Hello & welcome to the official first week of "How NOT to be an Influencer"
This blog post is all about a road trip my husband & I took after Christmas, & yes during a pandemic. This blog will discuss where we went, what we did, and why!
Let's get started with this map!
December 26th we headed down to (just north of) Atlanta, Ga, to visit family.
December 28th we left early for Charlotte, Nc.
December 29th we headed to Norfolk then onto Richmond that night.
December 31st we headed home to celebrate NYE with our cats & our pajamas.
Our trip planning
This trip was planned AFTER I decided to begin this project so everything was planned with potential content in mind. Once deciding our main 3 stops, ATL - CLT - RVA, it was time to start looking for insta-worthy locations. I googled "most instagrammable places in _____", I used instagram hashtags, and looked at influencers in the area to find great photo spots. I also considered what backdrops would work well for my instagram feed (v important). This usually included whites, greens, and blue at each location! Now this was still a trip for my husband and I so some places (like museums) were chosen not for photos but instead for our enjoyment!
Once deciding the places we would go, and on what day, I started packing outfits that would specifically go with each location. Most of the time I looked at tagged photos on instagram to see what locations looked like so I could pack an outfit I knew would fit the spot well. I also packed knowing I wanted my feed to have a unified look. So every outfit I packed was based around white, black or blue. (I'm very into neutrals and winter whites right now!)
December 26th | Lexington, Ky - Pineville, Ky - Lake Junaluska, Nc - Braselton, Ga
We left Lexington, early, the day after Christmas, to head down to Atlanta. You may have noticed on the map we took quite a weird route and that is because while planning I found this cool little town on Lake Junaluska in North Carolina. This detour only added on 30 minutes to our trip and it turned a drive we've done, what feels like, a million times into a new adventure through the mountains!
Because of a white Christmas here, while heading south I couldn't help but turn the car around when I saw Pine Mountain State Park on the side of the highway. It was such a beautiful drive through rural towns & yes, I was totally looking down every highway exit to spot a snowy photo location. I do not regret pulling off at this stop because it was unbelievably stunning!
Pro travel tip: If there is a sign for a scenic pull off on the highway... get off! We stopped at Bean Station in Tennessee and it was a prefect little break in the trip!
Honesty hour... The whole reason we took this new way to ATL was to stop at Lake Junaluska and its was absolutely beautiful but I didn't take many photos. I'm not saying it wasn't worth it but it wasn't what I was expecting (or planned).
Once we arrived in Braselton we hit the hotel to check in and then headed to my families home to visit.
December 27th & 28th | Braselton, Ga
We spent two nights in Braselton, Ga, & most of that time was spent visiting family but the rest was spent in our hotel or (one of my new favorite places to visit) Chateau Elan Resort & Winery! We went to their awesome little cafe for coffee on the 27th, explored the grounds, & found their beautifully bright casual dinning room (a photogs dream). So of course we had to go for breakfast the next morning before heading to Charlotte!
December 28th | Charlotte, Nc
After breakfast we hopped back in the car & headed, just north of Charlotte, to Lazy 5 Ranch. What may have been one of the weirdest & most stressful experiences also provided me with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to come face-to-face with my favorite creature... the BISON. I was a little nervous about supporting Lazy 5 Ranch because it is basically a farm with some exotic animals on it that you drive through and feed from your car... I have to say I was better than I expected but I did find issue with some of the conditions. It is a controversial place so if you are on the fence about going I suggest maybe skipping this activity. But... I can't lie, it did cross something off my bucket list... petting a bison. While the majority of the animals were cows, llamas, deer, and pigs, they did have a few bison, zebras, & giraffes. There was another part to the park that had smaller animals but it was closed due to social distancing complications!
After the ranch we headed straight to our hotel, the Holiday Inn - City Center! After unpacking we headed to the roof to look at Charlottes crowning jewel! ;) The Ranch took much longer than we originally budgeted for so after checking in we headed south to the Charlotte South Park Mall to do some after Christmas shopping while we waited for our dinner reservations! We had reservations that night at Restoration Hardware's Rooftop Restaurant and I can honestly say it's in my top 5 for best meals in my life... So if you ever get a chance to go... do it! I had the Caesar Salad & the Burrata and Alex got the Roasted Chicken. Also had my first taste of Veuve Clicquot Brut Champagne and now I am hooked! Ohh yeah and the chocolate chip cookies ;)
December 29th | Virginia Beach, Va | Norfolk, Va
We left Charlotte early and hit the road heading to Virginia Beach! It was absolutely freezing but we still had to get out on the sand. We took our time looking at all the beautiful seaside homes, just north of the hotel strip, and wow what a life to live! We were heading up to Cape Henry Lighthouse but unfortunately it was on a military base that was closed due to covid. That was pretty upsetting but it was okay because we just went back to the beach to take some photos and breathe in the cool, fresh, air. From the beach we headed inwards towards Norfolk!
In Norfolk we went to see the USS Wisconsin, rode Lime scooters around the water front, took photos at Waterside, grabbed pizza at Benny Damato's, checked out all the boats, and then once the sun set we headed back to the USS Wisconsin to see it decked out in holiday lights! Ohh and then headed to our hotel in Richmond, Va, driving through our first under water tunnel!
December 30th | Richmond, Va
We woke up in our Richmond hotel (finally a full day with no long drives) and headed off to breakfast at Capitol Waffle Shop! I will say it was a good waffle but pretty expensive for a... waffle. Also this was not the spot to get coffee... just stop somewhere else first! From there we headed to our reservation at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden! Obviously the grounds would be a bit more alive in the summer, but all I cared about was their beautiful conservatory! Just click through these photos and you will fall in love too!
Next we headed off to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts! The building was beautiful, they did a fabulous job of limiting people, and it was free! This is where I fell deeply in love with a painting from 1857. After the museum we headed off to lunch at Potbelly Sandwich Shop, which for currently being vegetarian, was actually pretty good! Then onto Class & Trash, an antique and thrift shop, where Alex found way too large items that we couldn't bring home!
Maybe one of my favorite activities of the day was driving around a historical part of town and strolling through their beautiful streets. Our last scheduled activity of the day was visiting the Science Museum of Virginia which arguably might have been the most fun we had on this trip! I highly recommend going if you are in Virginia! Before dinner we were able to get to a look out over Richmond and man this city is extremely larger than we realized! Our last Richmond activity was a nice date night at Old Original Bookbinders Seafood & Steakhouse. This was right on the river and was in a neighborhood of huge old tobacco buildings. And of course I had to get taste test Virginia "bourbon"! It does not compare to KY bourbon btw!
December 31st | White Sulphur Springs, Wv | Lexington, Ky
The day we went home!! We got to sleep in until 8:30! WOW
On the way home we couldn't help but stop at Greenbrier Resort, an impossibly large resort that transports you back to the 60's at every turn. Built in 1778, 27 presidents have stayed at this resort and it is now a National Historic Landmark. Alex and his family spent a few Thanksgivings here and he finally got to show me what he's been talking about all these years. We just stopped in for lunch and to walk around their grounds but it was a great way to break up the drive home.
And just like that we were home, in our pjs, with our cats, ringing in the new year! 2021 we are so happy you are here!
If you are planning to head to any of these places let me know and I am more than happy to chat!
Thank you for reading my very first blog post ever! It may not be the best, most exciting, or elaborate, but it is all mine! XOXO Sav.