Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one of them, and make a purchase I’ll receive a commission at no charge to you.
I’m in and out of a lot of hotels traveling for work and for personal leisure. I’m always confident in the quality of stay I will receive when booking at Hilton Hotels. Their rooms are always spacious, clean, comfortable and the staff prompt with checkin. I have a lot on my mind and knowing I don’t have to stress over my accommodations is a big deal when traveling. I highly recommend checking them out when you book your next hotel stay.
With the continued rise in fuel cost many people may be looking for alternative destinations for summer vacations this year. Staycations have become more popular recently as people look for things to do within driving distance of their home to save on fuel and entertainment costs. Living in the Old Dominion there is no shortage of things to go do for a day trip as our state offers both beaches and mountain fun.
I was born in and have lived in Virginia for 35 years and there is still much I have not seen. I am always finding new places to see and explore that are unique to my state. With the first permanent settlement in 1607 at Jamestown being close by I grew up surrounded by history. So many historical places are in Virginia it’s hard to decide where to visit first. I always tell people a visit to the historical triangle including Williamsburg and Yorktown are wonderful places to have a day trip, a weekend stay or staycation.
I enjoy traveling and sharing my travels with others. I feel history, especially comes alive when you are immersed in it. Recently I traveled to Appomattox, Virginia for work. I had not been prior and during my stay I made time to explore the Appomattox Courthouse village and Historical Park areas. Appomattox, Virginia is a beautiful area with a small town feel and a history buff’s dream. The downtown has multiple shops and restaurants to visit. In addition the town also, is home to several food trucks and stands. Consider supporting these small businesses while you’re in town.
Appomattox Inn and Suites
While in Appomattox, Virginia I stayed at the Appomattox Inn and Suites . I found the hotel to be very clean, comfortable and economical. The lobby had some nods to the Civil War as do the hotel rooms which are decorated with pictures from the nearby battlefield and grounds. The hotel has a bar area that was open till 10pm for drinks and a restaurant named Cannonball for appetizers and small bites.
If you’re into history or Civil War sites this hotel is perfect because it is very close to the Appomattox battlefield and Appomattox Courthouse village where the American Civil War came to an end in April of 1865. The American Civil War museum is a close by area attraction to this hotel as well. If you’re unfamiliar with the American Civil War or what the area has to offer the hotel staff are very friendly and the hotel has available maps and information on local attractions.
The Appomattox Courthouse village and Historical Park areas are very well laid out and it is easy to follow the information trail to understand what took place here in April 1865. Even someone unfamiliar with the American Civil War will feel educated on the topics after visiting thanks to the labels, maps and informative signage. The area can be explored at one’s own pace or one can choose to join an on-site tour. The grounds also, include trails to walk and there are maps and signs available to follow for them.
The buildings that make up the village grounds of the Appomattox Court House (some seen above) are well preserved and maintained. There were multiple guides dressed in period costume to explain the layout of the grounds and to answer any questions. The courthouse itself has a museum in it with a 17 minute video I would suggest watching it during your visit as it explains what took place on the grounds and leading up to the end of the American Civil war.
For me seeing the markers for the last shot fired during the American Civil War and the marker for the spot where Grant and Lee met was very humbling and thought provoking. No matter a person’s views about the America Civil War I believe we can all agree that the people who fought in it were American and it is a travesty the lives that were lost on either side. The American Civil War is part of our history and I believe it is important that people educate themselves about it and preserve these hollowed grounds.
The layout and information provided at the Appomattox Courthouse village is very thorough and attention to detail is given inside the buildings. The Clover Hill Tavern for example, is set up to show what it must have looked like when one of its rooms was made into a makeshift printing press. It was here during the surrender Federal officers printed over 30,000 parole for surrender documents to be signed by Confederate soldiers. To be able to stand within the walls of this building is especially memorable for someone that loves history.
Besides the buildings the story of the people involved in the battle comes to life on the grounds. There is a small family style graveyard on the grounds, a single grave under an old cedar tree belonging to Lafayette Meeks an area resident and a 19 grave cemetery a short walk away which has several unknown confederate soldiers, plus one unknown union soldier. It is interesting to read the documented history of these individuals and it helps to bridge the human connection to these past lives lost.
