The state of Louisiana has become my beloved adoptive home, but Virginia will always have my heart. I was born in Fairfax, Virginia and lived there for five years until my dad’s job took us to Puerto Rico for a few years. After a fun few years in PR, we eventually came back to Northern Virginia where I attended elementary, middle and high school and even went to college just two hours south east in the Hampton Roads region. My siblings have since moved away from Virginia, but my parents still live there. Usually I get to go home to visit them at least twice a year, but because of our wedding last year, I was only able to make it home once in 2014. So when I got a save the date in the mail from a high school best friend late last year, I was ecstatic to not only see my long time friend marry the love of her life, but also to have a reason to go home this spring!
My husband Clay and I were very fortunate to be able to spend a whole week in Virginia last week! Since we had so much time, I decided to take Clay on a whirlwind tour of my home state. It’s funny how you don’t realize how amazing your home state is until you move away. We flew into Baltimore and on our way into Virginia, we stopped at the National Harbor. The National Harbor is the best! It is a work-live-play place with cute restaurants and shops. It’s a relatively new addition, so it’s not something I was able to enjoy while I was growing up in the area. Even more recently, the National Harbor developers added an upscale ferris wheel, so I knew we had to experience that. It wasn’t your run of the mill ferris wheel, each car was enclosed by glass and climate controlled, it was a lot of fun to see a birds eye view of Washington D.C. and National Harbor.
The very next morning we along with my parents and little brother woke up early and left for the Hampton Roads region of Virginia. We stopped by Jamestown first, where the earliest colonists (after the lost colony of Roanoke) showed up in 1607. Growing up, I only had ever visited “the settlement” area of Jamestown which is a complete replica of where the colonist lived and the boats they arrived on. This time around we had the opportunity to visit Historic Jamestowne, which is the archeological dig site of the original fort. It was an amazing experience! There are two museums that surround the dig area, even a cafe, where they offer Jamestown themed food. My brother who was visiting from college even informed us that after doing some genealogy, he found out Pocahontas was our 11th great-grandmother. So that was a fun fact to keep in mind as we toured the area and imagined what the first settlers saw when they first arrived.
Our next stop was Colonial Williamsburg, where we planned to eat dinner at a historic tavern. However, when we arrived we found out there was a 1.5 hour wait, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. We had extra time to walk the historic streets and we even got to watch impromptu live theater of actors playing colonists during the time period in the middle of the streets. They even had an actor playing George Washington ride up on a horse, along with a militia who shot off canons. It was so much fun! I’m a huge history nerd and loved soaking up every moment of being surrounded by so much history. The historic tavern was also fun and worth the wait.
After Williamsburg, we headed to Virginia Beach where we had reservations to stay on the beach. Unfortunately, while we were at dinner, a cold front came through turning the 65 degree day into a 40 degree day. The weather wasn’t how we imagined it would be, but we made do by finding fun things to do inside.
Once we made it back up to Northern Virginia, Clay and I decided to go to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center Air and Space Museum near Dulles Airport. The museum is a fairly new museum compared to the other Smithsonians, construction for it was completed in late 2010, so I had never been there before. It was an amazing experience! There are 170 aircraft on display, some with huge historical significance like the Enola Gay or the Discovery space shuttle, and other aircraft so quirky you didn’t even know existed, like a floating platform or a small plane that could be converted into a car. The museum even has an observation tower that gives you a 360 degree birds eye view of the Washington Dulles airport, with planes regularly taking off and landing. I would definitely recommend going if you are ever in the area.
The next few days after that, we spent catching up with friends in Arlington, visiting old town Alexandria, visiting family in Fairfax, and going to a wedding in Leesburg. One of the highlights of our vacation was our trip to see the cherry blossoms in Washington D.C. I’ve gone to see them a couple of times before, but seeing them again, especially with someone who had never experienced the blossoms, was a lot of fun. We went on a Monday, so it wasn’t very crowded and it was a very good experience.
There is still so much more I need to show Clay, I’m already making a list of what to show him for our next trip to my home state.