Why Greenville, South Carolina is finally in the spotlight

Move over, Charleston.

In the Carolinas, visitors generally gravitate towards the more touristy cities like Charleston or Asheville. But a new Southern beauty is quickly catching the attention of travellers. In the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Greenville, South Carolina thrives.

With the warmth of a small town and the urbanism of the future, the intentionality of Greenville stands out. Downtown feels intimate thanks to building height restrictions as well as clusters of gathering spaces throughout. Here, a swing; there, a picnic table. These may be the not-so-distant memories of statewide shutdowns, but these spaces feel intimate and necessary.

Continue reading the article after our video

Recommended Fodor Video

While there are plenty of reasons why you’ll be captivated by Greenville, here are a few to get you started.

Be casually athletic in the city center

Being outdoors is good for our mental health, but not everyone is born with the desire to move. In Greenville, the wide sidewalks and wheelchair-accessible paths along the Reedy River make it almost too easy to enjoy a one-mile stroll. A green setting softens the urban city center. As you stroll down Main Street, don’t just admire the storefronts. Sharpen your eye for a classic Greenville scavenger hunt, the Mice on Main. These nine bronze mice are hidden in different corners of the street, inspired by the mice hidden in the children’s book good night moon.

Save space for the culinary scene

In Greenville, walking the streets for food is another way to be physically active. Although you can lose count after the first 10-15, downtown Greenville has 150 restaurants. These aren’t just any old restaurants either, Greenville chefs hail from backgrounds like French Laundry and NOMA, with several restaurants nominated as semi-finalists for the James Beard Awards.

Notable places to visit are trendy spots like Juniper, where you’ll be tempted to whip out your phone to capture the dreamlike aesthetic of draping vines and dancing fairies. Classic Italian restaurant Jianna holds its own, overlooking Reedy Park with fresh pastas, oysters and seafood. Meanwhile, the brand new CAMP turns up the heat with seasonal fusion dishes made with local ingredients.

The habitat

Hike (or bike) the Swamp Rabbit Trail

And then there’s Swamp Rabbit Trail, the 22-mile trail that people bike, walk, and run every day. This is not one of those intense trails reserved for tight spandex cycling enthusiasts (although there is plenty of spandex on the trail). However, there are also parents pushing strollers, toddlers on scooters, and families simply taking a leisurely stroll with their children. Bike rental stations around town make an impromptu trip on the Swamp Rabbit Trail less than daunting, as does bike rental company Reedy Rides.

Once you’re on the track, it’s not hard to make it an all-day event, with pit stops along the way like The Commons and Swamp Rabbit Cafe and Grocer. Here you are encouraged to sit down and enjoy a bite. Even on the segments of the trail where nature takes over, blanketing the sides with greenery and growth, small benches invite you to sit down, slow down, and just be.

Fire Water Photography / Kris Decker

Get out of the city limits

Outside downtown, you can listen to the bluegrass as the sun sets behind the mountains of Paris Mountain State Park. Want some moonlight? Chattooga Belle Farm was once owned by Grouch Marx and now boasts the world’s only pure muscadine moonshine.

Those looking to kick their vacation into high gear may want to stop by the BMW Zentrum, the only BMW museum in North America. Looking for something a little more experiential? The BMW Performance Center offers you a NASCAR-esque driving experience with a trained professional.

INSIDER TIPSit at the bar near Chef’s Corner at CAMP to watch the chefs create magic; then order an “Iona Flower Shop”, the author’s favorite drink.

Greenville has the edge of a city dedicated to innovation, but not at the expense of those who make up the city. Community is at the heart of this city, and it’s also welcoming to families. You can see it at the bagel sandwich shop Sully’s steamers. Here, owner Robert “Sully” Sullivan can be seen behind the counter or chatting with regulars. Whether you’re visiting for a few days or a week, don’t be surprised if you imagine yourself settling in Greenville.

Comments are closed.