Traveling during the holidays can be tough. We miss our family, our friends and our traditions a little more. But we have discovered that it has also allowed us to experience the Christmas season in so many new ways. In fact, I think we may be a little more merry and bright since we are getting to see how so many other families, towns and places get into the holiday spirit. We have been able to slow down and focus more on the feeling of Christmas instead of being distracted running around shopping for presents.
One of the greatest celebrations, and probably the most amazing thing we have seen so far on our journey is The Night of A Thousand Candles at Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet, SC. I stumbled upon the event while researching stuff to do and Christmas events near our route. The event runs every Thursday through Sunday in December and tickets are $25. The pictures from prior years were really pretty and It seemed like a fun way to spend an evening but we weren't quite sure what to expect.
Simply put, it was spectacular, whoever designs the displays hats off, you did an amazing job. We walked around staring in wonder with huge smiles on our faces, a feeling quite obviously shared by everyone else there. Every direction you looked there are twinkling lights and soft glowing candles. Different areas had different themes from floating candles and wrapped live oak trees, to a rainfall of string lights, to a tent like display over a fountain, to a colorful and whimsical section, to hanging mason jars and Edison bulbs, to an enormous Christmas tree. We spent several hours walking around and even went through twice to make sure we didn't miss any of it.
Before they lit the big Christmas tree, they told us just how many candles and lights were on display. A whopping 4,442 handlit candles and over 1 million LED christmas lights. We can't even imagine how long it must have taken to set up or how long it takes the volunteers to light all the candles!!
"Christmas isn't a season, its a feeling"- that really rang so true for us walking around that wonderland. It gave you the same feeling you used to get as a kid on Christmas morning. So, if you are near Murrells Inlet or can make your way there for the holidays next year, please do yourself a favor and talk a stroll under the twinkling lights and experience some of the magic of Christmas.
By Ashley Quiambao
Our first stop was the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, which was about an hour drive from where we were staying. Unfortunately, the lighthouse was closed for climbing (it is off-season), so if you are visiting, make sure you check ahead of time. But we still enjoyed the drive along the Outer Banks National Scenic Byway. Since it's November, the drive was nice and quiet, and we got to take our time and enjoy the views of the coast, the beaches and all of the cute towns along the way. We even drove around some of the neighborhoods and did some house hunting.
We then took the girls on a short hike in Nags Head Wood Preserve. We chose the Roanoke trail, which is an easy 1.5 mile out and back trail. It starts off as a pretty typical walk through the preserve but then opens up onto a beautiful small beach with an awesome view of the Roanoke Sound. It was a really nice surprise. There were so many trees reaching out of the water and turned over on the sand and the roots were all entwined in crazy formations. It was moody and unexpected and led to an impromptu photo shoot. We just had to take advantage of the scenery!
Our last destination was Jockey's Ridge State Park. From our research we knew to time it so that we would be at the park on the dunes for sunset. What a unique landscape. Just a few steps from the parking lot and all of a sudden you are surrounded by huge dunes in every direction. It felt like we dropped into the middle of a desert. It really is a perfect place to watch the sunset and we lucked out with a gorgeous one! It's a popular place at that time of day, with good reason, so get there a little early to stake out a good spot.
We made the best of our short visit to OBX and discovered some pretty awesome places. So, whether you're passing through or spending some time there, make sure to drive out to the lighthouse, walk one of the trails at Nags Head Preserve and catch an amazing sunset on Jockey's Ridge.
By Ashley Quiambao