Wrightsville Beach, N.C.

Located on an island off the coast of Wilmington, N.C., Wrightsville Beach is one of my favorite beaches because of its stunning views, easy access, and special memories.

Wrightsville Beach, N.C.

Because it is only a 2-hour drive from where we live, Wrightsville has been the site of countless day trips for my husband and me. We started going when we first began dating and it has become a tradition to go at least once or twice each summer. 

After our daughter was born, she began joining us on these trips. Wrightsville Beach is where she saw the ocean for the first time, built her first sandcastle, and rode her first wave.

Our rituals include eating tacos on the beach from Tower 7. We’ve learned over the years to bring our own cutlery because the Tower 7 team almost always forgets to put it in the to-go bag, but the salsa alone is worth the drive!

We also love stopping at Dockside for fried seafood on their deck overlooking the Intracoastal waterway.

We recently stayed a few nights in Wrightsville beach to celebrate our 24-year anniversary. As much as we love Wrightsville as a day-trip destination, we enjoyed it even more as a long weekend getaway.

We visited Airlie Gardens for the first time. It was beautiful even on the hottest of summer afternoons, although the flowers were a little past peak. This 67-acre garden area is probably best enjoyed in early spring or fall.

The highlight of our trip was traveling across the bridge to see the sunrise each morning. I love the beach’s activity at sunrise, with runners, surfers, and photographers quietly taking in the arresting views.

What is your favorite beach destination?

National Harbor, Maryland

Scenes in National Harbor, Maryland

While the east coast of the U.S. is known for having beautiful sunrises, anyone who has visited the west coast will say the sunsets here pale in comparison to those in west coast cities like San Diego. 

This adage was proven wrong during my recent visit to National Harbor, Maryland, part of the greater Washington, D.C. area. I was in National Harbor for my first in-person professional development conference since February of 2020, days before the COVID-19 pandemic started shutting things down.

During our brief stay in this 300-acre waterfront development along the Potomac River, I had a chance to see for myself why Expedia has ranked National Harbor as one of “The Best Places to Catch Astounding Sunsets” in the United States.

With views of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and the Washington monument, National Harbor is packed with 40 restaurants, a marina, public art displays, the largest casino outside of Las Vegas, and attractions such as an outdoor theater, and a 36-foot carousel. The area even has a circus.

My personal favorite thing to do was ride the Capital Wheel. This 15-minute experience takes riders 180 feet into the air, treating them to unique waterfront views of Maryland, Virginia, and D.C. 

Like the professional development opportunity that brought me to the area, the Capital Wheel ride provided me with a much-needed lift and a new perspective. When I was firmly back on the ground, I was inspired to capture the scenery around the Wheel in a different way.

The Glorious Views of Asheville, N.C.

Located in the western part of N.C., Asheville is one of the most diverse and scenic cities in the state. Its location along the Blue Ridge Mountain range makes it a popular fall destination for tourists looking to see beautiful fall foliage.

A 4-hour drive from where I live, we have been able to make a few weekend trips in late fall to Asheville over the years, visiting the famous Lake Lure, where scenes from one of my favorite movies were filmed. We have also toured America’s largest residence Biltmore Estate, climbed to the top of Chimney Rock, and explored downtown Asheville, which is home to the Asheville Art Museum, one of the oldest art museums in the state.

For the first time this year, my family had the opportunity to spend a long weekend in Asheville during the spring. I wasn’t sure what to expect, given the city’s reputation as a destination for seeing peak fall color. I learned the Asheville area is a great place to visit any time of year. From layered mountain sunsets to hidden waterfalls, we were treated to glorious views. 

Our trip included a tour of the Sierra Nevada Brewery, downtown Asheville, a visit to the Flowering Bridge in Lake Lure, and a landscape photography lesson in the Blue Ridge Mountains with WNC Photo Tours.

More in-depth posts showing behind the scenes of Sierra Nevada Brewery and lessons I learned from my lesson with the amazing J, founder and owner of WNC Photo Tours, will be added to the blog soon.

For now, I wanted to share a few quick scenes from one of my favorite N.C. cities.