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Hunt a Special Treasure in the Outer Banks – Go Letterboxing

Hunt a Special Treasure in the Outer Banks – Go Letterboxing

When one thinks of the Outer Banks as a potential vacation destination, the possibilities may seem endless. Between trips to the beach, landmarks like the Whalehead Club and the Currituck Lighthouse, and sightseeing for wild mustangs, one would expect a full itinerary. Yet, if the family is up for a bit of adventure, you may want to consider another activity that not only takes you to some of the most beautiful areas of the North Carolina shore, but is practically free. This summer, why not go “letterboxing”?

What is Letterboxing?

Letterboxing is an outdoor game of sorts – a treasure hunt that may involve deciphering clues and a bit of orienteering to reach the goal. The “treasure” in question is usually a box (most times plastic and water-tight) containing a rubber stamp, maybe some stickers or other small items for hunters to enjoy. The idea behind letterboxing is to find the box and enclosed stamp to imprint the design in a notebook. Hunters with personal rubber stamps acknowledge finding the “treasure” by stamping and signing a guestbook found in the box. The practice of letterboxing is similar to “geocaching” but does not necessarily require use of a GPS system to find boxes.

Who can go Letterboxing?

Letterboxing is a very family-friendly activity, a perfect way to spend a morning, especially when on vacation in the Outer Banks. You have the opportunity to come away with a unique souvenir of the area, and keeping a scrapbook of your stamps allows you to add pictures of the scenery to enhance the memories of your visit. Anybody with a yen for outdoor exploration and figuring out clues will enjoy this hobby.

Where to find Letterboxes

Enthusiasts may create and hide letterboxes in a variety of places: parks, attractions, beaches, and even urban areas. An Internet search for letterbox locations (Atlasquest and are two of the prime sites for collecting clues on whereabouts) will guide you to where you need to go.

In the Outer Banks area, for example, one may find special treasures on Knotts Island, in Coinjock near the famous Gravedigger attraction, and in Corolla, where several stamps celebrating the Wright Brothers’ flight and Outer Banks horses are waiting for new discoverers. If you want exact locations, however, you’ll have to try the aforementioned websites for clues.

The Rules of Letterboxing

Two things to know before you embark on a letterboxing adventure:

Be Discreet! Many boxes are hidden in high traffic area, especially in a region popular for tourists like the Outer Banks. It is advised when you find the box and collect your stamp, to return the box carefully and try not to attract too much attention. Boxes are sometimes at risk for being stolen and lost if not handled properly.

Secondly, have fun! Letterboxing provides a great opportunity to explore the beaches of Currituck and enjoy the companionship of fellow treasure hunters.

Okay, here’s a hint for you if you’re interested. Check out this list of available Outer Banks letterboxes. Happy hunting!

Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on the Outer Banks.

Haunted St. Augustine – The Ghosts of Old City

Haunted St. Augustine – The Ghosts of Old City

Seems no historical destination is without its skeletons in the closet – figuratively and literally! Visitors to St. Augustine can enjoy a number of odd attractions in the Ripley Museum and the Fountain of Youth, but the especially adventurous may also wish to embark on a ghost hunt through Old City’s cobblestone alleyways.

Top St. Augustine Haunts

Where’s the best place to find a ghost? Purportedly there are a number of landmarks and buildings where people have claimed to see or hear something not of this realm. If you’re feeling lucky – and brave – you may want to add these sites to your vacation itinerary:

The Casablanca Inn: In the early part of the 20th century, the Casablanca was the place to go to imbibe in a time when buying alcohol was illegal. To alert bootleggers of law enforcement, the owner would wave a lantern from a window to signal their boats. It’s said you can still see those lights to this day.

The Old Jail: It’s said if you listen closely, you can hear the mournful wails of long-dead inmates, and heavy footsteps dragging ghostly chains around the building.

St. Augustine Lighthouse: There’s talk the former land owner on which the lighthouse sits haunts the property, or perhaps it is one of the house’s first light keepers, who fell to his death while painting the tower.

Safety in Numbers

If the idea of a solo hunt spooks you too much, there are a number of supervised ghost tours operating throughout town. Arrange a group of friends to come, or tag along with a crowd of other enthusiasts as you see St. Augustine in a different, ghostly light. Just a few operators to try include:

Ghost Tours of St. Augustine: This frightfully fun group offers three options for ghost seekers: you can ride, walk, or even sail the bay on the schooner “Freedom.” Each tour is led by a licensed guide ready to regale you of Old City’s otherworldly history. Prices vary according to the season, and check their website for discounts.

GhoSt Augustine: Tour favorite “haunts” of St. Aug locals – dead or alive – on the group’s hearse pub tour. You’ll ride in an actual hearse through town, stopping at different landmarks and open pubs for a unique look at the town’s paranormal history. It’s the only way to travel!

Ghosts and Gravestones: Hop aboard the trolley for a “frightseeing” tour of town, complete with costumed guides in need of your help to find the fabled Book of the Dead. Search for clues on each stop as you’re treated to tales of St. Augustine’s haunted past…and present.

Top Micro-Breweries of the Mid-Atlantic Region

Top Micro-Breweries of the Mid-Atlantic Region

Perhaps you know the craving. You may be enjoying a healthy-sized plate of hot wings or succulent barbecue ribs, and you suddenly desire a cold beverage to help savor the enjoyment. No fizzy soda or plain glass of ice water will do – you need a beer, frosty and sharp with the right amount of flavor to compliment your meal. Why settle for a standard name brand, though, when you can try the unique taste of a drink brewed regionally? If you live in the Mid-Atlantic area – Virginia, North Carolina, and Maryland, you’ll find a host of micro-breweries to try.

So where are the best lagers? Next time you’re browsing a specialty liquor store, or on the road and looking for an interesting attraction to tour, consider making the following stops along the way:

Weeping Radish Brewery – Outer Banks, NC

For over twenty years, the Weeping Radish has been the place to go for beach brewed goodness. Visitors to the Outer Banks can tour this working farm and eco-friendly brewery, where you’ll find delicious pale ales and full-bodied lagers created in the old German style. Grab a case of homemade root beer to go, too, and try a cold wheat beer at the brewery’s restaurant with some authentic Carolina BBQ.

Starr Hill Brewery – Charlottesville, VA

Based near the rolling hills and valleys of Shenandoah, Starr Hill is known for its award-winning tastes and trippy-looking labels. Beer connoisseurs may enjoy the Dark Starr Stout, described by the brewery as a liquid equivalent to “Grandma’s pumpernickel bread,” or the Festie, an Oktoberfest style lager.

Clipper City Brewing Company – Baltimore, MD

Organic beer? You bet! This Maryland brewery offers two varieties of organic beer – a traditional amber ale and a bold raspberry wheat. For others tastes, Clipper City has Holy Sheet, brewed in the manner of the old Belgian Abbey monks, and Peg Leg, a dark chocolate stout, among many others.

If the craving for a unique regional beer hits you, try any of these Mid-Atlantic brands. Just remember to drink responsibly and in moderation.