The secret’s out: Greenville, South Carolina, is the place to be. Whether you’re a new resident or simply getting a taste of Greenville’s many attractions for a weekend, the city’s signature blend of Southern hospitality and cosmopolitan cool is bound to wow you. After all, there’s good reason that Greenville appeared on 43 “Best of” lists in 2019 alone.
Located roughly midway between Charlotte, North Carolina, and Atlanta, Georgia, Greenville nestles in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where it is blessed with a mild climate and an average of 220 sunny days a year.
Some 230 international companies from 27 countries have a major presence in the Greenville area, including automaker BMW and tire manufacturer Michelin, both located just off Interstate 85. Providing skilled employees for many of these companies are graduates from some of the South’s most acclaimed colleges and universities, including the University of South Carolina Upstate, Furman University, Wofford College and Clemson University, to name just a few.
The strongest pulse in this former textile town beats downtown along the 12 revitalized blocks of Main Street Greenville, decked out with leafy maple and oak trees and airy plazas. By day, folks come here to peruse one-of-a-kind shops, chat with artists working in their studios at Art Crossing along the riverfront, and stroll the shady paths of Falls Park. Here, the Reedy River forms a rushing waterfall as it tumbles over the rocks beneath Main Street.
You can get an unobstructed view of the falls from the cantilevered deck of the show-stopping Liberty Bridge, a 345-foot-long pedestrian suspension bridge, supported by two 90-foot-tall steel masts. The landscaped greensward makes a perfect place to walk, run or take a bike ride along the 22-mile Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail, which cuts through the park.
By night, twinkling white lights illuminate Main Street while the stars come out in Broadway shows at the Peace Center, and in a constellation of other local theaters such as Centre Stage, Greenville Theatre and Warehouse Theatre. For its size, the city offers an impressive arts scene, ranging from the Greenville County Museum of Art, famed for its collection of paintings by Andrew Wyeth, to the Greenville Center for Creative Arts in the Village of West Greenville, which shines a spotlight on local artists. Heritage Green presides as downtown’s cultural campus, home to the Greenville County Museum of Art, Children’s Museum of the Upstate, Sigal Music Museum, Upcountry History Museum, Greenville Theatre and the Hughes Public Library.
Anchoring the south end of Main Street, Fluor Field lays out a scale replica of Boston’s Fenway Park, where the Greenville Drive, the Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, play. Beyond baseball, you can root for the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, an ECHL affiliate hockey team, and the Greenville Triumph, a USL League One soccer team. If you prefer to get in on the action yourself, a selection of state parks — including Paris Mountain, Caesars Head, Croft and Jones Gap — offer plenty of recreational opportunities within an easy hour’s drive of downtown.
Speaking of driving, don’t miss the BMW Zentrum, where you can explore the past, present and future of the “ultimate driving machine.” Or drive one yourself — fast! — at the BMW Performance Center.
When all that activity whets your appetite, Greenville serves up a vibrant food and beverage menu. Start your summer Saturday mornings downtown at the acclaimed TD Saturday Market, a smorgasbord of products fresh from local fields and waters. When it comes to restaurants, Greenville sets out diverse offerings from traditional Southern meat-and-three spots to upscale restaurants showcasing farm-to-fork fare. Four James Beard Award nominees number among the city’s many excellent chefs, so expect great things when you come to the table. On the craft brew side, the city claims more than a dozen breweries, a number of which are downtown.
It’s not just one thing that makes Greenville extraordinary. It’s the combination of climate and geography, arts and cultural offerings, international business and institutions of higher learning, and the diverse array of independently owned restaurants and breweries — topped with a generous dollop of Southern charm — that sets this city apart.