By Jason Barnette
The Old 96 District spans across South Carolina’s backcountry. At the heart – literally and figuratively – is the “big city” of Greenwood. All roads through the district converge on Main Street, surrounded by local retail shops and dining, history museums, and entertainment venues. It’s an incredible place for a weekend getaway – and that’s exactly why you need this itinerary.
Escape from work the moment the doors close on Friday and take the scenic journey into Greenwood. Spend a couple of nights at a charming boutique hotel, sample the local cuisine, and do some shopping in between history lessons and outdoor activities.
7 p.m. – Check-In at Inn on the Square
Once you check into the Inn on the Square, it’s entirely possible that you won’t want to leave the building again. Natural light spills through the three-story atrium at the center of the building, casting a warm glow across the real plants draped from the banisters and stacked on tables. A water fountain churns near the back entrance, and comfortable armchairs await your arrival at the front.
The boutique hotel features four types of guest rooms. The Studios @118 are in an adjacent building, each room with a private entrance and a small patio. The Atrium Rooms are the only interior rooms in the hotel, but with windows facing the atrium, it’s always bright on sunny days. The Uptown Rooms are the perfect place to stay with comfortable beds and casual elegance. Finally, the Uptown Executive Suites are the pinnacle of accommodations – located in the corners of the building, the rooms feature windows on adjacent walls for the best views of downtown.
8 p.m. – Dinner and Drinks at The Mill House and Good Times Brewery
When Gianpaolo Bonaca and Paul Bartolomeo decided to open a restaurant in Greenwood in 2010, they wanted to make the best brick oven pizzas in the city. A decade later, it’s still a local favorite – a good sign of the quality of the food. Choose from one of their House Favorites or craft your very own pizza recipe from scratch.
The owners always envisioned craft beer as part of the pizza experience. So when the next door space became available, they jumped at the chance to expand their business with Good Times Brewery. The menu at The Mill House includes a few regional craft beers, but next door, you can sample craft beers made on-site – blonde ales, porters, stouts, and IPAs.
8 a.m. – Breakfast at West End Cafe
It’s tempting to saunter downstairs and enjoy a fantastic breakfast at Inn on the Square – they offer made-to-order breakfasts using local ingredients – but part of the Greenwood experience is starting the day at West End Café. Just a five-minute drive from the hotel, the hole-in-the-wall eatery is a local favorite for the first meal of the day.
The menu covers all the options with eggs cooked to order, pancakes, French toast on Texas-style bread, and a long list of savory omelets. Everything on the menu is prepared fresh for each dish, and the coffee will keep you going throughout the day.
10 a.m. – The Greenwood Museum
After a hearty breakfast, begin the day of exploration with a historical introduction to Greenwood. The locals just call it “The Museum,” a two-story experience of the city’s long history. Exhibits, photographs, and artifacts tell the story of the railroad, early industries, and periods in Greenwood.
11 a.m. – Arts Center of Greenwood
Walk next door to the Arts Center of Greenwood to explore local artwork. The visitor center is located inside the spacious lobby – this would be a great time to pick up a local travel brochure and ask about dinner.
The art center includes an ample exhibition space with rotating exhibits. Surrounding the cavernous room are several art studios – sometimes, local artisans are at work inside.
12 p.m. – Main on Maxwell
Across Oregon Avenue, shops line Main Street with wide sidewalks and plenty of shade from the lush trees. It’s one of the most charming features of downtown. At the next corner, Main on Maxwell is the best gift shop in the city.
Opened in 2016 by former teacher Laura, Main on Maxwell is the premier destination in the region for fine art, home décor, jewelry, and anything made locally. It’s difficult to walk through the retail space without wanting to buy something, which makes this the perfect place to end the morning exploration of Greenwood.
1 p.m. – Lunch at Village Grill in Abbeville
Leave Greenwood behind with a short, 20-minute drive to the charming town of Abbeville. Exploration will have to wait until later – lunch is the first destination.
