- Clara Bosonetto For the AJC
Weekend in Greenville, S.C., one of three ways: on a budget, spending a bit more, or when the getaway calls for a splurge.
Trip tips: Recent travel buzz is all about pedestrian-friendly Greenville for its farm-to-table scene and as the up-and-coming food lover’s town. Conde Nast’s Traveler magazine readers chose the city as the No. 3 Small City Destination in the country (following Charleston, S.C., and Aspen, Colo., and beating Savannah). Construction is underway on a 22,000-square-foot warehouse food hall, the Commons, a concept that will connect farmers, consumers and chefs in one place (slated to open spring 2018).
Hop on the open-air red and blue wooden trolleys that make a fixed-stop continuous loop. Ride free up and down Main Street, jump off at Falls Park or the museum district to visit an art, history or children’s museum all arranged around one green space, www.ridegreenlink.com/597/Trolley.
Getting there: Driving time from Atlanta is under three hours. One-way rates from $75; nonstop Southwest Airlines.
Stay: Aloft Greenville is situated in the heart of the vibrant downtown district overlooking One City Plaza and is 2 miles from the Greenville Zoo. This cosmopolitan hotel features colorful guest-room accents with ergonomic workstations, and upgraded rooms add whirlpool tubs. On-site are a trendy outdoor terrace cocktail bar with regular live music, a fitness area, a hip lounge with a fireplace and an outdoor pool. From $127 per night. 5 N. Laurens St., Greenville. 864-297-6100, www.aloftgreenvilledowntown.com.
Eat: Find soul food and Southern home cooking, served buffet-style, at the Green Tomato Buffet. Everything is prepared fresh daily from scratch in a family-friendly atmosphere. Average $10. 1511 Woodruff Road, Greenville. 864-281-0377,
Experience: Don’t miss the 32-acre Falls Park, once a city street converted into walking trails, lounging areas and a waterfall. A 355-foot-long, 12-foot-wide pedestrian-only Liberty Bridge spans the slow-flowing Reedy River. Hop on a bike from the bike share program ($5, greenville.bcycle.com) or rent a seven-speed comfort cruiser from Reedy Rides ($20 for four hours, www.reedyrides.com) to ride the 14-mile Swamp Rabbit Trail, a walk/bike greenway that follows the river from downtown to Furman University. Art lovers will want to stroll the city with a public arts map, www.greenvillesc.gov/1114/Art-in-Public-Places.
Stay: Enjoy excellent shopping, dining, and entertainment venues from a base at the downtown Hampton Inn & Suites. The wooden beams in the lobby were once part of the area’s old mills. Spacious rooms feature a large desk, portable lap desk, a comfy armchair, floor-to-ceiling windows, and views of the Reedy River from a balcony suite. Rates from $140 include complimentary hot breakfast, or a to-go breakfast bag (Monday-Friday). 171 RiverPlace, Greenville. 864-271-8700, hamptoninn.com.
Eat: Greenville was ranked a top 10 city in America for its barbecue scene. Hit the BBQ Trail Tour on a guided tour that goes beyond the city center to eateries the locals know and love. Learn about each restaurant’s techniques and history with a drive through old mill villages. Per person is $39, including generous portions of smoked meats and sides. Tours meet/end at Greenville City Hall, 206 S. Main St., Greenville. 864-567-3940, greenvillehistorytours.com/greenville-culinary-tours/bbq-trail.
Experience: Since 1979, Cafe and Then Some has been lampooning all things Greenville with a lively comedy dinner show. Tickets for the social satire shows are $20 per person. Show nights are 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays through Jan. 6. Dinner (entrees $18-$24) and show seating, 6:30-7:15 p.m. 101 College St., Greenville. 864-232-2287, cafeats.com.
Stay: The elegant AAA Four-Diamond Westin Poinsett features a 1920s-inspired decor throughout, plus a piano bar, coffee shop, a Southern-accented restaurant (ask about their ghost). The hotel is a four-minute walk to the Peace Center performing arts venue and six to Falls Park. Nightly rates from $175, including complimentary airport shuttle. 120 S. Main St., Greenville. 864-421-9700, www.westinpoinsettgreenville.com.
Eat: The Chef’s Table Culinary tour takes in five dining destinations. Meet the chefs at their tables and dine in elegant private dining areas. Stops include Greenville’s only gastropub, Soby’s, and a French bistro voted a top 10 outdoor dining restaurant in America. Per person $49 (not appropriate for children under 14). greenvillehistorytours.rezgo.com.
Experience: The downtown Peace Center is a theater (439 capacity), concert hall (2,112 capacity) and outdoor amphitheatre (seats 1,450) adjacent to Falls Park. This performing art center also has a sophisticated lounge for a cocktail or a light bite before or after the show. First-rate touring plays, ballet, opera, music headliners and more are featured year-round. Tickets for the 2017-2018 Broadway series start from $35. 300 S. Main St., Greenville. 864-467-3000, www.peacecenter.org.