It wasn’t easy for Greenville to become the fastest-growing city in South Carolina, not to mention one of America’s “Best Downtowns” and “Best Places to Live,” according to Livability.com. In northwest South Carolina at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this downtown was once a hive of textile mills — but by the late 1970s, nearly all were gone. Greenville’s revival owes a lot to the city’s decision to make Main Street an attractively tree-shaded, pedestrian-friendly destination.
Main Street leads right over Liberty Bridge, a visually stunning span over the Reedy River that’s just one of the beauties of Falls Park on the Reedy. This green, waterside oasis in Greenville’s historic West End is often called the birthplace of Greenville. It was here by the Reedy River Falls that Cherokees and then Europeans made their first local settlements.
As it moves through downtown, Main Street is full of attractions and things to discover. One of the most unique is Mice on Main. Nine small gold sculptures are placed, for kids to discover, along the street between the Hyatt and Westin Poinsett hotels. Clues are in the book Mice on Main, whose illustrator Zan Wells, a local artist, also created the sculptures. The many shops and businesses worth visiting on Main include Dark Corner Distillery, whose specialty spirits, including bourbon and moonshine, won a South Carolina Distillery of the Year Award in 2014.
You can take an unusually fun ride up Main Street with Reedy River Rickshaw — and you may have a hard time choosing where to eat, as Main Street’s many excellent restaurants offer a diversity of ethnic and international cuisines, along with traditional Southern fare. NOMA Square on North Main is an outdoor plaza that often hosts events and festivals, including Greenville’s Oktoberfest and a summer concert series called Main Street Fridays. In summer months, Main Street also hosts a Saturday farmers’ market.
Just off Main Street on Broad is the Peace Center, a performing arts theater whose resident companies include the Carolina Ballet Theatre, Greenville Chorale, Greenville Symphony Orchestra and South Carolina Children’s Theatre. Greenville is also rich in baseball, both present and past. On South Main is Fluor Field, home of the Greenville Drive, a farm club of the Boston Red Sox. And the ballpark is a few steps from the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum & Baseball Library, devoted to the late, great Greenville ballplayer.
Dining on Main Street photo courtesy of Firewater Photography
Downtown Greenville photo courtesy of Visit Greenville SC
Saturday Market photo courtesy of City of Greenville
Falls Park photo courtesy of Craig A. Lee