When the wind hits my face after the second mile, I begin to really let go. Legs pumping, Beyoncé blasting–I have not a single worry. Bikers wave as they pass, critters scurry into the woods. A stop at a small farmers market where families stuff fresh baguettes into their mouth is a ritual that makes me smile. If there is one thing my visit to Greenville, South Carolina taught me, it is this: simplicity brings abundance. It does not take much to find something to enjoy in this alluring Southern city. Nestled at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains with easily one of the most beautiful downtown neighborhoods in the country, Greenville should definitely be on your 'to visit' list. It’s city contemporary-meets-Southern charm in the best way. Here are just a few things to do during your first visit:
Eat. Then Eat Some More.
With over 90 restaurants in the downtown area alone, it’s hard for a food lover not to feel elated in Greenville… and very, very full. One may not think of sustainability and farm to table food when South Carolina comes to mind, but Greenville is proving that where our food comes from is just as important as how it tastes. For pork lovers, there is Bacon Bros. Public House. Nosh on the charcuterie platter of the day, all sourced from a local farm–then wash it down with a bacon martini if you’re feeling gluttonous. Don’t forget to peak into the cure room, where you can see Chef Anthony Gray’s latest palate pleasers.
During the day, a Tastes of the South tour will take you through downtown Greenville to devour dishes like fried alligator, fried green tomatoes with pimiento fondue, and shrimp with grits. Learning the history of the city and its dishes is an added bonus to an already delicious afternoon.
For meals sourced from local and regional farms, American Grocery is a city favorite with an intimate setting. For larger groups and those that like to share plates, The Lazy Goat provides an array of dishes that are sure to delight. After a day of eating, end your night at Stellar Wine Bar, where if you’re lucky, bartender John may whip you up one of his cider-based cocktails that will leave you wanting more.
There is plenty to do in downtown Greenville at all times of the day. Hop on a free trolley and explore downtown’s unique boutique stores. Check out one of the city’s many museums, visit the zoo, or walk into any sports bar to witness true football fans. At night, a jazz show at Blues Blvd. Jazz provides a sexy ambiance and true musical talent to patrons. For a nightcap, the Hyatt Regency’s lobby bar and restaurant Roost are always jumpin’.
Let Nature Take Its Course
Being outdoors in Greenville allows for quite a few unique experiences with nature. Downtown at Liberty Falls Park is a great place to have an outdoor picnic, listen to street musicians and stroll across the stunning Liberty Bridge, which hangs over the 28-foot Reedy River Falls. After all of the eating you’ll be doing, a bike ride or jog along the 18.7-mile Swamp Rabbit Trail is exhilarating.
Say Hello to People
One of Greenville’s biggest charms is the people that live there. I am hesitant to strike up a conversation with strangers in New York, but in Greenville, chatting with people was easy and always entertaining. It’s also a great way to learn more about the city, the people that make it so wonderful, and of course, make new friends.