/ by Stephanie Burnette

I’m a fan of exploring small towns and imagining life in a different Carolina locale. I will pull off the highway to piddle through an unknown place. But on a getaway, I want a list of the greatest hits to maximal-ize every moment. There’s a freedom to it, knowing a destination will be chock full of good stuff.

 

Daytrip to Greenwood & Abbeville

Distance from Greenville: 1hr

Getting to Greenwood you’ll drive through peach groves, a bonus to a lovely daytrip. Abbeville is a quick 14 miles away from downtown Greenwood and its town square is full of independent retail businesses with neighboring streets stacked with historic homes.

 

Itinerary:

10a
Get inspired at The Benjamin E. Mays Historic Site

Noon
Eat lunch at Buenavista Latin Café and say hello to the public topiaries of the SC Festival of Flowers

1p
Feed the peacocks and goats at Emerald Farm and bring all the soap home

3p
Stop for bread and sticky rolls at the Mennonite bakery Swartzentruber’s

3:30p
Take a selfie at a peach stand; the
Old 96 District grows the best peaches
on planet Earth

4p
Pick up peach lip balm at bath purveyor Breezy Quarters

4:30p
Go vintage shopping at Crate & Quill

5p
Grab a hotdog at The Rough House before heading home

The Benjamin E. Mays Historic Site

The childhood home of civil rights forefather Ben Mays is a phenomenal history stop. Director Chris Thomas offers an engrossing tour of Mays’ childhood home, a timber frame cabin, as well as a historically preserved one-room schoolhouse and museum filled with archival material, photographs and memorabilia.

Ben Mays’ rise through the ranks of academia and social history is astonishing. Though he may be best known for delivering the eulogy at Martin Luther King Jr.’s public funeral, Dr. Mays’ contribution to bettering the human condition, from his time as President of Morehouse College to advising US Presidents, is both varied and diligent. His story comes alive at a visit here. I can’t stop telling people about it. The site celebrates its 10-year anniversary this fall.

 

Overnight Trip to Rock Hill & Fort Mill

Distance from Greenville 1hr 45 mins

A new Cambria hotel affords an overnight stay in downtown Rock Hill, something I haven’t been able to do before. Fort Mill is an easy 10 miles away and a new development called Kingsley offers even more shopping and dining, including a beautiful wine bar called Napa and Asian dining at Spice.

 

Itinerary Day 1:

10a
Explore the shaded goodness of Glencairn Garden

Noon
Eat lunch at Legal Remedy Brewing Co.

1p
Post videos from Fountain Park

1:30p
Tour The White Home and learn a-condensed-lot about Rock Hill history

3p
Walk into Old Town and gawk at the new mural by @daflemingo

4p
Hang like a local at The Warehouses on White: shop for home goods at The Mercantile, coffee at Knowledge Perk and grab a beer at Dust Off Brewing

6:30p
Dine at the historic counter of Kounter and be mermerized by Chef Rob Masone

9p
Cozy up to a pineapple martini at the bar of The Flipside Restaurant

 

Itinerary Day 2:

8a
Nosh at Amelie’s Bakery in downtown Rock Hill

9a
Explore nature and history at the Anne Springs Close Greenway in Fort Mill

Noon
Order meatballs and polenta at Salmeri’s Italian Kitchen, home to Chef Ambassador Amy Fortes

1p
Stroll historic downtown Fort Mill. Pick up the world’s hottest hot sauce at Pucker Butt, home goods at Crossings on Main and craft beer at Amor Artis

3p
Buy Ginger Gold Hard Cider at Windy Hill (open until 4p) and take the back roads home

Glencairn Garden

An astonishing urban garden in Rock Hill, now 60+ years old, Glencairn accumulated its acreage over decades and maintains a large collection of flowering species. But visit here to experience numerous fountains constructed during the mid-century modern era. Notable landscape architect Robert Marvin designed much of the planned gardens and water features around 1959, including the Cascade Fountain, where tiered bowls spill into each other, delighting the eye with their geometry, into a vast pond framed with native plantings. Spending time at Glencairn feels like forest bathing, walking through its shady landscape and experiencing mid-mod design that feels ever relevant.

Anne Springs Close Greenway

The 2,100 acres of protected land includes waterways and trails for walking, fishing, hiking, biking and horseback riding, but its place in American History is remarkable too. The Anne Springs Close Greenway is home to part of the Nation Ford Road and a portion of the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road. The Graham Cabin is here too, the log home of Billy Graham’s great-grandfather, and the Faires-Coltharp Cabin, an outstanding example of early 1800’s construction and the home of veterans of the American and Civil Wars. You’ll want to return and see more of the Greenway, no matter how long your visit.

Weekend away in Asheboro/Seagrove

Distance from Greenville 3 hours

The Heart of North Carolina is a friendly place, peopled with all ages and intelligent locals. I really like Asheboro, and its proximity to the creative culture of Seagrove pottery cannot be undersold. It lacks a downtown hotel, but one may be in the works. For now, Airbnb offers some unique stays.

 

Itinerary Friday:

4p
Be blown away by mint-condition tractors at The Neal John Deere Tractor Museum and book a reservation to see the European antiques at the Linbrook Estate, also on the property.

6p
Put the best fried chicken in the Carolinas in your mouth at Magnolia 23

8p Have a drink at The General Wine and Brew

 

Itinerary Saturday:

9a
Eat at The Table, Asheboro’s Insta-worthy breakfast spot

10a
Shop for antiques up and down Sunset Avenue

Noon                                                                                                                   Nosh at the hyper-local The Taco Loco

1p
Studio hop in Seagrove, make time for stops at Ben Owen Pottery, Dean and Martin Pottery and Eck McCanless Pottery

4p
Tour Carolina Bronze Sculpture, by appointment, and walk the sculpture garden

6p
Hang out at Four Saints Brewing Company
or Lumina Wine Bar and go eat at Positano

 

Itinerary Sunday:

9a                                                                                                                         Pig out at Glaze King Donuts

10a
Go to The North Carolina Zoo for the plants!
If you can get a behind the scenes tour, ask to see the composting operation

1a
Grab a field-to-fork lunch at The Iron Hen,
in the North America wing, before
heading home

 

Carolina Bronze Sculpture’s Garden

Visiting a foundry is fascinating and one of the premier art foundries in the country, Carolina Bronze Sculpture, is here in Seagrove. Call to make an appointment for a tour. They cast new art, restore antiques, repair public bronze works, including a project for the Smithsonian. Foundries are dirty business, but Carolina Bronze has offset their footprint with solar and retention pools and comprehensive metal recycling. A bonus to these efforts is a lovely pond with its reflective sculpture garden, filled with native plant species and sizeable works. The sculpture garden is open to the public and I count it as one of the best mixed-use installations in the Carolinas. Don’t miss this stop. It’s a little-known gem.

 

A Pottery Airbnb

Stay at Seagrove Stoneware Inn, an Airbnb run by married potters Alexa Modderno and David Fernandez. Modderno is renowned for her tableware, Moddware, and Fernandez, a pottery veteran known for his scale, is also the town’s mayor. Their newest endeavor, The General Wine and Brew, is a delightful wine and craft beer bar in a converted historic general store. They assembled buttons with snappy sayings to create the long bar top for the shop. You’ll laugh and sip and laugh some more reading them. Look for apt tasting on their calendar too.