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You might think you know South Carolina, but if you haven’t spent time in Greenville, you’re in for a surprise. Our guide unearths this neighborly city’s greatest hits, from speedy laps behind the wheel to a taste of the local spirit (moonshine!). Ready to get moving?
By Amanda Gleason
Hyatt Regency Famous as the starting point for the city’s kid-friendly scavenger hunt (see far right), this newly renovated hotel will unveil a casual restaurant (with a mocktail menu!) in December.
The Red Horse Inn Kick back in one of the graceful inn rooms or Victorian-style cottages at this romantic B&B, tucked into the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Courtyard by Marriott Hit the ice, then sip a cup of steaming hot chocolate at this downtown spread’s outdoor rink, which stays open from the day after Thanksgiving through mid-January.
Keep up with the kiddos on a...
Most people run from mice. In Greenville, they seek them out. That’s because 12 years ago, a local high school student came up with the idea of creating a half-mile scavenger hunt by installing life-sized sculptures of the petite creatures along Main Street. Now a staple of the city, the bronze rodents inspired the book Mice on Main, which provides clues to their whereabouts. Local shops, such as Mast General Store, sell the book and also offer free clue sheets. The search kicks off with a quest for the father mouse, Marvin, at the Hyatt Regency on Main Street’s north end, and zigzags southward. Just don’t expect locals to offer much insight. “We may tell you if you’re hot or cold,” says the book’s author, Linda Kelly, “but not where they are. That’d ruin the fun!”
Museum & Gallery at Bob Jones University This esteemed art spot is known for its impressive collection of historic Western European paintings, which includes works by Botticelli, Rubens, and Tintoretto.
At the Chef’s Table Culinary Tour Follow local historian John Nolan on a three-hour tasting tour of five of the city’s most buzzed-about restaurants, including Nose Dive (pictured).
Then strap yourself in for a…
Got a need for speed? Then make a beeline to the BMW Performance Center in Greer—a stone’s throw from the automaker’s only U.S. manufacturing plant—for the Ultimate BMW Experience. After a brief safety class, participants get behind the wheel for a series of thrilling driving exercises, led by instructors via walkie-talkie. Spend an hour in an X3 SUV on the off-road course, where you’ll maneuver through nearly two feet of water and ascend a steep cobblestone hill. If that doesn’t get your motor running, this sure will: driving cars like the Z4 and X6M as fast as grip will allow. Still want more? Brace yourself for the “hot laps”: Instructors take the driver’s seat for a professional joyride packed with 360-degree spins and high-speed skids. May the G-force be with you. Photo by Fred Rollison Photography.
Be sure to eat a meal at…
Stone Soup Sink your teeth into sesame-crusted tuna with pickled ginger at this casual eatery, which is decked out in an equestrian theme as a nod to the area’s horse country.
Brick Street Café Satisfy your sweet tooth with this cozy café’s most popular dessert—sweet potato cake—or sample other treats, like peanut butter pie.
High Cotton Sip on “The Greenville Cocktail” (South Carolina–made vodka, iced tea, Madeira, lemonade, and mint) at this riverfront restaurant, which specializes in Southern spirits and cuisine.
Eye cannons and other wartime artifacts on a…
Did you know that more Revolutionary War battles were fought in South Carolina than any other colony? On January 17, 1781, the Continental Army earned a major victory at what’s now known as Cowpens National Battlefield (its moniker stems from its history as a pasture), 50 miles northeast of Greenville. Today, you can drive along the four-mile road that traverses the battlefield, stopping at outdoor exhibits that detail the famed battle. Back at the visitor’s center, check out weapons like the “grasshopper cannon,” which earned its name because of its jumpy, five-foot recoil. To ring in the holiday season like it’s 1899, visit during the Backcountry Holiday on November 17 and 18: Park employees dress in period garb and demonstrate activities like wreath-making and writing with quill pens. We’ll bring the eggnog.
Set your sights on…
The Children’s Museum of the Upstate Youngsters can experiment with magnets and lasers, splash in a lily pond, and build their own Formula 1 racecars at this three-story learning center.
Greenville County Museum of Art Art aficionados will appreciate the extensive collection of painter Andrew Wyeth’s work at this pint-sized gallery, which houses the realist’s “Four Poster” watercolor.
Walnut Grove Plantation History buffs can tour this preserved 18th-century spread, home to a blacksmith’s forge, smoke house, and one of the first schools in the county.
Appreciate homegrown hooch during a…
What’s smooth as it goes down and tastes like buttered coffee? Moonshine—if it’s the good stuff. Dark Corner Distillery, on Greenville’s bustling Main Street, is the state’s first legal moonshine purveyor. Founded by Joe Fenten and Richard Wenger in September 2011, the distillery specializes in handcrafting small batches of the stuff—in addition to whiskey, gin, and even absinthe. Every other Saturday in the basement of the brick building, Wenger schools patrons on everything from fermentation to filtration during a seven-hour course. You may even get to try the company’s first bourbon, set to debut the week of Thanksgiving. “Moonshine is no longer taboo,” says Fenten, “and people from around the world want a taste.”
Getting There Fly into Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport (GSP), centrally located about 15 miles from each city’s downtown.
Getting Out At Spartanburg’s A Dickens of a Christmas celebration on November 27, carolers and horse-drawn carriages kick off the holidays.
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