Where to Eat, Sleep & Libate While at The World Equestrian Games

Four Towns, Two States: One Great Experience

By Rebecca Carr

The four small towns of Tryon, Landrum, Columbus, and Saluda make up the distinctly unique area known as the Carolina Foothills. While the area gives off the impression that it is in the middle-of-nowhere, it actually conveniently sits between three of the most up-and-coming cities in the South, Asheville, N.C. and Greenville and Spartanburg, S.C. Th e foothills offer the best of both worlds — a small-town feel with easy access to happening cities set against the dramatic backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The area attracts a wide array of people from artists to outdoor enthusiasts to prominent equestrians. “A lot of people have chosen to move here, and they are happy and like the quality of life,” says Suzanne Strickland, a local  restaurant owner and co-chair of Our Carolina Foothills, a non-profit organization that connects the four towns in the foothills region.

The town’s roots are closely intertwined with the horse. “Tryon and horses are synonymous,” says Mindy Weiner, co-chair of Our Carolina Foothills. Tryon’s equestrian roots date back to 1925 when Carter Brown, a transplant from Michigan, founded the Tryon Riding & Hunt Club to organize the area’s horse enthusiasts. An avid fox hunter, he started the Tryon Hounds, one of the oldest hunts in the nation, and urged his friends in the North to come stay at Tryon’s Pine Crest Hotel and ride. Brown launched the Tryon Horse Show the following year. Th e reputation started to build from there.

Biltmore Village / Credit: Westmoreland & Scully

The Anchorage

The Omni Grove Park Inn

– WHERE TO EAT –

Openroad Coffee Roastery
Tryon, NC
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Open Road Coffee Roastery is a Tryon classic. The coffee is roasted in-house using fresh 100 percent clean, high-grown Honduras green coffee. Homemade pastries are made daily with all-natural free-range eggs from local farms and sprouted organic fl our. Th e raspberry scone and gluten-free baked oats go quickly! Their lattes are smooth, yet strong and made with non-homogenized, slow-pasteurized A2 milk from the local Mills River Creamery. Their green smoothie made with locally grown Kale and a touch of honey is a must-try.

Stone Soup
Landrum, SC
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Stone Soup shares the equestrian spirit of the Carolina Foothills with an old-time regular crowd and framed pictures of local equestrian legends covering each wall. On a cool evening, the outdoor vined terrace sets the tone for a relaxing night. The food is classic and refreshingly tasty. Don’t miss southern favorites like the fried green tomato app with pimento cheese or the shrimp and grits entree with tasso gravy, shiitake mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, and garlic shallots. Take some daily-made baked goods or specialty food items to-go from the market.

Cúrate
Asheville, NC
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Cúrate literally means to “cure yourself” in Spanish, and the experience at Cúrate can do just that. One of Asheville’s most acclaimed restaurants, elements of Spain are in every detail of the restaurant. Th e atmosphere of the 1927 former Asheville bus depot – now equipped with a 40-foot marble bar – is energetic and spunky. Katie Button, owner and head chef, studied culinary arts with stints at El Bulli in Spain, Jean-Georges in New York and two José Andrés restaurants. The tapas-style of dining and sharing plates encourages the table to come together and connect deeper through conversation. The decadent charcuterie platters, exceptional Spanish-only wine list, and detailed flavors of sherry or smoky paprika will create an exceptional evening.

The Standard
Spartanburg, SC
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Rick Erwin blends the best of quality and service to create a unique family-friendly dining experience in the historic Drayton Mills that offers a nod to Spartanburg’s storied textile past. The standards for food are set high in both ambiance and food.

The Kennedy
Spartanburg, SC
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The interior is nothing short of posh with art deco décor and sophisticated ambience. Think New York City interspersed with that southern charm that gives Spartanburg its “sparkle city” nickname. Try impeccably crafted cocktails and fresh, locally sourced small plates. A recent menu included charred octopus with stewed tomatoes, okra, and butter beans, a kimchi-style farro verde dish topped with a fresh egg, hangar steak, and Udon noodles with a Japanese citrus dressing of orange, lemon, and a lime. The small plates are eye-catching, with artful presentation and crafted with the highest quality local ingredients.

The Anchorage
Greenville, SC
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Located in west Greenville, the bright, airy, and comfortable atmosphere paired with the seafood-inspired small plates make for a fun, Martha’s Vineyard kind of vibe in this hip new restaurant. The menus for both brunch and dinner are eclectic, featuring plates like blackberry oysters on the half shell with watermelon granite, chili oil, and toasted seaweed.

