Located at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Greenville, South Carolina is the charming Southern city you haven’t been to — yet. Some consider it to be the next Charleston or Asheville as far as tourism goes, the once-sleepy city has been awakened by an influx of jobs, an emerging culinary scene (hello, James Beard nominations), and a newly renovated downtown that continues to renovate. Located only 150 miles from Atlanta and a two-hour flight from New York, it’s worth the visit. Here’s your guide.
Where to Stay:
The Westin Poinsett in Greenville might look like a typical Westin from the outside, but the inside sports telltale signs of its landmark history as one of the oldest buildings in Greenville built in 1925 (it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982). Don’t forget to look up. If you’re traveling with more family or want something a bit cozier, the Embassy Suites Riverplace in Greenville features full suites (with living rooms and kitchens), made-to-order breakfast, and is ideally located close to downtown and the award-winning Falls Park on the Reedy. The best part? It boasts one of the coolest bars (on the rooftop!) called UP on The Roof, where you can enjoy a cocktail or two by a fire pit while looking out at great views of the city.
Where to Eat:
You can’t miss Husk. The restaurant — whose flagship is located in Charleston — is a true gem with the Executive Chef Jon Buck nominated (and a semi-finalist) for a James Beard Award for “Best Chef of the Southeast.” Make sure to order whatever take they have of the shrimp and grits (their menu changes, but they will pretty much always have this staple) and definitely get a round of oysters. If you can, have a drink at the bar first and take a look at the bar snacks — they’re a great opener for a great meal.
Foxcroft Wine Co. features a cute wine shop in the front, with a wine bar and restaurant in the back. Head in for a great, curated wine list, along with charcuterie and small plates. It’s adorable and delicious. (Make sure to leave some time to sip and savor.) Pomegranate on Main is a true standout — and one of my favorite restaurants in Greenville. The non-fussy Persian restaurant features some amazing dishes, most made with a pomegranate twist (obviously). Don’t miss the specials, and make sure to save room for dessert — their pomegranate ice cream is a scene-stealer.
Caviar & Bananas is a small local chain that features all organic menu items and cold-pressed juices if you’re looking for a healthy way to start your day. Jianna is a go-to for delicious Italian cuisine and a great vibe for lunch or dinner.
Larkin’s on the River is a steakhouse located right on the Reedy River that serves up an A+ burger. The Anchorage is a must when in Greenville — it was a James Beard semi-finalist in 2018 for “Best New Restaurant” and has some of the most inventive small plates you’ll ever try. They update their menu almost daily to provide fresh, local ingredients. (Hint: Go for the Tasting Table, which is a 5-course tasting menu based on the chef’s discretion.)
Stella’s Brasserie is further out from downtown, and the sister restaurant of Stella’s Bistro in Simpsonville. The service is truly some of the best, and it’s the perfect place for lunch and brunch with great, amazing light and a can’t-miss burger. If that’s not enough, more than 24 new restaurants are set to open in Greenville in 2019.
What to Do:
Greenville is renovating and expanding by the day, but it retains its small-town charm in many ways. The downtown is super walkable, with landmarks like Falls Park on the Reedy ready to be explored.
Head to the shops on Main Street, including Magnolia Candle, where you can sign up for a make-your-own-candle class. (Perfect for a girls’ trip or family bonding.) Poppington’s Popcorn will have you salivating on the way in, and the samples are there for the tasting. M. Judson Booksellers is a local bookshop located in a the old country courthouse downtown. Just below it, have one of the best massages of your life (I did) or any other spa treatment at River Falls Spa. Visit the galleries along the Reedy River and see Art in Action on Saturdays when many of the artists come out of their four walls and onto the sidewalks.
Heritage Green is the urban arts and cultural campus — home to the Upcountry History Museum, The Children’s Museum of the Upstate, and the Greenville County Museum of Art. Located in a former Coca-Cola bottling plant on Heritage Green, the just opened Carolina Music Museum is home to the world-famous Carolina Clavier Collection.