Memorial Day is almost here and I wanted to take a step back and appreciate what our troops do for us. As a veteran myself, I’ve had the pleasure and honor of working with some of the finest men and women in this country. I won’t say that I was the best soldier or even close to being the best solider, but just being in the vicinity of these remarkable men and women has instilled in me this sense of hope that even I can achieve whatever I want in life. Every day spent in the Army was a fascinating reminder of what the human mind and body can do. I was constantly in awe of the sheer will, dedication and commitment soldiers have for their country and what they can do to protect its freedom.
I feel really privileged to live in a country where the troops are valued and appreciated for their efforts. In our day to day lives, we tend to forget the reason we can walk around free and speak our minds, is because some unknown solider out there is constantly fighting for us to have that freedom.
So, thank you.
I hope this day and its festivities serve as an example to other countries as well and they also take up initiatives to recognize their own troops. After all, everyone likes and wants to be appreciated. 🙂
If you are looking for a quiet time, then Oak Island beach or Emerald Isle beach is your best bet. If you are looking for a more touristy feel then head to the ever popular Myrtle beach!”
So coming to the festivities of this weekend, there are so many places to go and quick getaways available. North Carolina is the perfect blend of beaches and mountains. Drive 3 hrs to the east and you hit the ocean. Drive 3 hrs to the west and you hit the mountains. Summer time here is my favorite time of the year!
This is the perfect time to take a quick getaway to the beach. We usually rent a beach house or even take a day trip to the beach and back. North Carolina beaches are absolutely gorgeous this time of the year with perfect weather. Airbnb is the perfect place to start looking for an affordable (and last minute!) beach rental. You can also check with the local rental agencies by running a quick Google search.
If you are looking for a quiet time, then Oak Island beach or Emerald Isle beach is your best bet.
Oak Island Beach/Emerald Isle Beach
Both Oak Island Beach and Emerald Isle beach are approximately 3 hour drive from NC.
Stop in the local grocery store and stir up a chat about the local catch, or head to the Mini-golf course for a round of golf.”
Rahul and I love to take day trips to either beach over a regular weekend. Mellow is a water baby and just goes insane!
These beaches are more family oriented with on-the-water cottages and private beach entrances. The towns are quaint with a very homely feeling. Stop in the local grocery store and stir up a chat about the local catch, or head to the Mini-golf course for a round of golf. The restaurants are also very unique with their own ambiances and the southern hospitality.
Also, did I mention that they are pet friendly beaches?! 😀 That’s always an added perk.
Things to do at Oak Island Beach – Oak island Beach has a lot to offer for families and especially for kids. Take day trip and visit Oak Island Lighthouse and discover its history. If you are more adventurous, take a ferry with a picnic basket 😉 to the Baldhead Island Lighthouse. There are water activities available like parasailing, boat rentals, fishing excursions, nature tours etc that you can take. All the water activity agencies can be found in town.
Things to do at Emerald Isle – Besides the gorgeous beaches, Emerald Isle is brimming with outdoor activities. There are mini-golf courses in town and movie theaters. There are also amusement parks like Playland and Water Boggan. Of course, there’s also the North Carolina Aquarium!
To get the most out of your experience at Myrtle beach, we recommend staying as close to the heart of town as possible.”
If you are looking for a more touristy feel then head to the ever popular Myrtle beach!
Myrtle Beach is a 3 and half hour drive from Raleigh. Given its popularity, accommodations at Myrtle Beach are plentiful. There are several hotels available on ‘the strip’ (not to be confused with the Vegas strip). A little further down, there are beach houses available for rent as well.
To get the most out of your experience at Myrtle beach, we recommend staying as close to the nightlife as possible. Their website is a good place to begin looking for accommodations.
The mountains of NC are absolutely gorgeous during the spring and summer. Imagine the traquility of watching the sun rise over the mountains as you sip warm coffee from the balcony of your tree nestled log cabin.”
