Need an excuse to add another day to your South Carolina vacation? Newberry Opera House has 150 of them. The historic performance hall has put together a lineup of shows, concerts and events to give you every reason to pencil in a side trip on your itinerary.
But you don't need the Glenn Miller Band or "Jekyll & Hyde - The Musical" to justify a stopover in this small Midlands town. Downtown Newberry offers visitors plenty to do even if you're not going to a show at the opera house.
Walk along Main Street and pop your head into the many neat antique shops filled with vintage jewelry, rare books and old furnishings. Don't miss C.T. Summer Hardware, a virtual time machine to yesteryear.
You could spend hours perusing the shelves and aisles of this family-owned store founded in 1928 by Clarence Summer and now run by his amiable grandson, Bill Shull. Every nook and cranny features an interesting item, from bear traps to toboggans to cast-iron mini cake pans. The store, located one block off Main at 1207 Boyce St., was featured on the History Channel's "American Pickers" in 2011.
But that's not Shull's only claim to fame. His father, Dr. Clifford G. Shull, was an MIT physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1994 for the development of the neutron diffraction technique.
Main Street also features a spate of locally owned women's clothing boutiques, gift and garden shops and art galleries. Many of these stores are in beautifully renovated buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The downtown district also includes several special historic attractions, including the art deco Newberry Firehouse, Newberry County Historical Museum and, of course, the Newberry Opera House, built in 1881.
When you're through trolling for treasures, have lunch at one of downtown Newberry's popular eateries. Flying Pie offers a variety of hand-tossed specialty pizzas and craft beers. For something fancier, try Figaro or The Cabana.
After lunch, stroll down to Memorial Park next to the opera house. The shaded green space plays host to dozens of family-friendly events, festivals and concerts each year. Sit a spell and enjoy the ambience of a community featured in Crampton's "The 100 Best Small Towns in America" and Sweitzer & Fields' "The Best Small Southern Towns."