Greenville’s awesome food festival — Euphoria — is coming up Sept. 26-29. This year’s version features singer Kim Carnes, a whole lotta chefs, and even more food. If you can’t make the festivities, any time is a good time to visit. You don’t even have to do any planning — just follow the itinerary from my “36 Hours in Greenville” story that ran in the Boston Globe on March 17. Happy trails!
By Diane Daniel
GREENVILLE, S.C. — This city of 62,000 halfway between Charlotte and Atlanta took a huge hit when its bustling textile manufacturing industry moved overseas in the 1960s. A decade later, then-Mayor Max Heller, a Holocaust refugee from Austria, set about infusing downtown with a European flavor, encouraging foot traffic, shops, and sidewalk cafes. The revitalization started in the 1980s with the construction of a Hyatt Regency and hasn’t stopped since. In fact, the Hyatt just underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation.
Today visitors will encounter a bustling center with scores of shops and restaurants and anchored by a stunning waterfall park. Meanwhile, global employers BMW and Michelin have attracted thousands of workers to the area, while Tour de France veteran George Hincapie has lured a growing community of cyclists to his adopted hometown to play in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Park it: Start your visit with a Greenville History Tour (864-567-3940, http://www.greenvillehistorytours.com, $12), where you learn that in 1873, Bostonians Oscar Sampson and George Hall opened the city’s first textile operation along the Reedy River.
In 2002, Boston architect Miguel Rosales was tapped to help revive the blighted area with his award-winning Liberty Bridge. The elegant 355-foot curved suspension bridge for pedestrians replaced a car bridge that had obscured the falls 28 feet below. When it opened in 2004, the bridge united the city and provided a stunning focal point for the 26-acre Falls Park on the Reedy (Main Street at Camperdown Way, 864-467-4355, http://www.fallspark.com).
Greenville grown: American Grocery Restaurant (732 South Main St., 864-232-7665, http://www.americangr.com, entrees $26- $37) brought seasonal Carolina cuisine here in 2007 and has maintained its status as culinary kingpin since.
Owners Joe and Darlene Clarke set a refined but unfussy tone in two compact rooms with exposed brick walls and dark furnishings. Dishes change weekly, but rabbit and trout are often on the menu, such as in Blue Chip Farms rabbit loin with tagliatelle pasta, marinated kale, and red pepper cream ($27).
After-dinner drinks: Restaurateur Josh Beeby bows to the brew at Barley’s Taproom & Pizzeria (25 West Washington St., 864-232-3706, http://www.barleysgville.com) and, downstairs, in The Trappe Door (23 West Washington St., 864-451-7490, http://www.trappedoor.com). Barley’s is bright and airy, while the Belgian-influenced Trappe is dark and squat. At either spot, you’ll find good grub and dozens of top-flight American craft and Belgian beers.
Culture corner: Originally the site of Greenville Women’s College, Heritage Green is an 11-acre swath of land downtown devoted to housing institutions of education and culture. At the Children’s Museum of the Upstate (300 College St., 864-233-7755, http://www.tcmupstate.org, $9-$10), youngsters scramble over the Kaleidoscope Climber, an elaborate multistory climbing structure. The Upcountry History Museum (540 Buncombe St., 864-467-3100, http://www.upcountryhistory.org, $3-$5) follows the area’s growth, especially its textile manufacturing past.
New Englanders might be surprised to learn that the Greenville County Museum of Art (420 College St., 862-271-7570, http://www.gcma.org, free admission) houses the world’s most complete collection of Andrew Wyeth watercolors. The newest addition on the Green is a satellite location of Bob Jones University Museum & Gallery (516 Buncombe St., 864-770-1331, http://www.bjumg.org, $3-$5), which opened in 2008 in a former Coca-Cola bottling plant. Educational displays upstairs enrich the holdings.