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4 Things to Do On Your Cape Hatteras Memorial Day Vacation


Spring has arrived and families are gearing up for the kickoff to summer 2015: Memorial Day! Families use this extended weekend to enjoy fun in the sun as well as spend quality time with the family. For families who are planning a Cape Hatteras vacation, Memorial Day weekend on the Outer Banks offers a wide variety of activities and fun. Plan a fun-filled weekend by trying out some of these great things to do while on Hatteras!

Climb the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

Memorial Day kicks off the 2015 season for the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and many of the surrounding lighthouses. Starting the Friday before Memorial Day, the Hatteras Island Visitor Center near the lighthouse will be open to the public. Visit the center and learn about the history of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and pick up some souvenirs from your journey. After visiting the center, join a guided tour of the lighthouse grounds and finish by climbing to the top for spectacular views!

Attend the Shallowbag Bay Beach Music Festival

Drive up to Roanoke Island Festival Park in Manteo and enjoy an afternoon of fun shag music! Take a step back in time and dance away the afternoon with some of the country’s best shag bands. Bring along a lawn chair or blanket and relax while listening to music of years past. Make a day trip out of the event and explore Roanoke Island’s history, shopping and dining!

Run in the Cupcake 5k

Another great event to attend while in Manteo is the Cupcake 5k! This charity event focuses on raising money for cancer research and assistance to cancer patients. Whether you are an avid runner or just want to walk for someone, the Cupcake 5k will surely be an event not to miss!

Enjoy a New Watersport

Try out a new activity that you have been wanting to attempt! Whether it is surfing, kayaking, SUP or any other watersport make this trip to Hatteras Island the year you try it. Memorial Day offers warmer waters for water activities for the entire family to try. No Outer Banks vacation is complete without some time enjoying the beach and the Atlantic waves! Rent a few surfboards or paddleboards for the family and let everyone have a turn conquering a new sport!

These are just a few activities you can try during your next OBX vacation! Don’t see your favorite? Tell us about your favorite OBX activities that families can try during Memorial Day weekend!

Best Places to Ring in the New Year in the South

new-year-events-southLooking to ring in the New Year somewhere special in the South but not sure where to head? Get the most out of the occasion with a vacation to one of the following places, which offer a variety of ways to celebrate the holiday in your own way.

Myrtle Beach

Located in the heart of Myrtle Beach is Broadway at the Beach, one of the most popular tourist attractions on the entire Grand Strand. Always a good time for any occasion, and New Year’s Eve is no exception at this “megaplex” of entertainment, shopping and dining. Fun for the whole family or for a romantic night out to ring in the New Year, no matter what you’re looking for, the festivities at Broadway at the Beach will send off the last night of 2014 with a bang. The fireworks extravaganza will light up the sky beginning at 8 p.m. overlooking Lake Broadway. When the show is complete, head to one of the many bars, restaurants, or nightclubs if you want to celebrate until the ball drops!


The quaint town of Boone boasts romantic getaway opportunities in abundance, and what better time of year for a romantic excursion than at New Year’s? Cuddle up by the fire in your private Boone vacation rental or hit one of the nearby towns for a mountain adventure to ring in the New Year.

St. Augustine

Looking for something to do with the entire family for New Year’s? If so, St. Augustine’s Beach Blast Off 2015 might be just what you have in mind! Voted the best family New Year’s event in Florida, the Beach Blast Off features a day full of live music, food vendors, kids’ activities, beer and wine tastings, and an evening of live entertainment to head right on into the New Year. This event with any St. Augustine vacation makes more a memorable New Year! For more information, click: here.

Outer Banks

With a multitude of restaurants along the beach that know how to throw a New Year’s Eve party, an Outer Banks vacation getaway for the holiday! Settle down at one of the many bustling locations or hop around to see them all. If it’s nightlife, but at a laid back pace, that you’re looking for, the Outer Banks might be your ticket to a good time and a happy New Year.

There’s a lot to do and see to ring in the New Year in style in the South, so check out one of these destinations above and head into 2015 on the wings of a memorable vacation

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Best Hidden Gems to Visit on Your St. Augustine Vacation

Places to Visit in St. Augustine FLWhen visiting the nation’s oldest city, there’s no doubt that there are options everywhere you look to eat, visit, experience history, culture, and have a little fun. The following are a few “hidden gems” of St. Augustine that might be a little harder to find, but are worth the search:

Romantic Dinner for Two

Tucked away just a block off of St. George Street in the heart of the historic district, Collage is one of St. Augustine’s hidden gems for a romantic dinner for two. The fine-dining hideaway offers customers an eclectic menu with international influences. Couples who decide to take their date night in style at Collage will experience an unmatched, award-winning meal in a memorable, quaint, atmosphere. For more information, click: here.

