25 things we love about Greenville

The place we call home — and many of the things that we love about it most.

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Photo by Will Crooks

$10M Fluor Field facelift to include new signs, other enhancements

GB&D now open every Sunday for brunch

Proposed new trolley routes cover Cleveland Park, Village of West Greenville

Critically endangered monkey born at the Greenville Zoo

Greenville’s been getting a lot of attention lately. Hardly a week goes by when some media outlet or another doesn’t have some right swell thing to say about our beloved Upstate town. While we’re pleased GreenVegas is getting some national attention as a must-see tourist destination, it’s still the place we call home — and many of the things that we most love about it, well, the tourists will never know about. That’s not to say we don’t love all the good stuff the national mags and papers highlight. We do. In fact, some of them made our list of our favorite things. So without further ado: Enjoy.

P.S. Yes, we love the Mice on Main and Falls Park too. Those go without saying.

 

Mini-Golf at McPherson Park

Everybody’s all a-tingle over Greenville’s new park west of downtown, whenever that’s going to happen. But while Greenville’s oldest park (circa 1884) may be a little frayed around the edges, it retains a certain raffish charm for those who aren’t too fussy about their recreation. And it’s the only place we know where you can play miniature golf for free — as long as you bring your own clubs and balls, which you can get for just a few bucks at your nearest thrift store, less than it would cost to even walk onto one of your fancier suburban courses. Yes, the course could use some cleaning up, but on the right day, with the right companions, 18 holes in the heart of downtown is all you need. —Jerry Salley

 

Lemonade at Northgate Soda Shop

The fresh-squeezed lemonade at North Main’s Northgate Soda Shop is like summer in a cup. And it’s refreshing whether it’s 45 degrees outside or pushing 100. It’s especially fun to watch it being made; the lemons are fresh-sliced and squeezed, and then two (or more) pumps of simple syrup topped off with water. We don’t think about the sugar content — just how happy we are when we’re slurping it down. Ariel Turner

 

Quarters for Conservation

At the Greenville Zoo, you can stand face-to-face with an African lion, watch red pandas crawl across the treetops, and listen to monkeys howl. But you can also make a real difference for endangered species. In 2011, the zoo started its Quarters for Conservation program. With each visit to the zoo, visitors receive a “quarter” token with their admission fee. That token can be used to vote for a specific wildlife project at a kiosk just beyond the admissions booth. Projects have included the International Elephant Foundation, Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project, and more. —Andrew Moore

 

Kroc Tennis Center’s Patty Lauritzen

Patty Lauritzen, the Kroc Tennis Pro Shop coordinator, is a rare find: She’s an ever-grinning face that welcomes one and all by name to downtown’s only tennis club. Patty has played tennis for 15 years, but never gave a thought to working at a tennis club until 2011 when a friend and tennis coach told her to apply for a job at the Kroc Center. “He said I’d be perfect for the job,” she recalls. He was right. If those leaving the tennis pro shop feel especially buoyant on a particular afternoon, it’s likely because they had a brief chat with Patty and she noted that their backhand was looking sharp. Melinda Young

 

Café and Then Some

Bill and Susan Smith and the rest of the Café and Then Some crew are nonpartisan — in their comedy skits, at least. They’ve been making fun of current events and politicians of both parties since 1978 with their uproarious, original musical comedies. And Greenville has laughed along with them ever since. Cindy Landrum

 

Wilson’s Five and Dime

Technically, the name is Wilson’s 5 cents–$1 Store, but you’re not going to find many Greenvillians who know it as anything other than Wilson’s Five and Dime. The store, perched atop what remains of Laurens Road’s retail epicenter, resists all attempts to simply categorize its inventory — but it remains a kitsch lover’s Valhalla. You’ll always find arts and crafts stuff, and flags and lawn ornaments of all kinds, but the tightly packed shelves are so crammed full of random, cheap housewares, toys, and novelties that you may find yourself at the checkout an hour after entering (and jostling with the crowd down several narrow aisles) with a basket full of stuff you had no idea you needed until you saw it. —Jerry Salley

 

Rainer’s Café

Flat-screen TVs and Wi-Fi access are as much a part of the entertainment as food and conversation at most 21st-century restaurants and cafés. So it’s a pleasant surprise to walk into Rainer’s Café and see signs prohibiting any and all electronic devices. The mission is the quiet murmurs of lunchtime talk. That alone might make the visit worthwhile, but then there also is the Red and Blue Salad, almost as lovely as the designs on the handcrafted pottery plates themselves. And there is $3 dessert Thursday or the chicken pesto sandwich on sourdough bread to entice one to walk into 610-A S. Main St. Melinda Young

 

