Aspen Times Weekly: Experience the New South
Nestled deep in the Blue Ridge mountains of Western South Carolina, Greenville was once a thriving cotton-economy-turned- struggling-textile-mill-city; today, the town is experiencing a resurgence.
The German automotive company BMW changed the future of Greenville and the entire “Upstate” region when they opened, and then expanded, an automotive factory here, attracting more industry to the area. This, and the other industries that followed, brought with them a flood of young professionals, improved schools and spurred the revitalization of downtown. In fact, the West End Historic District is the heart of the new Greenville.
The West End is home to new art galleries, locally sourced restaurants, hip cafés; it also offers access to beautiful Falls Park on the Reedy River, which is the focal point of downtown Greenville. This $15 million park is distinguished by the Liberty Bridge, a uniquely designed suspension bridge that spans two sides of town, offering unobstructed views of the Reedy River Falls, access to 26 acres of parks, and the Swamp Rabbit trail, a 14-mile biking and hiking trail that connects Greenville with nearby Traveler’s Rest.
The West End is also home to Fluor Field. This baseball park is a mini-replica of Boston’s Fenway Park, and home to the Greenville Drive, a Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. Fluor Field features a 30-foot-high replica of Fenway’s Green Monster, seats for more than 5,000 fans, and even a hand-operated scoreboard, just like Boston’s. With only 13 rows of seats, every spot is a good one, and it gives families a chance to see an affordable game, with up and coming talent, without the guilt of possibly leaving early.
After a game, kids and parents can be found strolling along the historic Main Street, which has becoming a more popular place to live and work among young professionals. While we were visiting, we kept the kids content while we shopped by finding the “Mice on Main,” a self-guided tour of nine sculptured mice that begins in front of the Hyatt Regency hotel and continues along a nine-block stretch of Main Street between the Hyatt and the Westin Poinsett hotel.
New restaurants like Tupelo Honey Café, made famous for its original location in nearby Asheville, N.C., and The Owl bring a reimagined taste of the South to what was once a pretty dreary and over-commercialized dining scene. Much like other small regional cities, Greenville is finding that a sense of place is vital to distinguishing itself among travelers and businesses.
Then, of course, there is the access to the outdoors. Nearby Table Rock State Park is legendary among climbers for the granite rock routes found on the south eastern face of Table Rock Mountain. These are accessible with a permit from Sept. 1 through Dec. 31. The remainder of the park is open to hiking, camping, fishing and kayaking.
The landscape of Greenville will change over the next couple of years as developers provide infill, the city attracts more businesses and it continues to welcome a population that yearns for a balance of work and play. Keeping an eye on what makes Greenville special — its contrasting architecture, its people, food and dramatic natural environment — will cement its place as one of the United States’ next great cities.
Amiee White Beazley writes about travel for the Aspen Times Weekly. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her @awbeazley1.
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