The Third Southern Sister.
When it comes to the most dreamy, Southern cities to visit while vacationing, I have always referred to the two charming sisters; Charleston and Savannah. I am here to announce that there is in fact, a third sister that I am officially adding to the southern charm family. Her name is Greenville South Carolina. Downtown Greenville, SC, is an absolute dream at all times of the year. With endless events (pre-pandemic) and several (post-pandemic), there is so much to do and explore for the entire family. It is a very clean and a, actively striving to be a "greener", city every day. From hospitality to weekend farmer's markets, Greenville will truly charm you into returning again and again.
Lets start with your stay.
The Adventurous Alfords always stay at the Hyatt Regency. The location is probably the most appealing part of this hotel. You are literally in the middle of all of the shopping, great eats, and a hop and a skip from the farmer’s market that takes place on the weekends. The Starbucks located IN the lobby also makes this hotel a great choice. Anytime we find a hotel that has a specialty coffee shop in the lobby, my husband wakes up before me to go order my fave and brings it back to me in bed. If this isn’t one of your vacation traditions, it should be! There is also a spectacular restaurant located through the lobby as well, but more on that later. Now lets talk about safety. The staff at the Hyatt were beyond accommodating during our stay. Safety was felt at every turn. From the remote control being wrapped in a disposable plastic bag to the room service being halted during our stay (meaning no one comes in your room while you are out and risking contamination) we felt a constant since of security for our health and well being. Hand sanitizer was located throughout the hotel and check in and check out were contact-less. Every employee was wearing a mask and all front desk workers worked behind a plexiglass.
What to do:
It should be noted that our family visited Fourth of July weekend. We knew that public fireworks would be either canceled or would be done with options to view from your car. Neither was good news to us so we opted for the King Main Street View room on the 8th floor and were positively delighted to be able to watch several firework shows from the comfort of our bed! We also enjoyed a beautiful sunset from this room as well, so be sure to look into this room, specifically, next year for your Fourth of July weekend stay. Unfortunately things could potentially be similar to our current Covid19 world this time next year so having a fun and safe getaway reserved for America’s next birthday would not be a bad idea. This goes along with the many reasons why to stay at the Hyatt Regency but also a fun "what to do" as well.
Greenville is loaded with tons of shopping. And I'm talking unique shopping. Mast General Store is one of our favorites. A store that has been a landmark since the 1800's carries a very wide range of goods, such as hiking gear on one end and toys for children on the other. Art shops, clothing boutiques, and many many other locally owned and operated stores can be visited on your journey down Main Street and beyond. Many shops, candy stores, and walk ups may require you to wear a mask so don't forget yours at the hotel.
Be sure to visit Greenville's impressive waterfall, right there in town, that you can see from an amazing bridge called the Liberty Bridge at Falls Park on the Reedy. This impressive waterfall is a wonder to behold and the bridge gives an outstanding experience all on its own. There are several waterfalls within an average 90 minute drive from Greenville. If your goal for your vacation is to go chase waterfalls click here otherwise please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you used to… See what I did there?
How about a mouse hunt? Anyone? Before you label Greenville a city with mice, be sure to know the type of mice that inhabit this town... Take a scavenger hunt down Main Street called Mouse on Main Street. This is a fun and cute scavenger hunt to keep the kids entertained while spending the day perusing downtown, Greenville. Located throughout the city are tiny metal mice statues that you have to look for and document. See if you can find all nine! You can click here for a print out of the clues to take with you on your trip and get ready for a mouse hunt you won’t soon forget.
Outdoor living: Greenville is perfectly located in the middle of several different locations outside of the city that offer loads more to do. Just over an hour drive is Devil’s Fork state park with some of the most breathtaking views on a crystal clear lake. We opted to rent kayaks from Eclectic Sun on Lake Jocassee for 6 hours. I can tell you that paddling 6 hours is not for the out of shape or faint of heart. It takes strength and agility that I was definitely lacking, myself. I paid for it dearly later that night with ice packs on my biceps. HA! So take it from me, and reserve a pontoon for your crew. This will not only make for a more relaxing trip but it will also get you more access to waterfalls and coves to explore. This is definitely achievable by tandem kayaks but you will need to rent them for the entire day and understand that you will be paddling a VERY long time. I will say that during our 6 hours paddling, we were able to paddle in and out of small coves, tie off our boats and climb into small openings that led to a couple of beautiful and fun baby falls. We actually unpacked our picnic on top of one of these areas and enjoyed sandwiches while listening to the water run through the hills and trees. We also sat in the water on a rock and made friends with a fearless and curious fish. He swam with us for a while before we finally told him goodbye and went back on our adventure. Be sure to stop often to not only rest, but to take in the majestic scenery. Bring a WATERPROOF bag, a cooler with food and drinks, and a camera that is waterproof as well (or a waterproof case for your phone). I'll add that Eclectic Sun will offer you different cases to possibly protect your belongings. So be sure to ask when you are getting your life jackets. The Lake Jocasse entrance at Devil's Fork can easily fill up and admission can be denied if the park is full which will result in travelers being turned away. If you book with Eclectic Sun in advance, you only need to tell the gate worker that you have a reservation and you will be guaranteed admission. Visit https://eclecticsun.com/ for rates and regulations. Greenville SC also has tours of waterfalls closer by that can be booked but they tend to have a minimum age requirement when it comes to kids. Sadly, our youngest did not meet the required minimum age. So remember that while browsing those guided waterfall tour options online.