A short walk from the Appomattox Courthouse village one can also, follow signage and learn more about the events leading up to the surrender. There is an area with information about Grant’s Headquarters, open fields to walk and a small monument to see as well. Following signage by car the battlefield continues into the town of Appomattox, but wasn’t open when I visited (June 2022). The gate was locked and the area didn’t look maintained, but hopefully will open back soon to the public.
There was plenty to see and explore on the ground of the Appomattox Courthouse village, the surrounding areas and the town. I think a day trip or weekend staycation in Appomattox, Virginia would be perfect for a history lover or someone wanting to learn more about the American Civil War. I enjoyed my visit to Appomattox, Virginia and learning more about American history.
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If you’re looking for a waterfront campsite close to the action in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, but still quiet enough to relax I recommend checking out the Refuge Campground in Wanchese, North Carolina on Roanoke Island. The 15 back in style campsites at Refuge are located directly on water. These nightly rentals are part of a larger campground community that has yearly residents/owners. This was our first trip of the year camping and we were at Refuge during the off season (March) so there were not a lot of people moving about.
The campground at Refuge has beautiful walkways around the water, areas to fish (catch and release), a seasonal pool, picnic area and a climate controlled bathhouse. Next door to Refuge is a convenience store with fuel, basic foods and camping essentials. The campground and facilities were very clean and the camp host was friendly.
The wifi was pretty slow, so if that is important bring your own hotspot. The tv channels we picked up from our antenna were also, limited in this area so bring a dish or a DVD player. Most importantly though for us there were many things within a short drive from the campground to do and see.
Things to Do in the Outer Banks of North Carolina
Not far up the road to the right from the campground is the quaint town of Manteo, North Carolina famous for the wonderful outdoor drama the Lost Colony. If you’re a nature lover definitely take time to visit the beautiful Elizabethan Gardens on the picturesque sound of Roanoke Island while you’re in town. There is plenty for the history buffs too like visiting Festival Park to see a replica Elizabeth II ship and historical artifacts from the area.
While you’re in the area consider a visit the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island to see some cool ocean life and a ship wreck where an immersed model of the the SS Monitor is in one of their exhibits. The North Carolina Aquariums are one of my favorite places to visit and two are on the Outer Banks area.
The Bodie Lighthouse is nearby over the Washington Baum Bridge and then right on rt12 toward the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Here you’ll find one of my favorite North Carolina beaches Coquina beach and another camping spot Oregon Inlet Campground. If you’re into fishing you can book a fishing charter out of Oregon Inlet (across from the OI campground).
Tour the Outer Banks by Plane
If you’re looking to explore I highly suggest booking a flight over the islands through OBX Air Planes which is at the Manteo Airport right behind the North Carolina Aquarium. You’ll definitely get a better appreciation for how the beautiful outer banks is laid out and if you’re lucky you’ll be able to see a few shipwrecks and maybe even some dolphins. There is just something extra special about flying over the Wright Brother’s memorial area knowing it is the site of the birth of flight itself! If flying isn’t your thing you can also, choose to drive to the Wright Brother’s Memorial and walk the grounds on foot.
Ride the Dunes or See Wild Horses in Corolla
For a day trip I suggest visiting the quaint town of Duck, the Currituck Beach Lighthouse or even go see the wild horses of Corolla on a horse adventure or hop on an atv and ride the dunes. Some areas of the Outer Banks allow you to get an off road permit to drive your own 4×4 vehicle on the beach or you can rent one while you’re at the beach and have a unique driving experience you’ll never forget. Don’t forget to bring your GoPro!
Cool off at H2OBX Waterpark
Not that you will, but if you get tired of the beach and like water fun you can also, drive north to check out the new H2OBX water park too while you’re in town. H2OBX has plenty to offer for the whole family from a huge lazy river, water rides the whole family can fit on, single and double tubing rides, delicious food and fun apparel shopping. From sitting back in a lounge chair and watching everyone else, to speeding down tubes into the warm blue water or eating fish tacos and enjoying a watermelon milkshake you’ll find it all at H2OBX. Spending a day at H2OBX definitely is a great addition to any trip to the beach.
Go for a Walk or Run
Besides the tourist attractions get out and go for a run or walk on the beach or the many other places to venture. Walking on the dunes at Jockey’s Ridge is a local favorite. Visiting the Nags Head Woods Preserve is another great place to go for a run or walk. There are several well marked trails to follow including one that goes out to the Roanoke Sound and a picture perfect skeleton tree beach.