A Taste of History for the Kids

Most people see the Colonial Quarter as simply a collection of historic buildings to tour, but St. Augustine visitors would be remiss if they didn’t dig a little deeper and discover opportunities to experience a little more of the city’s historic culture than what meets the eye. Afternoon Tea, located in the 18th Century British Colony part of the Colonial Quarter, provides this experience. Ladies dressed in colonial dresses guide you into a room in the De Mesa-Sanchez House, usually just observed from the outside windows, and sit you down to an intimate tea party table. The ladies guide you through what a low tea would have consisted of for proper ladies, sharing history, manners, and their favorite teas and pastries with each other and the lucky visitors who are able to partake in this unique 18th century experience.

Step Back in Time

Ice Plant, a restored historic St. Augustine building, was once an ice plant that now houses one of the city’s newest, most popular restaurants. At first glance, many visitors to the city would never know there is a culinary experience waiting for them behind the walls of the industrial structure. A large moustache above the windows might indicate, however, that something might be going on inside that is worth checking out. As you walk through the door, it’s like being transported back into the 1940’s. From the copper cups, to the bartenders in suspenders, and everything in between, it’s an experience right out of another decade…a must-see while on a St. Augustine vacation. For more information, click: here.

Not Your Average Tour

While learning historical facts and stories of many of St. Augustine’s most famous landmarks and stops, ShutterGuide puts a spin on the traditional tour by leading attendees in photography. Guided by professional local photographers, the two-hour tour begins near the bayfront and concludes by the famous Flagler College. The photographers will work with participants to capture the perfect shot of a good portion of St. Augustine’s most notable places. For more information, click: here.

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Top 5 Must-See Historical Sites in St. Augustine

st augustine flAs the nation’s oldest permanently occupied European settlement, St. Augustine is teeming with visible history. Almost everywhere you turn you can catch a glimpse at what life was like for people hundreds of years ago. People flock from all over the country, and even the world, to visit this beautiful place. With deeply planted roots, this delicately built-up city accommodates thousands of visitors every year. With so much history in one place, it’s hard to know where to begin. The following are the five top must-see historical sites in all of St. Augustine:

St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum: What was actually built as a watchtower by St. Augustine’s founder, Pedro Menendez in 1565, stands today more than 165 feet above the ground, with a beautiful black and white spiral body and a red top observation deck that provides visitors with amazing views of the surrounding area.

Take one of the daily guided tours, which gets you behind-the-scene entry to areas normally off-limits to the public; explore the museum grounds where volunteer craftsmen build traditional wooden boats; or take one of their specialty tours, like the Lost Ships tour, or the Dark of the Moon tour, which lets you investigate the reputed most haunted place in St. Augustine. For more information, call (904) 829-0745.

Castillo de San Marcos: The venerable site of Castillo de San Marcos is a large Spanish stone fortress that is more than 315 years old. The fortress is also a National Monument, as the oldest structure in the nation’s first town. It’s no wonder that the impenetrable fortress brings visitors in droves to explore its many rooms and cells, wide-open interior courtyard, and gun deck, which provides spectacular views of the city of St. Augustine. For more information, call (904) 829-6506.

Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park: Located in the area first explored by Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513, the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park is said to be the original site of the city. Today, visitors can enjoy the 15 acres of waterfront gardens as leisurely as they want. With more than 500 years of settled history beneath your footsteps, you can take a walk back in time guided by the park’s many tours, exploring spots like the 1565 Menendez Settlement Field, the 600-foot Founders Riverwalk, and the new Spanish Watchtower. For more information, call (904) 829-3168.

Flagler College: The historic campus of Flagler College brings visitors from around the world to experience the awe-inspiring architecture of the Spanish Renaissance masterpiece that is the Ponce de Leon Hotel, the first major poured-in concrete building in the country built in 1888 by the Gilded Age railroad pioneer, Henry Morrison Flagler. The hotel, powered by the Edison Electric Company and featuring such magnificence as Tiffany stained-glass windows, quickly gained fame and thus brought more visitors to the city, via Flagler’s own railroad. Today, guided tours take visitors throughout the buildings and grounds, which used today as a functioning educational institution. For more information, call (904) 829-6481.

