This article, and our trip, was sponsored by North Carolina and Dare County’s The Outer Banks Tourism board. All opinions and words, as always, are my own.
I don’t get to do that many “Girlfriend Getaways” but when The Outer Banks asked if I would come visit, I thought it would be fun to make it the kind of trip I did with a friend since I knew it wasn’t a place that my partner Danté would want to visit with me. Sure, I could have also traveled alone and that’s something I always recommend people do. But I am glad I traveled with my friend Kristen of Border Free Travels because The Outer Banks is a place that works really well for a Girlfriend Getaway and it had been far too long since I’d worked with her or seen her. It’s always a treat worth going out of the way for.
To Get There
Kristen flew out of Nantucket, where she lives, and met me at LaGuardia airport where we boarded a Delta flight to Norfolk, Virginia. In the airport we learned we were both traveling with new cases from Raden and had a good laugh about how similar our tastes can be! From there we rented a car and drove the two hours through Virginia and North Carolina to get to the islands that are known as The Outer Banks. After checking in to the historic Tranquil House Inn we drove with a guide from the Tourism Board, down to Duck to have dinner at Sanderling Resort’s Lifesaving Station Restaurant. We met up with some other bloggers and writers who were also in the area! I liked that we started out our trip like this because it gave us a glimpse into the area through our colleagues. They had all been there for several days before we arrived. The restaurant has some really terrific antiques from the seafaring days of OBX and is itself a very historic building that was, as the name suggests, a lifesaving station before it was refurbished and restored. I HIGHLY recommend their cocktails. I loved my French 85 and was glad we had a chaperone for the drive home so I could have two with dinner!
The Second Day
…we were up early for a little sightseeing around the town of Manteo as the sun rose above the water. It wasn’t a brilliant display but I really enjoyed seeing the town itself so still and had a good conversation with the local owner of the coffee shop across from the Inn. He used to come to the Outer Banks for vacation as a kid and opened Island Perk Coffee Shop as his retirement plan. We then headed out of Manteo toward Cape Hatteras National Park where Bodie Island Lighthouse is located. We both loved climbing all the stairs to the top where there was a stunning view of The Outer Banks. After that we checked out the beach at Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and collected some shells. Then we drove to lunch at Good Winds where there were lots of people kiteboarding in the sun that came out just in time for us to sit and watch them. We made the long drive “home” enjoying the last sunshine of the day and the gorgeous scenery of the National Seashore. Driving is simply so fun in The Outer Banks! We arrived home to rain in Manteo but didn’t stress since we were just in time for the Inn’s complimentary Happy Hour. A glass of wine while we watched the rain was actually very calming. Then we ended the night with dinner in town at Outer Banks Brewing Station, which is a wind powered brew pub!
Our Third Day
It was time to check into the Sanderling Resort but it was raining AND it was National Turtle Day. So we decided to visit the OBX location of the North Carolina Aquarium for some time with the turtles who are being rehabilitated in the STAR Center inside the Aquarium, aka: Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation program. We then headed down to Duck where, because it was still raining, we decided to check out AQUA Spa. We *thoroughly* enjoyed it and the accompanying restaurant. Kristen had a facial that made her look 10 years younger and I had a relaxing massage that worked out all the kinks of the last 3 months of back to back work travel. We each celebrated getting to do a job together with a round of drinks (my martini came with my massage!) and enjoyed the spa’s binoculars to see what kind of birds were out on the water in front of AQUA. It’s a really serene little corner of the town of Duck so we also enjoyed walking around outside after our treatments were done and the rain had stopped. We ended our day with dinner back at Sanderling in their Kimball’s Kitchen restaurant which turned out to be the best meal we had while in The Outer Banks. Their sommelier is self-trained but has a highly developed palate. We loved the red and white wines that he chose to go with my steak and Kristen’s seafood. I thought I was going to cry over how good the Boursin Mashed Potatoes were, they easily rivaled the best French mashed potatoes that I’ve ever had.
Our Second to Last Day
It was again a bit gray but there was definitely some sun trying to peek through so we wanted to be on the beach again if we could, or on the water. So after our complimentary coffee in the Sanderling Resort living room, we spent a little bit of time in the hot tub to warm up, then we proceeded to go horseback riding with Hatteras Island Horseback Riding. Owner Jeff let me ride his prized Arabian/Percheron mix named Willem who turned out to be the best horse I’ve ever had the pleasure of spending time with. I cannot recommend this particular activity highly enough! We ended the day doing a Sail Outer Banks sunset cruise out of Manteo with owners Katherine and Dan. We really loved them! Far and away two of the nicest people we met while in OBX. They let us drive the boat, teaching us a bit about sailing as we went, and they made it possible for us to to get up close to a pair of nesting birds. I believe they were ospreys or kestrels. There was both a male and female!!
The Day We Left
On our last morning in The Outer Banks, we woke up to the warmest air and the bluest skies, a sun that was so bright it was almost too hot! So we met on the porch of Sanderling and made a plan for what we’d do on the way back to the airport in Norfolk. We both were of a like mind: do anything and everything we could find that was outside! We discovered a great place for ice cream, the most adorable road side fruit stand and the MOST AMAZING coffee shop slash book store called [appropriately] Duck’s Cottage Coffee and Bookshop. Kristen even found some books for sale by a writer she knows from Nantucket, Elin Hilderbrand, and so we each bought one for reading on the plane. (Sidenote: I’m hooked now. If you haven’t read a Hilderbrand book, change that soon!)
And please enjoy the GORGEOUS video that Kristen created from footage shot during our trip. I think she’s amazingly talented and can’t wait to work with her again!
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