Girls’ Southern Belles Road Trip ’17

Do you have any fun travel traditions with your family?

Growing up, my family always went skiing over Spring break. In between breaks, my parents would take us to Disney World, the Grand Canyon, New York, and everywhere in between.

Needless to say, we grew up pretty well-traveled.

But one thing was almost always true: We traveled as a pack.

Family trips are always nice, but sometimes it's fun to get away with just the gals.

This summer, my mom decided we would do just that.

She, my little sister, and I booked a Southern Belles road trip down the East Coast from Pinehurst, North Carolina to Sea Island, Georgia, and back.

It took a little logistic-ing, but the result was simply magical.

Here's the itinerary I created for the trip: Bumgardner Girls Itinerary 2017

Our first stop was Pinehurst, North Carolina.

Pinehurst, North Carolina

We started in Pinehurst. My parents have a house down there on the golf course, and it's seriously my favorite place to be. If I could live there full-time, I would in a heartbeat. The house is gorgeous, the area is pristine, and the Southern hospitality is as thick as the morning fog.

In other words, it's like a little slice of Heaven on earth.

My sister and I flew into Raleigh from Washington, D. C. and Salt Lake City, respectively, on Saturday afternoon and then we took the YOU2RDU shuttle from the airport right to my parents' house. Talk about service!

On Sunday morning, we had breakfast at the Track restaurant - a Pinehurst staple - and then got on our way.

South of the Border, South Carolina

Our first stop was Pedro's at South of the Border.

I'd never been here, but now that I have, I'm not sure how I ever missed it!

It's right at the border below North Carolina, and the giant billboards advertising it start about 30 miles away. And they come one after another after another... It's seriously hilarious.

When you get there, it's like a magical chintzy wonderland.

There's an ice cream shop, a million little tchotchke shops, a coffee shop, an arcade, and painted statues galore! You could seriously walk for hours and not see everything there was to see.

Needless to say, the photo ops were endless.

Once we'd gotten our ice cream and umbrella hat and checked out the motorcycle store for no good reason, we headed to our next stop:

Beaufort, South Carolina

Our next stop was Beaufort, South Carolina.

Now, this is important: There's a Beaufort (BO-fort), South Carolina and a Beaufort (BEW-fort), North Carolina. We went to the southernmost one.

It was here that Forrest Gump took place (although few sites were actually filmed there).

When we got to Beaufort, we discovered an adorable waterfront town situated right on the Harbor River. We strolled the streets, checked out the pink houses and hanging moss, and grabbed a bite to eat at Plums Restaurant on the water.

At Plum, we obviously ordered some fresh shrimp. If you're in Beaufort, you've gotta get shrimp.

After all, "You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey's uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep friedstir-fried. There's pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich." (Benjamin Buford "Bubba" Blue, Forrest Gump)

After lunch, we hopped back in the car and headed to our destination for the night:

Savannah, Georgia

Known for its ghost tours and haunting history, Savannah was beautiful by day and mysterious by night.

We stayed in the haunted Eliza Thompson House on historic W. Jones Street, and I'm happy to say I did not get a visit from Ms. Thompson or her family. (Although if you ask anyone in Savannah, I'm a rare case.)

Over our two-day stay, we had a blast exploring the city on one of their famed Old Savannah bus tours. Our driver, Big E, was phenomenal. Seriously, I would recommend letting the trolleys pass until you find the one he's driving. When you see it, you'll know. He's a driver by day, comedian by night, and boy can you tell.

Big E recommended the Pirate's House for lunch, and it did not disappoint. Make sure you head upstairs to their pirate shop, too, when you're done with your meal. They're known for their pecan chicken, but I opted for the she crab soup and quite possibly the most delicious wedge salad I have ever tasted. It was topped with honey glaze bacon, and I'm pretty sure I devoured it so fast I didn't even have time to photograph it. Seriously delicious. 

Next, we explored the rest of the city, visiting the City Market (yawn), the Old Pink House, the many churches and gardens, and strolling along the River Walk (which is pretty difficult to get to if you don't know the way: You have to walk to the river and then down the steep stairs to access it).

The architecture in Savannah is to die for -- second only to its history.

We made sure to visit the SCAD student shop, where Savannah College of Art and Design students sell their pieces. I bought my sister three beautiful stamped sterling bracelets there. In addition to jewelry, students offered paintings, textiles, apparel, pottery, and any other creative art form you could probably imagine. It felt great to support future artists of America.

Before we headed out, we grabbed tea at Gryphon Tea Room, which I would recommend to anyone. The tea room is housed in an old refurbished apothecary, and the owners have done an incredible job preserving the old-time feel of the structure - both inside and out.

My sister had an espresso, my mom a pot of tea, and I opted for a blueberry pomegranate lemonade spritzer.

Needless to say, I won.

We'd wanted to stop by Leopold's famous ice cream shop before we left, but we needed to get on our way. Next time, Leo! Next time.

Our next stop is one for the books:

Sea Island, Georgia

Sea Island is one of those places where If you know, you know. 

One of the most famous resorts in the country, if not the world, Sea Island is known for its beach and leisure activities, as well as the incredible (and expensive) real estate on its properties.

My mom, sister, and I had an amazing time exploring all of the surrounding neighborhoods on daily bike (and trike) rides.


In addition to those, we went swimming in the countless pools at the Beach Club, had spa days at the Sea Island Spa, took Zumba classes in the fitness center, read out on the verandas, and ate the most delectable foods you've ever tasted.

We explored the sweets shop, the game rooms, and the grand foyer, complete with game tables, grand piano, and winding staircase.

On our second day, we even got a private boat tour with Captain Clay, where dolphins swam right up to our boat and played hide-and-seek with us.

It was seriously magical. The place is breathtaking and gives off that old-world vibe you don't see very often these days.

I would recommend Sea Island to anyone looking for the perfect honeymoon, wedding, or family reunion spot. You won't find any place like it.

After a week of travel, the girls were ready to get home.

We'd planned to visit Charleston on our way back to Pinehurst (since no Souther Girls road trip is complete without it), but we ran out of time.

Next time, though!

Until then, I will savor the glorious week I got to spend with my two main gals, and we will cherish the memories we made.

Thanks for reading, y'all!

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