Heading out Friday afternoon on the quick two-hour drive from Atlanta to Greenville, South Carolina, I didn't have any expectations, nor had heard too much about the city. VisitGreenvilleSC had arranged for me a jam-packed weekend of touring meeting facilities, exploring downtown and tasting local flavors. A weekend of learning, eating and walking sounded pretty great—but I had no idea that I’d fall in love with South Carolina’s sixth-largest city! Here are four things that won me over about Greenville:
- It proves Segways can be cool. Stay with me here! Admittedly when I saw a Segway tour on our agenda, I felt nervous—not only about keeping my balance, but how I was going to avoid the dreaded helmet hair. I’d never stepped on a Segway before, but after entering the Greenville Gliders store on Main Street and meeting our brilliantly witty tour guide, John, I knew this was going to be fun. Initially a little wobbly, I got the hang of operating the machine (it’s all about the feet) and was soon tearing up the streets of Greenville. As our group of seven rolled up in front of the Westin Poinsett for a quick history lesson, I heard a little girl exclaim, “Look, mom, it’s a parade!” The two-hour excursion ended up being one of the highlights of the weekend.
- It’s small, but mighty. According to Google, Greenville’s metro area population is just over 60,000. I was shocked to hear it had hosted more than double it’s own population (103,000 attendees) for the wildly successful Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo in February 2015. It also played host to the giant fishing event in 2008, when 75,000 descended on the city.
- It’s the waffle cone capital of the world. OK, the title's unofficial. But from the moment you step onto Main Street, the smell of the sweet dough being cooked into vessels for ice cream is unmistakable, wafting out the doors of nearly half-a-dozen local shops. I indulged in a homemade white-chocolate-and-sprinkles dipped cone filled with sweet cream, M&M and marshmallow ice cream from Marble Slab Creamery—and wasn’t sorry about it. Spill the Beans was another delicious local option.
- It has one of the best downtowns in America. With wide sidewalks lined with lush trees draped in twinkle lights and literally hundreds of locally owned restaurants and boutiques, it’s a pedestrian’s paradise. In two days, we had the chance to take in four events downtown that any group in town should: Main Street Fridays (free live music in NOMA Square), Shakespeare in Falls Park (set in Greenville’s natural wonder, Falls Park on the Reedy), TD Saturday Market (fresh local produce, dairy, bakeries, entertainment and more) and a Greenville Drive baseball game at Fluor Field (a mini replica of Fenway Park).