Hiking at Paris Mountain

Greenville is an outdoor lover’s dream, and in addition to nearby Jones Gap, Table Rock, and Caesars Head, we’re lucky to have Paris Mountain State Park in our backyard. The park offers trails that range from easy to moderate. Taking a few hours to visit Paris Mountain provides a rejuvenating escape from the daily grind, whether you go by yourself or bring along family, friends, or your dog. —Emily Pietras

 

Milkshakes at Pickwick

The Pickwick Pharmacy and Soda Fountain is like stepping back into the past when almost every Southern town had a soda fountain that gave its residents a break from the heat via frosty treats. While you’re sitting on one of the swivel stools at the counter or at one of the tables, it’s likely you’ll see somebody you know, especially on a nice spring Saturday as the Pickwick is a Greenville gathering spot. Grab a hot dog for lunch. And be sure to get a milkshake. You can’t go wrong with chocolate. Cindy Landrum

 

The Lights at ONE City Plaza

The patio lights strung between the buildings bordering Laurens Street from East North to Washington streets give us all the feels. It’s almost as if we’re starring in our own rom-com when we exit the Richardson Street Garage and traipse down to Caviar and Bananas after dusk under the twinkling canopy. Cue sweeping strings and predictable meet-cutes. Ariel Turner

 

The Candy Selection at Mast General

It’s hard not to feel nostalgic when you see the candy selection at Mast General Store. With barrels filled with both old-fashioned and contemporary favorites, people of all ages can easily conjure up memories from childhood, when walking into a candy store could be the highlight of a day. From candy bars to taffy and hard candy to gummies, there’s something for everyone. —Emily Pietras

 

Greenville’s Trolley

On a recent warm winter evening, three Spartanburg dads and their children – big on grins and wide eyes – hopped aboard the Greenville trolley to take a ride up North Main Street to Earle Street and back downtown. The men had never taken the trolley ride before, and their kids had never even heard of a trolley. The trolley’s brightly colored exterior and friendly driver welcomed the visitors to a charming experience. For most trolley riders, looking out the big windows at Greenville’s shops and crowded sidewalks, it’s all about a journey — slow enough for conversation — and not the destination.Melinda Young

 

Coffee, Coffee, and More Coffee

The influx of local coffee shops has been a welcomed addition in town. In the heart of downtown, Coffee Underground remains a staple with its cozy atmosphere, and a visit to Methodical Coffee offers an experience in itself, with a curated aesthetic interior and record player always spinning. Tucked away in the Village of West Greenville, Village Grind’s bright environment and eclectic decor is immediately welcoming. (Tip: Order the lavender mocha.) Due South Coffee was an early newcomer toward the revitalization of Taylors Mill, and the shop’s open, rustic-industrial vibe pays homage to the location’s roots. And we’d be remiss not to mention Liquid Highway, one of the early independent coffee shops in the city. —Emily Pietras

 

Putting an Egg on It at GB&D

You’ve probably noticed — fried eggs on non-breakfast dishes are a thing right now. Most restaurants offer them as add-ons on a burger or possibly a salad. Enter Golden Brown & Delicious (GB&D) in the Village of West Greenville where we can get a fried egg on any menu item we want. Fried egg on pork belly mac ’n’ cheese? Go right ahead. Runny yolk on your chicken ’n’ waffles? You won’t catch any side-eye. Ariel Turner

 

Sunrise at Pretty Place

We know of no other place more aptly nicknamed as Pretty Place at Camp Greenville, and there’s no better time to be there than at sunrise. The nearly hour-long drive in the pre-dawn darkness is worth every minute of lost sleep once the twilight starts revealing the beauty of the foothills and first ridges of the Blue Ridge Mountains. One tip: Check to make sure the open-air chapel will be open before you go. Cindy Landrum

 

M. Judson

While the rise of e-readers has spurred discussion of the “death of print” for years, it’s comforting to know there still remains a demand for the local independent bookstore. Located on the first floor of the old courthouse on South Main Street, M. Judson Booksellers has been a hit for both locals and tourists. The store rotates a diverse series of staff-recommended reads, and the young adult and children’s sections are top-notch. The place-based Southern selections, many of which are focused on food and bev, add to the store’s charm, as does the addition of Chocolate Moose Bakery & Café. —Emily Pietras

 

Baseball games at Fluor Field

Sure, binge-watching another season of your favorite Netflix show might seem like a good idea on a Friday night. But it can’t possibly beat watching the Greenville Drive hit homeruns over the Green Monster at Fluor Field. Between the endless selection of ballpark foods, the double plays, and the shenanigans of Reedy Rip’It, there’s enough entertainment to go around for everyone. —Andrew Moore

 

