2. Greenville, South Carolina
by Wanda McKinney
I hear the sounds of tumbling water, the click of a swing swaying in a light breeze. Bright foliage filters the October sunshine, and I feel as if I have been plopped into a country setting. However, I’m smack dab in the middle of cosmopolitan Greenville, South Carolina. Here, I discover big leafy scenes of the season.
Urban Park Deluxe
The centerpiece of Greenville’s lovely downtown is stunning Falls Park. Down Main Street, I find a perfect setting of greenspace, gardens, the Reedy River, and a gorgeous waterfall. The Liberty Bridge spans it all, with its curved, 355-foot-long pedestrian walkway. I can’t think of a finer view than from that bridge, which overlooks nature trails, landscaped flowerbeds, and people enjoying the season. Fall remains the first attraction here in October, but there is certainly more to see.
This month includes Fall for Greenville, a hugely popular food festival that features more than 40 of the city’s best restaurants. Music, ice-carving demonstrations, and a chili cook-off add to the festive atmosphere.
A few miles away, Furman University, just outside Greenville, boasts one of the most beautiful campuses imaginable. Walking trails and radiant foliage provide a perfect backdrop for the Bell Tower, reflected in a 30-acre lake. Home to events throughout the year, this scene is a postcard-perfect salute to autumn. Note: While visiting Furman, don’t miss The Cliffs Cottage, the Southern Living Showcase Home. Dedicated to Green living, this house features eco-friendly building materials. For more information see page 86, or visit www.furmancliffscottage.com.
Speaking of picture-perfect, I love the Greenville County Museum of Art, with its Southern collection and Jasper Johns paintings. One last beautiful spot is the Museum & Gallery at Bob Jones University. I am awestruck by the 450 Old Master paintings that reside here. A 500-year-old tapestry from Brussels completes my journey into a city filled with color, personality, and beauty.
- October 10-12―St. Francis Fall for Greenville: Features more than 40 of the city’s finest restaurants, four stages with live music, a chili cook-off, and ice-carving competition, a waiter’s race, cooking demonstrations, and more. www.mainstevents.com or (864) 235-5525.
- October 25―Spinx Run Fest: Promotes healthy lifestyles with speakers, training programs, runs and walks, and seminars; www.spinxrunfest.com or (864) 284-1238.
- First Fridays: On the first Friday of each month from 6-9 p.m.; around 25 art galleries open doors, showcasing watercolors, acrylics, pottery, photography, and jewelry. Contact Metropolitan Arts Council at (864) 467-3132, or visit www.firstfridaysonline.com.
- The Saturday Market: Saturday mornings from 8 a.m.-noon through November 1, you’ll find fresh produce, breakfast, and live entertainment; www.saturdaymarketlive.com or (864) 467-4494.
- Falls Park on the Reedy River: 601 South Main Street; www.fallspark.com or (864) 467-4350.
- Greenville Zoo: 150 Cleveland Park Drive; www.greenvillezoo.com or (864) 467-4300. Open daily 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Admission: $6 adults, $3 children ages 3-15.
- Downtown Parks: Peace Center Amphitheater, Cleveland Park, and McPherson Park (the city’s oldest and home of the Senior Citizens of Greenville's country store). For all parks and gardens: www.greatergreenville.com/city_services/parks.asp (864) 467-4355.
- The Peace Center for the Performing Arts: 300 South Main Street; www.peacecenter.org or (864) 467-3000. Broadway, pop, comedy, and classical music all sing out at this fabulous venue.
- The BI-LO Center: 650 North Academy Street. State-of-the art entertainment facility. www.bilocenter.com or (864) 241-3800.
- Fluor Field at the West End: Features the Greenville Drive, Minor League, Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox; www.greenvilledrive.com or (864) 240-4500.
- Furman University: 3300 Poinsett Highway; www.furman.edu or (864) 294-2185.
- Museum & Gallery at Bob Jones University: 1700 Wade Hampton Blvd.; www.bjumg.org or (864) 770-1331.
- Greenville County Museum of Art:420 College Street; http://antiques.greenvillemuseum.org or (864) 271-7570.
- Westin Poinsett: 120 South Main Street; www.westin.com/poinsett or (864) 421-9700. Rates start at $169.
- The Hampton Inn & Suites Downtown Riverplace: 171 Riverplace; www.hamptoninnandsuitesgreenville.com or (864) 271-8700. Rates start at $159.
- Hyatt Regency Greenville: 220 North Main Street; www.hyatt.com or (864) 235-1234. Rates start at $149.
- Restaurant O: 116 South Main Street; www.restauranto.com or (864) 331-0007. George Clooney’s favorite meal here (while he was filming Leatherheads in Greenville) included shrimp cocktail, a wedge of iceberg lettuce with Italian dressing, ahi tuna, and apple cobbler with ice cream.
- High Cotton: 550 South Main Street; www.high-cotton.net or (864) 335-4200. Open for dinner nightly and known for their buttermilk fried oysters with Green Goddess dressing.
- Soby’s New South Cuisine: 207 South Main Street; www.sobys.com or (864) 232-7007. This restaurant is housed in a 100-year-old building and serves New Orleans BBQ Shrimp, grits, and fried green tomatoes.
- Larkin’s on the River: 318 South Main Street (at the Peace Center); www.larkinsontheriver.com or (864) 467-9777. Open for lunch and dinner, look for the she-crab soup and shrimp and grits in this fine-dining favorite.
- Mast General Store: 111 North Main Street; www.mastgeneralstore.com or (864) 235-1883. Housewares, candies by the barrel, footwear, travel gear, and clothing await in this regional favorite.
- Llyn Strong Fine Jewelry: 119 North Main Street; www.llynstrong.com or (864) 233-5900. Local artisans, as well as national designers, show off fine jewelry and art glass.
- The Beaded Frog: 241C North Main Street; www.beadedfrog.com or (864) 235-2323. Fine selection of semiprecious stones, sterling silver, and glass beads.
- Go Fish: 612 South Main Street; www.gofishgreenville.com or (864) 250-0200. Situated right across from Falls Park, this shop sells handmade goods from all over the world.
Just 37 miles from Greenville, another natural beauty awaits. Caesars Head State Park―a granite outcropping on top of the Blue Ridge Escarpment―gives a gaspingly gorgeous view of the fall foliage below. Hiking trails, both easy and challenging, wind through the park. Pack a picnic, and breathe in the scenery. 8155 Geer Highway, Cleveland, SC 29635; www.southcarolinaparks.com or (864) 836-6115. Trail admission: $2 adults. Hours: 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
Greenville Convention & Visitors Bureau: 631 South Main Street, Suite 301, Greenville, SC 29601; www.greenvillecvb.com or 1-800-717-0023.