During the first week of August, my family and I took a road trip and vacationed in the South Brunswick Islands, staying in Ocean Isle Beach.
It was a ton of fun, but like most vacations, was over way too quickly. We took some time driving down to OIB to make some cool stops along the way and then we experienced lots of cool stuff while on the island.
I want to share with you a list of the things we saw and experienced in hopes of perhaps inspiring some fun stops for you on your next road trip or vacation.
A lot of this list includes cool nature spots, paranormal locations, and oddities but also includes “normal” road trip and vacation ideas.
We started our trip in Ohio where we live, making our way south. Here is a list I compiled of things we did and stops we made. I tried to make this list as close to the route we took as well as timeline of our trip, in case you’re traveling the same direction.
- On the way down we made a stop at the Old City Cemetery & Museums in Lynchburg, Virginia. This place is amazing and I highly suggest making a trip out here sometime. This cemetery was established in 1806 and is on 27-acres of land. It has beautiful old tombstones as well as a plethora of gardens and plants. Something that makes this cemetery especially interesting are the small museums houses located on the property. They have a chapel & columbarium, pest house medical museum, station house museum, hearse house museum, and mourning museum. The pest house medical museum and the mourning museum were my favorites. Lots of death history here for you Death Positive folks and death history enthusiasts.
- While in Virginia we made a stop in Covington to see the Falling Springs Waterfall. This is a gorgeous 80 foot waterfall that can be seen from the roadside. They have a small picnic area, parking and viewing area which makes it really convenient for roadtrippers looking for a quick but interesting site to see. We went around sunset and it was just beautiful.
- After night fell, and because we were out in the mountains and “middle of no where”, we made sure to pull off onto a small road to take a moment and enjoy the stars. I don’t recall exactly where we stopped off at, but anywhere really will do. As long as it’s away from city lights. Absolutely gorgeous and breathtaking moment seeing all of those stars. We even got to see a couple shooting stars!
- Something pretty awesome that we got to drive past but didn’t really get to stop and experience (hopefully another day) was the Hot Springs Resort in Hot Springs, Virginia. This place looks freaking stunning!
- We finally checked into our beachfront apartment in Ocean Isle Beach. This was our first time to this area, and we were not disappointed. Ocean Isle Beach is a great place for families and folks traveling without kids. I personally loved it because it has all of the amenities you could want, including a few beach shops, but without all of the touristy feel. We were traveling with our two kids, ages 14 and 7, and we were all sufficiently entertained on our trip without all of the tourist junk that a lot of beach vacations entail. It wasn’t super crowded either. Nothing worse than a crowded beach. I highly recommend checking out these islands.
- Ocean Isle Beach may not be a super touristy hot spot, but there are still all of your favorite beach activities to participate in. My husband and son went jet-skiing on the intra-coastal as well as taking a helicopter ride, we played putt-putt, ate ice cream on the pier, walked the beach at night, collected shells and sharks teeth, went boogie boarding, swimming, saw the sunrise over the ocean, shooting stars at night, and more.
- While in Ocean Isle Beach, we took the OIB Ghost Walk. This walk is put on by a husband and wife who live on the island. They’ve also written a book about the hauntings of the area. It was only $10 per person and really didn’t entail much walking. It was pretty neat to be near the ocean and hear some ghost stories and history of the area. The only thing that was kind of a bummer was not really seeing many of the locations that they talked about in their stories. It was less of a ghost walk and more of hanging out near the ocean and hearing ghost stories. Which I’m totally cool with. But if you’re looking for more actual site-seeing of haunted locations, this might not be for you. Also! The tour is in the early evening and the mosquitos can be really bad so bring bug spray.
- While walking along the beach one night, my mother saw a ghost orb in the sky, not too far from where she was standing. I only wish I’d gotten to see it!
