I’m doing another flash back post talking about a trip I took in 2017 that I think is definitely blog worthy. This is a road trip I had been dreaming of and planning for years. Absolutely my dream road trip. I was given the perfect opportunity to execute this road trip when my mom moved to Southern California from Massachusetts in January of 2017. My mom, my husband and I packed up and drove across the country with a car and a U-haul and completed one of my favorite trips ever. As with my last road trip post, I won’t take you through every attraction and activity on the trip, but I will recount some of our favorites. Here are the details…
Details: 11 Days, 17 States, 3,683 Miles Traveled
Route: Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California
We started in Massachusetts and worked our way through Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Delaware, finally stopping for the day in Annapolis, Maryland. We weren’t planning on staying in Annapolis long but the universe had other plans and we were actually delayed there for an extra day due to snow. This ended up being one of the best parts of the trip because we all loved Annapolis. It is hands down one of my favorite places I’ve ever visited. The area is beautiful and historic but with the addition of snow it was like something out of a storybook. I felt like we were transported into a Hallmark movie. We took advantage of the extra time and went sightseeing downtown, visited dock street, saw the US Naval Academy and memorial stadium, went by the Maryland State House and passed many historic buildings such as Hammond Harwood House. It was a little chilly, around 16 degrees, but we still had a great time!
Some highlights of the day for me were getting to see Hammond-Harwood House and many other beautiful buildings, and exploring dock street. Hammond Harwood house was built in 1774 and is the only existing work of colonial architecture inspired from Andrea Palladio’s The Four Books of Architecture. It is widely considered to be the most exquisite colonial period home in America. When we return to Annapolis, I would love to get the opportunity to tour the interior. Another favorite that we discovered was Mission BBQ. I’m not really a huge BBQ fan, but every single thing we ate at this restaurant was fantastic. If you ever get the opportunity to go, I highly recommend it. Mission BBQ is a chain with locations in 16 states and I’m keeping my fingers crossed the one day they will open one in California.
After we left Annapolis we passed quickly through Virgina (if you’re in Richmond stop at the Galaxy Diner) and on to South Carolina. South Carolina was one of the stops on our trip where we packed in the most sightseeing. Our first stop was Myrtle Beach where it was a brisk 24 degrees. The town all but shuts down over the winter but the beach was beautiful even in the cold. Watching the sun rise from the hotel with a completely deserted beach was something I will never forget. After spending a night in Myrle Beach, we headed out to Charleston.
In Charleston, we ate at one of our favorite restaurants, Poogan’s Porch. This place has been in business since 1976 and has hosted many well known celebrities and politicians. It is located in a historic home on Queen Street that was built in 1891. It is one of Charleston’s oldest independent restaurants and has been featured in Martha Stewart Living and other publications. The food is traditional Southern fair and we were all thrilled with both the food and service.
We stopped by Charleston City Market and saw handmade sweetgrass baskets being made. Charleston City Market features more than fifty resident Gullah artisans and is a must visit destination on your trip to Charleston. We picked up a sweetgrass basket of our own to take home. Sweetgrass baskets are one of the nation’s oldest crafts and have been made for more than 300 years. The baskets are weaved from a local marsh grass called bulrush.
One of the most important things on my to do list for this trip was to visit the Angel Oak tree. The Angel Oak tree is located on St. Johns island in South Carolina and is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. There is some debate about exactly how old this tree is but many believe it is 1,500 years old. The sheer size of this tree is unbelievable. It is 66.5 feet tall, 28 feet in circumference and produces shade that covers 17,200 square feet. This tree is one of the oldest living things in the country and was definitely one of the highlights of our trip.