Blackberry and Apple picking at Justus Orchard is a fantastic stop that your family must make on any journey that brings you within a hundred miles of this family owned and operated farm. I would drive even further for it (and have). But just your luck, this Orchard is located in Hendersonville NC, approximately 45 minutes from Greenville, SC! So much fun awaits your family at this orchard. I have known this family, personally, for years and the goodness and love that is put into this business is the seed that grows and gives their fruit the sweetest and most desired taste. And the fruit is not where the tasty goods end! Along with events that sometimes host barbecue on the weekends (check event calendar), you can always count on apple cider doughnuts, fried apple pies, cobblers, and fresh apple juice for purchase at each visit. And please do not forget to try the apple cider slushy. I personally love to pair it with a warm cider doughnut and just revel in how much I don't mind the calories! This farm's open season is July through early November so if you are traveling to Greenville SC during those months, be sure to put it on your "must do" list. Visit https://justusorchard.com/ for more details on all there is to do and for a full list of operating hours.
Asheville is also about 50 minutes or so from downtown Greenville. Asheville is full of delicious eats and treats on every block. They are well known for local craft beers and the Biltmore Estate. Be sure to experience both of these if you make it there during your stay. Recently North Carolina mandated that masks be worn at all times. Be sure to look into this while venturing outside of Greenville. I am hoping to write a post on Asheville NC sometime this fall or winter.
Where to eat:
So many options. However, I am going to list outdoor options for this post. After all, it is summer, the weather is gorgeous, and the CoronaVirus likes to huddle indoors between people who are less than six feet apart. Sigh. So, here is a list of great restaurants with outdoor seating for you to safely enjoy during your visit.
Mac's Speed Shop: Oh. My. Word. I have yet to come here and order something that I did not LOVE. And you also get complementary hush puppies that taste like butter golden goodness with each bite. My heart was slightly broken when they ran out of ribs this past trip! But they are that good, trust me. Order a local brew and pair it with their delicious wings and you will leave happier than you arrived.
Passerelle Bistro: A bistro located at Reedy Falls with outdoor seating so that you can listen to the falls while sipping on french wine and eating authentic french cuisine. Flying Biscuit Cafe: With limited outdoor seating, socially distanced indoor seating, and a line that went 15 feet down the sidewalk from the entrance, I'd say this is a safe bet, for your anti-corona health and your thorough satisfaction.
Roost Restaurant: With a fantastic outdoor seating area, Roost is the envy of all other restaurants when it comes to location, menu, AND that Main Street view while listening to the city sounds and the small half wall waterfall that is the parameter of most of the outdoor terrace area.
Maple Street Biscuit: We have one of these in Savannah Georgia and we knew we absolutely had to have it for breakfast one morning. Everyday the staff comes up with a question for their customers and whatever your answer is, that is what they will call out when your order is ready. Our question was "who is your favorite band?". A swift 6 minutes later we hear, "order up for Dashboard Confessionals!". Other guests gave nods to my excellent taste in music. You can't beat those savory fried biscuits and maple sausage balls. (Tip: order a side of the maple sausage balls to-go and throw them in your cooler for that kayak or boat trip we talked about earlier.)
Greenville, oh, Greenville. Your beauty competes with your charm and both are winners in my book. Although this is a post on Greenville in the summer, this lovely city is just about perfect all year around. Though I am definitely a sucker for all things autumn and this city truly shows out during the fall including a tremendously fun Oktoberfest, pending that it still happens this year amongst the covid19 pandemic. Please visit https://www.visitgreenvillesc.com/ for an awesome guide to more things offered in this charming town. You're gonna love it.
The Adventurous Alfords