Food is not an issue at all with tons of restaurants spread all across the the beach. There’s nothing like enjoying a cool Margarita at one of the beach side restaurants after a day well spent in the sun.
Things to do at Myrtle Beach – Where do we begin?!!! Let’s see… you can go to the Hollywood Wax Museum, or the Ripley’s Believe it or Not, Broadway Grand Prix Family Race Park, Children’s Museum of South Carolina, Dragon’s Lair Miniature Golf, Jurassic Golf, Go Ape Ziplining.. the possibilities are endless.
Now i’m going to confess, i’m more of beach-goer than a mountain-goat! But i’ve heard that the mountains of NC are absolutely gorgeous during the spring and summer. Imagine the traquility of watching the sun rise over the mountains as you sip warm coffee from the balcony of your tree nestled log cabin.
Depending on where you live in NC, there are two absolutely gorgeous mountain ranges that you can head to.
Connect back with Mother Nature and breathe in the fresh air while hiking along the many nature trails. Head to the amazing look out points for a scenic picnic as you watch the sunset.
Access to the hiking trails in Grandfather Mountain State Park is included in the price of admission. To access the start of the Grandfather Trail, please park at the Hiker’s Parking Area, a quarter-mile below the summit.”
The drive from Raleigh, NC to Grandfather Mountains is approximate a little over 3 and half hours.
Here’s the list of the 10 best places to stay near Grandfather Mountain.
Tickets – Tickets can be purchased at the gate. Here are usually priced around $9 for kids over 4, and $20 for adults. Senior rate is $18 while kids under 4 are FREE. This includes all the attractions.
Access to the hiking trails in Grandfather Mountain State Park is included in the price of admission. To access the start of the Grandfather Trail, please park at the Hiker’s Parking Area, a quarter-mile below the summit.
If you do not want to see the attractions and simply explore the nature trails for free, then you can park your car at one of the two off-mountain trail heads located either on the Blue Ridge Parkway (or U.S. 221 in winter) or N.C. 105.
The Mile High Swinging Bridge is the most popular attraction. The bridge was built in 1952 and has provided thousands of visitors the thrill of crossing it at a mile-high elevation. You can choose to cross the bridge as challenge, or just go to observe the beauty around this brilliant suspension. The views will always be phenomenal.
I would highly highly recommend the train excursions from Byrson City at Smoky Mountains. Imagine how excited the kids would be to be able to explore the mountain range while riding in a steam powered train!! Definitely a worth do!”
For kids, there are seven ecological habitats featuring black bears, river otters, cougars, bald eagles etc. A perfect place for kids to see how these creatures live in their natural surroundings.
When you get tired of site seeing, head to the Mildred Grill for some lunch or dinner. You can also take your own picnic basket and have a picnic at the hundreds of picnic tables spread across the park.
If the kids have been good 😉 , treat them to some freshly made ice cream or cookies at The Fudge Shop.
Smoky Mountains of North Carolina
The Smoky Mountain range spreads across several states within the the US. You can either head to the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina or the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. They are both the same approximate distance but i’m biased to NC so i’d recommend the NC range ;).
The drive from Raleigh to the Smokey Mountains of NC is approximately 4 and half hours.
You can rent a cottage or log cabin cozily nestled in the mountain range or get a hotel room closer to the heart of town or check in to one of the popular resorts. Here are some great recommendations from Trip Advisor.
Smoky Mountains are more touristy and hence have a lot more activities to do than Grandfather Mountains.
I would highly highly recommend the train excursions from Byrson City.
Imagine how excited the kids would be to be able to explore the mountain range while riding in a steam powered train!! Definitely a worth do!
The Smokey Mountain of North Carolina have a lot to offer for outdoor activities. There is hiking, bike riding, horse back riding, canoeing and rafting, casinos, gem mining and museums. Their website is a great resource to get started on things to do.
I hope you all have fun planning your Memorial Day weekend.. and i’ll always here if you need advice..
the travelling panda..