Next up was the town of Beaufort, South Carolina. This location was of considerable importance to me because it is somewhere I have wanted to visit for a long time. Andrew and I actually considered moving there instead of California at one point. This town is so quaint and charming it makes pretty much every list of best small towns in America and it isn’t hard to see why. We were there during the off season so there weren’t a lot of people and a lot of the businesses were closed, but what we did get to experience was fantastic. The people were so kind and welcoming. The thing I wanted to do most in Beaufort was stay at the Beaufort Inn. This hotel is something straight out of a movie. This boutique hotel has 48 rooms and several cottages that span an entire city block. The Inn has received many accolades including a certificate of excellence from Trip Advisor and Gold List by Conde Nast Traveler.
We were lucky enough to stay in the Rhett Cottage which is a converted law office from 1840. It had a wonderful porch that overlooked the courtyard which was lit up each night with string lights. One really cool element of this cottage was a portion of the original wall which had the signatures of the lawyers who used to work in the building way back when it was a law office. If you appreciate history and detail, you absolutely have to stay at the Beaufort Inn.
We took full advantage of our time in Beaufort and visited the Henry C Chambers Waterfront Park, the Historic Old Point Neighborhood, and did lots of shopping in the local stores. We even got to watch Alabama and Clemson play against each other in the National Championship Game at a local bar. Talk about perfect timing!
We had such a great time in South Carolina it was difficult to leave, but we had to move on to our next stop, Savannah, Georgia!
Things finally started to warm up for us in Savannah, at this point 60 degrees felt like 90! Savannah was another area I wish we could have spent a lot more time in. It’s beyond beautiful! Between the historic buildings and the moss hanging from the trees, every inch of the city is charming. We only had a few hours to explore but one of the things that we really enjoyed was the shopping. There were tons of great local stores that had really unique products. I picked up a vintage fire extinguisher that I love. We also had one of our best meals here at the Soho South Cafe. The chicken and waffles were amazing!! After we left Savannah we headed for Perdido Key, Florida.
We didn’t stay in Perdido Key long, but we enjoyed some time seeing the sights. We visited a famous gift shop and took the obligatory photo inside of the sharks mouth at the entrance to the shop. The beaches were absolutely beautiful with white sand reminiscent of the Caribbean. Of course I had to collect some sand samples for my collection.
After we left Perdido Key we made a quick stop in Orange Beach, Alabama. We stopped for lunch at great waterfront spot, Anchor Bar and Grill. This is a really unique restaurant shaped like a boat with a waterfront bar. The service here was excellent and the food was great. After lunch we stopped by The Wharf at Orange Beach, an outdoor shopping complex that had some really cute stores. Some of my favorites were Sea La Vie Designs and a store called MII which unfortunately I don’t think is still in business. After that we traveled straight through Mississippi and on to New Orleans, Louisiana.
The weather in New Orleans was pretty overcast and dark which put a slight damper on the day but we did our best to hit all of the sights. As a huge beignet fan, Cafe Du Monde was a must see and did not disappoint! We did the usual tourist spots like Bourbon Street, but the street that I loved was Magazine Street. As an interior designer I am always looking for unique home and design stores and this street is completely packed with every cool design store you could imagine. Doing what I do for a living and being exposed to so many resources, it takes a lot to impress me and these stores did just that. One particular one, AKA Stella Gray, was one of the most unique places I’ve ever been. Their merchandise was eclectic, fun and sometimes outrageous. In doing research for this post I found out the store closed and I am so sad to hear that, it really was a gem. Another favorite was Rivers Spencer Interiors. This design firm put together an elegant, upscale showroom that was very enjoyable to visit. You can see a full list of shops on Magazine Street at this link.
After New Orleans, we were on to Vacherie, Louisiana for one of the most anticipated parts of the trip! Oak Alley Plantation has been on my bucket list forever and I was finally going to see it in person. Oak Alley is a historic plantation that is well known for the 800 feet alley of oak trees leading up to the main home. This Greek Revival structure is designated a National Historic Landmark. The exterior features 28 Doric columns which represent the 28 oak trees along the alley.
We took a tour of the property which was absolutely fascinating. The interior of the plantation home features so much historic detail that you just don’t see in today’s homes. The walls are constructed of brick and are 16″ thick! If the home looks familiar it is because it is widely photographed and has been featured in many films. The experience was everything I hoped it would be and I highly recommend making a visit if you are in Louisiana.
