ONE OF THE SOUTH’S BEST-KEPT SECRETS, GREENVILLE IS A BUSTLING CITY WITH A SMALL TOWN FEEL IN THE UPSTATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA.
What was once known as a hub for textile manufacturing, Greenville now hosts a wide range of international companies. The influx of money has resulted in a downtown that’s reawakened with world class food and drink destinations. On any day of the year, the heart of this place – the Reedy River – is buzzing with residents and visitors alike, reminding you of the beauty that lies outside city limits.
GET THERE: The Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport (GSP) is a small, quiet airport located northeast of downtown in Greer. It sits just past the massive BMW plant off I-85. From GSP, it takes about 15 minutes to get downtown, so using an Uber or Lyft is super easy.
STAY: Looking for a more urban experience? Stay downtown. We called the conveniently-located Hyatt Regency Greenville home for a few days. If you’d like to make home base in the beautiful foothills, consider looking for an Airbnb. This one, situated on a creek in Marietta, is so lovely.
DO: Just walking along the streets in Greenville is fun in itself. There are so many fun tops to pop in for fare and folly. Of course, a trip to the area cannot come without some time in the mountains of South Carolina’s Upstate, which many people are surprised to learn even exist!
Eat your heart out
If you’ve read about Greenville in any publication (here’s Vogue’s write-up last fall), chances are, the focus of the piece was food and drink. For a town with a population of around 70,000, there are a CRAZY number of world class dining options.
Want an easy, affordable breakfast that’s steaming hot? The friendly folks at Sully’s Steamers churn out hot bagels filled to the brim with goodies or good ol’ cream cheese.
For lunch, we like Caviar & Bananas. Try the Kale Caesar Salad with hot smoked salmon. This place stocks a mean case of cold beverages, from kombucha to drinking vinegars. If it’s a nice day out, grab a table on the patio.
And it’s hard to go wrong for dinner. Pomegranate on Main has excellent Persian food (hummus, kebabs and the like) with a thought-out wine menu. Each item is paired with a wine. Husk, a name that first rose to prominence down the interstate in Charleston, now has a Greenville location. The menu focuses on traditional Southern ingredients re-imagined by the legendary Sean Brock. We like to order a bunch of appetizers and double up on cocktails – they’re incredible.
Get your toes wet
No walk around town is complete without a stroll through Falls Park on the Reedy. The Liberty Bridge is the anchor of one side of the amazing nature spread. Meet in its middle and turn toward the dramatic, rocky falls formed by the Reedy River. Don’t be alarmed if you feel the bridge bouncing a little! Walk down river for a more secluded jaunt through nature, or upriver to cross a smaller footbridge, passing by galleries and cafes. The TD Stage at the Peace Center, adjacent to the river, is a wonderful place to watch a show.
If you’re looking for a more rugged workout in nature, but don’t want to stray too far from town, Paris Mountain State Park is a 15 minute drive from downtown. There are 15 miles to trek and four lakes to explore.
GET THERE: Hop in the car and head about 20 minutes north to immerse yourself in the charming town of Traveler’s Rest. If you feel like getting a long run or bike ride in, you can actually take a greenway, called the Swamp Rabbit Trail, the whole way there. The paved path is 10.5 miles long.
EAT: For the size of the town, there are some fabulous food and drink options. Sidewall Pizza Company offers excellent artisan pizzas for the whole family. We’ve returned, over and over again to Upcountry Provisions, for their carefully crafted sandwiches, soups and salads. For an apres-hike drink, the wine and beer list at The Tasting Room of Travelers Rest is spot on.
GET THERE: From T-Rest, you have direct access to some of the Upstate’s most beautiful mountains. The following trails and spots are within a 45 minute drive from Greenville, if that’s where you prefer to stay.
Take in the view at Caesar’s Head State Park’s overlook: A winding Geer Highway (276) will bring you to the top of it all. Park at the overlook and follow the short paved path on the right of the parking lot to gaze out over the Palmetto State. It’s spectacular. Extend your time up on the ridge by driving down 276 a bit farther. Park in the lot for Raven Cliff Falls and cross the highway to access the trail head. Depending on your stamina, there are trail options that range from 2.5 to 6.6 miles, but regardless, you can get a look at the falls.
About 20 minutes south, Table Rock State Park promises a full day of outdoor adventure: the Table Rock Summit Trail provides hikers with a fresh experience at every turn. Depending on the season, you’ll encounter brightly-colored wildflowers, fresh mountain water, vibrant leaves and always, upon reaching the summit, a sweeping vista.
And because a long day in the forest warrants an adult beverage: Victoria Valley Vineyards is just the spot to rest your feet. Do a tasting, or order a glass, and sit on the winery’s patio, listening to the animals that call this place home. Pro tip: they close by 6 p.m. most evenings, so get an early start!