How to Make the Most Out of an Evening in Downtown Greenville

The view from the suspension bridge in Falls Park in downtown Greenville, S.C.

The view from the suspension bridge in Falls Park in downtown Greenville, S.C.

Making downtown a place people want to be is the constant challenge of city leaders the world over. It’s challenging because what works in one city may not work in another, largely due to the fact that different places often come packaged with distinct characters. Yet, while there’s no magical one-size-fits-all formula, some cities simply get it right. One of those happens to be Greenville, South Carolina, a smaller Southern city sporting a downtown with a lot of charm.

It’s cliché to say, but there is something for everyone in downtown Greenville, whether you’re trying to keep the kids entertained, show your date a romantic evening, or make a few new memories with your best buds. NOMA Square, an outdoor plaza on North Main Street, serves as the heart of it all. From Downtown Alive and Main Street Fridays in the summertime to the city’s highly-anticipated Oktoberfest in the fall, not to mention free community exercise classes and monthly dog-friendly happy hours between March and November, you’re likely to find something afoot when you visit NOMA.

The square is only the beginning, however. While you could easily grab a bite to eat at Roost or Antonino Bertolo’s Pizza & Wine Bar or get started on dessert a little early at Kilwin’s, you could also begin your hunt for the Mice on Main, nine bronze mice hidden along Main Street between two hotels, the Hyatt Regency and the Westin Poinsett. While the first mouse, Marvin, and his metallic copy of “Goodnight Moon” — the children’s book that inspired Mice on Main — are in pretty plain view near Roost, the rest of his friends are bit trickier to find. If you manage to spy four or five of them, trust me, you did pretty well.

After hunting up and down Main Street for those hard-to-find critters, you could probably use a break, and what better way to relax than by sitting down with a copy of a good book? In comes M. Judson Booksellers, a cozy little bookstore housed inside an old courthouse building. Add to your personal library by choosing one of the staff’s picks, or surprise yourself by going on a “blind date” with a book, whereby you pick a book based solely on the three or four clues written on the brown paper it is hidden within.

Wyche Pavilion sits along the Reedy River

Wyche Pavilion sits along the Reedy River

As with NOMA Square, there are often events happening at M. Judson as well, from book clubs and summer reading series to Page Pairings (book-inspired wine tastings) and Lunch & Lit (author discussions with food thrown in!). There’s also the Chocolate Moose Bakery & Cafe, where you can find sweet treats and snacks any time you stop in.

Continuing south down Main Street, it won’t be long before you stumble upon The Peace Center, a performing arts venue that brings Broadway to downtown Greenville multiple times throughout the year. The center, which describes itself as “the hub of cultural life in upstate South Carolina,” comes loaded with a 2,100-seat concert hall, a 400-seat theatre, an amphitheater, and plenty of indoor and outdoor event spaces. If you step out back along the banks of the Reedy River to find one of those outdoor spaces, the TD Stage, along with the shell of the historic Wyche Pavilion, which is in the middle of a revamp.

There’s plenty more to do right along the riverfront, where you’ll also find restaurants, coffee shops, and a few other stores. But what you’ll want to do now is continue a little further south until you hit Falls Park on the Reedy. Many people stop here to walk across Liberty Bridge, a suspension bridge that crosses over the Reedy and provides a spectacular view of some of its miniature falls. You don’t have to stop there, either, as the 32-acre park contains a few sections of trail, including a portion of Swamp Rabbit Trail, a 22-mile greenway that follows the river.

Once dinner’s out of the way — and there are practically countless options for that — a fine way to close out the evening is by stopping in at SIP Whiskey & Wine Bar for a nightcap. The rooftop venue is located back toward NOMA Square on Main and provides the perfect setting to wind things down or get them ramped right back up, depending on whatever other plans you might have. Either way, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be disappointed.