Greenwood, South Carolina Travel Guide

August 24, 2021

Continuing on our tour of small towns in the South, we recently spent a weekend in Greenwood, South Carolina, and loved getting out and about in this vibrant city! While Greenwood is definitely a smaller town, the local Lander University and hardworking industrial history combine the progressive energy of a city with the small-town charm for a unique and fun atmosphere.

Perhaps the most notable feature of Greenwood is Lake Greenwood. The 11,000-plus-acre lake is surrounded by forests and 212 miles of shoreline, perfect for your outdoor adventures. The area around Greenwood is actually called Lakelands for its several incredible lakes.

If you’re looking to venture outside of your normal South Carolina vacation spots for natural wonders, shopping delights, and a welcoming community of locals, give the hidden gem of Greenwood a shot! I’ve compiled this Greenwood travel guide to get you started, but like most small towns, it’s worth uncovering its secrets for yourself!

Greenwood Travel Guide

How to Get to Greenwood

Greenwood, South Carolina is located in Upstate South Carolina, just an hour away from Greenville and Spartanburg, where I grew up! It’s also super close to many other Southern hotspots. Two hours away is Charlotte, N.C., and Charleston is just a 3-hour drive, making Greenwood the perfect place for a weekend trip. (Keep reading to the end of the blog to see how we spent our weekend in Greenwood!)

When to Visit

There isn’t a bad time to visit Greenwood, but if you’d like to take advantage of Lake Greenwood and all the outdoor activities the town has to offer, I’d definitely recommend visiting during the summer! We visited in early June and the highs were only in the 80s. And of course, you can always duck into one of Greenwood’s many shopping or dining options if you need a break from the heat. If you visit during the beginning of summer, you should absolutely make time for the South Carolina Festival of Flowers, which is held in Greenwood every year!

Where to Stay

Inn on the Square

Located in Uptown, Inn on the Square is Greenwood’s only full-service boutique hotel. The hotel was fully renovated in 2015, but it was thoughtfully preserved to retain the original property’s historical charm. In addition to the beautiful, well-equipped guest rooms, Inn on the Square also has two convenient dining options on-site. The Carriage House Restaurant is a full-service restaurant that offers delicious meals throughout the day, including a wide variety of breakfast options. The Fox & Hound Lounge is a casual bar and lounge that also serves up a lounge menu as well as a uniquely curated selection of cocktails, wine, and craft beers. For the golf enthusiasts, the Inn on the Square has also partnered with four local golf courses to create special packages, allowing you to stay and play, all in Greenwood, South Carolina!

Where to Eat

Howard’s Deli on Main

Howard’s Deli on Main is the perfect small town deli, featuring freshly baked bread and pastries and a menu of delicious soups, sandwiches, salads, and desserts. While we only stayed for lunch, Howard’s on Main frequently hosts live entertainment, karaoke, and trivia nights, made all the more fun with their Backroom Bar. Located on Main Street, Howard’s Deli is a must-try for lunch while you’re in Greenwood!

The Mill House

The Mill House is a great pizza and pub-style restaurant located in Uptown Greenwood. While The Mill House started off as a pizza restaurant, their menu has grown to include sandwiches, pastas, and an extensive craft beer list, including their own brews from Good Times Brewing, located on-site! With plenty of seating and a friendly atmosphere, The Mill House is an awesome spot to grab dinner in Greenwood, plus you’re almost certain to have leftovers!

Aromas Village Coffee

There’s something special about a local coffee shop, and Aromas Village Coffee definitely is. Y’all know I’m not the biggest coffee drinker, and when I do, I like it sweet and iced. The seasonal special Orange Nutella latte from Aromas absolutely fit the bill. Made with their housemade Nutella chocolate sauce and orange essence, this latte was so delicious! Even Erik was impressed by their latte. He actually told me he thought it was the best latte of his life! Harper also enjoyed their chocolate milk, so it’s safe to say that Aromas Village Coffee is highly recommended by the entire family! With a gorgeous, airy interior, make sure you stop by to get your caffeine fix.

Break on the Lake

Break on the Lake is exactly what it sounds like – an incredible steak and seafood restaurant overlooking Lake Greenwood so you can fuel up before heading back out to explore the lake some more. Break on the Lake has an extensive menu with tons of yummy starters, main courses, and more. Although it was tough to choose, I ordered the Mahi Mahi filet, which is served pan-seared with remoulade and chimichurri, with sides of cheese grits and vegetables. It was so delicious and fresh, plus the view can’t be beaten!