We ended our day in Lafayette, Louisiana and then headed on to Austin, Texas.
We had extremely limited time in Austin, but the time we did spend there was memorable and left us excited to return! We had dinner at Gueros Taco Bar and stopped in a few shops downtown. One store we absolutely loved was Uncommon Objects. In business since 1991, Uncommon Objects is an antique collective with twenty four sellers under one roof. The company’s website describes the store as, “your eccentric uncle’s attic on steroids” which is the perfect depiction of the treasures you will find in this place. If you enjoy perusing flea markets, this is a must visit.
After leaving Austin we began heading west on I-290 and passed through Texas Hill country. Even though it was an overcast and rainy day, I thought this area of Texas was beautiful. The 290 is a gorgeous road that has 19 award winning wineries and was a completely unexpected hidden gem. We ended up passing through Johnson City, Texas and I was completely blown away by what a cool and unique area this is. Even though we had other plans, we decided to cancel them and spend the day in Johnson City and Fredericksburg. It is not often that I will totally change the itinerary of a road trip in the middle of it, but this area was so fabulous we just had to stay.
Johnson City, Texas is a small town brimming with art galleries and antique shops. It is the hometown of President Lyndon Johnson. I fell in love with the store, Echo in Johnson City. This is another completely unique business unlike anything I have encountered before. Echo in Johnson City is the brainchild of two business partners who have spent their lives traveling and designing. They created this store which they refer to as a “non-gallery” art gallery. This non gallery features everything from a $28 necklace to a $15,000 vintage sofa. The range of products is unbelievable. I bought a vintage rattan double papasan that I still love! After Johnson City we continued down I-290 to Fredericksburg. This is another eclectic and funky town that I was not expecting to fall in love with.
Fredericksburg is the sister city of Montabaur, Germany and the birthplace of Admiral Chester Nimitz. The historic district was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. You will see a German flair throughout the town including a replica of the Vereins Kirche, a German Church which once stood in the city.
There is a common theme throughout this trip of finding really quirky, fun stores and I discovered another gem in Fredericksburg. I was not previously familiar with Magnolia Pearl clothing but I’ve come to learn recently that they are pretty popular and are one of the lines carried by the effortlessly cool company, Free People. Anyway, I was driving down the road when I laid eyes on one of the coolest buildings ever. I wasn’t sure exactly what it was but of course I had to check it out. The description from Magnolia Pearl’s website sums up the aesthetic of the building pretty well, “an old German grain barn style building made with reclaimed wood…among our store’s grand architecture is a hand crank platform elevator that was used in the late 1800’s in an old cotton mill”. Trust me, you don’t see structures, let alone stores, like this every day. When I walked in it seemed more like an art gallery than a store to me. The clothes could only be described as avant garde as they fit the description perfectly. Experimental, innovative, boundary pushing, radical and unorthodox. While they aren’t really my style, it was still cool to experience. The merchandising alone was inspiring. If you’re ever in this area, even if you aren’t into fashion, you have to check this place out.
Fredericksburg turned out to be a hidden gem for us, and there was more there that we didn’t get a chance to explore. They also have a museum, The National Museum of the Pacific War, and other historic landmarks. This area is definitely worth exploring if you’re ever in Texas.
After leaving Fredericksburg we headed through New Mexico and into Arizona stopping for the night in Tucson.
We moved pretty quickly through Arizona but upon realizing that we were near the famous roadside attraction, The Thing in Dragoon, Arizona, we made a pitstop. This place is about as crazy as roadside attractions get, but if you love them like I do, you will enjoy it.
After The Thing we traveled straight through to California finishing our trip in Dana Point. It was hands down one of my favorite trips ever and getting to cross so many things off of my bucket list in one trip is the reason I love road trips so much! Let me know what you think in the comments below. Have you ever visited any of these attractions? Which were your favorites?