Southside Smokehouse
Landrum, SC
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Award-winning chef Sarah McClure showcases traditional American comfort food with a twist. From N.C.-style barbecue to Louisiana Cajun and Creole dishes to other Southern classics, like fried chicken or shrimp n’ grits, you are sure to find something that will please all palates. Plus, they have the best whisky bar in the region.

The Hare & The Hound
Landrum, SC
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A local favorite for the better part of two decades, this is the place to find classic pub food like meatloaf, hamburgers, steaks, and specialty sandwiches. The dark wood paneling inside gives the place a warm and hearty feel. Make sure to get there early – the line sometimes wraps around the corner for Rick’s infamous baby back ribs.

The Rural Seed
Columbus, NC
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This hip, farm-to-table spot has been reaping rave reviews for its homemade pastries and creative, healthy options like sliced local strawberries, avocado, and grilled chicken on a bed of locally grown lettuce with a poppy seed balsamic vinaigrette. Make this your daytime destination; they’re only open for breakfast and lunch.

Side Street Pizza
Tryon, NC
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The Capozzi family has spent decades perfecting their secret family recipe for pizza. This is a hidden gem, serving thin or Sicilian-style pizza as well as Italian classics like chicken parm and spaghetti with meatballs. Th is family eatery has been serving the foothills community since the early 1980s.

Salsa’s
Asheville, NC
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Salsa’s was part of the original Asheville food scene that turned the city into one of the top food destinations in the country. The Puerto Rican-born chef and owner has shaped a menu of hip and flavorful Mexican and Caribbean cuisine. He turns conventional meals into unexpected yet sensational plates. If you like to be adventurous, this spunky, renowned favorite is the spot for you.

– WHERE TO LIBATE –

Sierra Nevada Brewery
Mills River, NC
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Th is is not your everyday micro-brewery. The California-style brewery, one of America’s premier craft breweries, is massive. Sierra Nevada started brewing their craft beers in Chico, California in 1980. They opened a location in N.C. in 2016 to satisfy the East Coast’s demand. Some of their most well-known beers include the flagship Pale Ale, Torpedo, Porter, Stout, Kellerweis, and others. Sierra Nevada has become a beloved spot in Asheville to eat, drink, enjoy live music in the amphitheater, or stroll through the beer garden. The outdoor patio and fire pits are a crowd-pleaser. If you are interested in the making of the brews, there are several guided tours through the 20-barrel pilot brew house that explain the in-depth process of making the beer. Th e tours finish off with samplings, of course!

New Belgium Brewery
Asheville, NC
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Asheville has a reputation for having one of the highest microbrewery populations in the U.S. New Belgium has two locations in the U.S., one in Fort Collins, Colorado and the other in Asheville, North Carolina. New Belgium is one of the biggest and most popular breweries in Asheville. It is located right along the French Broad River and within walking distance to the eccentric district of West Asheville and the River Arts District. Food trucks sit outside on the lawn of the brewery, and there are free tours daily followed with samplings. You may recognize many of their specialty craft beers like Fat Tire, VooDoo, Ranger, and others.

Birds Fly South
Greenville, SC
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Birds Fly South is a family-run brewery that blends modern and urban brewing techniques with old school southern tradition. The tasting room is dubbed an “urban farmhouse.” It is located in Greenville’s West End Water Tower District. There is live music, two unique bars, an outdoor patio, and large lawn space with a biergarten. They call their brewing style “craft beer with a throwback approach.

Overmountain Vineyard Winery
Tryon, NC
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Overmountain Vineyards is a small, yet beautiful family-operated winery. Th e view from the tasting room features the grape vines that produced the very wine you are drinking beneath rolling blue hills. This amazing ambience makes for the most intimate and cherished winery experience. You would never know that you are just minutes from the Tryon International Equestrian Center. The wines are made predominantly from the 17 acres of their own estate-grown fruit. The tasting room staff won’t let a first timer leave without sharing knowledge about the grapes and winemaking philosophies along with the area’s viticultural history.

Tryon Bottle
Tryon, NC
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Th e timeless Tryon wine shop has been taken over by a dynamic mother and daughter team. Located in a renovated building in downtown, the high-ceilinged dining room with marble-countertop bar is decorated with local and hip artwork. Th  back room holds a family-sized party table aside giant windows that open up a breathtaking view of the foothills. You will find the shop packed on a Friday night filled with locals and visitors alike. You can sit in to try their by-the-glass house wine or craft beers and socialize or stop by to grab your favorite bottle of wine. They also feature weekly wine tastings and allow you to make custom orders and special requests for your favorite labels. Co-owner Jessica Pullara sells her homemade cakes by-the-slice from her bakery inside.

