Back in 2012, we were trying to decide on a destination for our "mini-moon". Knowing our official honeymoon to Ireland would be at a later date (still working on that trip), we wanted our week after the wedding to be somewhere close that still felt like a getaway. After stumbling across an article in Southern Living, we chose to spend part of our time at The Tides Inn in Irvington, VA. While our experience at this hotel was not ideal, we fell in love with this area of Virginia. With a relaxed country-coastal vibe, the Northern Neck/ Middle Penninsula area (or "the Rivah", as locals call it) has become our favorite place for a weekend getaway. Whether just the two of us or for a family gathering, this area feels like a vacation and home away from home all in one.
Back in May, we made our annual spring trip down south, staying in Urbanna at The Chesapeake Inn. Right in downtown, it's an adorable inn that always provides a friendly welcome and comfortable accommodations. They recently opened up a restaurant on the property, so when we arrived on Friday evening, we checked in, then walked just a few short steps to The Works Bar & Grill for dinner. Good food and a relaxed atmosphere put us right into laid back weekend mode.
In the morning, we had a short walk through downtown for breakfast at Something Different. An eclectic spot for a meal, ice cream, a few drinks or bbq to-go, we always enjoy stopping in here…. especially for their beignets. After breakfast we set out to explore the town a bit. Cute shops and lots of character to be seen. It's small enough to explore on foot, but The Chesapeake Inn has pedal surreys that you can drive around town too. Venturing out of downtown Urbanna, we made our way across the Rappahannock to the Irvington Farmers Market.
Now as much as we love the Northern Neck for it's location, our real reason for visiting several times a year comes down to one thing: oysters. Specifically, Olde Salts from Rappahannock Oyster Company. During our mini-moon, we were on the hunt for a good seafood restaurant and a local told us about a great spot on the river. Little did we know, Merroir would become one of our favorite restaurants ever. A "tasting room" right on the Rappahannock River, Merroir has picnic-like seating on a floor of oyster shells, amazing food cooked on an outdoor grill, bottles of wine chilled in vintage oyster cans and a view that can't be beat. Since we discovered this little gem, RRO has also opened up Rappahannock Oyster Bar in DC and Rappahannock in Richmond. Merroir is by far our favorite, as you cannot beat the relaxed atmosphere, incredible food or water-side location at Locklies Marina.
Wrapping up our weekend getaway, we had Sunday breakfast with the family at Virginia Street Cafe. With southern classics like biscuits & gravy and cheesy grits, we were all happy and ready for the day. Before heading back home, we took a short walk to the Urbanna Town Marina for one last glimpse of that idyllic life on the water. Of course we can't wait to go back and hope to (finally) make it to Urbanna's annual Oyster Festival in November!
In less than a week I turn 30, so I've been looking back on the past few decades and thinking about what I'm most thankful for. Included in this are the opportunities I have had to travel. I'm pretty sure I was born with a case of wanderlust and today it's stronger than ever. As I add destinations to my "hope to visit" list, I decided to put together a list of the places I love the most at age 30. Whether it's a city I'll always have a family connection to or a place where I had a really memorable experience, these are my 15 favorite places in the entire world. I realize this list may change as I travel more, but for now these are the regions, cities and towns where I've definitely left a little (or big) piece of my heart.
That's me at Sally Gap in County Wicklow, Ireland. One of my favorite weekend trips during my time studying abroad in Italy.
1. NEW ENGLAND: This will always be my favorite place in the world, so I couldn't just pick one spot. Within this region, the places at the top of my list are Hillsborough (NH- my hometown), Portsmouth (NH), Kennebunkport (Maine), Martha's Vineyard (MA) and of course Boston! Although I love the DC metro area, this will always and forever be my home.
2. FIRENZE, ITALIA (Florence, Italy): This is where I lived and studied abroad for a semester of college. I still miss it every day and will always consider it a second home. The art history, food, culture and beauty of this incredible city can't be beat. This is also where I rekindled my love for reading, with weekly stops into my favorite used bookshop ever.
3. SEATTLE, WA: My brother lives here and after visiting him last October, now I know why he hasn't left. The scenery, food, outdoor activities, culture and Emerald City pride drew me in right away. Seattle has such an amazing vibe and a mix of everything you could want in one place...and I can't wait to go back!
4. OUTER BANKS, NC: My husband introduced me to this place on our "mini-moon" and I immediately fell in love. This northern coast of NC is so relaxed, the beaches are perfect and it has become our go-to summer vacation destination.
5 & 6. DUBLIN & COUNTY WICKLOW, IRELAND: This was my first visit to the "homeland"... need I say more? Dublin is such a fun city, with easy access to the best pint of Guinness around and the breathtaking Irish country side. Although just a day trip, County Wicklow gave me a glimpse into the small towns, rolling green fields and true beauty of Ireland.
7. WASHINGTON, DC: Although I've lived in the DC area for close to 8 years, I am still in awe every time I see the skyline, walk past the White House or see the thousands of cherry blossoms each spring. There's really no place like it, with a mix of politics, professionals, history, culture, great food, and entertainment.
8. MIDDLEBURG, VA: If we won the lottery, we would immediately buy a home in this charming horse country town. Our rehearsal dinner was in downtown and it's just up the street from where we were married, so it will always be a favorite.
9. NICE, FRANCE: Although I just visited for a day during my time abroad, the largest city on the Côte d'Azur has stuck with me. One of my favorite afternoons ever was spent here and I will forever be amoreaux (in love) with this place.
10. GRANADA, SPAIN: A second home to one of my best friends, I visited during spring break when we both studied abroad. My 21st birthday was spent here, exploring the Alhambra, eating amazing tapas, and celebrating with friends. I will always remember spending every sunset with sangria and friends on my most favorite hostel's rooftop deck.
11. NEW YORK, NY: My mom's side of the family comes from NYC, so I've always loved "the city that never sleeps". The hustle and bustle make you feel energized and there's always something to do, eat or see at anytime. Although I have never lived there, my college internship and multiple visits to see friends, have allowed me to see beyond the touristy spots. Whether brunching on the Upper West Side, checking out the shops on 5th Ave or spending an afternoon with a picnic in Central Park, I always love spending time in the city.
12. PITTSBURGH, PA: My husband's family is from this area, so although we've visited Western PA many times, I didn't make it into Pittsburgh until last summer. Although it was a quick trip we tried to see as much as possible. With great food, friends, sports teams, and some awesome neighborhoods we're already planning another visit back this summer.
13. QUEBEC CITY, CANADA: Obviously you know I'm Irish, but I'm also French Canadian. My family came from France via Quebec, so naturally I was drawn to this city in the north. The history and old world feel give Quebec City that "je ne sais quoi". Not only that, but the food is hearty and delicious, especially if you can make it to a sugar shack (maple syrup).
14. CAPRI, ITALY: The Amalfi Coast is hands down one of the most picturesque I have visited. Capri's seaside landscape was breathtaking and my trip into the Blue Grotto was one I will never forget. A must visit for anyone traveling to Italy.
15. GRANBY, CO: I was lucky enough to spend a week here for work (on a ranch!) and I honestly didn't want to leave. The view was so incredible, that I made it a point have my coffee with the sunrise every morning I was there.
A New England girl living in Virginia. Sharing my love of books.... with some travel, food and creativity mixed in.