Trails 4/5 goes by small ruins of an old homestead and has a family graveyard with some graves dating back to the 1800s. The area seemed safe and we saw both families and single runners out on the trails. The area was very peaceful and filled with birds and wildlife. The visitor center had trail maps and area information and I would recommend going there first.
Where to Eat in the Outer Banks of North Carolina
The area near the campground Wanchese, North Carolina is known for seafood and has several areas in season to buy fresh fish and seafood. Another place to buy fresh seafood is few miles over the Washington Baum Bridge at Sugar Shack Fish Market Oyster Bar and Grill. North Carolina shrimp purchased fresh from the Sugar Shack Fish Market are hard to beat in the OBX!
Cooking up fresh, local seafood at your campsite makes a wonderful addition to any beach camping experience. The Sugar Shack also, will steam and cook your seafood for you and has an extensive menu for takeout and dine in. There are too many great restaurants in the area to name here. I suggest exploring the area and trying new places. Avoid chain restaurants while on vacation and get something you can’t get at home.
In the near by towns of Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills you will also, find many stores and restaurants to choose from as well as plenty of shopping. If you’re looking for some of the freshest all you can eat seafood in the OBX give Captain George’s a try. This is a local favorite for all you can eat seafood and includes crab legs on the buffet.
Another one of my favorites located in Kill Devil, North Carolina is Mama Kwan’s Tiki Bar & Grill. I love the island vibe and all the tropical inspired dishes. They have a excellent drink menu too with many of their drinks coming in unique take home cups (they can make non alcoholic too). Visiting here always gets me in a vacation mood.
Back on Roanoke Island you will find that it is home to many restaurants and shops too. After dinner I recommend a stop at Scuppernong Vineyards in the shops of Downtown Manteo. The scuppernong grape is native to North Carolina and has a delicious sweet taste and fragrance. If you love wine do yourself a favor and go try some scuppernong wine while you are in the area.
From wild horses, the birth of flight, fresh seafood and breathtaking beaches the the area surrounding the Refuge Campground doesn’t disappoint. Camping near the water was a big perk of this campground and the close proximity to everything we wanted to see. I would highly recommend camping here on a trip to the OBX!
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The Outer Banks of North Carolina has had a piece of my heart since I was a girl. As soon as I had my driver’s permit I couldn’t wait to take my suv to the beach and drive on the sand. Many weekends growing up I spent fishing and laying in the sun on Oregon Inlet. As an adult I’ve stayed in too many Outer Banks hotels and rentals to count. I feel like the OBX is a part of me.
For me being able to camp on the Outer Banks is literally a dream come true. For those of you interested in camping on the OBX there are many camping choices. I am new to rving having just remodeled an almost 30 year old Sunline Saturn I’ve named the Lilly Pad. This trip to Oregon Inlet Campground was our madden trip and the campground featured can be booked on recreation.gov . The online booking process was very easy as was the checkin and out at the location.
Oregon Inlet Campground 101
Oregon Inlet Campground is compromised of three sections. Section A is solely for tent camping and B/C allows for tents and RV’s (some offering electric and water hook ups). Generators are also, allowed to be used from 7am-10pm in B/C. The campground is across the street from the Oregon Inlet fishing area which has a dump station, fresh water hook up for getting your potable water and a small store for necessities.
You can also, often buy fresh fish in the area or drive a few miles North to Sugar Shack Fish Market Oyster Bar and Grill for them. Sweet NC shrimp purchased fresh from the Sugar Shack Fish Market are hard to beat in the OBX! Cooking up fresh, local seafood makes a wonderful addition to any beach camping experience.
This campground is well maintained, has a ranger station and onsite host volunteers. The best part is the gorgeous Atlantic Ocean is right over the dunes of the camping area. A quick walk from the campground and you can swim in the cool green water of the island or catch your dinner. You can also, get an off road vehicle permit and drive your 4×4 vehicle on the beach and park at your chosen beach spot while visiting the OBX.
Things to do in the Outer Banks, North Carolina
The towns of Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills are a quick drive North and have many grocery stores and restaurants to choose from as well as plenty of shopping. The Bodie Lighthouse is also, a few miles up the street from the OI campground as well as one of my favorite NC beaches Coquina beach. A further drive North for a day trip and one can visit the quaint town of Duck, the Currituck Beach Lighthouse or even go see the wild horses of Corolla on a horse adventure or hop on an atv and ride the dunes.
