I’ve never fallen in love with a place as quickly as I did with Greenville. This was a surprise, because I arrived in South Carolina with low expectations. In the late ’80s and early ’90s, I spent most childhood school vacations and several weeks each summer visiting grandparents who lived elsewhere in the Palmetto State. On many trips there, we would take time to explore a new area recommended to us by a local. Someone once recommended a frog jumping competition in Springfield, but no one ever recommended Greenville, in the Appalachian foothills about halfway between Atlanta and Charlotte.
But when I arrived last spring, the city of 70,000 had me at the first “Hey, y’all” I heard. (This happened before I had exited its airport.) In that greeting, and echoed in dozens of other interactions over the following days, were vibrancy and pride: The Greenvillians I met lived there because they loved the lifestyle the city gave them. While Greenville in the 1980s was not a best bet for family vacations, today it has a wide-ranging (and well-priced) food scene; quirky boutiques; outdoor cafes on bustling, tree-lined, pedestrian-friendly streets; art galleries; bike trails; ample urban green space; a public art collection with more than 70 sculptures; and the fastest-growing population of any city in the state. No wonder its branded social media hashtag is #yeahTHATGreenville.
Anywhere, 32-acres of manicured lawns and gardens, public performance spaces, private benches, sculptures, food trucks, trails and a 355-foot-long cantilevered pedestrian bridge with unobstructed views of 40-foot-tall waterfalls would be remarkable. In downtown Greenville,
Two of the three joints on John Nolan’s 3.5-hour weekly
The Greenville Drive, the Class-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, plays more than 70 home games every year at the 5,700-seat
Seventeen-time Tour de France rider George Hincapie trained on the area’s undulating and sometimes steeply climbing back roads. Everyday cyclists prefer the mellow, mixed-use, 10-mile
It’s not just the cocktail menu at
It doesn’t need to be a game night for the line at
Exactly 12 steps down from the intersection of Main and Coffee streets,
Carl Sobocinski opened his first restaurant, Soby’s New South Cuisine, in 1997 in Greenville. Last year, he opened his 10th. On the second floor of a new RiverPlace building,
In 1883, the original
The chandelier in the entryway should give away that
Jeans shopping will never be the same after you’ve been to
Consider yourself warned — Wendy Lyman, the owner and manager of the six-room
“You start with artists, and it transforms an area,” Lyman says. One of the earliest elements in the RiverPlace district was
A century ago, Greenville’s
Mishev is a writer based in Jackson, Wyo. Her website is dinamishev.com. Find her on Instagram: @dinamishev.