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As much as the cross-nation road pilgrimage has come to be an American rite of passage, we think it's high time it got a Southern twist. So we set out to chart an iconic route across the area. Knowing full well that any attempt to lay dvery own a definitive path would, by need, leave off more spots than it can include, we opted rather for an experiential strategy. We'd dip our toes in a Smoky Mountain stream and a Hill Country swimming hole. We'd visit a literary landnote, hit up juke joints, and also gobble boiled peanuts out of a paper sack. We'd follow a gravel road—and a stranger's advice. Wbelow each of those, and others, would certainly occur would be much less important than that they would certainly. So join us for the following 6 issues on our trip from Charleston to Austin. Then gas up your tank and blaze your own trail. And don't forobtain to sfinish us a postcard from the road!
We couldn't have actually asked for a much more poetic start for our journey than the authorize on Highway 171 welcoming us to "the Edge of America," the tagline embraced by the laid-earlier neighborhood of Folly Beach on a 7-mile obstacle island also south of Charleston. And as we drive deeper into the coastal landscape—bbest green swaths of marsh it'd be easy to mistake for fields—the moniker doesn't feel prefer much of an exaggeration. It's even more apt when Tim, my Texas-born, Virginia-increased driving buddy (and also beau), and I are standing on the wide, windy beach at The Washout, a popular surf spot that gets its gusts (and gusto) from the steamroller effects of Hurricane Hugo, which leveled the chunk of homes behind it in 1989. We wanted the Atlantic, and we got it in all its implacable glory. We take into consideration renting a surfboard at family-owned McKevlin's (mckevlins.com), but fearing that a wipeout on day one might put a damper on the pilgrimage, we settle for a wade in the surf, then steer ourselves to Rita's Seaside Grille (ritasseasidegrille.com), a family-friendly hangout that serves favorites choose a pimiento-bacon burger and blackened tuna nachos.
Therefore fortified, we make the 20-minute trek into Charleston to drop off our bags at Zero George Street Hotel (zerogeorge.com; rooms from $359), an 18-room boutique hotel in the Ansonbostormy neighborhood, which is spcheck out throughout five 1804 structures stitched through moss-edged brick pathways and also palmetto-shaded courtyards. It's favor a microcosm of the city itself—lush, beauticompletely aged, and also composed of disparate layouts that occupational seamlessly together. Eager to discover the town on foot, we forgo the abundant walking-tour options, as nearly eincredibly 3rd structure has a plaque explaining its age and definition (here, a Revolutionary War hero's home; tright here, a cotton merchant's manse). And while the Georgian, Italianate, and Victorian edifices make us swoon, it's the fraprovide clouds of star jasmine, draping doorframes like shaggy manes and climbing towards the rooftops, that stop us in our tracks time and also again. Ultimately, we wander right into the 200-plus-year-old historical Charleston City Market (thecharlestoncityindustry.com), which reopened in 2011 after a $6 million renovation, and also linger over jewelry fashioned from antique flatware and handmade sweetgrass baskets. As the sunlight starts to dip, we cruise previous the thronged sidewalks of Upper King Street for somepoint more off the beaten path: chef Bob Carter's Rutledge Cab Co. (rutledgecabco.com), collection in a converted 1950s gas terminal in the residential Wagener Terrace neighborhood. The huge wraproughly patio quickly fills via locals feasting on reimagined standbys (a quirky charcuterie plast through deviled ham rillettes and also fried bologna) and also standout sandwiches (roasted lamb through Havarti and pickled cabbage). For nightcaps, we pop in for an expertly made craft cocktail at The Gin Joint (theginjoint.com) and then make our method about the edge to the roadhouse-y The Griffon (griffoncharleston.com). Its beer selection is solid—locally brewed Divine City Pluff Mud Porter; Westbrook Gozu, a sour-salty gose beer with yuzu juice—and also the decor is purposely slapdash, through eextremely surchallenge plastered with dollar bills. It's the kind of place wright here your server can be encouraged to perform a swarm through you come cshedding time, in a dive-bar salute to Southern hospitality.
