We’re continually on the hunt for experiences that add richness to our lives. In the spirit of the revival of road trips, we are proud to feature a monthly section featuring destinations within driving distance of Charleston. We feel that our smart and savvy readers will find these trips interesting and entertaining.
Driving 6 hours South of Charleston, West Virginia brings you to Greenville, South Carolina. Several years ago, the economy tanked and Greenville was in a bad spot. You would never know that by seeing the thriving well-planned community that was created to cater to the BMW employees only a few miles away. Greenville’s pedestrian streets beckon you to explore downtown’s boutique shopping, art installments, and restaurants. Welcome to #yeahTHATgreenville.
WHAT TO SEE & DO IN GREENVILLE
Downtown Greenville has many great places to shop (over 100 in total), including Anthropologie, Bluemercury, and Beija Flor. Perhaps the most popular store is Mast General, a 100 year-old department store and outfitter with clothing, souvenirs, and an amazing retro toy/candy store in the back.
While browsing downtown Greenville’s shops, sample local rum from Dark Corner Distillery or read the plaques on the downtown statues sharing insight about locals who did special things. Visiting the M. Judson Booksellers is a must. It’s one of the prettiest independent bookstores I’ve seen in the whole country! You can find whatever you are looking for in this ten-block stretch of downtown. Don’t miss the sidewalk etched quotes around the bookstore block.
Children will adore the Mice on Main scavenger hunt. You can download clues at the Visit Greenville SC website to help find the nine bronze mice hidden high and low around town. Kids will also enjoy stopping in O.P. Taylor’s toy store and wandering around the Children’s Museum of the Upstate (one of the ten largest children’s museums in the world). Another fun option for the whole family is to visit the Greenville Zoo, which only takes about 90 minutes to stroll through.
Check out the local art scene at the Greenville County Museum of Art or taking in a live performance at The Peace Center (Greenville’s performing arts concert hall and amphitheater).
You can catch a baseball game right in the heart of downtown. See the Greenville Drive (a Minor League Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox) play at Fluor Field (modeled after Fenway Park). Get outdoors and bike or walk the 20-mile Swamp Rabbit Trail that leads to nearby Travelers Rest, a popular town outside of Greenville.
Perhaps the most surprising part of Greenville is Reedy River Falls. Did you know that a gorgeous waterfall is nestled in the heart of downtown Greenville? Signs will point you to it at Falls Park or you can follow the winding riverfront through town to Liberty Bridge for the best vantage points. The waterfall is just as beautiful at night so you may want to visit twice.
A SPECIAL EXPERIENCE
The BMW Performance Center is outside of downtown Greenville. Here, you will see where BMWs are built, sold, and you can even attend the many driving programs offered. Courses to learn the physics of driving include off-road, interstate braking from 70 mph, and wet skid pad to name a few. The BMW vehicles you get to drive range from SUVs to a variety of M class cars.
WHERE TO EAT IN GREENVILLE
Sinking your teeth into Greenville is going to be one of the best parts of your trip. Biscuit Head’s breakfast is a culinary delight. For those seeking American fare for lunch or dinner, my pick is Nose Dive, a cool restaurant with a light-up bar and swanky vibe. For dinner, try Mediterranean fare at Abanico or have Mexican at Willy’s Tacos. Oak and Honey has spectacular appetizers, like charcuterie boards, wings, and truffle fries.
You are sure to have a unique dining experience at Pomegranate on Main, serving out-of-this-world Persian food! I recommend the Chicken Torsh Kabob with the Basmati Cranberry Rice. Vegans and vegetarians will jump for joy at the creative dishes served at Southern Pressed Juicery, though I loved the salads equally and I’m not either.
Satisfy your sweet tooth with homemade pralines from River Street Sweets, specialty popcorn from Poppington’s, or a delicious dip of ice cream from Kilwins. Refuel at Coffee Underground with a heavy dose of caffeine.
WHERE TO STAY IN GREENVILLE
The newest hotspot in town is the dual Marriott property featuring a Springfield Suites and Residence Inn. Stylish and contemporary, with a pool featuring low-water lounge chairs, this dynamic hotel is well worth a visit. The property is amazing, featuring hanging wicker chairs in the lobby, nooks and crannies for quiet conversation, comfy beds, and spacious rooms. Bikes are available for hitting the biking/hiking trails or just exploring the town.
Embassy Suites is another great choice in downtown Greenville. The huge property has incredible views of the city and a waterway that runs through the city from its rooftop restaurant and lounge. Both hotels are within walking distance to most things you will want to see in Greenville.
The New York Times once called Greenville “a national model for a pedestrian-friendly city center.” Once you visit this special destination with great shopping, entertainment, and delicious eateries, you will fall for it—hook, line, and sinker.