Mission of Nombre De Dios & Leche Shrine: Recognized by its giant stainless steel cross, which stands at 208 feet tall, “The Mission” is the oldest Catholic parish in the United States. Visitors come from far and wide to explore the beautiful grounds where the very first parish Mass was said to be held in 1565.  Located along the marshes of the Matanzas River, just north of old town, the historical, beautiful site is a must-see on anyone’s St. Augustine vacation. For more information, call (904) 824-2809.

To truly begin to dig into the historical culture of St. Augustine, start with these five must-see stops on your next vacation to the old city, and experience for yourself a sense of where it all began.

Interested in a St. Augustine vacation? Check out the beautiful St. Augustine vacation homes we have for rent on!

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A Mailbox On The Beach?

How cool is this? Just southwest of the resort town and island of Kindred SpiritSunset Beach, NC, there is a  mailbox on the beach.  This creative and artistic relic, called A Kindred Spirit, has been there for almost thirty years now and was started as a tribute to the beauty of Bird Island, where walkers (the beach kind, not the Walking Dead variety) could post reflective thoughts.

This landmark was much harder to get to prior to a storm in 1997 that filled in Mad Inlet, creating a contiguous island with Sunset Beach, just northeast of Little River Inlet.

The mailbox is located a little over a mile from the last beach access point on the southwestern edge of Sunset Beach.  The walk down this beach may just be one of the most beautiful you will ever experience – if you love natural, undeveloped beaches.

Once you arrive at the mailbox, tucked into the dune, you will find pen and paper ready for your use.  There have been letters written to lost loved ones, funny stories, poems, testaments to the solitude and beauty of the place and wistful thoughts of times gone by.  Wouldn’t it be ironic if you had to wait in line to sit on the bench to write your letter about this remote and beautiful place?

So, if you are looking for something out of the ordinary to do while vacationing in or near Sunset Beach, NC, consider a morning walk down the beach to share your thoughts with…well…no one (on this earth anyway).  Kind of reminds me of the lyrics to a Moody Blues song – “Letters I’ve written, never meaning to send.”

The questions in my mind are how many letters, poems and introspective thoughts been recorded?  Will the contents make it into a book one day?  If the walk were 100 yards instead of a mile, would the content of the letters be less poetic?

If you have seen the Kindred Spirit Mailbox and have a story about it, please share.  If you are the keeper of the letters and happen to read this post, can you tell us if there is a plan?  A blog, with anonymous samples, perhaps?

For more information, here are couple of links:


Wyndham acquisition of Hatteras Realty

For those that follow the vacation rental market in the Outer Banks in general and more specifically, the Hatteras Island sub-market, the recent news regarding the Wyndham acquisition of Hatteras Realty is a relief.  The rumors about possible suitors had been flying for some time since Hatteras Realty owner Stuart Couch’s death in 2012.

I say it is a relief because of all the possible outcomes, this seems to be the best possible scenario.  The top 3 reasons why this should be viewed positively by everyone who follows this market include:

1) Local Competition Improves Quality -

In this highly competitive market for property management and rental services, Hatteras has distinguished themselves.  If a local competitor had acquired Hatteras Realty, the landscape would have looked significantly different going forward.  Vacation homeownership is, for most, the realization of a dream come true and a highly personal experience.  Owners want their home to be managed as if they were doing it themselves.  The competition among management companies on the island and the quality of service provided to homeowners and renters alike is almost assuredly higher with more management companies vying for their business.  A locally orchestrated acquisition could have diminished the overall experience for all involved.

2) Wyndham Could Bring The World to Hatteras Island’s Doorstep -

With billions in revenue, a marketing budget that likely dwarfs anything Hatteras Island’s PM market has seen and a hundred thousand properties globally, Wyndham’s acquisition could propel the Hatteras rental market from a “best kept secret” to worldwide acclaim.  Those of us that have spent time on Hatteras love the scenic beauty, the waves, the sound, the fishing, the weather, the water sports and the local restaurants.  Now, the world will surely be more aware of all that is great about the island.  Islanders that have successfully resisted the corporate franchise model by growing and supporting its locally owned and Hatteras-style businesses, should not fear an invasion of the corporate world.  Think of Wyndham as the giant marketing machine sending more visitors to support the independent lifestyle Hatteras is known for.