Springwood Cemetery

Greenville has several notable history destinations, but few match Springwood Cemetery. In this sprawling green lawn with its 11,000-plus monuments, one can read tweet-like autobiographies. For example, there is Elizabeth Earle, wife of William S. Grady, who died at age 29. According to her stone, Elizabeth was “blessed” and “pure of heart.” From its first burial in 1812 to gravestones from the 21st century, the cemetery’s tombstones list these common local last names: 52 Earles, 22 Whites, 19 Woodsides, 14 Peaces, and 12 Parkinses. Also, there are 135 graves for infants, who died before they were named, and countless markers for women who died in childbirth and men who died in wars. Melinda Young

 

Biking the Swamp Rabbit Trail

A trip down the Swamp Rabbit Trail can be exhausting, but there’s a lot to see. The nearly 18-mile walking and bicycling trail traverses along the Reedy River and through downtown Greenville. But along the way, you can stop at the Swamp Rabbit Café and Grocery for a Green Hulk smoothie, picnic in Falls Park, and visit Reedy River Farms, where owner George Dubose can teach you the ins and outs of urban farming. —Andrew Moore

 

WPCI 1490 A.M.

Do you remember the thrill of discovering your friend’s cool record collection? (For that matter, do you remember record collections?) That’s what it feels like to stumble across WPCI, aka “Radio Randy,” 1490 on your AM dial. (Remember AM radio?) Essentially the record collection of owner/operator Randy Mathena, stored on a hard drive and set on shuffle, you’ll hear classic R&B, blues, reggae, country, rock, and folk. No playlist, no format, no Top 40. And the music is pretty much all you’ll hear — the station airs no ads or even song IDs (so keep your Shazam app handy), and the bare minimum station IDs needed to keep it all legal with the FCC. Mathena, owner and president of Paper Cutters International (the “PCI” in WPCI), isn’t doing this for the money, so take advantage of his musical generosity and hear some tunes you’ve never heard before through an old-school, near-obsolete medium you may not be able to hear for long. —Jerry Salley

 

Shopping for local produce at the TD Saturday Market

Through the years, the TD Saturday Market has become a must-do on the weekends and a mecca for shoppers seeking locally grown produce and fresh snacks. That includes baby greens from Greenbrier Farms, honey from May Farms, and the Truffle Brownie Granola from MoCa KaBranola. With a wide selection of vendors, the market is sure to fill shopping bags. —Andrew Moore

 

Lake Conestee Nature Park

When we need to slow down, we often find ourselves at Lake Conestee Nature Park. It’s only 6 miles from downtown Greenville, but once you get out in the park’s hardwood and evergreen forests or on one of its boardwalks, it seems like you’re a world away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Bonus: You can spend hours watching hawks, herons, and hooded mergansers. Cindy Landrum

 

The Love Muffin and Chicken Salad at Brick Street

Brick Street Café’s chicken salad and Love Muffin go together like peanut butter and jelly. The crunch of walnuts and the zing of fresh onions and creamy cheddar cheese make Miss Sue’s chicken salad some of the best around. And the Love Muffin — it’s a fresh-baked, palm-sized muffin with a cream cheese and raspberry jam center. Need we say more? Ariel Turner

 

Local Legends at Alchemy Comedy Theatre

Full disclosure: I have been a Local Legend. I have stood up before a crowd in the back room at Coffee Underground and told five stories from my personal and professional life. The stories may have once only seemed funny to me, but then I sat down and the performers from Alchemy took over. The stories became the inspiration for a number of rapid-fire improvised comedy bits, and suddenly the whole room was laughing. The Local Legends series features a new storyteller each week — and if the stories don’t seem “legendary” at first, just give the Alchemists a few minutes to turn personal history into shared comedy. Jerry Salley

 

Aloft’s fourth floor

There is something a little serendipitous for dog lovers about stumbling across Aloft Greenville Downtown’s fourth floor. Sure, there are plenty of clues on the ground floor, including paintings of dogs and the doggie bobbleheads. But it’s not until you take the elevator to the fourth floor and meet the cream-colored Dabo or an equally perky canine hotel guest that you fully realize the unexpected pleasures of a hotel that equally celebrates dogs and people. Retro arcade games and billiards complement the bar and snack café. A mini-version of the white picket fence home next to guest services showcases adoptable and adorable strays. They’re offered through Let ’em Live Upstate for $200, and the adoption includes plenty of snacks from the holistic pet food company Solid Gold. Since taking in the first foster dog in the summer of 2016, the hotel has seen more than two dozen adoptions. But adopting the dog isn’t the point for most guests. As Aloft’s sign advises, “Keep Calm and Pet the Dog.” Melinda Young

What Do You Think?

One thought on “25 things we love about Greenville”

  1. This is a great piece on some of the jewels of our city. I plan to check out every listing. I listened to that am station WPCI on TuneIn.com as I drove to Arizona and back last week. That station is very fortunate to be housed in The Greatest City with The Friendliest People in the country.

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