“Before my eyes, I’ve watched Greenville blossom from a mill town into a spectacular metropolis,” says The Scout Guide Greenville Editor Keaton. “It’s been rejuvenated. The city has been able to enliven its community by restoring and refreshing our downtown, all while maintaining its history and unique character.” While her city gets national attention for dining and shopping, Keaton is eager to share a few of her favorite hidden gems with visitors. Whether you’re coming for a Clemson event (go, Tigers!), one of the city’s food or arts festivals, or to take advantage of the beautiful outdoor spaces, this insider’s guide to Greenville is sure to enhance your stay.
Hidden Gems Worth Discovering: “When you come to Greenville, you simply cannot miss a visit to Falls Park (601 South Main Street), Greenville’s oasis situated right in downtown,” Keaton says. “The park is full of gardens, trails, art, and culture, and it is surrounded by some of Greenville’s best shopping and restaurants.”
The Village of West Greenville is an under-the-radar area of town where Keaton loves to spend her time. Also known as the Art District, The Village is packed with galleries and studios belonging to a fabulous set of local emerging and veteran artists. Visit Art & Light Gallery (16 Aiken Street) to view and shop the gorgeous work of noteworthy Greenville artist Dorothy Shain, among others—the gallery has a fantastic lineup of artists exhibiting in the bright, cheerful bungalow it calls home.
Greenville’s budding Brewery scene is the perfect alternative to a day spent in the park and galleries. Keaton recommends renting bikes at The Bike Shed at The Swamp Rabbit Inn (1 Logan Street) to take along Swamp Rabbit Trail. Along your ride, stop at Birds Fly South Ale Project (1320 Hampton Avenue Extended), Growler Haus (12 Lois Avenue), Swamp Rabbit Brewery and Taproom (26 South Main Street, Travelers Rest), and Upstate Craft Beer Co. (400 Augusta Street) to sample the local microbrews. “The ride back seems a little shorter after a few beers,” says Keaton.
Where to Eat: Before diving into Greenville’s well-respected foodie scene, get acquainted with a few of the secret places only the locals know about. Addys Dutch Café (17 East Coffee Street) is an authentic Dutch kitchen and bar owned by Addy himself, who develops unique recipes based on availability of local ingredients and influence from his international travels (Keaton is partial to Addy’s homemade soups). For the beer enthusiast, head to The Trappe Door (23 West Washington Street), an underground restaurant and bar offering authentic Belgian cuisine and the best selection of beers in Greenville. According to Keaton, their moules-frites are the stuff of local lore.
Reservations at Husk (722 South Main Street) for brunch, where Keaton recommends the cheeseburger, are a must. For lunch, Keaton recommends GB&D (1269 Pendleton Street). The name stands for “Golden Brown and Delicious,” and that is exactly how Keaton would describe many of their dishes, including the Southern specialty, chicken and waffles.
For pre-dinner cocktails, check out the rooftop restaurant and bar Up on the Roof (250 Riverplace), that offers craft beers, hand-crafted cocktails, artisan wines, and small plates paired with one of the best panoramic views Greenville has to offer. “On one end you can see the stunning silhouette of the Blue Ridge Mountains, while on the other end you can see Main Street, Falls Park, and the Reedy River,” says Keaton.
If you take Keaton’s advice and enjoy an afternoon excursion in Falls Park (see “Hidden Gems,” above), she recommends wandering up the steps for dinner at Jianna (600 South Main Street). This second-floor restaurant faces Falls Park and the lively streets of downtown Greenville. “If you’re lucky, on a nice night, you can sit on the terrace and people-watch while sipping a glass of wine and devouring one of their mouthwatering pasta dishes,” says Keaton.
According to Keaton, Halls Chophouse (550 S. Main Street) has the best steaks in town, and family-style sides like pepper jack creamed corn and the lobster macaroni and cheese (two of her personal favorites). She assures that the chop salad is just as good as the steak, and to top off the experience, there’s live music and complimentary charcuterie every night.
If you have a craving for a traditional Southern meal, Soby’s (207 South Main Street) is the place to go. “Soby’s without a doubt offers the best classic southern shrimp and grits in Greenville,” says Keaton. Other favorites for tourists and locals alike are the fried green tomatoes served with pimento cheese fondue and the famous crab cakes.
How to Shop Like a Local: Great retailers stretch all across Greenville. The areas of Downtown, the West End, and Augusta Road are all within five minutes of each other and offer a variety of women’s, men’s, children’s, gift, and specialty shopping. Here’s a list of Keaton’s favorite places for a little retail therapy: For gifts and an amazing selection of stationery and candles, check out Gage’s (2222 Augusta Street, Suite 3). Greenville is home to a long list of women’s clothing boutiques, including Keaton’s favorites, Monkee’s of the West End (103-A Augusta Street), Twill (2222 Augusta Street, Suite 7), J. Britt (203 North Main Street) and P Squared (100 East Stone Avenue, Suite C). For shoes, there’s Muse Shoe Studio (2222 Augusta Street, Suite 5) and Blossom Shoes and Such (644 North Main Street, Suite 2A).
Where to Stay: The Westin Poinsett (120 South Main Street) is rich in history, location, and hospitality, Keaton says. “This hotel is in the middle of the action,” she notes. “You can walk in any direction and find something to see, do, or eat!”
Hotel Domestique (10 Road of Vines, Travelers Rest) is a quieter option, located just 18 miles outside of the hustle and bustle of downtown. The hotel is positioned on a beautiful vineyard with views of the Blue Ridge Mountains that feels a bit like the Italian countryside.
Photography by Angela Zion. For additional recommendations for what to do, see, and experience in Greenville, South Carolina, browse or buy a copy of The Scout Guide Greenville and follow TSG Greenville on Instagram.