McGourty’s Irish Pub
Tryon, NC
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Young or old, local or out-of-towner, McGourty’s has become a social hub for all in Tryon. The private Irish pub has character and energy that you won’t find in your average bar. It mimics the kind of charm that you might find in a time-honored pub in Ireland. The pub keeps it local with a great selection of craft beers, wine, and a full liquor selection. They also have a full restaurant with pub-favorites like fish and chips, Reuben sandwiches, wings, and burgers.

– WHERE TO PLAY –

Gleghorn Golf & Sports Club
Tryon, NC
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Located on the property of the original Cleghorn Plantation house, this 18-hole golf course was named one of the best courses in North Carolina by PGA. Th e course is a George-Cobb design, along with Par 3 at Augusta and Quail Hollow Club. Each hole is challenging and offers incredible views. Th e Club also features a pool that is open seven days a week. The Cleghorn Gun Club is a sporting clay course that simulates live-quarry shooting. It has a two-course layout with 15 stations and four traps per station.

The Gorge Zipline
Saluda, NC
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Th e Gorge Zipline canopy tour is for the adventurers out there looking to experience the Blue Ridge Mountains by flying through the canopies of the Green River Gamelands. The three- to four-hour-long canopy tour sweeps you through the Green River Gorge and is claimed to be “America’s steepest and fastest zip line tour.” There are 11 different ziplines, three rappels, and a sky bridge that together descend a total of 1,100 vertical feet through protected forest. Whether its spring, summer, or fall, the intensity and rare beauty of sailing among the canopies and hearing the Green river’s roar is priceless.

Green River Adventure Center
Saluda, NC
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Th e Green River Adventure Center offers white water rafting, waterfall trekking, and rappelling, kayaking, and stand-up paddle boarding. This is the perfect destination to experience an outdoor adventure without the stress of having to get equipment or know where you are going. The trips are guided by professionals and locals who love to show people around their beautiful part of the country.

Blue Ridge Parkway
Asheville, NC
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Th e Blue Ridge Parkway will make you fall in love with one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world. The 469-mile-long road that winds through the Appalachian Mountains from Virginia to North Carolina is “America’s Favorite Drive.” Just keep driving, and you will witness the diversity of the Appalachian Mountains in climate, wildlife, and landscape. Black Balsam Knob, Shining Rock Mountain via the Art Loeb Trail, Craggy Pinnacle Trail, and Devil’s Courthouse Trail are some of the most coveted hiking paths in the east, and they are right off of the parkway, easily accessible from Asheville. Around each curve there is a new layer of indigo-blue mountains.

The Gorge Zipline

Blue Ridge Parkway

DuPont State Forest
Brevard, NC
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Waterfall-chasing, hiking, mountain-biking, and swimming all in one day? DuPont State Forest has it all. Located conveniently between the mountain towns of Hendersonville and Brevard, the state forest makes for an ideal day trip for those ready to get their outdoor fix. There are several easy-access hiking trails, some along mountain lakes and leading to waterfall swimming-holes, all offering stunning views of the graceful Blue Ridge Mountains. As for any Hunger Games fans, check out triple falls, where the waterfall scene with Katniss and Peeta was filmed.

Chimney Rock & Lake Lure
Chimney Rock, NC
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The notorious mountainside lake and greenery of the movies Dirty Dancing and Th e Last of the Mohicans captivate people to visit the adorable town of Chimney Rock year-round. Explore the picturesque mountain town with several unique stores and quaint lunch spots along the Rocky Broad River. You can rent paddle boards, kayaks, or even ski-boats on Lake Lure, or choose to traverse Chimney Rock State Park. In addition to the elevator that takes you to the cliff top overlook of Hickory Nut Gorge and cliff -side trails, the park also offers several hiking trails below the Chimney Rock.

Biltmore Estate & Gardens
Asheville, NC
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The family that was the closest thing to American royalty did not hold back with their home in Asheville. Th e 8,000-acre estate was built by George and Edith Vanderbilt and completed in 1895. The house is America’s largest home with 250 rooms and an extravagant garden surrounding. The self-guided tour meanders the three floors and basement, revealing the stories of the Vanderbilt family, guests, and employees. The extravagant rooms where the family hosted parties and gatherings do not seem real, decorated with original 16th century tapestries and artwork by Pierre-Auguste Renoir and John Singer Sargent. It is hard not to stand in awe over the 10,000-volume library, banquet hall with a 70-foot ceiling, and 65 opulent fireplaces. Explore the delicate beauty of the gardens or hike on the trail system weaving through the protected forests on the estate.

