BMW may be the economic engine that has driven Greer’s modern-day renaissance. But the industrial giant offers several unique opportunities for visitors, too. The manufacturing plant’s guided factory tours, car museum and performance driving school are just a few of the hidden gems you won’t want to miss on your visit to the historic Upstate town.
Even if you’re not a car buff, you’ll enjoy a self-guided tour of the BMW Zentrum Museum. The engaging exhibits chronicle the history of the German automaker from its origins in aviation and motorsports to its rise as a global luxury automotive brand. Among the collection of beautifully restored classics on display are the Isetta “bubble car” and James Bond’s Z3 featured in the 1995 film, “GoldenEye.” The museum is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Admission is free.
BMW also offers guided tours of its only American factory. During both the one-hour and two-hour tours, you’ll get an inside look at the 7-million-square-foot plant where more than 1,400 X model sports activity vehicles are built each day. To register for a tour, click here or call 1-888-tourBMW.
If you really want to go all out, sign up for one of the programs offered in the BMW Performance Driving Center. Among the options is a two-hour driving experience where you get behind the wheel of various BMW models and test them on both off-road and on-road courses. To close the session, you’ll take a “hot lap” with a BMW instructor and feel the power of the car as it drifts and accelerate around the track.
Greer’s agriculture industry offers its own visitor attractions. Once home to hundreds of peach farms, the city still has plenty of groves where you can pick your own peaches each summer. Among the most popular is Fishers Orchard. Established in 1930, this family-owned business offers both a you-pick farm and retail stands where you can buy fresh-from-the-tree peaches. Fishers also grows and sells strawberries, nectarines, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and an assortment of produce in season.
Dillard’s Farms & Ice Cream Parlor is another fun spot to visit in the summer. At this long-established produce stand, you can pick up in-season fruits and veggies, cornmeal, jams, jellies, relishes and pecans—and dessert! The farm stand’s adjoining shop offers homemade ice cream, brownie sundaes, banana splits and other cool favorites.
Greer also is home to one of the few remaining gristmills still operating in the state. Built in 1908, Suber’s Corn Mill uses water from Princess Creek and a paddlewheel to turn millstones that grind corn into cornmeal and grits. The fourth generation of the Suber family continues to run the mill today. You can visit the mill and purchase the products made onsite between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
An even older gristmill can be found on N. Highway 101. Dating back as far as 1814, Gilreath’s Mill is a 2 ½- story frame building constructed of rough-hewn horizontal wood planks. Like Suber’s, it was powered by a water wheel using water from nearby creeks. The mill ceased operations in 1950 but the machinery and stones used for grinding corn remain inside the structure.
If sweets are your thing, stop by Chocolate Dream Shop in the downtown historic district. You’ll find this hidden gem inside The Shoppes on Trade, an artisan boutique on Greer Station’s main thoroughfare. Handmade confections are made onsite in small batches by chocolatier extraordinaire Shelly Jordan. The cleverly named selection of chocolate creams and bonbons include Peter Butter Cottontail, Aunt Hazel’s Nut House and I’m a Rhubarb Girl in a Strawberry World.