An Insider's Guide to Greenville, South Carolina

Having recently secured spots on a number of “best of” lists, Greenville, South Carolina, is enjoying a much-deserved moment. Coinciding with the city’s time in the spotlight, last week we launched the first volume of The Scout Guide Greenville, and recently, we sat down for a chat with Editor Paula Lipsey about what to do and see while visiting to her hometown.

WHY TO VISIT: “Our downtown has been completely transformed. Back in the 1980s, they decided to completely redo the downtown and model the new version after a city in Italy. Our streets are tree-lined, downtown is so quaint, and a river runs through it. Right downtown we have a waterfall and a suspension bridge (everyone loves the Liberty Bridge) that lets you walk over the falls, which are beautiful. Also, we are one of the most hospitable cities ever, and we really want you to love our city as much as we do.”

WHEN TO VISIT: “Fall is a wonderful time to visit Greenville. We have a lot of festivals, one of which is Euphoria, a food, wine, and music festival that takes place in September. They have jazz brunches, themed chef’s dinners…it’s an entire week of amazing events downtown. In October, we shut down the entire downtown for Fall for Greenville, another event that celebrates food, music, and wine. Greenville’s beautiful in the fall, and the weather is amazing, thanks to our location close to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.”

WHERE TO STAY: “There is a boutique hotel that’s about 30 minutes from downtown that’s definitely worth staying 30 minutes from downtown called Hotel Domestique. It’s up in the Blue Ridge Mountains in a place called Traveler’s Rest, which is part of Greenville County, and owned by cyclist George Hincapie. Biking is a very popular activity in Greenville, and people will stay in Hotel Domestique and rent bikes and ride to downtown Greenville via the Swamp Rabbit Trail. It’s really fun; there are cool breweries and restaurants the whole way.” Protip: Book fairly well in advance for a high season stay, because Hotel Domestique has a limited number of rooms.

WHERE TO HAVE AN ADVENTURE: “In addition to biking the Swamp Rabbit Trail, Greenville’s Lake Jocassee, which has amazing waterfalls, and Lake Keowee are perfect for a day of outdoor action. Grabbing some paddleboards and going out to the lake is so much fun. Also, Greenville is home to BMW North America and the BMW Driving Course, where you can pick which car you’d like to take for a spin and test-drive it around the course. People travel here from all over to do that.”

WHERE TO GO ON AN AFTERNOON SHOPPING SPREE: “The West End and Augusta Road are great places to shop. For being a small town, we have some amazing boutiques, and you can get some great brands in Greenville.”

WHERE TO GET A HOSTESS GIFT: “Paisley and Paper is wonderful, they have a lot of cute gifts (and beautiful paper items, obviously). We also have a place called Northampton Wines that’s incredible. You can get a great bottle of wine and anything you would need for a cheese plate there.”

WHERE TO GET A CUP OF COFFEE:Methodical Coffee, which is right downtown. It is delicious. They have a great grapefruit vanilla coffee cocktail.” Image by Shannon Mercado

WHERE TO GO FOR BRUNCH: “I would say The Green Room is my favorite brunch. Everything is fabulous there. Their French toast is really good, and they probably have the best Bellinis in town.”

WHERE TO GO FOR LUNCH: “Passerelle, which is right on the bridge. They have a crepe cart that is amazing.”

WHERE TO GO FOR DINNER: “Soby’s on Main Street. They open their French doors, so you can dine at high top tables that are practically on the sidewalk. The shrimp and grits and fried chicken are delicious.”

WHERE TO CELEBRATE A SPECIAL OCCASION: “We have a place called Sip that’s a rooftop wine bar where you can see the whole downtown. It’s where we go to toast an accomplishment of some sort.”

WHERE TO GO FOR DRINKS: “In addition to Sip, we really love Breakwater. It’s kind of the neighborhood downtown bar, and everybody’s really friendly. You’re going to see a familiar face if you’re a local, and if you’re visiting, someone’s going to talk to you.”

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