Clover Acupuncture & Yoga Studio
Tryon, NC
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Worried about losing your fitness regime while at the games? Stretch and strengthen your core in a yoga class taught by experienced and certified yoga teachers at Clover Acupuncture & Yoga Studio. There are several different flow class options from a restorative fl ow to a vinyasa fl ow offered seven days a week. Owner Candice Behan also practices wellness and acupuncture procedures as a licensed acupuncturist and a certified herbalist. She specializes in women’s health, digestive disorders, and treatment of acute and chronic conditions related to pain management. If you’ve never tried acupuncture, try out Behan’s gentle synergistic blend of acupuncture and herbal remedies.

DuPont State Forest

Chimney Rock & Lake Lure

Tryon Movie Theatre
Tryon, NC
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A Tryon icon, the theatre lies inside a building that was originally built as the telephone and telegraph headquarters for Polk County more than a century ago. It was turned into a vaudeville and movie theatre in the 1920s. The theatre was renovated this summer, treasuring its rich history with original telegrams from movie stars. If you sit in the balcony, you are welcome to buy wine and beer to sip on during the movie.

The River Arts District
Asheville, NC
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The artistic expression in this part of Asheville is straight up R-A-D. Th e River Arts District is a stretch of art studios located in old industrial warehouse buildings along the French Broad River. There are more than 200 artists utilizing everything from paint and pencil, to pottery and metal, to fiber, wax, glass, paper and more to create diverse pieces. The RAD has grown over the last two decades into a meandering map that allows you to peruse neat artwork, enjoy local cuisine and brews, and maybe even take some art classes. Don’t forget to snap a picture at the iconic “Good Vibes” graffiti mural.

The Johnson Collection
Spartanburg, SC
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Th is art studio seamlessly tells the story of different artistic influences of the American South. Art from the 1700s to the present day are on display, revealing the astonishing diversity of cultures and historical events that impacted art in the south.

The Chapman Center
Spartanburg, SC
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Chapman Cultural Center is one of the only places in the United States where visual arts, performing arts, science, and history are all located under one roof. The three-building facility houses art, science, and history museums, two galleries, and three performing arts organizations. Spartanburg Art Museum is the only contemporary art museum in the Upstate and the oldest in the South.

Downtown Tryon Art Galleries
Tryon, NC
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Exceeding the small town’s reputation for equestrian activities, Tryon acts as a compact hub for the arts with several impressive art galleries and pieces. Upstairs Art Space is a nonprofit art gallery that features well-known elite artists from the Carolinas and the Southeast. Mills-Mosseller Studio exhibits pieces previously held in private collections throughout the world. The nonprofit art studio, Tryon Painters and Sculptors, provides workshops and classes throughout the year and puts on local art shows. Note Morris the Horse, the symbol of Tryon since 1928 and the tribute to jazz singer Nina Simone Tribute in downtown.

Biltmore Estate & Gardens (Courtesy of the Biltmore Company)

Clover Acupuncture & Yoga Studio

– WHERE TO LODGE –

Pine Crest Inn
Tryon, NC
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On the National Register of Historic Places, The Pine Crest Inn was converted to an inn by Tryon’s original equestrian connoisseur, Carter Brown, in 1917. Family and friends, or anybody that loved horses and horse sport, stayed at the Inn. The Inn holds 35 guest rooms in the main building, along with several private cabins and cottages including a 240-year-old log cabin, woodcutter cottage, and a stone cottage. An English Tavern setting restaurant, Carter’s Tavern, offers gourmet dining on site as well. Apart from the historical influence that the Pine Crest Inn has had on the horse community of Tryon, the place holds its own unique charm.

The Red Horse Inn
Landrum, SC
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Named “One of America’s Most Romantic Inns” by Travel + Leisure magazine, The Red Horse Inn oozes romance and seclusion. The family-run place is rooted in the intent to create a peaceful getaway that encourages guests to reconnect and recharge. Th e Inn is made of six main rooms, plus six cottages, with options to enjoy full kitchens, hot tubs, and private decks. One of the rooms available, a loft called Th e Stables, sits over the barn where the Inn’s horse is kept. A wine bar was recently added, so you may enjoy a drink and a cheese plate on the terrace over the Inn’s 12 acres and views of the foothills.

