Two Carolina cities are the darlings of summer getaways. The flannel and Chaco-wearing crowd sings the praises of Asheville, North Carolina, with its abundance of locally brewed IPAs and easy access to the Blue Ridge Mountains. In South Carolina, brunch enthusiasts and bachelorettes flock to Charleston for photos at Rainbow Row and to browse the boutiques on King Street.
I’ve spent time in both cities, and they’re certainly worth visiting, but this summer I present a third option in the Carolinas—Greenville, SC. Bring your bike, your pup, and your favorite athleisure apparel, because the Upstate’s hidden gem feels more like a giant park than a concrete jungle, with numerous ways to get some fresh air.
The most alluring—and photogenic—is Falls Park on the Reedy, located smack-dab in the middle of downtown. It might also be the most touristy thing about Greenville, but it’s a legitimately beautiful sight to behold from the wrap-around pedestrian Liberty Bridge. Upstream from the falls, you’ll find Meredith Piper’s studio, where the Louisiana native creates intricate weavings, vibrant paintings, and prints just waiting to add character to your bedroom walls.
A fun way to venture out from downtown is to hop on the Swamp Rabbit Trail. This 20-mile paved bike and pedestrian path runs right by many Greenville hotspots, like Hampton Station, home to everything Millennials hold dear—craft beer, Tex-Mex, coffee, yoga, CrossFit, and axe throwing(?). Grab a pint from the Birds Fly South Ale Project and blend in with the locals who are glad to finally be free of the office.
As the name suggests, the Swamp Rabbit Café & Grocery can also be reached via the Trail. This is a perfect option for lunch on a sunny Saturday. Everything is organic, locally sourced, grass-fed, free-range, etc, which means their amazing blueberry slab pie is good for you, right?
To feed all the young professionals moving to the city, Greenville’s food scene is flourishing. It even has a Husk location, one of Charleston’s culinary crown jewels, but there are so many noteworthy Greenville originals to try, like Jianna and UP on the Roof, that you’ll have FOMO no matter what.
But first, coffee. Greenville is blessed to have one of the most lauded roasters in the Southeast, if not the country — Methodical Coffee. Order the ‘barista’s choice’ of the day and a pastry from the Bake Room, delivered to Methodical’s beautiful café every morning. Even if you’re not a huge coffee drinker, you should go just to admire the perfect design aesthetic comprised of golden floral wallpaper, marble countertops, and brass and walnut accents.
The Village Grind is another great spot for a pick-me-up, located in the artistic, resurging neighborhood of West Village of Greenville. The boho coffee shop’s contribution to the arts scene is their donuts that are almost too pretty to devour. Pro tip: toward the back of the café there is an unassuming door you might write off as dumpster access, but in fact, it leads to a secluded patio where you can take your latte photos in peace.
If you need more sustenance than donuts can offer, the adjoining GB&D has an amazing brunch menu with all your comfort food favorites—I can personally vouch for the chicken and waffles.
Across the street, your date night destination awaits. The restaurant known as Anchorage serves exceptional farm-to-table fare and craft cocktails. Their menus are evolving to reflect the season’s freshest ingredients, but make a reservation far in advance.
If you want a souvenir from your trip, wander over to Shindig Furnishings and decide whose luggage you’re willing to sacrifice to make room for a reclaimed midcentury modern chair.
Gather GVL — an outdoor food hall set to open in September, 2018
The Community Tap — craft beer, wine, and food trucks
Liberty Cuts — sharp haircuts in an old mechanics shop
Falls Park Image by: