Happy New Year! I hope you had a fantastic Christmas and rang in 2018 with the people you love.

Greg, Ace and I traveled to Florida to visit my family for the Christmas holidays this year and made the trip via car for the first time. The 13 hour ride each way was pretty exhausting, but we broke up the trip on the way back with a stop in Charleston. More on what we saw and did in Charleston below, but read on for a recap of our activities during the holiday break.

New Smyrna Beach

I grew up going to New Smyrna Beach (NSB) on the weekends and in the summer. My parents recently moved there and are renovating a two-story house (affectionately nicknamed “the shack”) a few blocks away from the ocean. We had amazing weather during the first half of our trip and were treated to stunning sunrises and sunsets in the true Florida way.

On a free day, Greg and I also popped over to the lighthouse at Ponce Inlet. We took a tour of the museum that showcased the history of lighthouse-keeping and the history of the area. Much of the lighthouse grounds had been preserved, so it felt like taking a step back into a time with no WiFi, computers, or TV. The world was truly a different place back then, and mariners had to rely on lighthouses to guide their journey home. If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend stopping by the lighthouse and the museum for a deeper look at Florida’s history.

Winter Park

It was so nice to be back in my hometown! With our wedding just a few months away, we took the opportunity while we were in the area to tour our reception venue and meet with our event planner/coordinator. After that was taken care of, we stopped by the church our ceremony will be held in.

Walking down Park Avenue quite literally was taking a trip down memory lane. I went to school from kindergarten until 8th grade at Saint Margaret Mary, which is the church (above) and school located right on Park Ave, and the place I’ll get married at in June. It’s also where I hung out with friends as a teenager after school and on the weekends. Although a lot has changed since I moved away, a few old favorite shops and stores are still going strong, like the Peterbrooke chocolatier and Barnie’s coffee shop.

It was a gorgeous day outside, so Greg, my mom and I went to blu on the Avenue for a bite to eat al-fresco. Hard to believe I was in short sleeves the day after Christmas. Floridians are pretty spoiled. I got the Lobster Cobb which was amazing – and incredibly photogenic in my opinion.

Charleston

The Holy City has been high on my list of places to visit for a long time now. Our short stopover on the way back to Arlington was just a taste of what the city has to offer. We had a wonderful meal at McGrady’s Restaurant, checked out touristy spots like the Battery and Rainbow Row, and enjoyed breakfast and coffee at Black Tap before making the final leg of the trip home. We’ll definitely be coming back for a longer trip soon – preferably when the weather is a bit warmer.

Savoring the last of these Christmas decorations. Until next year!

Whew, where did the weekend go? After 2 weekends in a row out of town, Greg and I decided we wanted to lay low and stay local. So, we did just that. We took care of chores, errands, a massive pile of laundry, and yardwork, but also managed to fit in some fun stuff like a trip to Tyson’s Corner mall to pick out new Warby Parker sunglasses for me. Not to mention, we finally bit the bullet and purchased bikes! Those are expected to arrive in the store later this weekend fully assembled and ready for us to enjoy. I can’t wait to get outside and bike around town during the Fall.

Sugarloaf Mountain Hike

Speaking of getting outside, we’re lucky to live less than an hour away from some great hikes and trails. Sugarloaf Mountain is a short, 55-minute car ride from our home in Arlington, VA and a great place to get in some fresh air. I had done this hike 2 years ago with a good friend, so I thought I knew where I was going. Ha! This time around, Greg and I ended up driving to where Google Maps told us to, then headed off on the nearest trail, hoping it would lead us somewhere with good views.

Ace did a phenomenal job on the hike. He lead the way up across the rocky trails and up flights of stairs, never missing a beat.

Thankfully, we took the right trail and it lead us to the views we were hoping for.

It was a bit crowded once we reached the top, but the views made it all worth it.

Family shot! We are all quite pleased to have gotten the uphill hiking out of the way.

We finished up the hike by mid-afternoon and made the quick trip back to the city. I’ll definitely be back to Sugarloaf Mountain later this year when the leaves start changing colors and there are pumpkin patches and apple orchards to stop into on the way.