- I’m a big fan of stopping off in random places while on vacation. Sort of just “seeing what you see”. My favorite is when you happen upon a cemetery. While driving through Sunset Beach I happened to see a small and old sign for Pleasant View Cemetery, so we turned down the sandy road to find a small cemetery. I do believe this cemetery is still in use today, and if you go to the cemetery please be courteous and respectful. I will say though that this was one of the spookiest cemeteries I have ever been to in my entire life. We all (my husband, mom, two kids and myself) felt like something was extremely “off” and felt very weird in that cemetery. I normally don’t get spooked by cemeteries, I actually find them quite peaceful usually. But this one has still stuck with me even a month later. I tried to find some history of the land or something to explain that feeling we all had, but so far I’ve been unable to come up with anything.
- Not far from the cemetery is Gause Landing Road. This road has a lot of history as well as haunted claims of children laughing and playing in the trees. A lot of the roads lead off to private drives of homes so if you drive down this road, please be aware of private property. Even if you’re not into the whole haunted road thing, you won’t be disappointed by driving down this road. It’s really quite beautiful with old oak trees and Spanish moss.
- One evening we went on a sunset cruise with Lighthouse Watersports. This isn’t your typical wine and dine, relaxing sunset cruise. This one had us getting sprayed by sea water and enjoying the sites. We even got to see dolphins! Our captain/guide was amazing. He is a lifelong resident of the area so he really knows his history and did really well pointing out all kinds of interesting facts and tidbits. This company also offers a kayak tour through the swamps. If we’re ever in the area again, we’re going to participate in that one for sure.
- Wilmington, North Carolina isn’t too far from OIB so we decided to spend an afternoon there. We explored the USS North Carolina Battleship which was definitely a cool experience. This ship is loaded with history, and ghosts! Unfortunately we didn’t experience any paranormal activity on our self-guided daytime tour, but it was still pretty freaking cool. Make sure to wear good walking shoes as there’s lots of steps. I’m not a huge fan of small spaces, but I was able to do this tour. There were times that I did feel pretty dizzy and lightheaded though and had to take a moment to gather myself. My mom, who is extremely claustrophobic was not able to do the tour.
- I basically fell in love with Wilmington and want to go back. It’s a gorgeous little city along the river. It’s full of history, charming historical homes, interesting shops and lots of restaurants. We didn’t get to spend too much time here, and there was lots more that I would want to check out. Maybe one day in the future!
- While in Wilmington we ate dinner at Bourbon Street Restaurant. I thought it was really delicious and I loved the New Orleans vibe! We went during the day and it was kid friendly. Not sure if it becomes more suitable to adults only in the evenings or not.
- One evening we drove about an hour south and met my husbands family (who were also on vacation) for dinner at Barefoot Landing. Barefoot Landing is in North Myrtle Beach and has lots of shops, restaurants, tourist stuff and music. We ate at River City Cafe which has tons of really tasty burgers (vegetarian and vegan options too).
- One of my favorite crystal shops, Black Market Minerals, is located in Barefoot Landing. We made sure to make a stop in there where I picked up a few new crystal babies.
- Before we knew it, our week was up and we were making our way back north. But first we stopped in Durham, North Carolina. This is such a cute little downtown area! We stopped in Durham so I could meet up with my friend lovely Rhonda, and also check out a crystal shop there. We met Rhonda and her husband for lunch at Bull City Burger & Brewery. Food was decent and they have vegetarian and vegan options.
- While in Durham we of course had to take a stop into Everyday Magic! This is a stunning crystal shop and I honestly felt a little like a fan-girl being there, as I’ve been a huge fan/follower of Everyday Magic on Instagram for awhile. Gorgeous crystals and metaphysical supplies as well as fabulous staff.
All in all this was such a wonderful vacation and road trip. I consumed tons of yummy food, soaked up the sun, had lots of laughs, experienced new things, enjoyed some paranormal things, connected with nature and more. I would love to go back down to this area another time, perhaps staying at one of the other South Brunswick Islands.