How to make the most of a day trip in a new city: Charleston edition

I arrived in Charleston, South Carolina, around 7 a.m. on Halloween. I was excited, ready for an adventure and a little bit lost.

The day before, I had booked tickets from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to Charleston and back through JetBlue’s Monster Sale. 

I hadn’t had time to research. When I got to the Palmetto State, I had zero clue what to do. 

The day before, I posted a sole tweet looking for help. 

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After a hearty breakfast at Millers that included unicorn grits, which are naturally pink, I asked Joseph McQueen, a server working behind the counter, where I should go next.

He told me to visit The Battery, a fortified seawall that offers a promenade along the tip of the Charleston peninsula. Then, he said, I should walk Rainbow Row, a lineup of more than a dozen colored houses near the waterfront. He also suggested a stop at the Blind Tiger, a pub. 

After paying, I made my way to The Battery, where I met a woman walking her two dogs. Naturally, I stopped to pet Sophie and Thomas and asked her what she thought I should add to my itinerary. She mentioned Charleston City Market, one of the country’s oldest public markets, according to its website.

I walked The Battery and Rainbow Row, where I enjoyed a nice sea breeze and snapped photos of the colorful homes. I returned to Rainbow Row and ran into some tour guides who provided a bit more of the area’s history.

Later, I happened upon the market, which stretches for four blocks.

Everywhere I had been in Charleston, I saw signs for biscuits. I wasn’t sure I’d find one to try myself because I’m gluten-free, but wandering City Market, I found Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit.

There, I learned about the importance of a biscuit from Carrie Morey, Callie’s founder. She created Callie’s, using her mother’s recipe. 

“Biscuits are the bread of the South,” Morey explained, noting they bring the whole meal together. Morey said she had biscuits at every meal growing up.

“Southerners are known for entertaining. We take pride in our food,” she said. 

I ordered a gluten-free biscuit with blackberry jam and went  into a souvenir shop across the street. From behind the counter, an employee told me to visit the Pineapple Fountain a popular tourist destination in Waterfront Park. Perfect, I thought, my next stop.

On my walk, I let myself get a bit lost and a bit hungry. I sat down to eat my biscuit. It was so good that someone came up to me and asked if I was enjoying it. I nodded, chipmunk-faced with a mouthful of biscuit and jam spread across my cheeks. 

Eventually, I moved on and found a different fountain to kick my feet around in before arriving at the Pineapple Fountain. The pineapple motif is popular and can be found in different areas around the city.  According to the SC Picture Project, the fountain is a good spot to make a wish or even splash around on a hot day.

After that, I explored the nearby City Gallery, which displays contemporary art exhibits and is free to the public.

Finally, I wound down at the Blind Tiger and chatted with the bartender, Heath Todd, about living in Charleston, some of the city’s perks and the history of the pub.

Without a plan, I managed to see a great deal of what Charleston has to offer by doing two simple things: walking and talking. 

By asking locals for advice, I was able to see some tourist attractions plus gain a little insight about Charleston’s history and culture.

The day felt like picking flavors from a sampler box of candy. I tried different flavors – architecture, landscape, food, art – and now, I’ll know what I want more of next time I go back. 

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Booked two one way flights through the @jetblue “Monster Sale” yesterday and did a day trip to Charleston today. Story to come @usatodaytravel! ✈️🗺

A post shared by Morgan Hines (@morganemhines) on

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