HUFFINGTON POST AUGUST 3, 2011: 10 Reasons To Visit Greenville, South Carolina

by Tanja Laden, photo by Melanie Griffin.

Halfway between Atlanta and Charlotte, in the heart of the Deep South, there’s an unassuming but charming town filled with good, old-fashioned Southern hospitality. Greenville, South Carolina is home to some of the best restaurants, parks, and festivals in the area and is attracting more visitors every year.

Unlike so many other Southern cities, Greenville isn’t steeped in nostalgia or re-imagined history. Instead, this city strikes a harmonious balance between the past and the future, embodying the best of America’s olden days while embracing a progressive outlook. With its colorful population, old-school steakhouses, or indie entertainment venues, there are dozens of reasons to check out Greenville, South Carolina. Here are the top ten.

1. Euphoria
In 2006, Greenville’s own star singer/songwriter Edwin McCain founded the Euphoria food, wine and music festival, along with owner of the Table 301 restaurant group, Carl Sobocinski. Five years later, Euphoria is now the most anticipated annual festival in Greenville, filled with four days’ worth of world-class tasting events, seminars, and demos. But at Euphoria, it’s not just about the food; it’s also about the wine and music. This year’s installment features insights from master sommeliers, and live musical performances from Maia Sharp, the festival’s co-founder Edwin McCain, and many others. And given that it takes place in the fall, Euphoria is a chance to catch Greenville at its most beautiful, when the summer sizzle wanes and the leaves begin to change. Euphoria is truly a multi-sensory immersion course on Southern culture, and as good a reason as any to visit Greenville County, “a great place to live, work and play.”

 

2. Greenville-Pickens Speedway

For over 60 years, this half-mile mile oval racetrack between Greenville and Pickens has provided incredible southern-fried racing entertainment for locals. Very historic, it’s the second-oldest NASCAR track in the country and was the site of the very first live televised NASCAR pole-to-pole race on April, 1971 on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. The legendary Earnhardt family started here with Dale’s father Ralph, who was an early track champion (all the track champions’ names are painted on the wall of the backstretch). All the legends of NASCAR — from the current favorites to the heroes of racing past — have passed through the gates of Greenville-Pickens, racing and testing their cars here. Tom Blackwell and his brother Pete owned and operated this track (and the adjoining fairgrounds) for over 60 years. The track has since been sold, but it continues to thrive. Every September, the Upper South Carolina State Fair comes to town for 10 days; it’s a great old-school southern fair with a carnival, rides, games, agriculture and animal exhibits, demolition derby, rodeo, circus, and more.

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3. Horizon Records
Run by local music aficionado Gene Berger since 1975, Horizon is one of those rare remaining “record store” record stores that has survived and thrived as the music industry and the concept of record stores has died. Horizon was alternative long before the word became a cliché, and the store has always been a haven for independent-minded music fans in Greenville. In addition to a wide variety of music (including a well-curated spectrum of southern music like bluegrass and folk), the store features live performances and music-related events on a regular basis.

4. Liberty Bridge
Located in Falls Park, aka “the cradle of Greenville,” the Liberty Bridge has quickly become a local landmark and a point of pride in the local community. The 345-foot-long, 12-foot-wide suspension bridge is named after W. Frank Hipp, founder of the hugely successful media organization, the Liberty Corporation. The unique pedestrian bridge boasts elegant curves and a narrow, lightweight construction above the site where Richard Pearis, Greenville’s first European settler, set up his trading post back in 1768. Today, Liberty Bridge continues to attract visitors from around the world for its exceptional design and breathtaking views of Reedy River Falls.

 

5. BMW Performance Driving School

Located between the city of Greenville and the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport (GSP), the $12 million BMW Performance Center offers custom-designed drivers programs to maximize BMW-maneuvering skills. Whether it’s guiding the operation of an M-class vehicle, motorcycle, or by teaching teens to drive, the BMW Performance Driving School features an intense driving course designed to simulate everyday driving conditions.