Images of Greenville, S.C. and a Surprise at Caesar’s Head State Park
We started with an appetizer.
Fried Goat Cheese with Pistachio Dust and Vanilla Honey Drizzle
It was a tranquil view from the floor-to-ceiling windows, a mixture of old and new architecture, separated from us by a gently flowing river. My friend and I were having lunch at Lazy Goat restaurant, known for its globally inspired food and social atmosphere. It was the perfect setting to get reacquainted and anticipate the next few days.
We were there to photograph Greenville, S.C. and nearby mountain vistas!
Audra and I are from opposite ends of the East Coast, she is from New York, and me from South Carolina. We met on a photography expedition to Jordan last year and found that we share a love of travel, photography, and appetizing food! After returning from Jordan, Audra had an inkling to visit Greenville, situated in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We visited in October when the air is refreshingly cool, but not yet cold.
The Cherokee Indians once held exclusive hunting grounds in the area that is now Greenville. The natural landscape offered protection, freshwater, and abundant wild game. When Europeans settled there, visitors began to enjoy picnics near the river and excursions to nearby mountains. Audra and I planned with this in mind. We spent part of two days photographing and dining around the West End Historic District, the Peace Center Campus, and Falls Park. In between, we enjoyed a full day outing to nearby Caesar’s Head State Park.
After catching up during lunch at Lazy Goat, we began a walking tour at RiverPlace, using the Downtown Greenville Map as a guide.
The open air brick venue of Wyche Pavilion takes center stage from West End along the RiverWalk near Art Crossing.
Built in 1835, the brick shell of the old Coach Factory is now preserved and repurposed as a venue, part of the Peace Center Campus, and one of Greenville’s most photographed structures.
We crossed the Reedy River at the colorful walking bridge that rises over pillars that form the Reedy River dam, an area of old rail passage. The dam is another example of how Greenville incorporates its heritage into beautiful areas with a purpose. The walking bridge is now the Eugenia Duke Bridge, named for the endearing legend and pioneer businesswoman who launched our favorite brand of mayonnaise.
Continuing upwards from the river, we passed the Peace Center Amphitheater and then spilled onto Main Street in front of the Peace Center for the Performing Arts.
Casual open-air dining beckons weary shoppers in the heart of the shopping district.
Our visit coincided with the annual festival Fall for Greenville, where music venues and food tasting booths attract thousands of people. This year, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, officials promise a virtual festival where fans may enjoy their favorite musicians and sample food fare from take-out.
Fluor Field Ball Park is on the far end of South Main Street. At the entrance to the ballpark, visitors tip their hats to the statue of Greenville’s own baseball legend, ‘Shoeless Joe’ Jackson.
Along the way, we were captivated by the cigar warehouse ‘ghost sign’.
These iconic hand-painted, weathered advertisements offer nostalgic windows to Greenville’s past.
The next day, we drove from Greenville to Caesar’s Head State Park, a one-hour scenic drive on US-276. The park is part of South Carolina’s Mountain Bridge Wilderness and offers stunning views of the Blue Ridge Escarpment. Caesar’s Head State Park has long been a North American Hawk Migration Site.
This time we were surprised by swarms of monarch butterflies fluttering all around the wildflowers!
Caesar’s Head is also a Monarch Butterfly Fueling Zone. The butterflies love the abundant wildflowers there, especially milkweed.
On our last day in Greenville, we returned to West End to explore Falls Park on the Reedy. The Liberty Bridge on that side is a spectacular pedestrian suspension bridge that spreads over the falls and garden. Passerelle Bistro sits at one end. Bright red umbrellas and stunning views from the patio at the French restaurant called our attention to lunch.
Both Audra and I ordered this mouthwatering appetizer, knowing that it would be too good to share!
Crispy Goat Cheese served with Phyllo, Blueberry & Lavender Jam, Candied Walnuts, and Citrus Gel.
After savoring every morsel, we anticipated our main course selections while viewing the breathtaking falls below.
Meandering footpaths through the garden led us from a birds-eye view of the falls to the lower park, another spectacular view.
Peering back up from below, another ghost sign, uncluttered by other structures, conjures thoughts of a distant past.
That evening, we rode through part of downtown on the Greenlink Trolly. If you’re spending a day in downtown Greenville, park on the North end at Commons Garage. A leisurely walk along Main Street from that end to Falls Park on the Reedy is the best way to enjoy the captivating atmosphere of Main Street.
On the spur of the moment, we were lucky to get a seat for dinner at Jianna, Modern Italian & Oyster Bar. The maître d’ asked if we minded sitting outside at the upstairs balcony. We didn’t mind at all! Enthusiastically, he led us to stools at the bar, facing into an open-air window, in view of the dessert station. We wondered if it was coincidence or karma that we were fortunate enough to watch the station chef as he rolled, filled, and dusted the Italian delicacies.
We started with Prosciutto followed by Fresh House-made Pasta TBG (roast tomatoes, basil, and garlic) with Grana Padano cheese and meatballs on the side.
Dessert? Of course!
Salted Caramel Semifreddo with Biscotti Crumb, Shaved Chocolate, and Caramel Sauce.
Later that evening, we captured the starbursts of street lights along RiverWalk as the magical visit to Greenville came to a close.
In 1968, a group of like-minded citizens and community leaders began with the simple goal to make Main Street Greenville pedestrian-friendly.
Today, that goal drives the public/private collaboration that continues to make Greenville one of the greatest success stories of downtown revitalization. See the fascinating step-by-step story in ‘Downtown Reborn‘.
Top magazines consistently list Greenville as one of the top-10 cities in the U.S.
See a complete list of articles shared by the Greenville News, updated on January 14, 2020.
How we got there.
Growing up in Ninety Six, S.C., I’d visited Greenville and Ceasar’s Head State Park many times and knew its beauty. Family road trips to the mountains near there were a rich part of our lives. Some of my ancestors lived and worked in Greenville and surrounding rural towns, part of the agricultural and textile heritage of the area.
Sometimes we lose sight of the incredible beauty right in our own backyards.
This time, it was my New York friend Audra who brought me back to the beauty of Upstate South Carolina.
Greenville is a one-hour and thirty-minute drive from my home in West Columbia. Audra flew from New York to the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, 13 miles from downtown Greenville. I picked her up there and drove to our hotels.
For cool climates and fall foliage,
October and November are the best months to visit!
Go to Healthy Travel Information to see restaurant openings, hotel information, and other safe visit instructions for Greenville, S.C. during COVID-19.
Go to Caesar’s Head State Park for information on safe visit instructions during COVID-19.
Audra is a traveler, photographer, blogger, and writer. She generously shared some of her photographs for this story.
Find more of Audra’s travels and amazing photos at http://cashmerejet.com/.