This year, I set a goal for myself to visit all 100 counties in North Carolina, and while I did not achieve that goal this year, I had the best time exploring new places, updating old favorite guides, and I am looking forward to continuing to share our adventures exploring my home state. We also took a trip to our beloved New York City for our first trip on an airplane post vaccinations. We are hopeful to continue sprinkling in trips to new places in 2022. In the meantime, grab a cup of coffee and check out our travel guides for this year of travel. I hope you’ll be inspired to visit these places, especially some of the weekend getaways that are short drives from the Triangle with a lot to offer!
2021 Review: our Year of Travel Amidst the Pandemic
To start this year of travel, I spent a winter weekend in Greenville with two of my girlfriends. We met at East Carolina in undergrad and it was so fun to be back in the town where we became friends and experience some of the changes since we were there.
It had been years since I had visited Beaufort, which has always been one of my favorite spots in North Carolina. Growing up, I wanted to live here, so I couldn’t believe how long it had been since I had been back. We had a wonderful late winter weekend visiting this charming coastal town and can’t wait to get back.
I’ve been to Wilmington several times and always enjoy driving over to Wrightsville, so it was a real delight to stay at the Blockade Runner in Wrightsville this year! One of my favorite meals of 2021 was at Seabird in Wilmington, one of the newest restaurants in the Port City.
When I visited Hillsborough a few years ago, I discovered this beautiful building that was in desperate need of repair. I was thrilled to learn that the building had been purchased and renovated, so Glory and I headed over for a night at the Colonial Inn.
One of my very best friends moved to Charlotte during the pandemic, so whenever I visit, we cross some things off her list of things to try. When I visited in the spring, we had a gorgeous day and made a point of visiting lots of patios.
David and I decided to take a Saturday afternoon drive to neighboring Franklin County to spend a little time in Franklinton and Louisburg. We had a lovely time exploring this area and look forward to heading back to try Rustic Roots for supper one night.
My friend, Susie, invited me to Oriental for a night on her family’s boat. I’d never spent the night on a boat before and I hadn’t been to Oriental since I was in college, so I had the best time experiencing the town with her!
Once David and I got our second vaccines, we booked our flights and a hotel in NYC to celebrate our 7th anniversary. We absolutely love New York City and we are so grateful we got to spend some time there this year. We had minimal plans and truly spent time soaking up being back in the city (during the middle of a heatwave) and took full advantage of people watching, wandering aimlessly, and cheering on the Yankees.
On our annual trip to Ocracoke, David and I went down a night early and stayed in Edenton. There is no wonder its been named one of the prettiest small towns in the South! It is so quaint, charming, and the Cotton Gin Inn is a lovely spot to call home for a night.
I’m long overdue for an update to my Ocracoke travel guide, so I’ll be working on that in 2022. Every year, David and I join my parents for a getaway to one of the best places in North Carolina, and it is such a lovely escape from reality.
Over Labor Day Weekend, David and I went to Southern Pines for a weekend. We spent some time exploring downtown Southern Pines and also attended the first ever Pinehurst BBQ Festival. It’s a lovely spot for a weekend away, even if you’re not a golfer!
Saxapahaw is one of the hippest places in North Carolina! It’s such a fun spot to spend an afternoon relaxing and enjoying the outdoors!
We met my parents in Tarboro for a Saturday afternoon to visit with my grandmother, have a beer at Tarboro Brewing Company, and then supper at On the Square.
I’ve lived in North Carolina my whole life, yet I had never visited Tryon Palace before this fall. David and I lucked up with a gorgeous, warm fall weekend in New Bern and enjoyed our time learning more about North Carolina history and eating our way through town! Our stay at the Jarvis at 220 was quite a stunning experience as well!
Mast Farm Inn in Valle Crucis has been on my list of places to stay for quite a while now and I was thrilled to spend a fall weekend cozied up in front of the fire reading. It’s a dreamy spot and I can’t wait to visit again and take my parents with us this time!
North Carolina beaches during the fall and winter are some of the best times to visit, in my opinion. They’re less crowded, the weather is still beautiful, and it’s a great time to check out some places that may be harder to get into during the peak season. David and I took Winston & Gizmo to Carolina Beach for a weekend and absolutely loved it! By the way, the best burger in North Carolina is located at Island Bites in Carolina Beach.
I headed back to Asheville this winter, though this time with my BFF. I finally got to one of the restaurants that has been on my list of places try for quite some time, plus we went to Biltmore for a wine tasting and a holiday tour.