Small Town We Love: Pendleton, South Carolina

One of the Upstate's oldest communities stays young thanks to a downtown filled with unique shops and restaurants and the nearby Clemson University.

Population: 2,986

Stoplight Count: 3

Charm Factor: Pendleton has one of the largest National Historic Districts in the country. Charleston plantation owners came here to escape the city's heat and malaria in the late 1700s, and several of their homes—such as Woodburn and Ashtabula (pendletonhistoricfoundation.org)—still stand. After taking a house tour, check into the Liberty Hall Inn (libertyhallinnsc.com).

Pendleton's "Main" Street: The Village Green, anchored by the Farmers' Society Hall and surrounded by shops such as Blue Ridge Antiques & Refinishing (864/646-6008) and Still on the Square (stillonthesquare.com), acts as Pendleton's town center.

Must-try Delicacy: The Village Bakery & Café owner Barbara Rizzo often sells out of her quiche of the day ($6.49; myvillagebaker.com).

Local Rivalry: Smoke & Blue (justmorebbq.com) and The Smokin' Pig (864/646-5150) vie for saucy superiority.

Late-Night Tradition: At Breazeale's Grocery Bluegrass (bgbluegrass.com), bands gather every Saturday for a traditional jam.

Talk of the Town: Early this year, Pendleton won a $25,000 Our Town grant from the National Endowment of the Arts to update its town center.

Claim to Fame: Split Creek Farm (splitcreek.com) won the gold medal at the 2010 World Championship Cheese Contest in Wisconsin.

Mayoral Endorsement: "Order the wings at Islander Pub & Grille" (864/646-6337). "Easily the best I've ever had," says Mayor Frank Crenshaw.

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