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The Short Version: Greenville, South Carolina is one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. right now, and it can be a great destination for a low-key romantic getaway. The walkable downtown area has date activities around every corner, including award-winning restaurants, cultural museums, and a 14-acre zoo. Greenville also has plenty of green spaces and hiking trails for couples who are outdoorsy and looking for an adventure.
If you’re anything like me, you spent most of your COVID-19 lockdown making a mental list of all the places you want to go and things you’d like to do once the world opened back up.
Maybe a trip to Greenville in South Carolina wasn’t on your list. But we’d argue that it should be.
Greenville sits at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, so it has long tempted outdoorsy folks with its hiking, climbing, and nature experiences. However, within the last decade, the city itself has grown to provide more modern entertainment and food venues that add an eclectic flair to the tradition of Southern hospitality.
From the gastropubs to the bike trails, Greenville can offer a lot of fun ways to unwind with loved ones. It’s no wonder tourism is on the rise in this quaint destination.
Greenville is located smack dab in the middle between Atlanta and Charlotte, North Carolina. The city isn’t flashy — but it is full of charming attractions, delicious diversions, and exciting adventures if you know where to look.
Couples can visit Greenville to enjoy an affordable vacation full of indoor and outdoor date activities. They can start the day with a nature walk to a waterfall, grab a bite to eat from a food truck downtown, and then spend the evening at a local theater, brewery, or nightclub.
“Greenville is still a new hot spot,” said a spokesperson from VisitGreenvilleSC. “Our city didn’t spring to life until the early 2000s following a massive revitalization effort. Even now it still feels like we are just hitting our stride with new restaurants, hotels, bars, and attractions opening regularly.”
Greenville’s tourism industry is rapidly growing as word spreads about its quaint charm and indulgent food scene. The county sees over 5.5 million visitors in the average year, and visitor spending adds over $1.3 billion to the local purse strings. Greenville has about 11,000 tourism-related jobs ranging from hotel manager to walking tour guide.
Greenville was originally named Pleasantburg when it was settled in the 1760s, and the town has kept that overall pleasant atmosphere as it has grown into the 21st century. Locals are proud of their reputation for being friendly and welcoming. They are quick to point a newcomer toward their favorite restaurant, bar, or hangout.
“People in Greenville are genuinely happy,” the city’s representative said. “They love visiting here, living here, working here, eating here, and playing here.”
Greenville features a walkable downtown area with over 100 locally owned restaurants, six theaters, a handful of museums, a 32-acre park, and a zoo with over 200 animals. A minor league baseball stadium is also just up the road for sports fans.
Couples on a date don’t have to wander far to find a fun activity or delicious treat in this area. The downtown food scene has earned four James Beard nominations in the last three years, and its food truck movement has gotten a lot of people talking.
Grill Marks is a classic burger bar that has turned a lot of heads with its towering milkshakes, beer shakes, and spiked floats. The downtown location is right on Main Street, so it’s a popular place for young people to congregate with friends and dates.
Whether you’re craving tacos, BBQ, burgers, or Thai food, you can easily find a Greenville restaurant or food truck that gets your mouth watering. Newcomers can sign up for a locally run food tour to get a good idea of the best places to get some grub or enjoy a pint of beer in town.
Greenville has many cultural events and attractions you’d expect of a large, diverse city, yet it also has a small-town feel that makes visitors feel right at home.
“There’s an energy in the air that’s palpable,” said the destination’s spokesperson. “There’s so much to do on any given day and so many experiences to take in. We work to provide visitors with all of the information they need to plan a perfect visit to Greenville, South Carolina.”
If you’re planning a trip to Greenville, a little online research can help you find the best date spots, activities, events and entertainment options. The Visit Greenville website serves as a one-stop shop when it comes to local exploration.
People can start by looking up things to do, which range from visiting shops and art galleries to going kayaking or canoeing. Greenville’s tourism experts have put together lists of resources and itinerary suggestions to help people of all backgrounds find their way to a lovely vacation experience.
The Blue Ridge Mountains are one of the biggest draws for visitors to Greenville. The mountain range provides a beautiful backdrop for an outdoor date, and couples can choose to explore breathtaking nature spots on foot, by bike, or by boat.
Greenville has over 20 miles of bike trails and five state parks within driving distance, so outdoorsy couples don’t have to go far to soak in the sun and enjoy some peace and quiet. Couples can create a romantic moment by packing a picnic and arranging a lunch date by a river or in the mountains.
Looking to stay closer to town? Then you can explore the food and cultural scene in the downtown area on foot or via the free trolley service. Greenville has sponsored an Art in Public Places initiative to make sure the city is a beautiful place for strolling and exploring. The initiative has led to the installation of more than 95 works of art throughout the city, including a Dale Chihuly sculpture.
“There is always something to do in Greenville, rain or shine,” the spokesperson told us. “Our website is a great resource to find out about the many regular happenings — like the weekly Farmer’s Market, concerts, annual events like Artisphere, and Open Studios — and day-to-day activities like Greenville Drive baseball games, culinary tours, and more.”
In the coming years, Greenville is expected to add more hotels and restaurants to its downtown scene, which will increase its entertainment value and popularity. “We’re excited to welcome Home Team BBQ, Lewis BBQ, The Grand Bohemian, Rockoon indoor rock climbing and so much more to the area,” the spokesperson said.
Unity Park is a game-changing construction project the city is undertaking to give back to the community and inspire people to come together in a beautiful green space. The 60-acre park will open in 2022.
I can think of a lot of good reasons to add Greenville to your travel bucket list. It’s got great food and beautiful mountainscapes. It has a free trolley and an award-winning downtown area. But the most important thing about Greenville, South Carolina, is the friendliness of its people. Those small-town vibes can go a long way toward making visitors feel at home.
As far as tourist destinations go, Greenville is a wonderful option because it provides a lot of entertainment without a lot of crowds and hassle. The walkable downtown is easy to navigate, and visitors can discover date activities just around the corner from their hotel.
The Visit Greenville website has a free visitor’s guide to help newcomers get their bearings and fill their travel itinerary with must-see attractions and must-eat dining options.
“We strive to do whatever we can to ensure a unique and positive experience for everyone who comes through Greenville,” the destination’s spokesperson said. “We want everyone who visits to leave and tell their friends how amazing Greenville is.”
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