The midwest has long been high on my list for places to go and sites to see for some time now. I think for a lot of people this is the case. But sometimes I think us east-coasters forget the beauty right in our backyard. I know I do. So when I had the chance to tackle my first long distance, solo road trip (wink wink, more to come soon), I jumped at the chance. It also doesn’t hurt to have friends living along the way who you haven’t seen in months, even years, and who are willing to put you up for a few days. You guys are the real MVPs. And so began my week long journey from Alabama back home to New York.
Stop One. Savannah, GA.
This one has been on my list since I was a little kid. I can’t remember exactly how I first saw images of Wormsloe plantation, but I have to believe it was in a movie of some sort (grow up with two history teachers as your parents and see how many historically-based films you watch). But the south has always intrigued me… for so many reasons, and the different culture was half of the reason I decided to move to Alabama for grad school in the first place. So I knew I had to include Wormloe on my drive home- I knew I would regret it if I didn’t.
My drive to Savannah was gorgeous. Nothing but sunshine, driving with the windows down, country music blaring. But a half hour away from Savannah, the sky turned black. I’m talking pitch. freaking. black. Seconds after I pulled into the plantation, the sky opened up. Something my dad likes to call the “Steele curse,” I like to call life- the south is known for its summer afternoon thunderstorms, after all. After attempting to wait out the worst of the storm, I befriended a middle-aged woman in the car next to me and we decided to make a run for it in the pouring rain in order to get that ~perfect~ Insta pic (okay, so that was my reasoning, she just wanted a picture to show her grandkids). By far one of my favorite things about traveling alone are the unusual friends you make along the way, and this just proves how welcoming people can be on the road.
Amidst the storm clouds, mosquitoes and her husband laughing at us from the safety of their car, she managed to grab this shot for me. This gorgeous driveway of oaks stretches on for over 1.5 MILES. Imagine that drive up to your house every day. My mind was rightfully blown.
I am forever thankful for you, my Minnesota friend. Bucket list goal achieved. Hope your kids don’t make fun of you too much for having a random stranger take your picture, I know my friends did.
Stop Two. Charleston, SC.
Charleston is another city that has been high on my bucket list for some time now. I’d always heard nothing but good things, and now that I’ve been, I can reciprocate those feelings. The city is just so gorgeous and so filled with history, the perfect place to live, if you can get over the humidity. Oooo baby the humidity- I’ve never felt anything like it.
If you’re going to make a stop in Charleston, the number one thing I recommend you visit is Rainbow Row. This is no hidden gem, that’s for sure. People stand in the middle of the road blocking traffic just to get that perfect shot- I can see why locals despise tourists so much. But with colors like that how can you resist? Oh I so belong in a coastal town. My heart was happy here.
In terms of food, definitely visit Beech for a killer acai bowl, Sesame Burgers & Beer for the best pimento cheese app around and Taco Boy/Taco Spot for, well, tacos. (I’m told by a local that Taco Boy has the better scenery and Taco Spot has the better tacos, but both are amazing). You really can’t go wrong with tacos.
Stop Three. Virginia Beach, VA.
A popular vacation spot for many people in New York, I had never really thought to visit VA Beach before. But one of my best friends just moved here for the summer, so I decided to give it a go and was pleasantly surprised. For people my age, there’s actually quite a bit to do. And eat. And drink.
…and pretty much all we did for three days straight was just that. We started off at Commonwealth Brewing Company for a flight of beer and some dinner.
With a really nice indoor and outdoor seating atmosphere, the cool thing about this brewery is that it hosts different food trucks weekly. The food truck of the week during my visit was Taste of Asia, and I stand by saying I have never been disappointed by a food truck meal. I ordered chicken curry with rice and devoured it within minutes (guess that’s what eating fast food out of the passenger seat of your car for 5 days straight will do to you)- the curry wasn’t the spiciest I’ve ever tasted though, which is probably why I enjoyed it so much. But beware for those of you who enjoy having your mouth lit on fire with your meals.
Other places to for sure check out while you’re in town:
Nightlife: The Shack. This place basically destroyed the rest of the weekend for us. Who knew ordering triple shot drinks was even legal ??
Next Day Brunch: Waterman’s. The Sunday brunch here breathed new life into me. Probably something to do with the fact that we had already tried and struck out at getting into Bay Local, it was nearing noon and we were all hungover and hangry, but the eggs benedict gets a 10/10. They also offer a crab benedict which I can imagine is as good as it sounds. Complete with fresh squeezed orange juice and sticky buns with every entree? Yes please.
I finished my trip here with a much needed trip to WaWa for a picnic dinner (I wasn’t lying when I said all we did was eat) that we brought to the beach. Perfect way to end a weekend.
Stop Four. Ocean City, MD.
One of my many homes away from home. My aunt has lived here since I was a kid, and for as long as I can remember we’ve taken family vacations here every summer. Only difference this year was I was on my own, but I’ve come to love my solo adventures. A day well spent on the 49th Street Beach capped off with an Orange Crush (vodka, triple sec, freshly squeezed orange juice and a splash of lemon-lime soda) at Harborside with my aunt and uncle.
Stop Five. Syracuse, NY.
Home sweet home for the summer. Where will I be off to next…? 😉
You can only call and bother so many people on a road trip. So it is NECESSARY to travel with a few podcasts/audio books/songs on reserve. Here are some of my favorite jams/podcasts that got me through my 22+ hours in my lil baby Mercury:
**Spoiler alert: if you don’t like learning about conspiracy theories, nerding out about how Bitcoin works or belting Beautiful Crazy at the top of your lungs, this list probably isn’t for you.