It seems like downtown Greenville gets all the media buzz these days—for good reason—but wander a little farther afield, and you’ll encounter the quiet charm and surprising attractions of the smaller cities of Greer, Simpsonville, and Fountain Inn.
Small Towns around Greenville
In European style, strings of white lights dangle above brick-paved Trade Street, the core of Greer Station.
Historic buildings along Trade, which date from Greer’s early twentieth-century textile heyday, now hold a bevy of shops and restaurants, soon to include the new Cartwright Food Hall. Along its blocks, you can purchase everything from local wine and craft beer at La Bouteille in the restored 1913 railroad depot to vintage finds at The Galleries of Brian Brigham.
At the top of Trade, on East Poinsett Street, search out a new outfit at Southern Sisters, then pair it with chic new kicks next door at Talloni. Dinner options include fresh pasta at L’Incanto, small plates and steaks at Strip Club 104, and a burger and brew at Blue Ridge Brewing Company. After dinner, take in a concert at The Spinning Jenny, which books bands like Chatham Rabbits and singer/songwriter Marc Broussard.
The historic heart of Simpsonville centers on the landmark brick Clock Tower on Main Street, which parallels the railroad tracks that put this city on the map. Lately, Simpsonville has been experiencing a renaissance, with new businesses pouring in and $14 million dedicated to enhancing the downtown. Adaptive re-use lives here, through projects such as the Warehouse at Vaughn’s, a former feed and seed turned food hall; and the 1899 Burdette Central building, which now holds Kaffeine Coffee Shop, Sidewall Pizza, and CocoBon Chocolatier, and will soon add a satellite of downtown’s Farm Fresh Fast. Just across Curtis Street, rifle through The Front Porch for a smart collection of antiques, architectural elements, and farmhouse furniture.
At happy hour, head around the corner to Contrast Distillery, where owner Christy Hall ranks as the first female head distiller in South Carolina.
Follow Main Street south from Simpsonville, and you’ll wind up five miles later in tiny Fountain Inn. You might not expect a town of 10,000 people to have its own performing arts center, but The Younts Center for Performing Arts slates a full season, from mainstream music revues to the best of Broadway. On Main Street, browse I Declare for that perfect Southern souvenir, and The Black Tulip for high-end women’s apparel. Just don’t leave without a stop at Gio’s Pastry Shop for authentic Italian-American cannoli, cream-filled sfogliatelle, and seven-layer rainbow cookies—just like your nonna used to make. For savory fare, you can’t beat the brisket at Bobby’s BBQ, where pitmaster Octavius “Tay” Nelson smokes some wicked-good meats with homemade sides to match. On April 23, all the fun will be at Commerce Park during the Mac Arnold Cornbread and Collard Greens Blues Festival.