It's so hard to say goodbye to our room at Zero George—those heart-pine floors! the marble bath!—but the road calls. Our first soptimal is in North Charleston at Mixkid Market (mixsonmarket.com), a cafe/gift shop within an eco-friendly planned community anchored by a members-just pool and also racquet club. The staff sets up lounge chairs by the pool as we wait for our breakrapid tacos—delicious (yet messy) assembleras of Sriracha-spiked fried egg, Cotija cheese, and griddled arugula on toasted corn tortillas—and also shop for snacks and also souvenirs.
Afterward, we head to Greenville to examine out its revitalized downtvery own and also a food scene that's quick becoming one of the South's most vivid. The landscape transforms so gradually—the low-lying coastal ordinary composes nearly half of the state before creeping as much as the Piedmont plateau—that we bacount realize we've climbed from sea level to 1,000 feet over the three-hour drive. In tvery own, we check in at the Park Housage Bed and Breakfast (parkhousebedandbreakrapid.com; rooms from $169), a five-room inn in a renovated 1911 residence on a leafy stretch simply north of downtown. From tbelow, we hoof it to Main Street, which gleams through new building and also spruced-up public spaces, consisting of the 14-acre Falls Park, constructed about the Reedy River. Happy to be stretching our legs, we cover a lot of of Key Street's mile-long turf, from the north end—wright here Joe Fenten provides everyday tastings of his small-batch moonshines at Dark Corner Distillery (darkcornerdistillery.com)—all the means dvery own to Fluor Field (milb.com), house to the Red Sox farm team the Greenville Drive. The stadium is modeled after Fenmethod, complete with a hands-on scoreboard and a scaled-down variation of the Green Monster. We acquire tickets for the lawn, wbelow we spreview out a blanket and scarf down warm dogs and pretzels while watching costumed relay races and air-guitar competitions that are occasionally interrupted by innings of actual baseball. (The fiercest competition is among the youngsters lined up along the left-area wall, waiting for foul balls. Tim looks only a little jealous that he's as well old to join in.) By the end of the game, lying on our backs on the grass watching the fireworks, we feel choose we've hit a house run.
After the stadium empties, we head toward our second present of the night—dinner. We pass Mediterranean-inspired The Lazy Goat (thelazygoat.com) and Nose Dive gastropub (thenosedive.com) for Aaron Manter's The Owl (at press time, The Owl is closed, with plans to re-open up in August. facebook.com/owlrestaurant), a marvel of inventive food preparation (foie gras via Riesling gel, apricot conserve, and granola crumble). As the bartender mixes up a round of Sun Shines (pineapple, crème de violette, and Dark Corner moonshine), we realize why this location has actually come to be a favorite of Greenville's off-duty cooks and attitude-allergic gourmands. And because part of what renders Manter's creations so unique are the raw products, we spend the dessert course hatching a arrangement to get our hands on some of that farm-fresh develop the next day.
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It's at an early stage morning in downtown Greenville, and also an alfresco yoga session is going on in NOMA Square. Farther dvery own Main Street, a farmers' industry has unfurled (a Saturday staple all summer), however we want to gain to the resource. So after breakrapid among the hungry masses at Tupelo Honey Cafe (tupelohoneycafe.com), we set out to survey the region's bounty. We drive north toward the hills and hit Perdue Fruit Farm (864/979-8378) on the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Byway, wright here we watch as folks make preserves and also linger to listen in on the crop talk and neighborhood gossip up close to the respond to. Then, veering eastern, past disintegrating farmhouses and antiques stores through names prefer Copper Kettle, we make our way to Fisher's Pick-Your-Own Orchard (fishersorchard.com), one of a number of state-certified roadside stands where you can harvest your own fruit. It's still a small early in the year for peaches, yet we've been told that South Carolina's are the finest, so we follow the orchard's hand-attracted, color-coded map to the 'Flavorich' and also 'Sunbrite' swaths, the earliest ripening arrays on this plot. Swapping tips through a grandfather-and-grandkid duo under the trees' low, hefty branches, we fill a basket through enough fruit to feed us for the rest of the trip—but don't also wait to obtain back in the vehicle prior to biting right into the initially one.