I've been contemplating writing a post over this trip for a while now.
But to be honest, this is a hard one to elaborate on, I'm not sure this information will be of any help to those traveling here either.
During the course of this trip, I gained a lot, but I lost a lot too.
If I was to classify one of these trips as "spontaneous," this one would have to reign superior.
I had no idea what I was doing.
And neither did my parents.
But I did have a train ticket to Albany, New York and that was something.
If I were to pick a major highlight of this trip, it would most definitely be the train ride. I met some of the coolest people and the majority of the conversations were nothing less than scratch the surface. To sum it up, awesome humans, with awesome ideas.
I had a train change at Union Station in Chicago. After a quick bite to eat and journal session, I wandered outside to people watch.
My senior year of high school (at this point I was a college freshman) I contemplated going to Columbia College in Chicago and sitting on a concrete bench with wind glued hair to my face, I was content with that possibility falling through. The overwhelming amount of people made me exhausted; I guess I'm a sucker for the simple life.
When I arrived in Albany, it wasn't quite what I expected. It was abnormally quiet and that instantly made me feel uncomfortable. Although, I blamed it on the cold weather and tried to find excitement for this new city I just landed in.
I checked in to my hotel and took a shower after the two day train ride. By then it was dark. so I figured I'd catch up on homework and start my exploring in the morning.
I should have used the term "exploring," more lightly, because I only managed to walk about 5 blocks in each direction from my hotel. But I must say, these blocks didn't disappoint.
As the trip drug on, it morphed from a "getaway," to more of a "discovery." Instead of searching for restaurants to try, I was learning how to love a quiet city that intimidated me.
With a mountain of homework, I didn't have as much time as I wanted to venture out. But when I did, I made a point to browse in every open shop.
In one particular thrift shop, I found this adorable scarf. It was real cashmere and marked as $4, I was sold.
One mistake I made was wearing my ripped jeans out, at least I got a nice picture.
This trip was the beginning of my curiosity in plant life, according my sister via Instagram lol.
I was tempted to buy this hanger, but after 30 seconds I realized that there was a slim chance I would ever actually use it. At least it's pretty to look at?
I took this trip well before I knew what it really meant to be a travel blogger. Although, here are a few lasting details that you may find helpful:
*I never once felt unsafe alone on the Amtrak. The staff is super observant and I wasn't afraid to pass out and sleep for a few hours.
*I purchased coach seats for my entire trip and was overly pleased with how comfortable they were. (Suuuper easy to sleep in) My ticket was $334 for a round trip. Very affordable.
*I had to switch trains in Chicago, but this was very easy!
*EXPLORE the train. My absolute favorite part of Amtrak is their observer car. It was a freakin dream to watch the world outside roll by. The car is made up of mostly big windows!! Holy picture time. :)
I KNOW that I didn't get the most out of this city. Where should I stop here next time?
Is New York City worth the hype?
It's 2018 and I'm updating this post. I can't stop cracking up, I had no idea what I was doing. However, you have to start somewhere lol. For my very first blog post, it's not terrible. At least it is about travel!
I'm heading back to North Carolina in ten days and I'm psyched to write up more material. For now, let me see if I can work with the info. below and create better advice for ya!
You could walk just about in any direction on the banks and find a killer view. Whether it's the boardwalk, beach, city street, or a colorful souvenir shop- every town is chalk full of gorgeous backdrops waiting for you to enjoy with a book or camera. One of my favorite boardwalks, is the one in Duck. That's where I took this photo.
2. Coastal Cravings
I can't call myself a seafood lover, as much as I want to. I'll occasionally eat shrimp or calamari, but things like fish tacos scare me a little. Fortunately, this restaurant won't ever leave you hungry, no matter what you like.
Coastal Cravings is also located in Duck. It has a wide variety of seafood and non-seafood options that are both equally gourmet and equally awesome. Each time we go, I try to order a different sandwich, and I have yet to be disappointed! Their service is phenomenal and quick for the high quality food they serve.
*Fun fact: They were featured on Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives!
