I hadn’t a clue what to expect as I set out on the hour-and-a-half drive from Charlotte to Greenville, down in upstate South Carolina. I’d heard some things–mostly that is was a lively city with a great food scene–but still, I was hit with an unexpected surprise when I rolled down Main Street that first time. Downtown Greenville is ADORABLE, with its tree-lined streets, each adorned with cute little shops and boutiques plus restaurants galore.
My first stop on the trip was to meet up with my new friend Nichole of Gap Greek Gourmet. It was a cold and rainy day, so the subterranean oasis that is Coffee Underground felt especially cozy while we enjoyed a quick warm up of the caffeinated variety. I loved the place so much, that I came back once more during my short time in Greenville for a cappuccino and warm cinnamon chip scone while getting in some computer time. It was fun and nostalgic sitting there listening to the conversations of the Greenvillians (did I make this term up?), many of whom were college students studying for what appeared to be an upcoming history exam.
After coffee, Nichole and I headed above ground to check out some of the shops on Main Street. We stopped into the infamous Mast General Store, and I was super excited by their candy selection. Every time I see Mallo Cups, I think of my mom (since they were one of her favorite childhood candies), and Mast had dark-chocolate mallo cups!!?! I managed to exercise some self-control since I had a feeling I’d be eating my face off later that day, but I’m kicking myself for not picking up a pack!
While getting our shop on, we stopped into the Chocolate Moose for a cupcake. The flavors change daily, but since it was Saturday, they had the highly coveted salted caramel cupcake on hand. HOW CAN YOU SAY NO TO SALTED CARAMEL?! There goes that self-control I mentioned… I’m not typically a fan of cupcakes (TEAM PIE, BABY!), but this particular cupcake literally left me licking icing off my fingers (so sorry, Nichole) and debating on getting another one for the road (I went back the next day and snagged one).
Next time, I’m getting a salted caramel AND a S’mores.
One of the things that makes Greenville really special is the Reedy River, which winds along throughout the town, including Falls Park, creating a need for several walking bridges that crisscross over the river. It’s quite romantic.
The 14-mile long Swamp Rabbit Trail is an impressive greenway system that runs along the river, and provides an awesome path for biking, running, and just plain old meandering. You can easily rent bikes from Reedy Rides, right downtown, and head out on the paths. If you head east on the trail, you can ride all the way to Greenville Zoo, and if you head north you can hit up Swamp Rabbit Cafe & Grocery for coffee, sandwiches, scones (I loved the kale and cheddar), and lots of healthy, local provisions.
What’s with the mouse? There are nine bronze Mice on Main Street–a fun, kid-friendly (but totally not just for kids) scavenger hunt of sorts that gives you an excuse to walk around Main Street. I recommend snapping a selfie with each mouse, even if it requires you to lay down and smash your face against the sidewalk.
Since it was raining cats and mice this day, we headed to the Thomas Creek Brewery for some shelter and some brewskies. I’m a wino at heart, but I’m actively trying to learn to like beer, specifically craft beer because the Carolinas have such an awesome, growing craft beer scene. Tours at Thomas Creek are only $5 a pop and include four beer tastings (my favorite was the coffee and oatmeal stout, which tasted like they added a shot of espresso to the brew). Five bucks for a tour, history on the brewery, science lesson on making beer, PLUS four tastings? Totally worth it!
Beer wasn’t our only booze of the day; there was also a trio of sangria (white, red, and rose… love, love, and LOVE) at SIP Rooftop Lounge. Sitting at SIP reminded me so much of sitting at the rooftop bars in Charleston, looking down on the streets. I can’t wait to go back in the summer and enjoy the open-air lounge with a sangria (or two)!
So, what did we eat to offset all the booze? Stay tuned…