The Village Grill uses local ingredients as much as possible – including the free-range eggs that are simply incredible. In addition, energy-efficient lighting and appliances, recycled paper products, and the complete absence of Styrofoam put the restaurant at the forefront of sustainability.
The expansive menu includes everything from chicken wing appetizers to sandwiches served on sesame seed buns and pasta dinner plates. Grab a seat at one of the rustic wooden booths and order some of their delicious sweet tea – this will be a great meal to continue the rest of the day.
3 p.m. – Explore the Abbeville Historic District
After lunch, take a walk around the Abbeville Historic District through Court Square. The gargantuan trees provide ample shade across park benches during the summer months, making it the perfect place to relax and watch traffic trudge along the brick streets.
Explore some of the shops around the square. At Daily Bread Bakery, you’ll find a wide variety of fresh, local baked goods to fuel your adeventures and take home for your friends. At Crate and Quill, you can shop for antiques and fine craft gift items from owners who fell in love with Abbeville during a road trip!
4 p.m. – Tour the Burt-Stark Mansion
On May 2, 1864, Confederate President Jefferson Davis held the last meeting with his cabinet. Facing the men in the historic mansion – built in the 1830s by lawyer and planter David Lesley – Davis admitted the War Between the States had been lost.
Take the last guided tour of the day to learn about the mansion’s history, admire the gorgeous architecture, and see the antique furnishings and décor. After the tour, take some time to walk the grounds around the impressive house before returning to the car and bidding Abbeville farewell.
400 North Main Street, Abbeville, SC | 864-366-0166 | www.burtstark.com
7 p.m. – BBQ Dinner in Greenwood
Move over, North Carolina, because South Carolina wants the world to know about its barbecue. Greenwood is home to a few restaurants specializing in pulled pork, ribs, and wings – your task now is to choose your dinner.
The Carolina Tavern was started by Ryan Heenan and Larry Fries, who wanted to create a restaurant atmosphere where families could gather for great southern food and watch sports. Known for their wings and ribs, the locally-owned chain has grown to three locations – including a new restaurant in Greenwood. Using local ingredients, you’re certain to find fantastic food while watching a game on the big screen televisions.
Fat Daddy’s BBQ is the very essence of a family-owned barbecue restaurant. Guests order their food at a rustic countertop – items like pulled pork sandwiches, spare ribs, and briskets are common. Tables are covered in vibrant red and white checkered tablecloths – choose from booths along the wall or tables spread across the faux hardwood floors.
8 p.m. – Entertainment
Just because the sun goes down in the small city in the countryside doesn’t mean there is nothing to do. Options abound like a night at the Abbeville Opera House or a performance at the Greenwood Community Theatre.
But the most unique entertainment in Greenwood is the 25 Drive-In Movie Theater. One of only three drive-in theaters left in the state, the first film was shown here in 1945. After a 30-year hiatus, the drive-in was bought by Tommy and Carolyn McCutcheon, who have transformed the venue into a spectacle.
For a single admission fee, visitors can choose from double features on three different screens. Arrive early to find the best parking space, then head to the restaurant for some snack food. Pick up a portable radio to easily listen to the movies or tune your in-car radio for surround sound. Be sure to look up at least once during the movie to see stars in the sky instead of on the screen.
3109 Highway 25 South, Greenwood, SC | 864-942-9871 | 25drivein.com
11 a.m. – Brunch at Indigenous Underground
For many locals, the biggest event of the week is the Sunday brunch at Indigenous Underground in Abbeville, South Carolina. Chef Erica McCier, 2023 South Carolina Chef Ambassador, has a wonderful menu of breakfast and brunch foods available every Sunday 10:30am-2:30pm. You won’t want to miss it!
Jason Barnette knew at age 12 when his mother bought him a typewriter he would love writing stories. His first story was about Star Trek and he has been writing ever since then. He enjoys crafting a story with details and intrigue that inspire people to visit a destination. He sprinkles in a bit of history, adds a list of things to do, and gives the reader an amazing experience. Road Trips & Coffee is his main avenue for sharing his thoughts. #GoForaDrive is his handle!