Explore small towns with top-notch places to stay and eat while searching for hidden treasures in antique stores across the region. For this small-town antiquing adventure, make Seneca your home base and work your way out from there.
Originally a railroad town and nicknamed the City of Opportunity, Seneca is located just south of Lakes Keowee, Hartwell and Jocassee, with access points to the Saluda River.
For your stay, try Magnolia Manor Bed & Breakfast. This Greek Revival-style mansion specializes in weddings, so you might want to call early to be sure they have availability.
If you get to Seneca early enough on Thursday, you must check out Jazz on the Alley, held from 6:30-9 p.m. every Thursday from April through Octobeo on the main shopping and dining drag called Ram Cat Alley. For dinner, check out The Spot on the Alley, a laid-back restaurant offering pub fare and nightly entertainment.
Start your Friday with breakfast at the inn and get to the business of shopping on Ram Cat Alley, featuring a half-dozen shops, including The Red Door on Ram Cat Alley, filled with unique gifts and decorations, and Green Springs, specializing in American-made products. But the prize is M. Tannery & Sons, a huge store of antiques and oddities. You will find loads of furniture, china, housewares and things that are just plain odd. You can literally spend hours here.
For lunch, try Mayberry's, known for its homemade soups, sandwiches and salads. All of the meats our roasted in-house, including the pulled pork which is barised overnight until it's tender.
After lunch, check out some fantastic antiques in their natural setting at the Lunney House Museum. The house is on the National Register of Historic Places and was the home of Dr. W.J. and Lilian Mason Lunney. Painstakingly renovated, the Queen Anne-style bungalow tells the story of the family who lived there.
For dinner, I suggest heading back to the town center for a delicious meal at Vangeli's Bistro, winner of Wine Spectator's 2022 Award of Excellence. The menu, which changes constantly to take advantage of the seasonal offerings, includes seafood, pasta, steak and pork specialties along with vegetarian and gluten-free options.
On Saturday, you will want to head east to the town of Easley. Start your shopping at Easley Farmer's Market where more than a dozen vendors come out selling everything from peaches to handmade cane chairs. After the farmers market, antique stores, specialty shops and restaurants line the streets of this quaint town while the railroad travels down the center of the business district.
For antiques, you have two great choices: Garland & George and Uncle Sam's Antiques & Collectibles. Other shopping on Main Street includes consignment shop That's Karma, Poor Richard's Books, and In the Carolina Breeze, specializing in decorative garden and house flags.
For lunch, head to Serendipity Cafe, offering soup and sandwich combos that include chicken salad, pot roast, turkey and pimento cheese.
If you have had enough shopping, now would be the time to experience the area's natural attractions. Go tubing on the Upper Saluda with Saluda Outdoor River Company. Trips on a section of the river near downtown Greenville generally take a couple of hours. If that's too much activity for you, simply enjoy some time outdoors and take in river views.
Either way, I recommend returning to your inn afterward and refreshing for dinner at the Lighthouse restaurant on Lake Keowee, where you'll enjoy a healthy offering of seafood dishes and beef wit few unique touches (for example, Korean beef riblets for an appetizer). Reservations are recommended.
If you're not wiped out by Sunday, you have one more small town to visit. Walhalla, which translates to garden of the gods, was founded by German immigrants in the 1850s. I would recommend breakfast at the inn, because there are few locally owned places open in Walhalla on Sunday.
This antiquer's paradise includes Warther's Originals, which gets so full of consignment pieces they often hold auctions. But since you're in town, don't miss the opportunity to browse the many vendor booths in the 18,000-square-foot mall.
For lunch on Sunday, there really is only one option: The Steak House Cafeteria, which has been an institution here since the 1940s and owned by the same family since the 1970s. Fried chicken and coconut cream pie are the specialties.
If you still have time and energy after lunch, there is plenty more shopping on Main Street before heading home.