THINK YOU KNOW the South — BBQ, country music, pickup trucks? Nope. Put your assumptions on hold when you visit Greenville, South Carolina, because here you’ll find far more fun, food, and straight-up personality than those typical Southern staples imply. Once you visit, you’ll realize that, out of the dozens of “Greenvilles” around the country, this is the one you need to know about. Here’s why.
1. There’s more than moonshine — think stellar craft beer and coffee.
The Carolinas’ craft brewing scene is in full swing, and so is Greenville’s — we’re not about to let Asheville or Charlotte hog the Carolina spotlight. In Greenville, you can experience top local contenders like
Once you’ve completed the circuit, it’s time for food. Visit
Speaking of java,
And if you’re still wondering about that moonshine, book it to
2. Free — and excellent — entertainment is the norm.
Enjoying nightlife doesn’t drain the wallet in Greenville — this is one of those rare places with big-city options on a small-town budget. Here’s what you’ll find throughout the year:
- On Wednesday nights (June – August), check out ScanSource Reedy River Concerts. Bring your picnic dinner to the outdoor amphitheatre and groove to rock, funk, jazz, and reggae.
- Spread a blanket in downtown’s Falls Park on the Reedy for
Fidelity Moonlight Movies on Wednesdays in May and September (on-site food truck, of course). Showings are usually along the lines of Clue, Roman Holiday, and Jumanji.
- Start the weekend early by claiming an outdoor table to hear live local musicians at NOMA Square during
Downtown Alive, 5:30-8:30pm on Thursdays from March through August. Return the next night for more music (and inflatables for kids) at Greenville Heritage FCU Main Street Fridays.
- First Fridays are a chance to see the work of artists in studios downtown and around Greenville — from watercolors to pottery, woodwork to photography. Then hit up the
TD Saturday Market (May – October) on Main Street, where local farmers and vendors offer samples of breads, cheeses, spreads, juicy South Carolina peaches, and more.
3. Eating is big, but quality food is bigger.
There’s no other region in America as attached to its food scene as the South. And eating in Greenville is such a big deal that the city has multiple annual food festivals: In September, it’s upscale tastings, cooking demonstrations, and live music at Euphoria. Even bigger is
And the restaurants. Oh, the restaurants. Choose
For brunch, head to
Greenville’s not-so-secret local dive is
4. Art, music, and performance are in the city’s DNA.
Greenville County Museum of Art is free and offers collections of historic Southern art and guided gallery tours. The Children’s Museum of the Upstate provides three floors of interactive exhibits for family fun, too.
- Nationally acclaimed Broadway shows grace the
Peace Center all the time, including hits like Wicked and The Book of Mormon. And, yep, Hamilton is slated for the 2018-2019 season. Bon Secours Wellness Arena hosts the biggest names in everything — Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Bon Jovi, Trans-Siberian Orchestra — and huge events like Disney on Ice, Monster Jam, and NCAA Division I basketball. Coffee Underground’s mini theater is a great way to spend a chill night out. Regular acts include comedy shows, improv, and poetry slams. Head to Smiley’s Acoustic Cafe for similarly cozy acoustic performances. Bob Jones University regularly puts on concerts and operas open to the public. Catch their free summer concert series Music on the Lawn, or check out Music by the Lake at Furman University. Bring your own picnic cheeseboard to feel cultured while listening to live jazz.
5. It might as well be called “Outdoorsville.”
It’s called Greenville for a reason — the outdoors are a big part of the city’s identity. Greenville does urban too, of course, but it’s not so big that it’s lost touch with Mother Nature. The city’s all about balance.
The most popular spot for locals to get in that fresh-air time is the downtown
6. Fine wine and cocktails have their own scene here, too.
It’s 2017, and everyone and their sister runs a brewery. The craft beer scene in Greenville is great, for sure, but some attention needs to be paid to the finer libations in life.
First, wine. Head to
Second, cocktails. Anchored in the pseudo-secrecy of Prohibition-era style,
7. The city’s cultivating — and nailing — a unique vibe.
There’s something to be said for the Greenville aesthetic — Southern charm meeting contemporary style. Red brick and white paint next to steel and glass form a city rooted in history and leaning into the future. Mature trees shade Main Street, and there’s plenty of sidewalk space and European-style outdoor cafe seating, showing the city’s communal nature. It’s all earned Greenville spots on lists like “23 Best Small Town Main Streets in America” (Country Living) and “Top 10 Buzzy, Unpredictable Travel Destinations” (The Wall Street Journal).
Hundred-year-old cotton mills, once filled with hundreds of workers and thousands of spindles, are now loft apartments with 10-foot windows, exposed beams, and stainless steel appliances for chic city living (The Lofts of Greenville, West Village Lofts, etc.). New projects are cropping up all the time, and businesses are collaborating to form a local scene you can really sink your teeth into.
You’ll find thriving local makers like Dapper Ink custom screen printers,