GREENVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA, has emerged. This town, located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, has put a big emphasis on local talent and locally made goods and has created a space for travelers to really dig in and experience the community. As a result, adventure, arts, and culinary professionals have flocked to the area to get in on the ground level.
Which, by and large, is a very good thing. But it does mean time is of the essence if you’re looking to be the first among your group of traveler friends to check out the best of what this city has to offer. Here’s what you should do before everyone else arrives.
1. Take your morning coffee to Falls Park on the Reedy.
Greenville’s downtown is very connected and pedestrian friendly, and
The 14-year-old park was designed by landscape architect Andrea Mains in 1999, at the time when the area was still pretty industrial (think leftover 19th-century textile mills skirting the riverbanks). By 2003, the community’s devotion to the Reedy had created a new identity for Falls Park — and the city of Greenville as well.
2. Cycle the GHS Swamp Rabbit Trail.
Pro tip #1: Follow the Swamp Rabbit’s mile markers and look for the carrots when you want something to eat or drink — they signal that a restaurant (or two) lies within the next mile. If you can keep at it for the entire ride to Travelers Rest, there’ll be sweet and savory crepes at
Pro tip #2: If you’re a serious cycler, you can
3. Go for a brewery tour.
Hop in a van with Gary Glancy, founder of
Upstate Craft Beer Co. is a name you should be paying attention to, especially if you want to get into brewing at home — their homebrew shop has everything you need to get started. If you book ahead, you can join a U-Brew session, where a master brewer will guide you in brewing cases of your own beer.
4. Wander the Village of West Greenville.
Greenville has a rapidly expanding arts community, and
There are some great places to eat over in the Village of West Greenville, too. Check out
5. Meet local artists at First Fridays.
On the First Friday of every month, the
GCCA, located in a former mill building, connects the art community by providing a place for artists to work and patrons to get to know the people behind the art. It’s easy to feel inspired in the lofty space, so plan ahead and book an art class to get a more hands-on experience. You can learn to paint, draw, mimic the masters, or explore something new like encaustics, a medium that stems from painting with pigmented wax. And this isn’t just for adults — kids are definitely welcome. There’s a craft class…and we hear some of the artists bring cookies for the kiddos.
6. Join a cocktail class…
Speakeasies might be a not-so-new trend, but this one is different. The space at
To get down to business, schedule a cocktail class rather than a single-drink visit. But definitely plan ahead — the classes put on by co-owners Joe Clarke and Darlene Mann-Clarke, along with head mixologist Kirk Ingram, often sell out. Each cocktail course is limited to 20 people of any skill level, and your taste buds (and friends!) will be glad you went.
7. …or get some cooking tips from a local chef.
Renowned Chef Sean Brock of Charleston’s Husk may not be opening his new location in Greenville until early 2018, but some of his past staff members have already opened several. From Greg McPhee’s
If you’re looking for something more casual and classically Southern, go for a trip on the
8. Catch a show at one of the city’s theaters.
Greenville is always hopping with concerts, lectures, ballets, and offbeat shows like “The Simon & Garfunkel Story,” and the
But the Peace Center isn’t the only theater in town —
Make sure to check out
9. Hit happy hour at UP on the Roof.
No one can refuse a rooftop bar. In the South, it’s practically social law. And
Check the bar’s event calendar for seasonal events and nights featuring half-off bottles of artisan wine. They serve small plates to deliciously complement the libations, so do yourself a favor and order one or two to sample. That is, after you do yourself the favor of getting to Greenville.