Things to Do in Greenwood

Uptown Market

If you find yourself in Greenwood on Wednesday or Saturday morning, don’t miss the Uptown Market! Featuring local vendors from Greenwood and the surrounding areas, there’s plenty to browse and shop, from fresh, local produce, to perfect gift-worthy goods. When we were visiting, they had just added Friday night hours as well, so definitely be on the lookout for other opportunities. On Friday night, we also had the benefit of some incredible live music, food trucks, and beer and wine vendors! For the kids, there’s a splash pad nearby, which Harper definitely enjoyed. One of my favorite vendors was Delune Design. She has the cutest flower cart!

South Carolina Festival of the Flowers

Like I mentioned, we were visiting Greenwood during the annual South Carolina Festival of the Flowers. The festival celebrates the beginning of summer and the spirit of Southern hospitality and floods Greenwood with gorgeous, awe-inspiring topiaries that would be works of art in their own right. Add in the fact that they’re created with flowers and foliage and they’re all the more impressive! Most of the topiaries are located right along Main Street, so it’s easy to walk along, window shop, and pick out your favorite floral feat. I don’t think I could choose just one favorite, but I definitely enjoyed the Gamecock topiary, which was a replica of USC’s Fighting Gamecock, decked out with coleus, yellow sweet flag grass, red petunia, purple sweet potato vine, party-time alternanthera, Dracula celosia, Pennisetum fireworks, and carex frosted curls.

Explore Lake Greenwood

It’s worth dedicating at least one full day of your trip to Greenwood to spend time in, on, and around Lake Greenwood! The over-11,000-acre lake is rich with opportunities for all kinds of family fun! This visit, we booked a boat tour through Wuber with Captain Charles Thomas, and it was such an incredible day on the lake. In addition to touring the lake by boat, we also enjoyed an ice cream boat and had tons of fun at Skippers on Lake Greenwood‘s jungle float mobile water park. The floating structure had a water slide, rope swing, and trampolines. Of course, Harper loved this, but Erik and I had our fun sliding and jumping into the lake, too!

Catch a Flick at 25 Drive In

There are only three drive-in movie theatres in South Carolina, and one of them is right here in Greenwood! 25 Drive In is a classic drive-in theatre with an impressive concessions stand. With 2 screens and double feature nights, 25 Drive In has all the makings of the perfect movie night. If you don’t want to choose from their concessions, 25 Drive In will even let you bring in your own food and drink for a $20 fee per car. We saw the new movie, Cruella, when we went, and it was honestly one of the best family nights we’ve had in a while!

Sugar Boutique

While you’re in Greenwood, make sure to check out some of the wonderful local shops, like Sugar Boutique, which is owned by Sandi Hall McClain, another USC alum! Sandi and I were ZTAs at The University of South Carolina together! Her boutique is full of the best Southern fashion and accessory finds, stocking your favorite colorful and classic brands such as Southern Tide and LaRoque. I had such a great time seeing Sandi and browsing everything at Sugar Boutique; the store is super cute and a mustn’t-miss if you’re strolling through Uptown Greenwood!

Greenwood Railroad Historical Center

Journey back to the Golden Age of Railroad Travel and the Greenwood Railroad Historical Center. It is the home of the Upstate’s largest static railroad display. On Saturdays from 10am till 4pm, you can take a guided tour through the restored, climate controlled cars and locomotive. Our guide took us through a 1906 steam engine, 1914 interurban, 1937 “American Flyer” coach, 1924 Lackawanna “Diner-Lounge”, a 1942 Pullman Sleeper “American Liberty”, and a vintage P&N caboose. Visitors also are allowed into the Piedmont & Northern’s Business Car No 2101 “Carolina” built in 1914 and filled with mahogany and brass, used by the P&N board members, such as Mr James Self, and President Frank Cothran. A business car or office car was a 20th-century version of a private jet with the luxury and prestige of a yacht. Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable and friendly. So much of the equipment is original, including hardware and lighting fixtures in the cars. If you love trains, this is well worth a visit.

If you’d like to follow along with the rest of the travel guides from this summer’s Southern road trip, check them out here:

If you are in Greenwood, SC and need a photographer, I highly recommend Abby Funderburk! You can check out her Instagram here! She is insanely talented and makes you feel so comfortable in front of the camera! Here are some of our favorites from our family session:

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