August 22, 2016

Summer Travel Series: 12 Last-Minute Destinations Before You Go Back-to-school Crazy

Devil's Head outlook in Chimney Rock

In a week, life is going to freaking flip the switch off from Summer leisure to Back-to-school chaos for me. You don't see it but I'm totally screaming in protest at the mere idea of it. Not totally prepared to give up my laid-back, Summer lazy days, sleep-till-when-mornings, and of course, the time I have my daughter home with me all day. Yes, contrary to popular belief, I do love having my child home, 24-7, and all the whip-cracking insanity that goes with it! Disclaimer: our kids are not going to stay young forever. So, I cherish every moment of it with mine with all the cray-cray-ness of it all. That, including cramming in last-minute travel adventures before chaos finally sets in. So, where do we go?

Well, our travel destination choices doesn't mean traveling to far away land to have fun. No need to. This late in the Summer travel season, we prefer to patronize destinations close to our "backyard". Here are 12 of a few of our highly recommended escape hubs in no particular order:

1. Ocean Isle - I call this beach destination, the beach in between wild fun and tranquility. It sits smack dab in the middle in between Myrtle Beach, SC and Wilmington, NC - where the famous USS Battleship North Carolina Memorial ship museum is docked. Ocean Isle is also known as an island all on its own and connected to the "main land" by a bridge with an awesome view! If your simple requirement is peace and quiet with a little bit of relaxation thrown in, you can give this little island a try.

2. Ocean Lakes - One of our favorite destination in Myrtle Beach, SC. Almost a second home to us. A gated beach house community that boast of great amenities and events to make your visit worthwhile, if not pleasant. Most of the private houses are put up for rental every Summer and the best times to go are when Summer is just ending or starting. The whole beach area will be very uncrowded to the point of being isolated at this point. And that's what you'll want. The beach all to yourself!

3. Chimney Rock - You like breathtaking views with a bit (no, lots) of a climb? Then this 500 million year old towering monolith is for you. It's a great destination for a family looking for a little bit of adventure without breaking your bank. Check the awesome photos I took during our first time visit to the rock here and how to make your first visit unforgettable here.

4. Lake Lure - Beach up in the mountains? Oh yeah! What's cool about Lake Lure besides its "beach" is that, it's a hop away from Chimney Rock. It's a great "hit-two-birds-in-one-shot" destination. Two tourist destination so close to each other, you literally can walk to each of one. You can check the lovely sceneries during our visit to Lake Lure here.

5. Carowinds - Our go-to entertainment haven when we don't want to drive beyond an hour! It's the premier entertainment and thrill ride amusement park in the Carolinas. The only theme park that sits right in the middle of the border between NC and SC. Best of both worlds. And it's right here in Charlotte!

Conquered the steep climb to King's Pinnacle Elev. 1706' at Crowders Mountain

6. Crowders Mountain - Our new favorite local destination. It's great for hiker-wannabes and hiker-newbies. Also a great camping and picnic destination. It's only 25 miles from Charlotte and makes for a great day trip weekend getaway adventure for the whole family.

7. Linville Caverns -  Though not ideal for the claustrophobic, Linville Caverns is a great choice for outdoor enthusiast looking for some out of the ordinary adventure. It's also a great place to cool down from the Summer heat with its 52 degrees F temperature year-round!

8. Blowing Rock - An attraction with a legend. Blowing rock is more of a laid-back option for a family getaway. Not much to do here but it's a great place to unwind and admire the beauty of high country mountain range on top of the legendary rock. While in town, you can also hop on over to Tweetsie Railroad and experience the fun of riding a historic train.

9. Bannery Elk Winery - You don't have to be a wine enthusiasts to enjoy a winery because hey, there's wine! That should be reason enough. Right mom? They also offer tours which can be educational, and yes, wine tastings as well! And if you ever get overzealous with the wine tasting, Banner Elk Winery is also a bed and breakfast. So, yeah, you're pretty covered. Keep tasting!

Walking across the mile high bridge under the veil of clouds

10. Grandfather Mountain - One of our favorite local destinations. I don't grow tired going to this park. Every season bring different experiences. If you ever get lucky, you might even get the chance to "walk in the clouds" as we have. Check the stunning photos I took during the time clouds descended on the mountain and on us here. You can also check the photo I took there that got featured on TV here.

 11. Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden - A garden with a plus! It's no longer just a garden but also have a kid-friendly area to bust boredom for the little ones while you marvel at the beautiful garden. Check some of the stunning photos I took of the garden during our lat visit here.

12. PARI (Pisqah Astronomical Research Institute) - A former NASA facility 30 miles Southwest of Asheville NC. There is so much history and educational opportunities for the whole geeky family to be had here. Not to say, get an up close and personal encounter with the historic towering radio telescopes scattered around the facility. You won't be able to help yourself say "E.T. Phone home!"

These are just a few of the fun, local, short-drive-to places that we love to escape to not just on last-minute getaways but more so when it's really so last, last-minute!  And it doesn't disappoint. 


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