From small town main streets bustling with craft breweries, innovative eateries and boutique hotels to revamped retail districts lined with locally owned shops and cafés, these vibrant thoroughfares are infused with new energy.
Revitalized Main Streets and Downtown Districts
Conway began as a hub of trade in the 1700s due to its strategic location on the Waccamaw River. Today, its downtown hub is seeing exciting growth. Meander along the 1.5-mile Conway Riverwalk and stop into Rivertown Roasters on Main for a cup of fair trade, organic coffee roasted onsite. Order globally inspired Southern fare (think Lowcountry spring rolls and Jamaican jerk fried chicken salad) at Rivertown Bistro or Southern-style pub grub at Bo. Co. Bistro (start with the beer cheese nachos piled with pulled pork). Keep an eye out for a new restaurant, brewhouse and retail space currently being built along the riverfront.
Explore the 32-acre Falls Park on the Reedy—the location of the new Grand Bohemian Hotel Greenville, a modern take on a traditional park lodge slated to open spring 2022—and continue on to the West End historic district for unique brews at The Whale: A Craft Beer Collective and Hoppin’ (a self-serve beer hall), eclectic wines at Urban Wren, prime steaks at Rick Erwin’s West End Grille and street food-style bites at Gather GVL.
Booming with new developments, historic North Main Street has become a beacon of revitalization. Dine on Italian-influenced New American dishes at the stylish Hamptons restaurant led by South Carolina Chef Ambassador Raffaele Dall’Erta or fill up on brisket and bourbon at Sidebar. Then, taste your way through craft beers on the rooftop at Sumter Original Brewery and call it a night at the modern Hyatt Place Sumter/Downtown.
Just across the Gervais Street Bridge from the capital city’s downtown, discover the burgeoning area of West Columbia. On Saturday mornings, shop original art and handmade crafts from vendors during Meeting Street Artisan Market at the colorful Interactive Art Park. Overlooking the West Columbia Riverwalk Park and Amphitheater, savor French-inspired cuisine from the rooftop bar at Black Rooster. Listen to live music with a pint of craft beer in hand on the outdoor patio at Savage Craft Ale Works or enjoy drinks and food truck eats at WECO Bottle and Biergarten, housed in a former garden center.
Tucked along Prestwood Lake, the town of Hartsville seamlessly blends natural beauty with historic character. Kick off your morning with handmade pancakes or waffles at the recently opened Maxyne’s, and then learn the town’s story through exhibits at The Hartsville Museum, housed in a 1930s post office. At Wild Heart Brewing, which was once a family feed and seed store, pair a brick oven-fired pizza with a pint of craft beer. Order a scoop of ice cream or old-fashioned treats at The Sweet Shoppe, and during the summer, watch a free show at the Screen on the Green movie series.
Make the most of your leisure time with a light beach read or a thrilling mystery novel when you visit indie bookstores found in small towns throughout the state, selling everything from the latest bestsellers to vintage collector’s editions. At Edisto Island Bookstore, say hello to the resident cat, Emily Grace, and then uncover sea island secrets with local interest books, maps and nautical gifts. For hard-to-find and out-of-print books, don’t miss the rare collection at Ed’s Editions in West Columbia. At Books on Broad in Camden, grab a cup of freshly brewed coffee and settle in to peruse the extensive collection of history and military tomes. For lighter reading, pick up a bestseller or a fascinating work of Southern literature at M.Judson Booksellers in Greenville. Hub City Bookshop in Spartanburg also specializes in Southern lit, plus history and nonfiction, and hosts more than 100 events per year—many of them free. Bringing your kiddos on vacation? Let their imaginations run wild with a zany adventure, animal escapade or kids’ classic from The Storybook Shoppe, a children’s bookstore in Bluffton.