One of the advantages to living in the Carolinas is having so many great spots to explore on a quick weekend road trip. If Greenville, South Carolina, isn’t already on your “to go” list, you should definitely add it. Consistently earning those this-city-is-all-that-and-more accolades from Conde Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, National Geographic Traveler and other notable publications, Greenville boasts a thriving restaurant scene, pedestrian and bike-friendly environs and plenty of options for art lovers and shopaholics. At least once a year, my friends and I head out of town for a girls-only getaway. Our most recent trip was to Greenville.
We stayed at the Greenville Marriott, just outside the downtown area. We didn’t spend a lot of time in our rooms, but it was perfectly situated for all our local excursions. The rooms were spacious and comfortable. The in-room coffee service was handy for a quick caffeine fix before we headed out for the day.
We packed a lot into 48 hours, and here are some of the highlights.
Without fail, when we choose our road trip destination, the absolute first thing we do is decide what restaurants we want to hit when we get there. No lie — we work the rest of our trip around our restaurant reservations, and we’re not at all embarrassed about that. If you’re a foodie, too, Greenville has you covered. People Magazine recently named it one of the “10 Hottest Foodie Cities in America” and trust me, it’s well deserved.
Our first night we dined at The Lazy Goat, part of the successful Table 30 Restaurant Group (read about it here!) Their Mediterranean-style menu includes meat and cheese plates, small plates to share and phenomenal main dishes. We loved the restaurant’s casual vibe and the spacious dining area that overlooked the Reedy River. There was a lot of variety, and they were very accommodating to alter dishes to suit vegetarians or vegans. I ordered the crispy Brussels sprouts without the ham, the fried goat cheese and shared the tomato mozzarella pizza. Others ordered the mussels, lamb lollipops and the flank steak — we were all pleased with our choices.
Another Table 301 favorite for us was Soby’s New South Cuisine. Using locally-grown and seasonal ingredients, the food here is an innovative spin on southern staples. We shared the spicy pimiento cheese, as well as the fried green tomatoes served with pimiento cheese fondue (highly recommended). I enjoyed the plate of southern vegetables with laurel scented risotto, heirloom bean salad, wilted kale, Brussels sprouts, roasted asparagus, carrots. Others at our table sampled the crab cakes and the filet mignon. Soby’s also boasts a generous wine selection, offering thousands of bottles from around the world. They’ve earned Wine Spectator’s “Best of Award of Excellence” since 2003. Refreshingly unique cocktails like Lord have mercy lemonade and the strawberry jalapeno margarita are also worth a try.
Although we have a Tupelo Honey nearby at home, we won’t pass up a chance to eat there no matter where we are. Their menus change seasonally and by location, so it’s easy to find something new and tasty. My “go to” is always their black bean burger because I love it so much. I opted for something different and went for the avocado toast points and the salt-roasted beet salad. Great choice!
Before heading out of town, we grabbed breakfast at Sully’s Steamers for brunch. Here you can get pretty much everything you can think of on a fresh made bagel. The real magic, though, is when they steam it. I ordered the California steamin’ sandwich — so good! You can dine in here, but seating is limited and this place is crazy popular, so plan accordingly.
In between meals, we tooled around town, perusing shops and exploring Falls Park on the Reedy. The park’s 200-foot-wide waterfall once powered mills in the mid-1800s. Today it’s a peaceful backdrop for an urban hike or a picnic.
One of my favorite spots was Vintage Now Modern, located on the West End of downtown. I could have stayed there all day. They offer a good selection of furniture and home décor — everything from vintage farmhouse style to mid-century modern. I was in my element here among the old typewriters, cameras, books, paintings, prints, scarves and jewelry.
Mast General Store is another place I’ll visit in any town I find it. Located in the building that was once the local Meyers-Arnold store, Mast has that 1920s emporium feel and sells everything from camping gear and clothing to home decor and old-fashioned candy for days.
You’ll also want to spend some time in the Artists Guild Gallery of Greenville, located on Main Street. There’s an eclectic selection within this 2,000-square-foot gallery, which showcases the works of over 20 local artists.
Also on Main Street, the Dark Corner Distillery, a craft micro distillery, was a fun stop, too.
We sampled six spirits and learned the history of their products as the server explained their distinct flavor profiles. They produce moonshine, aged whiskey, gin, absinthe and other distilled spirits. You can also purchase t-shirts, various flavors of moonshine jelly and even a two-liter barrel to age your own whiskey.
From brewery tours and wine tastings to art exhibitions and concerts, there’s more than enough to explore during your weekend getaway in Greenville. If you’re like me, you’ll more than likely decide that one weekend here simply isn’t enough. Ready for a weekend road trip? Check out these drive tips before you go!
(Photos: Kristy Tolley)
(Go Magazine Nov/Dec 2018)