You know that person in your life who always forgets they’ve told you a story, so you hear different versions of the same tale over and over again until you feel like you can tell it just as well as they can? My dad is this person for me. My dad is a great storyteller, but he’s also infamous for being a story repeater. We laugh about this often at family gatherings, but no matter how many times I hear the stories that he continually shares from his childhood and mine, I’m still drawn in by the joy that the telling brings him.
My dad grew up in one of the many mill villages that you’ll find on the map of South Carolina’s Upstate. He and his family didn’t have much, but that didn’t really matter, because he truly treasured his childhood in Greenville. I’ve grown up hearing his memories of playing baseball on the Dunean Dynamos (his team picture is on the wall at the Skins’ Hotdogs on Mills Avenue), getting haircuts at the Dunean Barber Shop (where he still gets a trim for $11 every few weeks), and causing all kinds of shenanigans with his friends throughout the streets of the mill village. So, when I discovered that Greenville History Tours offered a textile mills and villages tour, I knew it was something we had to experience together.
John Nolan is a Greenville local who has turned his passion project of documenting Greenville’s growth into a thriving tour business. He is a collector of local artifacts and frequently pauses to take pictures of open fields or old buildings during his daily life, because he never knows what might pop up in the coming years of development. Visitors and locals can see all sides of the city through his various history and culinary tours. When we met up with him for our textile tour, he was buzzing—quite literally—from just having hosted a coffee tour at several local roasters.
Even without the caffeine, his enthusiasm for Greenville was infectious, and he found a fast friend in my dad. Birds of a feather—and storytellers—flock together. As we drove through town, past the different mills, they bantered back and forth about what growing up was like for my dad and how things had changed. It was really fun to watch as they matched each other story to story. Before this tour, I’d never really thought much about my family’s history and its connection to Greenville’s own history. Taking a literal walk down memory lane was truly special, and I’ll never hear my dad’s stories in the same way.
If you’re curious about learning more about my home town of Greenville, South Carolina, and want to experience the city’s history and culinary delights, check out Greenville History Tours. And here are some other musts for your next visit!
Fireforge Crafted Beer
Greenville has a wide variety of craft breweries, and one of its coolest spots is Fireforge Crafted Beer. Located downtown, the former tire warehouse turned cozy destination features vintage sofas, handcrafted tables and a pet-friendly, outdoor biergarden. Sample the 15 house-brewed beers or sip wines, regionally made ciders, meads and more while nibbling on sharable snacks and sandwiches.
One of the most unique aspects of Greenville is the way the city integrates and celebrates nature throughout the city. Outdoor recreation is a major part of the Greenville experience, and there are all kinds of ways to be active and explore. Get your adrenaline pumping at Treetop Quest, an aerial adventure park that offers various obstacle and zipline courses to maneuver through the Upstate trees.
Continue the outdoor theme with a picnic at Greenville’s newest park. Unity Park features four playgrounds, a splashpad and basketball courts, plus walking and biking trails that weave around the newly restored section of the Reedy River that flows through it. It’s a perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon with friends and family.