Great Hidden Gems Abound in and Around Greenville

By:Bob Gillespie

Date:6/30/2013

Visitor attractions abound in downtown Greenville, from a vibrant restaurant scene and nightlife to shopping, history and sports attractions. But just when you think you’ve seen it all, the city and surrounding areas offer yet more surprises for those willing to look for them. It might be hard to leave downtown Greenville with its many offerings, but venture outside the city to find even more attractions off the beaten path.

If you’re into historic architecture and structures, a couple of easy road trips await. First, head to Greer to see Suber’s Corn Mill, built around 1908 and one of a handful of surviving grist mills still operating in South Carolina. Located on the slope of a hardwoods-covered hill, water from a holding pond flows down a wooden chute onto the paddles of the mill’s large vertical wheel; which drives gears, pulleys and shafts inside the wooden building. There, corn is fed into the grinding millstone below and fine white powder emerges for bagging and sale. It's at 2002 Suber Mill Road in suburban Greer. Open Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Call (864) 877-5616.

Another piece of local history is in nearby Landrum, where Campbell’s Covered Bridge, built in 1909, is the only remaining covered bridge in South Carolina. At 38 feet long and 12 feet wide, the pine structure spans Beaverdam Creek and was built by Charles Irwin Willis. Now owned by Greenville Country, legend says the bridge was named for Lafayette Campbell who at the time owned 194 acres in the area. It's now a spot for picnics, wading in the creek and hiking. Find it at 171 Campbell’s Covered Bridge Road in Landrum.

Another viewing spot is Fred W. Symmes Chapel, part of YMCA Camp Greenville and known as “Pretty Place” for its scenic vistas. While the camp dates to 1912, the chapel was built in 1941 and donated by Symmes for the enjoyment of young campers, male and female. Upgrades to the site were made in 2012 and it serves as a summer camp, environmental education center, conference center and occasional wedding venue. Fees for chapel use help maintain the site, and donations are welcome. Call (864) 836-3291 for information.

Just six miles south of downtown Greenville is Lake Conestee Nature Park, about 400 acres of natural habitat on the Reedy River. With hardwood and evergreen forest along three miles of the Reedy, the park is home to deer, raccoon, beaver, fox, river otter and other species, including reptiles and amphibians. More than 200 bird species have been identified by the Greenville County Bird Club, and the park is a designated Important Bird Area of Global Significance per the National Audubon Society. Open sunrise-sunset, and admission is free.

If visitors prefer relaxation and leisure over natural beauty, start in Greer at the Stomping Grounds Coffee and Wine Bar; which specializes in coffees and teas, wines and beers, food and more. Entertainment includes the Old Time Jam with Bob Buckingham, first and third Tuesdays, 7-9 p.m.; Celtic Session (Irish/Scottish folk music), first and third Wednesdays, 7-9 p.m.; and Colored Pencil Art with Robert Decker, Mondays 7-9 p.m. Open Monday-Thursday 8 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 8 a.m.-10 p.m. at 208 Trade Street in Greer, call (864) 801-1555.

For a getaway visit, consider Hotel Domestique, located at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains and inspired by the travels, tastes and lifestyle of one-time Tour de France cyclist George Hincapie. The hotel has become a “base camp” for cycling, golf, fishing and hiking, while also a short hop from both Greenville and Asheville. Located at 10 Road of Vines, Travelers Rest; call (864) 516-1715.

Also just right for a romantic weekend is the Red Horse Inn in Landrum. Set in the Blue Ridge foothills and offering sweeping views, the Red Horse has been named Yahoo.com’s Most Romantic Weekend Getaway in South Carolina as well as claiming Trip Advisor’s Certificate of Excellence (2013-15) and Travel & Leisure’s “One of America’s Most Romantic Inns” award. It's at 45 Winstons Chase Court, Landrum; call (864) 909-1575.

Finally, for a taste of visual arts, drama, music and theater entertainment away from the bustle of downtown Greenville; venture south to Fountain Inn for the Younts Center for Performing Arts. The center is home to FIRE Theatre Company, FIREside Radio, the Fountain Inn Chorale, Fountain Inn Symphony Orchestra and the GLOW Lyric Theatre. Past offerings include “A Christmas Story,” the Glenn Miller Orchestra, comedian James Gregory, Women of Ireland and such shows as “Wizard of Oz” and “Dracula.” Box office is open Monday-Thursday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Friday 9 a.m.-noon, or call (864) 409-1050. Located at 315 N. Main St. in Fountain Inn.

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