Southern hospitality, outstanding and delicious food and drink, perfectly quaint Main Street, parks, festivals and art – a place that is ideal to live in and a place that is ideal for a family vacation, a girlfriend getaway or even a solo trip – Yeah, THAT Greenville!
I recently spent a few days in Greenville, SC courtesy of Discover South Carolina and Greenville, South Carolina in partnership with Travel South USA. I received an all expense paid visit, however, all opinions are my own.
I can’t wait to go back! Why? Because Greenville, SC was named in the Top Ten Hottest Foodie Cities in the U.S. by People Magazine – one of the Best Cities in the United States by National Geographic Traveler – #3 Top Small City in the U.S. by Conde Nast Traveler – and, One of the 50 Best Places in the World to Visit in 2018 by Travel & Leisure. Even with being named all these things, Greenville feels like small southern town American when you stroll down Main Street.
If your time is limited, the best way to see Greenville is definitely through Greenville History Tours. Don’t be fooled by the name. It’s not all about history. You can combine a tour with a culinary tasting.
The tours offered highlight the best sites, historic buildings, public artwork, historic homes and neighborhoods, shops, and restaurants. Their tours create unique and memorable experiences for everyone. Greenville History Tours is a perfect way to get a feel for the area before exploring on your own.
Main Street in Greenville has over 120 restaurants. Almost all are locally owned. Greenville has over 1,000 restaurants in total which has made the area a foodie paradise.
With so many choices you are sure to find just what your taste buds are craving. You are sure to have a hard time deciding where to dine.
My favorite dining spot when I was there – Pomegranate on Main; not just because of the absolutely delicious Persian food I enjoyed but also because of the owner and his story.
The restaurant serves traditional Persian recipes prepared using fresh ingredients and healthy cooking methods. Visitors can enjoy beef, chicken, lamb, seafood, rice and vegetables – prepared in a unique way with saffron, mint and pomegranate.
Pomegranate on Main opened in 2007 as a way for the owner, Ali Saifi to share the culture and heritage of his homeland with visitors to Greenville.
Ali was born and raised in Iran and through his restaurant he is able to share the easygoing, hospitable and friendly nature of the people of the southern area of Iran – “southern hospitality.”
He says customers often ask him about Iran and about the culture, and are surprised to learn it’s different than what they perceive from watching the news. Saifi learned his restaurant was a way of introducing people to a culture that was important to him and one that many people didn’t understand. “We’re all human beings. We’re all friends. Just our governments don’t seem to get along, which I can’t help that out,” he says.
Ali came to the United States in 1973 and became a US citizen in 1980. He moved to South Carolina in 1982, bringing the very first Subway to the area. He has a strong love of family and a value system that dictates philanthropic giving.
Those values motivated the former Shiraz, Iran resident to create a project in his hometown of Shiraz that has the potential to change hundreds of lives. He has set about to restore orphaned teenagers with their biological families. Orphaned children in Iran are released from care at around 15 years old. Those children are frequently given to an orphanage as babies because the family can’t afford to care for them, but the family is still living. When Saifi saw this firsthand while visiting his family, he immediately began looking for a way to help give these teens. He wanted an alternative to the street lifestyle to which they will often succumb.
He now runs a service that will assess orphans, locate their biological families, determine whether or not it is a viable living option, and then a trust fund is set up that will support the entire family and the child’s education through college so that the child can stay with their family.
His story, along with his food, touched me deeply. Not only does he help his home country in such an unbelievable way, he also gives back to the Greenville community that has been so generous to him.
I loved the cranberry rice so much, Ali kindly emailed me the recipe – I have yet to be able to get it to taste as good as his!
No matter how you like to stay, you’ll be able to find the perfect spot in Greenville. From luxury accommodations to campgrounds and cabins, there is a place to stay for every visitor.
Travel with a furry friend, no problem! Pet-friendly accommodations can be found in the area that will welcome your pet with open arms.
I had the pleasure of staying at the Springhill Suites by Marriott Downtown Greenville. The location is ideal – in easy walking distance to all there is to do along Main Street and downtown Greenville – restaurants, boutique shopping, and entertainment.
When I stayed the hotel had only been open for approximately 3 weeks so needless to say was beautiful, brand new, immaculate and comfortable.
It’s a beautiful hotel that has you feeling like you are staying at a resort in the middle of the city. The amenities include free high speed internet service, a 24/7 state of the art techno gym facility, an outdoor seasonal pool and sundeck, and a complimentary breakfast every morning. Top of the line toiletries are in each room as well as coffee, coffee maker and mini-refrigerator.
The hotel offers one restaurant, Oak & Honey, as well as a free hot breakfast buffet and a convenience store. The menu at Oak & Honey offers something for everyone and their bar menu has a large selection to choose from.
Things to do
There is so much to see and do in Greenville that you won’t be able to visit just once!
The Greenville Zoo, the BMW Performance Center, Carolina Music Museum and the Children’s Museum of the Upstate are just a few of the many things for the family to do together.
Wineries, breweries, distilleries and spas can be added on for the adults. The list of things to do, places to see and attractions to enjoy is huge. You can make your list as long as you like depending on how long you’ll be visiting.
You can create a visit that focuses on outdoor activities, museums, food or just about anything else you can think of. I know I can’t wait to go back!