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Three destinations worth a road trip

by Staff

A Night at the Moxy

The new Moxy hotel in Virginia Beach oozes personality through art of all kinds. A Zoltar fortune-telling machine, tabletop shuffleboard and painted wooden surfboards give the hotel’s living-room-like lobby a laid-back, playful vibe. Comfy seating areas include a bench in a rickshaw and throw pillows with cheeky messages such as, “Trust Me, You Can Dance. —Vodka.” 

In lieu of a front desk, a bar at the center of the lobby doubles as a check-in spot, where guests receive a room key and a welcome glass of wine, local craft beer or a specialty cocktail—or a poker chip to redeem the free drink later. 

Once settled, check out the second-floor fitness center, then skip the stairs and take the indoor slide back down to the lobby. Opened in July, the hotel’s 134 guest rooms are on the smaller side, but well designed with numerous hooks and trays for your clothing and electronics (no closet), comfy beds (king, two queens or “quad queen” bunkbeds), a 55-inch flat-screen TV, tiled walk-in shower with a rain showerhead, and balconies, most with an ocean view. The two more spacious king suites include a mini fridge.

Moxy’s location is also an optimal viewing spot overlooking Holiday Lights at the Beach, the city’s annual, nautical-themed drive-through lights display, which runs along the boardwalk’s southern end Nov. 16 through Jan. 1. 

Moxy hotel guest rooms Credit: Courtesy Dani Orleans; Vanessa Newton

Better still, sign up for the Surf N Santa 5 Miler ( on Dec. 16 and see the lights on foot. Open to walkers and runners—including those who like to stop for a beer midcourse—the race holds the Guinness World Record (2016) for the largest Santa run. According to organizers, this year’s racecourse promises entertainment and a ginger-molasses cookies treat stop, plus a post-race luau with live music, food, drinks and a shop full of surfing Santa swag. 

Fuel up pre-race at The Belvedere (off the hotel’s lobby) with a delicious omelet, creamed chipped beef and grits, or another breakfast or lunch special. Rates begin at $99.

Moxy Virginia Beach Oceanfront, 1201 Atlantic Ave., Virginia Beach, Virginia, 757-452-4515,

The Union Hotel exterior at night. Credit: Courtesy Casey Martin

A Historic Union

First opened in 1804, The Union Hotel in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, has, over time, served as a tavern, boarding house and small hotel, according to Leslie Trew Magraw, a former National Geographic travel editor who grew up in the Gettysburg area. She and her husband, Andrew Johnson, purchased the property in 2019 and set about renovating it room by room. 

Completed in July 2021, each of the hotel’s 12 spacious suites offers a living area with a sofa and flat-screen TV. The kitchenette has a refrigerator, microwave, Breville espresso maker, coffee maker, assorted local coffees, Nespresso pods, teas and a basket of housemade scones and muffins. The 500-square-foot Abraham Lincoln Suite is the grandest of the suites, with tall windows, a living room bar, walnut desk, king-size steel bed, and a luxurious bathroom with heated floors, a walk-in shower and a freestanding tub.

A Union theme runs throughout, with subtle nods to Lincoln in pictures and books. “I wanted to create a convivial place where neighbors gather and strangers become friends,” Trew Magraw says. We’re sitting at the bar in the hotel’s recently added restaurant, Sign of the Buck (a nod to the building’s original name), sipping on The Thistlefields—a cocktail made with gin, Lillet blanc, lavender, pea flower and Earl Grey tea. Sign of the Buck is open for dinner nightly and brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Suite rates begin at $175.

Seasonal events in town include the annual Dedication Day (Nov. 19), commemorating the 160th anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and keynoted by former Gettysburg resident Susan Eisenhower, granddaughter of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Visit the new Gettysburg Beyond the Battle Museum ( for immersive exhibits and more than 1,000 artifacts representing the lives of civilians caught in the Civil War’s crossfire. On a festive note, the historic Majestic Theater will host the Nov. 27 movie premiere of A Gettysburg Christmas, starring Kate Vernon, Lee Majors and Gettysburg itself.

The Union Hotel, 27 Chambersburg St., Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, 717-337-1334,

A giant metal crab is dropped at midnight Credit: Courtesy Tidewater Inn

Crabby New Year

This year marks the 30th anniversary of First Night Talbot, a family-friendly celebration in Easton, Maryland, that rings in the new year not with the descent of a giant ball, but rather a giant metal crab, with ceremonial drops of the local mascot at 9 p.m. and midnight. 

Four local venues—Town Hall, Avalon Theatre, Academy Art Museum and the Waterfowl Building—play host to music and dance performances, a magic show, face-painting and favorites such as Carlos the Fire-Juggler and Mike Elzey’s Guitar Studio (an air-guitar contest for freestyle jamming). Between activities, you’ll find lovely shops, art galleries, restaurants and food trucks throughout town. First Night Talbot, which is free to all, begins at 6 p.m. Visit for a full schedule.

No matter what time you choose to welcome the new year, get a good night’s sleep at theTidewater Inn. This historic property completed an extensive renovation of its 86 guest rooms and suites in the fall of 2019 and added the former Inn at 202 Dover (now The Tidewater House) to its portfolio. The Tidewater House has six luxury suites, each with air-jet tubs and steam showers. Check the inn’s website for details on its Thanksgiving buffet, New Year’s Eve dinner specials and more. Rates begin at $209.

Tidewater Inn, 101 E. Dover St., Easton, Maryland, 410-822-1300,

This story appears in the November/December issue of Bethesda Magazine.

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