Henley Vazquez of Passported on Her Five Favorite Southern Spots
If you’re of the mindset that the only way to travel with children is to pack up the car and drive to the nearest beach to dine on a week’s worth of sandy sandwiches, then you clearly haven’t visited Passported. This inspiring family travel site features guides, itineraries, and more to a roster of spots you’ve probably always dreamed of visiting but never dared to bring the kids. Until now.
Just in time for your end-of-summer vacation, Henley Vazquez, CEO and Co-Founder of Passported—herself a Charlottesville, Virginia native—shares a few Southern spots made even better by bringing the kids along. First, tell us about Passported.
Passported grew from my frustration with the way modern media and travel services treated family travel. I believe that having kids doesn’t end your travel life; it can expand it in some pretty magical ways. But I couldn’t find an easy way to figure out the right hotels, guides, restaurants, etc. that would work for my kids, but also be a fit for me. At Passported, we take the parents’ preferences into account as much as the children’s.
Names and ages of your kids?
Sofia is nine-years old and Nico is six. They are best friends and my favorite sidekicks on the road!
You live in NYC, but you are originally from Charlottesville. Tell us how you are a Southern girl at heart.
I grew up dying to be in the big city, but now my day dreams are about 50 acres, a couple of smelly dogs, and an ancient pick-up to get around. There’s something good for your soul about open spaces, letting the kids play in the dirt all day, never wearing make-up. Although I wouldn’t trade many aspects of our city life, I hope someday we might be able to have a farm to escape to as well.
Broadly speaking, what are your favorite things about the American South?
The people. It’s a cliche, yet I’ve been all around the world and there aren’t many places as welcoming as the South. I grew up around the kindest people, and although professions ranged from farmers to university professors, and politics from reddest red to most liberal blue, somehow everyone got along.
Oh yeah, and the country music! I’m teaching the kids to love Johnny Cash, Dixie Chicks and Merle.
Five favorite Southern destinations?
1) Ash Lawn-Highland: Located near Charlottesville, this is James Monroe’s house. My mom was the Director of the museum, so we actually got to live here growing up! It’s also where my husband and I were married. I get a little giddy every time I turn into the driveway.
2) James River: Tubing on the James River is another quintessential C’ville activity. If it’s all adults, bring an extra tube (and a designated driver) for the beers. When the water is low, it’s really calm and totally safe for children.
3) The Outer Banks: The best part of the Outer Banks is where the road ends in Corolla. Bring your coolers and your swimsuits and spend the day—or more; you can rent houses here, too! I love exploring Penny Hill and the huge dunes that divide the sea from the Currituck Sound. See if you can find the herds of wild horses that live here.
4) The Loveless Cafe: One of my best friends from college lived in Nashville for years, and Loveless was the place we’d go for breakfast when I visited her. Biscuits and gravy might be my favorite breakfast in the world.
5) Blackberry Farm: This legendary Tennessee inn is at the top of my wish list for a grown-up getaway. I’ve been dreaming about it for years. (Someone please forward this article to my husband, okay?).
Putt-putt. I had no idea, until recently, that other people didn’t call mini-golf putt-putt.