The city of Greenville is more than meets the eye.
move on past Savannah and Charleston. Greenville is the name of the new southern beauty who has arrived in town. She’s stunningly beautiful and exudes seductive charm like no one else, but don’t let her superficiality fool you; she’s got plenty of meat on her bones. A lot of people have been talking about this city in South Carolina, and for good reason.
GREENVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA
Greenville is a sophisticated lady who appreciates the arts. She is a huge fan of the performing arts, music, and art galleries. The Greenville County Museum of Art is a must-see for art enthusiasts, as it houses the largest public collection of Andrew Wyeth watercolors in the world, in addition to works by other masters such as Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Jacob Lawrence, Georgia O’Keeffe, and many more.
Greenville’s Arts in Public Places program extends beyond the museum’s walls. There are currently over seventy works of whimsy on display. As you lazily wander the city, you may come across some of these pleasant surprises.
Among the most well-known is “Untitled 2002-2003” by Joel Shapiro, a red steel sculpture also known as “Gumby” by locals. Pietro Tacca’s bronze wild boar, “Il Porcellino,” is also noteworthy.
A life-size copy of a statue originally erected in Florence, Italy, in the 17th century. Local legend has it that if you rub the boar’s nose, you’ll be transported back to Florence. If you drop a coin into its mouth and it lands in the fountain below, you’ll be lucky. And I did both! Keep an eye out for further developments.
ART IN GREENVILLE
Cities are also adorned with murals. The Canvas Tower, an eight-story office building, features a large one that is hard to miss. This photorealistic work, by acclaimed Australian visual artist and photographer Guido van Helten, covers the entire building’s exterior. The artist claims that this piece is about Greenville’s diversity and unity and that it was inspired by the city’s history of racial integration in the classroom.
Not to be outdone is the Sigal Music Museum. It’s not often that one stumbles upon a museum devoted to the preservation of rare and historically significant musical instruments from around the globe. From the late 1500s to 1845, there are dozens of pianos and harpsichords from England, Europe, and the United States.
Reportedly, a young Mozart played one of the harpsichords. In addition, the woodwind section is very strong. Visiting the museum is like taking a musical journey through time and space; visitors can even stop at listening stations to hear pieces played on some of the instruments on display.
Greenville has a thriving theater scene, with venues like the Greenville Theatre, Warehouse Theatre, and Peace Center Concert Hall presenting everything from Broadway tours to world premieres of cutting-edge new plays.
The city is also notable for its music scene. Go see a show at Blues Boulevard Jazz, Gottrocks, or Smiley’s Acoustic Café. Greenville is not a “roll up the sidewalks at sundown” kind of town, so feel free to dance until the wee hours of the night.
Greenville proudly displays her age and rich history. In order to get a feel for the area’s history, a visit to the Upcountry History Museum is in order. Extensive displays, murals, audio recordings, artifacts, and interactives tell the story of the Upcountry.
HISTORICAL SIDE OF GREENVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA
Those who lived on the Upcountry Frontier at its inception are the subject of one gallery. In another, the polarized political, economic, and social views of South Carolinians are explored.
Film of Upcountry settler Mary Logan expressing her opinions on various topics while sitting on the front porch of her 1790s rural home serves as the film’s focal point.
Walking through Greenville in the middle of the 1850s is recreated in a separate gallery with character figures and computer presentations to complement the buildings’ facades. There are also exhibits that look at the region after World War II, such as the Civil Rights movement, as well as topics such as reconstruction in the years following the Civil War, the New South textile economy, and the contributions of the Upcountry’s military bases.
The “Shoeless” Joe Jackson Museum is a must-see for any baseball fan. Joe was born in Greenville, and he became notorious for his possible involvement in the 1919 “Black Sox” World Series fixing scandal.
The museum is located in the home where Joe Jackson lived and died (from a heart attack at the age of 63). He started his career with the minor league Greenville Spinners and finished with the third-best career batting average in major league history (.356). Joe is widely regarded as the game’s best natural hitter, according to many of its all-time greats and chroniclers.
You’ll learn that the origin of his nickname, “Shoeless Joe,” dates back to a single game in June of 1908. Joe took off his brand new cleats because they were giving him blisters. The next pitch, he hit a home run so big that an opposing fan yelled, “You shoeless son-of-a-gun!” Joe never again participated in a game without shoes, but the nickname would follow him forever.
The museum may be small, but it is packed to the gills with artifacts, books, and documents commemorating Joe’s life and work. Its goal is to teach the public about the real man behind the legends and debunk as many of those as possible about his life and work as possible.
The Greenville Drive, a Class A farm team for the Boston Red Sox, play their home games at Fluor Field, which is directly across the street from the museum. As visitors enter the park, they are greeted by a statue of Joe.
If you’re familiar with Boston’s Fenway Park, you might get a sense of déjà vu. That’s because, like Fenway, Fluor is a miniature version.
Greenville is home to seven distinct historic districts filled with gorgeous architecture, some of which dates back to the 1800s. The Wilkins House and the J.M. Geer House are just two that can be found on the National Historic Registry.
