Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Twelve hours and 765 miles—as the crow flies—south east of Indianapolis lies the ever-popular vacation destination, Hilton Head Island. And every spring, a fair share of Hoosiers along with other Midwesterners and holiday-bound travelers, head towards the island in search of warmer weather, pristine beaches, glorious golf courses and peace of mind. But of course, even knowing one’s off for a fun-filled vacation doesn’t mask the fact that you’re about to spend the better half of a day in the car. On your hinny. Driving.

Well, despair no more my fellow voyagers—those 12 hours can be enjoyable … all you have to do is take heed and follow the path here to find farm-fresh food, locally-roasted flavorful coffee and the perfect place to stretch your legs all while looking forward to your final destination and of course, that aforementioned peace of mind.

5 a.m. Hit the road, Jack! Or Jennifer, or Rachel or Todd or whatever your name is.

7 a.m. Two hours out of Indy, time for some caffeine in Cinci—check out any one of these well respected, locally owned coffee shops for your morning brew:

BLOC Coffee Company 3101 Price Ave | bloccoffeecompany.com
Collective Espresso 207 Woodward St | collectiveespresso.com
Deeper Roots Coffee 3056 Madison Rd | deeperrootscoffee.com

8:30 a.m. Fuel up in Lexington at one of these breakfast hotspots:

Lexington Diner 124 N Upper St | lexingtondiner.com MUST HAVE: The Smoked Gouda Omelette with scallions, tomato, applewood bacon, smoked gouda and mushrooms.

Broomwagon | 800 N Limestone St | broomwagonbikes.com MUST HAVE: A traditional Breakfast Wrap with eggs, mozzarella and tomato OR keep it simple and order a chocolate croissant and (more) coffee from neighboring roaster The Magic Bean.

 Distilled at Gratz Park |120 W 2nd St |distilledatgratzparkinn.com MUST HAVE: Buttermilk Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes with fresh berries, maple syrup, butter and bacon.

11 a.m. Good news, you’ve made it to the halfway point. Time to stop and stretch your legs at the site of the 1982 World’s Fair. Note, the fountain is closed Nov. through mid-April, but even without the massive water attraction, the park is a beautiful, entertaining place to take a short—or long—pit stop. Visit their website for a map of the park. World’s

Fair Park 954 World’s Fair Park Drive | worldsfairpark.org

1-3 p.m. If you’re making decent time and you stopped in Knoxville for say 20-90 minutes, then it’s somewhere in the early afternoon. Time to grab a snack in Asheville, NC or do a light lunch at one of these farm-to-table restaurants:

Homegrown 371 Merrimon Ave | slowfoodrightquick.com SERVES: Everything from Falentil to Empanadas to Pommes Frietes to Hummus to Burgers and Burritos
Chestnut 48 Biltmore Ave | chestnutasheville.com SERVES: For adults, Fried Oyster Rockefeller Salad (that sounds divine!), French Dips, Reubens and more; For kids Sliders, Mac & Cheese and PB n J (or banana or honey).   Rhubarb 7 SW Pack Sq | rhubarbasheville.com SERVES: An amazing menu of small bites to share like Mongolian BBQ Lamb Ribs with collard green kimchi; Goat Cheese Burrata with beets, crispy basil, apple chutney, butternut squash aigre doux and crostini; and Bliss Pumpkin Angolotti.

4-5:30 p.m. Have another caffeine hit in Columbia, SC from one of these purveyors of locally-roasted beans:

The Wired Goat Vista 709 Gervais St | wiredgoat.cafe
Drip 729 Saluda Ave | dripcolumbia.com
Cool Beans Coffee Shop 1217 College St | coolbeanscoffeecompany.net
Kaminskys 930 Gervais St | kaminskys.com

6:30-8 p.m. Woo Hoo!!! Settle in with dinner and a drink (now that you’ve arrived) at any one of the fabulous craft-cocktail spots, fresh seafood eateries or a famed farm-to-table restaurant on Hilton Head Island. For ideas, check out what our friends over at Yelp have to say … go to yelp.com and search for whatever you’ve got a hankering for … or, heck, find a pillow and have a glass of wine while you watch the sunset from your vacation destination and breathe in that peace of mind. Enjoy!

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Hey there. I’m Shauna—a West Coast transplant in the landlocked state of Indiana … when I moved here I missed the beaches, the mountains, the desert, the rivers … and it took me a while to find places nearby that paralleled my old stomping grounds. BUT. Now that I’ve lived here for over 15 years, I’ve had time to explore the region and you know what? It’s amazing. There’s so much to do—from skiing in northern Michigan to relaxing lakeside in southern Kentucky to rocking the nightlife in one of the many metropolitan areas. And I love it here. I really do. BUT. I do miss the sea … and the sand and the rush of the waves … the smell of seawater … even the sting of too much sun after a day spent lollygagging at the beach. And I miss the constant supply of seafood and shellfish and riverfish? About that … since I’ve moved to the Midwest I’ve noticed that a lot of people here don’t consider fish that come from the river seafood … I’m not sure I agree, but hence the new word I’ve created, “riverfish” … time will tell if Webster picks it up ; ) So this little blog is my way of bringing a little bit of sea life (or is it sealife?) to the Midwest. Here you’ll find all kinds of information … some that you might find more useful than others—like where to find the best seafood (and riverfish) in the Midwest. And some, you might just find amusing … or not. Either way, and if nothing else, I hope you leave my little space here on the world wide web a little refreshed and maybe even a little inspired to bring a little bit of the ocean home with you. (Yes, I did use the word “little” four times in one sentence … it’s OK … mermaids like to repeat themselves.) Cheers! The Midwest Mermaid Oh, and if your curious, yes, I do actually write for a living … if you want to know about the organizations I work with and the publications where you can find my land legs, swim on over to the “Portfolio” tab … and thanks for visiting.

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