If you’re looking to explore I highly suggest booking a flight over the islands through OBX Air Planes. You’ll definitely get a better appreciation for how the beautiful outer banks is laid out and if you’re lucky you’ll be able to see a few shipwrecks and maybe even some dolphins. There is just something extra special about flying over the Wright Brother’s memorial area knowing it is the site of the birth of flight itself!
If flying isn’t your thing you can also, choose to drive to the Wright Brother’s Memorial and walk the grounds on foot or consider a visit the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island to see some cool ocean life by foot too and a ship wreck. An immersed model of the the SS Monitor is in one of their exhibits. Roanoke Island is also, home to many restaurants and shops.
If you’re a nature lover definitely visit the beautiful Elizabethan Gardens on the picturesque sound of Roanoke Island. There is plenty for the history buffs too like seeing the wonderful outdoor drama the Lost Colony , visiting Festival Park to see a replica Elizabeth II ship and historical artifacts from the area.
If you’re into fishing you can book a fishing charter right out of Oregon Inlet across from the campground! Not that you will, but if you get tired of the beach and like water fun you can drive north to check out the new H2OBX water park too while you’re in town. H2OBX has plenty to offer for the whole family from a huge lazy river, water rides the whole family can fit on, single and double tubing rides, delicious food and fun apparel shopping. Spending a day at H2OBX definitely is a great addition to any trip to the beach.
From wild horses, the birth of flight, fresh seafood and breathtaking beaches the the area surrounding the Oregon Inlet Campground doesn’t disappoint. Camping among the dunes and opening the windows to hear the ocean were a big perk of this campground and a highlight to this adventure for me. I would highly recommend a trip to the OBX!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one of them, and make a purchase I’ll receive a commission at no charge to you.
I made my way up Virginia’s Eastern Shore to Chincoteague Island recently for a weekend trip. If you’ve never been to Chincoteague Island it is peaceful and a quiet piece of paradise. Known for wild horses and a slower pace of life. The town is very charming and has many unique shops and delicious restaurants.
What is so special about Chincoteague?
If you’re not familiar with the book Misty by Marguerite Henry (written on the island) or seen the 1961 movie you might not know about this island’s unique tradition.👩🚒 Chincoteague Island’s fire department is know for its annual pony auction fundraiser where the saltwater cowboys go onto Assateague Island and head up the wild horses that roam there.
The horses are vet checked and swim across Assateague Channel to Chincoteague Island where foals from the herd are auctioned off to the highest bidder. The proceeds go to future wild horse care and to the fire department. The adult ponies and a buy back foal (one bought to return to the island) are swam back to the island.
The 2021 auction is canceled this year due to the pandemic, but the horses from the island have still been receiving vet checks. It is really a spectacular event to watch if you ever get the chance to go. I have fond memories of going as a child. If you’re lucky you can often see the wild herd off the island.
Things to do and see on Virginia’s Eastern Shore
There are so many beautiful overlooks and wildlife areas around Chincoteague on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. 🦋 During our stay we were able to visit the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and watched the wild horses in the distance.
After coming across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel there is a refuge for example that has a visitor’s center, butterfly trail, a marsh overlook, boat launch and lots of information on the area. Thought the weather was a bit gloomy and it did rain when I was there it was still a pretty area to visit. Plenty of signs are visible after crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel to direct to the parks and overlooks.
The Kiptopeke State Park also, has some cool views and from the shore one can also, see the ghost fleet of Kiptopeke. The ghost fleet is comprised of old cement ships used during WWII to transport commodities. When no longer needed they were moored off the coast to stand as a jetty. On a clear day more details can be seen, but in the mist they looked quite eerie.
If you’re a horse enthusiast seeing the wild ponies is quite exhilarating and worth the visit in itself. If you love fresh seafood look no further than the local restaurants that serve it up fresh daily. If you enjoy fishing for your own dinner there are plenty of places to launch your boat and charters available too. If you’re looking to get outdoors you can find a slower pace of life by walking or bike around breathing in the fresh sea breeze. Chincoteague and Virginia’s Eastern Shore truly has something for everyone! Book your own stay today.
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