The Kilgore-Lewis House (built around 1838) is likely the oldest house still standing in the city. This beautiful Upcountry home was built in the Classic Revival style and features beautiful landscaping.
Greenville is the adventurous sort. Their “living room,” Falls Park on the Reedy, has received national acclaim and is her magnum opus for the city.
Previously, a forgotten forty-foot-tall waterfall and overgrown river valley occupied the park’s central location; however, they have since been transformed into a beautiful urban oasis. It’s famous for its breathtaking bridge that provides unrivaled access to the breathtaking Reedy River Falls.
A single suspension cable supports the Liberty Bridge’s 345-foot curve. It is the only bridge of its kind in the country.
Long paths wind through the park’s landscaped areas and wooded valleys, linking the city to the river. The paths are popular among both residents and visitors, and they feature benches for rest stops.
The Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail is a well-liked paved trail that was formerly a railroad and spans 22 miles. It connects the city of Greenville with the neighborhoods of Falls Park and Furman University via the nearby town of Travelers Rest.
The trail is used by joggers, walkers, cyclists, and even skateboarders as a means of transportation and for recreation.
Foodies abound in Greenville, and the city’s reputation as a culinary hotspot has spread far and wide. Downtown boasts more than 110 eateries, each offering a unique take on international cuisine.
The city’s cultural diversity enriches the food scene. From the Asian to the Middle Eastern, the Indian to the Greek, the Caribbean to the French, and everything in between. Plus, there are the regional specialties of the South.
Enjoy a unique take on Southern cuisine at Sassafras. Dishes like the Seafood Trio (scallops, shrimp, and blackened or grilled Catfish) and the proverbial Fried Green Tomatoes and Pimento Cheese are just a few of the mouthwatering options on the menu.
The hospitality of the staff here is second to none. Keep some room for the Deep Dish Peanut Butter Pie or the Key Lime Pie.
While taking in the picturesque riverside setting, indulge your taste buds with a falafel bowl, homemade pasta, paella, or rustic Italian flatbreads at the Lazy Goat, a Mediterranean restaurant. Then, for dessert, try the Winter Citrus Loukoumades, which taste like doughnut holes dipped in lemon glaze and served with berries in the Greek tradition.
Old Europe Coffee and Desserts is a great place to grab breakfast or a snack in the middle of the day. European-style pastries and freshly roasted coffee are the hallmarks of this quaint café. Looking at all of the freshly made treats made me feel like a kid in a candy store.
Coconut crème cake, tiramisu, hazelnut Napoleons, Lemon Bavarois, and macarons — they all beckoned to me. Since it was still early, I limited myself to a vegetarian quiche slice, scone, and cruffin for breakfast.
I learned that the latter is actually a muffin baked from croissant dough. Everything tasted great.
The citizens of Greenville love to shop. This trendy metropolis has everything you could want, from the hottest fashions to one-of-a-kind accessories and even handmade goods.
If for no other reason than to browse the aisles of merchandise, visitors should make a pit stop at Mast General Store. This store sells everything from outdoor equipment and South Carolina trinkets to children’s toys and home improvement supplies.
There are more than 500 varieties of retro candies stored in penny barrels on the creaky wooden floors. For me, it was like taking a trip down memory lane.
The bookworms will love M. Judson Booksellers and Storytellers. This locally owned bookstore is the center of literary activity in the neighborhood. Books, cookbooks, new releases, children’s books, and unique South Carolina souvenirs are the store’s specialties. It is housed in Greenville’s historic courthouse.
If you work up an appetite while perusing the shelves, stop by Camilla’s Kitchen, located right here in the shop for a selection of tasty beverages and snacks. Sample the Pipi Longstocking, a latte with orange, vanilla, and white chocolate that tastes like a Creamsicle, and pair it with a sea salt chocolate chip cookie.
Be sure to include Poppington’s Popcorn in your plans. Rose and Bob Augustyn, the shop’s owners, offer customers a choice of more than seventy-five popcorn flavors. If you’re looking for something new and exciting, step outside of your comfort zone and give the Bloody Mary, Spicy Dill Pickle, or Asian Spice a shot.
Greenville’s Southern hospitality is on full display for her many visitors. The natives here are very welcoming and helpful. And the city’s central district is completely walkable, so tourists can get around with ease.
As a result, you won’t need a car to visit many of the area’s many restaurants, museums, and other sights. Awesome method to increase your step count every day!
WHERE TO STAY IN GREENVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA
Greenville, South Carolina has a wide variety of hotels to choose from, so you can find one that fits your needs and your budget. If you want to be close to all the action, like I did, then the Hyatt Place Greenville Downtown is a great choice.
The hotel is conveniently located just off Main Street, the city’s primary hub, and close to Falls Park on the Reedy, where guests can easily begin their day with a stroll through the park’s beautiful grounds.
There is a fitness center, a pool, and a bar on-site, and the rooms are large and comfortable. You’re welcome to bring Fido along, as they welcome pets too.