Expect world-class culture, superb shopping, and a flavorful dining scene on Main Street in downtown Greenville, South Carolina. How happenin’ is it? The American Planning Association named it one of the Top 10 Great Streets in America last year — a real coup when you consider that it’s gone from downtrodden to distinguished in just 25 years. The transformation began with a strategic plan to create anchors and fill in the spaces between. The opening of the Hyatt Regency in 1982 established a northern Main Street anchor, and the 1990 open- ing of The Peace Center for the Performing Arts brought people farther south. When local res- taurateur Carl Sobocinski opened Soby’s restaurant on Main in the late ’90s, and the renovated Westin Poinsett opened across the street in 2000, downtown Greenville became the place to see and be seen. In the past decade, locally owned shops, bars, and restaurants have filled in the gaps. Downtown’s diminutive size (about 15 blocks) makes it easy to walk to most hot spots, or take the free trolley running along Main Street. The Westin’s arrival sparked a flurry of development in the city’s West End district at the southern end of Main Street.
This isn’t your average downtown. This isn’t a block or two of renovated warehouses, pricey bistros, and contemporary art galleries. What Greenville, South Carolina, has done to its downtown makes other cities green with envy think inventive restaurants, locally owned boutiques, a stellar arts scene, and a 30-acre park with pedestrian bridge and waterfall. (And that’s barely skimming the surface.) Located just two hours from Atlanta and Charlotte, this is one cool city, with forward-thinking leaders and a clear-cut plan that has transformed downtown into the destination it is today.