When my mom first told me she was moving to Greenville, South Carolina, I said “Greenville? Never heard of it.” Four years later, I’ve spent one month of every summer and many holidays in the city nestled against the Blue Ridge Mountains in South Carolina’s Upcountry.
A small city with a big city feel, Greenville has developed into quite the travel destination; luring people from all over the world with its mix of southern charm and contemporary flair.
Main Street is where you will find everything to do from dining and shopping to watching Shakespeare in the park. The street runs from Downtown to the West End; both areas providing much entertainment. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy venturing beyond downtown to experience the natural sites outside the city limits.
Read here for my recommended list of accommodations, restaurants/bars and outdoor activities to enjoy in Greenville.
Four-diamond hotel, The Westin Pointsett, is situated in the heart of downtown. Simply take one step outside the front doors and you’ve landed on the brick-paved road at the top of Main Street. Enjoy luxury amenities from iPod docking stations to Westin Heavenly beds for you and even your pups.
The Swamp Rabbit Inn is a European style B&B in the West End, perfect for anyone looking for a unique accommodation. Known for its cycling-friendly reputation, the inn is just two blocks west of the Swamp Rabbit Trail where guests can ride bikes along the 18.6-mile rail-to-trail. Enjoy this home away from home with fresh pastries each morning, complimentary Kuerig coffee and tea pods and a fully stocked kitchen for you to whip up breakfast for the family. During the summertime, enjoy Truck Inn Tuesdays from 5:30 – 8:30 in the parking lot where a food truck, live music and local makers come out for a weekly block party! Did I forget to mention $10 all you can drink beer?
Take in the fresh air and rooftop view of Main Street at SIP, Greenville’s first rooftop lounge and wine bar. Enjoy a wine tasting with friends in the rustic Napa-inspired inside, seated along wooden farm tables, or an after work cocktail like “French Rose Sangria” lounging outside on cushioned couches. Nibble on bite-sized delights with your drink of choice like “Bruschetta with Goat Cheese” or “Chocolate Raspberry Truffles.”
Smoke on the Water in the West End, right off of Main Street, is where first-time Greenville visitors can try South Carolina BBQ and other true southern dishes. Bite sized servings of moist cornbread arrive just after guests order their drinks. Known as “The Saucy Tavern,” four savory homemade BBQ sauces are brought over in wrought iron carriers to the tables before entrees are served: tomato, East North Carolina vinegar, molasses and mustard. Each strip of the “Pulled Pork,” which the Carolinas are famous for, is tender and perfectly pink, leaving you hungry for more with every bite. They claim their Beef Brisket puts ours to the test, so Texans, I say head up there and see if they’re all talk.
Grill Marks gives Classic American Fare a gourmet upgrade. Branding every burger bun with their logo, Grill Marks burgers are made with a custom blend of the finest Angus Beef and loaded from top to bottom with decadent toppings. Now, you can’t enjoy a burger without fries. The White Truffle Parmesan Fries or the Blue & Pimento Cheese Fries will leave you licking your fingers clean. Order one of Marks Famous Milkshakes for a sweet indulgence and for those of you 18+, order a spiked shake like the JackHammer made with Jack Daniels and Pepsi or a drink of your choice.
Baseball fans can enjoy an afternoon or evening at Fluor Field in the summer watching Greenville’s minor league baseball team, Greenville Drive, take on teams within the South Atlantic League Southern. Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, Greenville Drive have brought their A game this season and have been noted by Peter Gammons, the longtime Boston Globe sportswriter and former ESPN MLB analyst, as “the best prospect team in baseball.” Look out for home game specials when you purchase your tickets, like $1 Drink Night on Thursdays and fireworks on Fridays.
Take a walk to Greenville’s historic West End and stroll through the famous Falls Park on the Reedy. This 32-acre park founded in 1967 is filled with nature trails, waterfalls, landscaped gardens and the 355 ft pedestrian suspension Liberty Bridge supported by cables that curves around the waterfall on the Reedy River. Public events are hosted there year round from music festivals to annual events like the Upstate Shakespeare Festival in the summers.
If you have a need for speed, you’ll definitely want to make a trip to the BMW Performance Center about 25 minutes outside of Greenville in Greer. Enroll in the BMW Performance Driving School and experience sliding, cornering and breaking from professional instructors in some of the most popular BMW rides. Challenge yourself on driver training and off-road courses at this state-of-the-art 64,000 square-foot driving school. Pick a program based on experience and skill set, and off you go!
By Paxton Kelly
Feature photo courtesy visitgreenvillesc.com