Visiting South Carolina for the first time, you would probably think we would visit somewhere like Charleston, Myrtle Beach or Hilton Head. We opted against visiting any of these, primarily because they were not on the predetermined route we had put together but also because of our desire to explore the hidden gems that lay beneath the surface of downtown Greenville, South Carolina. Rated by Forbes magazine as offering one of the best downtown areas in USA, Greenville has rapidly expanded into a thriving community despite suffering from many years of neglect in past decades.
So you may be wondering what makes Greenville such an inspiring and inviting community to explore? Much of the recent expansion may be attributed to the addition of a BMW plant a mere 30 miles north of the city, but the aesthetic improvements made in downtown Greenville are a credit to the local community.
Let’s take a look at some of the finest reasons why this city in South Carolina has been voted one of the best metropolis areas to walk around.
Falls Park on the Reedy
Greenville offers a perfect blend of urban development with rural solitude due to it’s location on the Reedy River. Falls Park on the Reedy features a gorgeous collection of waterfalls that pass through the town and provide the perfect setting for private seclusion away from the hustle and bustle of urban life.
Whether you want to wander around the beautifully landscaped gardens or take a stroll across the Liberty Suspension Bridge that crosses directly above the Falls, this is certainly a highlight of Greenville worth exploring.
We actually started out experience in Greenville exploring Falls Park on the Reedy and I would encourage you to do the same, or at least ensure you have enough time to visit here given the natural beauty that is present throughout this part of the downtown area.
I think the pictures really do this part of Greenville much more justice that words ever will. Take a look and perhaps you will already be convinced why Forbes rated downtown Greenville so highly!
Standing on the Liberty Bridge overlooking the rapids passing down the Reedy River is an exhilarating experience, especially when you consider the suspension bridge is situated directly above the river where the falls at at their most active.
If you look downstream from the bridge, you can see a number of walkways and trails that meander along the banks of the river and provide extra solitude for visitors who want to explore rural Greenville or for locals who want to spend their lunch relaxing by the river.
After crossing the Liberty Bridge and heading away from the river, we immediately felt the urban attraction of Greenville with the plethora of historic buildings that have seen renovation over recent years yet maintaining the archaic look and feel. Much of the community here in downtown Greenville is made up of restaurants, government buildings and every day stores but spotted along this landscape are some of the hidden gems I referred to earlier.
Take the Old Record Building that once stood in the heart of downtown Greenville until it’s demolition in 1924. Today we are left with a marker to reminisce on the former location and stand beside the statue of Vardry McBee, also known as the ‘Father of Greenville’.
Named after the courthouse that stands proudly in the heart of the downtown area, Court Square is quintessentially reflective of Greenville’s present day movement in becoming one of USA’s best downtown locations. With a number of statues infamous to Greenville’s history situated in this vicinity, the stereotypical public square is not only the hub leading to the steps of the courthouse, rather it offers a perfect spot to plan the rest of your walking tour around the city.
We walked around the square before entering the tourist information office to grab a map and flyers providing information on popular restaurants and bars in the Greenville neighborhood. The statue of Joel Poinsett situated in Court Square is a tribute to the man who once stood in this square in 1851 and gave an inspiring speech to onlookers.
Do you know what Joel Poinsett is most famous for? The poinsettia! That’s right, during his time in Mexico, he visited Taxco del Alarcon and found the beloved poinsettia plant!
Walk Along Main Street
Any time we visit a new city, we are always intrigued to find the true ‘heart’ of the city and this generally can be found near the Main Street. This is certainly true in downtown Greenville and simply walking along Main Street here is a great way to experience the culture and lifestyle present throughout this part of South Carolina.
Although we didn’t sample any of the local bistros or restaurants, a number of different cuisine options are available here. I could certainly imagine having lunch here before taking a stroll along this historic part of the city and then heading down to Falls Park on the Reedy for the relaxing ambience.
Before visiting Greenville, we had no idea that this South Carolina location was voted by Forbes as one of the top downtown spots worth visiting across America. It was only after I started researching some of the key spots that we visited that I realized that this was such a booming town, and I can honestly attest to each of the aforementioned attractions that provide such a unique landscape for Greenville.
Is Greenville really worth going out of your way to visit? I’m not sure, because we were fortunate that it was directly on the route we intended on taking but I can definitely agree that if you plan on taking a trip to South Carolina that it is well worthy of a visit.
Downtown Greenville is a perfect example of a city that was once booming, then suffered the ill effects of a rapid decline but has since re-established itself as an expanding location. It was an eye-opening experience to see the urban vs. rural landscapes on offer here and I would be happy to take a trip back here to see how this community continues to develop.