, and engage them the entire time. Great for girls or boys!Manteo's Pirate Adventure is the best!
  6. Visit the NC Aquarium or explore downtown Manteo. Depending on where you are staying in the Outer Banks, this can be a bit of a drive. But no doubt, NC weather will gladly provide you at least one rain day so a visit to the aquarium is the perfect indoor activity! And when you’re done…grab a bite to eat in the cutest little waterfront area in the town of Manteo.
  7. Visit a lighthouse. You can go north to the Currituck Beach Lighthouse or south to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, but they’re always a fun adventure!NC's Outer Banks
  8. Embrace your inner child and go fly a kite! There is no better area to buy and fly a kite than the Outer Banks! In fact, you can enjoy one of North Carolina’s most significant landmarks, Jockey’s Ridge State Park, by flying a kite or just exploring the infamous sand dunes. Be careful…the sand is HOT!NC's Outer Banks
  9. Go fishing! From fishing or crabbing in the sound, to driving onto the beach in Carova and surf fishing, to a deep sea fishing day trip, there is something for everyone. First timers like us can fish or crab with ease or the savviest of fisherman will be pleased with their options. Not into fishing…go on a dolphin watching cruise!
  10. Soak up some Vitamin D. This is one of our family favorites for sure. Spending the day building sand castles, boogie boarding at the beach, or reading a book by the pool…relaxation is aplenty!NC's Outer Banks
  11. Catch the sunrise or the sunset. We’re not exactly morning people…so we catch way more sunsets than sunrises. But they are always different and yet always amazing. I could take a million pictures and I’ll always take one more.NC's Outer Banks

We also like to check out the surf shops, boutiques, and of course look for the best local good eats. But, there are a few downsides to OBX. I like to know all the pros and cons before I visit a destination, so let’s be real.

The Downsides:

  • The traffic here can be AWFUL. I’m talking an hour to drive six miles on a Saturday or Sunday in the summer when everyone is trying to check in and out for their weekly rental.
  • The ocean temperatures can be freezing cold. This all depends on what town you are staying in, the direction the wind is blowing, and the day of the week…but when it’s 100 degrees outside and 50 water degree temps…not exactly ideal.
  • The weather can be pretty unpredictable. And when it rains, everyone flocks to the restaurants and stores. Be prepared for a wait. Just sayin.
  • A lot of the Outer Banks shuts down in the off season. Many of the restaurants and stores completely close…it’s eerie but I guess you gotta do what you gotta do.

The Outer Banks has hosted our family every summer for years and is near and dear to our hearts. We’d recommend it to anyone and everyone! Oh and don’t forget a game of mini putt-putt…a beach vacay is just not complete without a round of mini putt-putt!

Have you had a chance to visit NC’s Outer Banks? Let me know what y’all think!

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Why You Shouldn’t Skip Nashville’s 12 South Neighborhood

Nashville's 12 South Neighborhood

NASHVILLE’S 12 SOUTH NEIGHBORHOOD

Now, I know that Nashville is known for the Honky Tonk’s on Broadway, country music, and The Grand Ole Opry. But, just a few miles away from downtown is Nashville’s 12 South neighborhood…and it is definitely worth a visit! Most well known for it’s walkability and the “I Believe in Nashville” mural, there’s some really great things going on in 12 South.

STREET ART

Street art is becoming more and more popular these days as an actual tourist destination. I mean, you can actually search the murals on google maps a lot of the time! Who can resist taking photos with these fun wall murals…I sure can’t! The most well known of the murals is probably the “I believe in Nashville” mural, but the Draper James blue and white stripes and the rainbow “Nashville” murals are pretty popular as well. There is a beautiful floral wall nearby too but we couldn’t find time to get to it!

Nashville's 12 south neighborhood

WHERE TO SHOP

There are a bunch of really cute shops in 12 South: White’s Mercantile, Hero Boutique, and my favorite Draper James. Although this little boutique is a little pricey, I still thoroughly enjoyed this super southern themed store owned by Reese Witherspoon. They even offer you sweet tea when you walk in! As southern as southern gets y’all! (Side note- they have a lovely little sitting area for kids and husbands and were happy to provide the wifi password for bored little ones so I could peruse in peace.)

Draper James Nashville 12 south

WHERE TO EAT

There’s a multitude of places to get a treat or bite to eat in the area!

Frothy Monkey– My husband picked up breakfast for us one morning from the Frothy Monkey and it was awesome! Obviously we aren’t the only ones who think so either. This place was busy!  But the coffee and pastries were on point (the cinnamon roll was our favorite! They use local ingredients and are actually open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Nashville's 12 South neighborhood
Five Daughter’s Bakery– Just OMG! These doughnuts were ridiculously good. We sampled the vanilla cream, King Kong (maple and bacon), chocolate cherry, and boston crème. We all agreed that the King Kong was the best overall. (Side note- they have paleo and vegan options!)