*I recently wrote a post about Five Good Eats on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. :)
I have yet to visit OBX and not find a hat, tank, or shirt that I don't love. This place is covered with shops that are stocked with MODERN style like apparel. This is especially helpful because it's never difficult to find something for a friend back home or your own closet collection. :)
My favorite shops are Gray's in Duck and then I'm a big fan of Sunsations in Kill Devil Hills.
4. Morris Farm Market
They have farmer's markets EVERYWHERE. From huge buildings to roadside stands, you can buy a peach before a long day of adventuring. Momma Rachel did, she likes to mimic the locals, it's always entertaining lol.
If you want to visit our favorite market, check out Morris Farm. It's absolutely charming. My family and I live for their homemade snacks and canned salsa.
*I wrote a post strictly dedicated to why this market tops them all! Check out- A North Carolina Favorite: Morris Farm Market
I dare you to stop anywhere and snap a photo. This wasn't even the pretty side of the boardwalk and this could be a framed family photo for the living room. My parents are too photogenic.
On another note, if you are a SENIOR and in the area, use this breathtaking place to your advantage. My mom shot a few photos for my senior pictures and I adored them. The ocean will never be classified as "over done."
6. Time for yourself
OBX is my prime place for gaining a peaceful state of mind. One of my favorite things to do is grab my journal, towel, and a spare hour to lounge on the beach and reflect with pen in hand. The sand is warm and there's no better background music than crashing waves at your feet.
*We normally stay at the Sea Ranch Resort in Kill Devil Hills. It truly is a North Carolina paradise.
7. Touristy things
Besides laying on the beach and running through waves, OBX has many more adventures to offer. Whether you claim to be a tourist or not, here's what I loved that felt quite touristy.
I absolutely adore henna tattoos. They're temporary and so fun to show off during your beach trip! I've gotten both of mine at the OBX Beach Shop in Kill Devil Hills. On our next trip I'm hoping to get an authentic one that wraps around my hand or foot.
Last year, we fell upon Jockey Ridge National Park. It was nice to end a long day walking through the dunes and snapping a few jumping photos too. You can also hang glide, kite fly, and sand board there!
For the museum type, the Wright Brothers Museum is in Kill Devil Hills. It was cool to see the different model planes, and hike up the memorial they have outside. It is always a cool feeling to add some history stops to your itinerary.
8. Interesting adventures
OBX is sweet spot for lighthouse lovers, you can find these babies everywhere. The reason why I categorized this as an adventure rather than a tourist spot is because I every time my family goes lighthouse hunting, it is an adventure. From finding the tiny gravel road that leads to these beauties to the exhausting trek up the stairs, it is quite the journey.
Much like other oceanfront areas, there are countless piers you can set up camp for the day. One of our favorites is, Jennette's Pier in Nags Head.
If you aren't a Nicholas Sparks fan, I'm sorry. BUT IF YOU ARE, and you're in OBX, go check out the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, which is on the cover of "True Believer."
Laugh if ya want, but we all know that we either like the vibe of a place or we don't.
Here, you're never too far away from live music or a sandy spot to laugh obnoxiously.
It's fun to hit a grocery store and watch all the locals walk around barefoot, best feels I've ever felt.
*We grocery shop at the Food Lion in Kill Devil Hills.
10. Pretty exercise
Shell hunting: You're exercising, and you don't even know it. This is a good way to get some free décor for back home or a gift for a friend, at no cost. Also, what's really awesome is there are certain beaches on the banks that are known for the best shells.
Last October, we made our way to Shelly Island. It was one of the most precious moments walking up to that island COVERED in exquisite shells. This tiny island recently surfaced this year and has become a new attraction for tourists and locals.
YOU CAN KEEP GOING BACK AND YOU WON'T EVER GET BORED
I think we can say this about a lot of our favorite places, but as of now, I can only confidently say this about the Outer Banks. Specifically, because each time we go, we are OVERWHELMED with things we want to accomplish and explore. It's a melting pot of adventure.
Why do you love OBX?
Did I miss anything you adore doing on the banks?
Travel bucket list:
Countries visited: 5
states left: 11