It’s funny to still refer to something as “summer vacation”—out of the confines of a school year, I guess any time could really be vacation time, but I still think of our annual family vacation each June as “summer vacation.” We’re always counting down the days until we can spend a whole week together (especially when it involves going to Florence, Rome and Sorrento, like last year!) and the older I get, the more I appreciate the uninterrupted family time with my parents, brother and extended group of aunts, uncles and cousins.
This year, we braved a 12-hour car ride to Sandbridge, VA, a small sublet of Virginia Beach that is also apparently part of the Outer Banks. However it wants to identify, it was the perfect place to spend a week with family—we all shared a house, which is always an event, and spent our days hitting the beach, sneaking in fun workouts and taking on a bit of outdoor adventure. I have way too many photos (and a video!) to share, below.
The beach in Sandbridge is located on one endless road, Sandfiddler Road, and features one of the most expansive, pristine beaches I’ve ever been on. Every day we were treated to practically empty, soft sand, sunny days and dolphin sightings. It was such a dream! The coast is also lined with the most gorgeous vacation homes—by the end of the week, we’d all picked out our favorites and the above blue one was mine! It even featured an outdoor kitchen. Sigh. Maybe some day.
One of the reasons I really love renting homes or apartments when we go away (You may remember we stayed in an apartment in Florence last year, too!) stems from my love of cooking. There’s just nothing I enjoy more than hitting up local markets wherever we’re staying and pulling together some yummy, fresh meals. My Uncle Dave is a BBQ master, so we were treated to some incredible grilled chicken and ribs throughout our trip. There was also an amazing farmer’s market just minutes from our house that we stopped at several times throughout our trip. The locally-grown produce was delicious and the peaches were hands-down the best I’ve ever had. So much so that, on our way out of town to drive home, I pulled over and bought a whole bushel to use in a peach crisp when I got home in an attempt to keep the vacation going!
When we weren’t cooking in, we stuck to mostly seafood joints for our dinners and one of my favorites was local stand-by Margie and Ray’s Crab House. It was an old school joint serving up no-frills delicious seafood (I feel like it would have been totally at home on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives or something). If you go, get there early—it fills up super fast!—and be sure to order their famous She Crab soup. I had no idea what that was but ordered it anyways, which was a dicey food gamble that paid off. Still don’t know what a she crab is, though.
One of my favorite parts of our trip had to be the days we spent kayaking/paddle boarding. I’ve kayaked before, but only on a lake, and paddle boarding has been on my bucket list for a while, so the opportunity to do both was such a treat. We ventured out to a nearby wildlife sanctuary and kayaked through the protected wetlands and into the bay (which is where things go super wavy!). While we didn’t see much in the way of wildlife (which I’m secretly kind of glad about…I can guarantee I would have screamed if a snake floated past me while I was on a paddle board), we did luck out and have the sanctuary to “ourselves” for our entire afternoon. Good thing too—some of the screaming and hollering coming from our group (and from the adults, no less!) would have scared away other kayakers for sure. If you get the chance to go paddle boarding, do it. I loved it so much, I may or may not have spent the next few hours googling “Where to paddle board in NYC” and “How to store a paddle board in a 600 sq ft apartment.” Not happening, but it’s nice to dream once in a while.
I’ve been missing the videos I used to pull together of our travels (you can see past ones here), so I thought I’d take this trip as an opportunity to flex that muscle again. It’s below, if you’re interested in additional look into our vacation!