The Lodge on Lake Lure
Lake Lure, NC
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Th e Lodge on Lake Lure is a perfect combination of rustic and elegant. Th e Lodge overlooks the famous open-face mountains that Lake Lure is known for. Explore the nooks and crevices of the lake on complimentary paddleboards, canoes, and kayaks. Savor meal at the lodge’s own Tree Tops restaurant. Th e Lodge is located only five minutes from the town of Chimney Rock, 20 minutes from TIEC, and 30 minutes from Historic Downtown Hendersonville.

The Red Horse Inn

AC Hotel Spartanburg

AC Hotel Spartanburg
Spartanburg, SC
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The exterior of this newly constructed hotel is a nod to the centuries-old brick buildings lining Main Street, but it belies the cool, chic vibe inside. The lobby-level bar and fine-dining restaurant Level 10 – on the rooftop overlooking downtown Spartanburg – showcase where the city is moving. Up and Up.

Omni Grove Park Inn
Asheville, NC
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It took 400 men working 10-hour shifts, six days a week, to haul massive granite boulders from Sunset Mountain to build this inn in less than a year in 1913. Today, the inn is considered one of the tops in the world with a 43,000-square-foot spa featuring mineral-based pools and cavernous rock walls, arches, and tunnels. Dine on the Sunset Terrace overlooking the mountains, swim, or play tennis

Inn on Biltmore Estate
Asheville, NC
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You can’t help but to pretend that you are a guest of Edith and George Vanderbilt in the Inn on Biltmore Estate. Sitting on a hilltop in close proximity to the majestic Biltmore House, the Inn exudes graceful style. From marble floors and oriental rugs to four-poster mahogany wooden beds, you may think that you have jumped back into the 19th century. There is plenty to do on the property of the Estate. Tickets to tour the Biltmore House come with the stay. Shuttle down to the Biltmore Winery for tastings and stroll around the shops of Antler Hill Village.

– WHERE TO SHOP –

Biltmore Village
Asheville, NC
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Biltmore Village is located at the foot of the entrance to the Biltmore Estate, near the point where the Swannanoa River flows into the French Broad. Built to resemble a small English village, it continues to transmit a stylish European feel. Shopping options cover the basics along with high-end stores like White House Black Market, Williams-Sonoma, Lululemon, and Brooks Brothers, plus smaller boutiques that bestow a taste of the Asheville mountain culture. Well-known Asheville restaurants like Corner Kitchen and The Wine & Oyster will satisfy the shop-till-you-drop appetite.

Landrum Main Street
Landrum, SC
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Sidewalk shops inside aging, vintage brick buildings and a small-town character, resembling that of Mayberry is what makes the compact town of Landrum special. Off the beaten track antique stores and locally owned and operated boutiques and gift shops make for the perfect afternoon shopping stroll. A couple of Landrum favorites are Horse and Home (with equestrian themed art, gifts, and clothing), Kenzie Boutique and Olive and Then Some.

Farm House Tack Shop
Landrum, SC
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What started out as a small side business 40 years ago in the Lehner family farm’s tack room has grown into one of the most successful tack stores in the nation. The Lehners still run the place and know exactly how to find what you and your horse need. Th e staff is known for their knowledge about all things equestrian, and it shows. They can fit the perfect Sam Shield show coat or find the right saddle from their deep inventory of new and used tack to improve your game. The store also features chic equestrian fashion like velvet loafers and snaffle bit bracelets. For a horse person, the Farm House may feel like heaven.

Downtown Greenville
Greeville, SC
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Over the past few decades, Downtown Greenville has transformed from a declining city center to one of America’s favorite downtowns filled with young professionals and families. There are more than 100 retailers and 120 independent restaurants in a ten-block stretch, AKA paradise for the shopaholic and foodie alike. Unique features like the curvy Liberty Bridge that towers over Falls Park, central park-like picnic spots next to Reedy River Falls, and a romantic tree-lined main street have created a dynamic and lively downtown.

Downtown Spartanburg
Spartanburg, SC
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The burgeoning art scene in downtown Spartanburg has spawned a downtown renaissance of sorts in this historical city. The best place to start is Daniel Morgan Square, an old-fashioned town square named for the Revolutionary War general who defeated the British at the nearby Battle of Cowpens. You can also learn about the city’s deep musical history over the course of the past two centuries on the city’s Music Trail, listening to 18 musicians who made it big. Find more than a dozen sites related to architecture, war, transportation, and entertainment on the Historic Downtown Walking Tour. But don’t miss out on dining and shopping the wonderful boutiques like Pink on Main, Three Sisters, and Petit Armoire. End the evening with a cocktail at Level 10, a restaurant on top of the brand new AC Hotel overlooking the city.

Downtown Greenville

Farm House Tack Shop