Nashville's 12 South neighborhood
Sprinkle’s Cupcakes– I know, I know…this is not just in Nashville. This was however, the first time we had visited a Sprinkles Cupcakes ATM. That’s right, if you’re like us and had not yet experienced this amazingly fun novelty…well then you must check them out and go to one ASAP! The little store has an ATM outside that you can order from and a minute or two later, voila…your cupcakes appear in the window. If you have children, you should go! If you don’t have children and just like cupcakes or cookies, you should go!

See that smile?? It’s worth every penny!

Nashville's 12 South neighborhood
Edley’s BBQ

We thoroughly enjoyed Edley’s BBQ…my pulled pork tacos were the bomb!! But the absolute favorite was the grit casserole…who knew?!? This is a counter service type restaurant…the line was long but moved fast. Great for kids and families who don’t want to wait an hour at the more popular restaurants.

Nashville's 12 South neighborhood

A very popular spot worth a mention although we did not go  (due to the fact the lines were crazy long)…Jeni’s ice cream! It’s clearly all the rage!

We also happened to stay within walking distance of 12 South and a $10 Uber ride of downtown…sounds ideal right? We loved every minute in Nashville! Have you ever been? Let me know what y’all think!

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What You MUST Do If You Only Have One Day in Chattanooga Tennessee

Chattanooga things to do

DO NOT MISS THESE TWO STOPS IN CHATTANOOGA!!

I’m not entirely sure why I haven’t heard more about Chattanooga Tennessee all these years…but clearly, I’ve been missing out. Living in a bubble I guess?? We only gave ourselves one day and one night on our recent southern road trip in Chattanooga and that was not even close to being enough time in this fabulous city! The city itself is much larger than I realized and located on the border of two time zones…can you say confusing?!? They have world class white water rafting on the Ocoee River and apparently an awesome aquarium too! Needless to say we are already planning a return trip to finish our Chattanooga things to do list!

So…in my honest opinion, these two stops CANNOT be missed!

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Why You Should go to Snowbird Ski Resort this Summer!

Snowbird Ski Resort Utah

WHY YOU SHOULD GO TO SNOWBIRD SKI RESORT THIS SUMMER!

Snowbird Ski Resort summer fun is on point!

When you think of Snowbird Ski Resort…or any ski resort for that matter…you think winter, right?

Unless you live near a ski resort, most people don’t realize how awesome they can be during the summer as well. There’s mountain biking, hiking, and a lot of other fun outdoor activities. And then there’s the incredible scenery. I’m talking breathtaking views galore!

And, if you go to Snowbird, you’ll find a mini theme park too! Located about 30 minutes southeast of Salt Lake City, Utah, Snowbird is known for world class skiing. As a matter of fact, they’ve had almost 600 inches of snow this season.  There are more than six resorts within a 30 minute drive of SLC, including Park City. If you are visiting the area, Park City is well worth the trip!

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A Weekend Guide to Houston Texas

houston weekend

HOUSTON WEEKEND GUIDE

Houston is a HUGE city!! I mean it is one of the top five largest cities in the U.S. so I shouldn’t be surprised, right? But still, it just seems to go on and on! There’s no major attraction when you think of visiting Houston, but there is still plenty to see, do, and of course eat! We recently spent our Houston weekend in the Seabrook area. Since we have family that lives there, we got the pleasure of experiencing the city with a local flare!

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How and Why You Should Travel Carry-On Only!

Travel Carry-on Only

Our Favorite Way to Travel…

Carry-on Only!

It’s much easier than you might think!

Our family of four has gone to Europe for ten days during cold weather…to Texas for ten days over Spring Break…and we’ve done multiple weekend trips…ALL as carry-on only!!

You can do this too!!

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The JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort: An Honest Review

JW Marriott San Antonio review

The JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort: An Honest Review

Our family of four recently stayed three nights at the JW Marriott resort in San Antonio, Texas. First let me say that we are pretty loyal Marriott Rewards members for almost twenty years. When we’re traveling we often look for a Marriott property first and then compare to other options. We’ve stayed the gamut of their properties, from the resorts to the Fairfield Inn…and nine times out of ten we’re satisfied customers! We also love their rewards program- we’ve earned lots of free travel through Marriott Rewards! We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the JW Marriott in San Antonio and the property is amazing.  By the way…this isn’t an ad…just my opinion!! So, let’s get to my JW Marriott San Antonio review!

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