3) This is Good for the Local Economy -

Hatteras Island residents face many challenges year-to-year, including storm-induced economic disruption; strong, local competition; a tourist season that only lasts 8 months and uncertainty regarding island access.  It was good news for local residents when Wyndham said “the hospitality professionals many of you have come to know at Hatteras Realty will remain in their positions.”  Whew… we all know that could have played out much differently, especially if a local competitor had acquired Hatteras, creating a likely consolidation of offices and positions across the island.

Although many corporate acquisitions start out full of promises to benefit all those involved, we all know they don’t all end up being viewed so positively in the long run.  But, this one seems to be a great fit for renters, homeowners and island residents.  I’m interested to see how this works out.

Let me know your thoughts.

Mike Steagall

Rental Vacation by Owner Just Got Easier with the “Offer Wall”

Rental Vacation by Owner sites tend to only focus on the property owner and forget about their purpose, which is to drive vacation renters to their listings. At we want to not only empower vacation rental owners and property managers, but also vacation home renters.

Rental Vacation by Owner Deals: Name Your Price

The new feature called the “offer wall” allows budget-minded vacation home renters to post their “offer” to the wall and then receive emails from Vacation house owners who are willing to meet their price for the week they are interested in. This feature fundamentally changes the way vacation rentals from owners are found. Don’t spend hours searching tons of websites that offer little more than advertising. The properties range from beachfront vacation rentals in florida to outer banks vacation rentals by owner.

Vacation by Owner Rentals have never been easier to find and to get at great prices. We connect renters directly with rental vacation by owner homes at some of the most beautiful locations including the outer banks (obx), and the Gulf of Mexico. We pride ourselves on provide vacation renters access to home owners who love their homes first and rent them second. Using the offer wall will connect you to a community of vacation rental properties that provide the memories that last a lifetime. Picture yourself standing on your deck overlooking the beach or in a cozy cabin in the mountains of north carolina. Don’t settle for a cookie cutter vacation, you deserve the open vacation weeks Rental Vacation by Owner experience. Start on your path to a dream vacation and get a great deal on your ideal rental vacation by owner?

Cheer For Hatteras

At OVW, we like to get involved in the communities where we do business.  One way we are trying to help the local residents of Hatteras Island, NC is by participating in a fundraising effort to make the Christmas season brighter for needy families. is the site our daughters, Lauren and Tori Steagall established to give back to the island they have grown to love.  We have spent a lot of time there at our vacation home and have formed an attachment to the local residents and their families.

A large portion of our property listings are on Hatteras Island so we know the impact of Hurricane Irene is still being felt by the local residents there.  One lingering effect has been on local businesses and employees.  Many of the businesses in the Waves, Salvo and Rodanthe area had to close for the season long before they normally would.  Not only have the business owners been financially impacted, but their employees lost their income months before they normally would, making the Holidays particularly rough this year.

Please take a moment to visit the website and make a donation – any donation.  As you will see on the site, we are asking for cash donations, fulfillment of a child’s gift list or gently used bicycles.

Email Database and Communications with Renters

One thing we encourage our clients to do is send Christmas Greetings to those people in your database that have either inquired about your property or rented your house before.  It’s easy to add entries in your database if you don’t want to wait for the list to build automatically.  Just log in and go to your Dashboard, click on Email Marketing Management and find the “Add a Contact” option.  Once you have a database built it’s easy to put people into Email Groups, create Email Templates and send messages to all or some of your contacts at once.

Best Practices To Avoid Scams

There are many success stories when it comes to on-line vacation rentals, but be careful…there are scammers everywhere.  There are bogus renters trying to scam owners and bogus owners trying to scam renters.  How can you make sure of a successful transaction?  There is no fool proof way to make sure you are not being taken, but there are some steps you can take to minimize your risk.

Renters should ask detailed questions, get the address and make sure the property physically exists, check the ratings on the website (if they exist) and make sure you have a rental agreement signed.  If possible, we also recommend speaking with the owner, rather than just making a deal through email.  Most of all, use your instincts.  There are  many alternative properties out there if something just does not sound right with your first or second choice.

One of the most common scams we have seen affecting owners is where a potential renter from overseas agrees to rent your place, then says they accidentally sent too much money and ask you to send the difference back to them.  Don’t send them any money!  They are waiting to see if you agree to this before sending a bogus check.  By the time you realize their check is no good, they have already cashed yours.  We have been posting ads on Craigslist through OVW and Craigslist seems to be where many con artists find their mark.  Be careful.