By Hayley Hutson
One of my favorite things about living in North Carolina is the abundance of charming towns within a few hours’ drive. From major players like Asheville and Charleston to hidden gems like South Carolina’s Old 96 District, there’s a worthwhile destination for every type of traveler. This fall, my fiancé and I ventured to Greenwood for a weekend of lakeside dining, shopping, and exploring local events around the Old 96 District.
Before we arrived in Greenwood, we made a pitstop at Mayberry Diner in Cross Hill, a family-style restaurant dedicated to all things Andy Griffith. Stepping into the diner was like walking into a TV, with memorabilia from the show coating every wall. It was the kind of place where the waitresses knew the names and orders of all the patrons, and you just knew the burgers would be spot-on. For the record, they were.
Checking Into Inn On The Square
After we indulged in a thoroughly satisfying meal, we checked into Inn on the Square, Greenwood’s only full-service boutique hotel and the ideal home base for diving into all that the area has to offer. Similar to Mayberry Diner, Inn on the Square felt like a blast to the past. The thoughtful preservation of the property’s historical integrity was evident, from the classical-style furniture to rustic design features like the brick fireplace.
Although the guest rooms will be undergoing complete renovations in a few months, we found ours to be spacious, comfortable, and well-decorated. The windows offered plenty of natural light and expansive views of Uptown Greenwood, and the high-speed WiFi was much appreciated since I had some freelance work to do. Our room also came with a TV, microwave, refrigerator, and Keurig coffee maker – always a nice touch.
The Perfect Home Base For A Weekend In Greenwood
Inn on the Square is conveniently located a short walk from the main shops of Uptown Greenwood, making it a breeze to grab a coffee at Aromas Uptown, enjoy lunch at Buffalo Grill, or shop for clothing at Sugar Boutique without hopping in the car. When choosing my accommodations for a weekend getaway, I always look for a hotel with a walkability factor so I can explore on foot, and Inn on the Square definitely fits the bill.
Visiting in October, I was thrilled to see Halloween and fall-themed decor all around the area, adding to the small-town charm that draws in visitors like myself. After a blissful afternoon walking around the Uptown area, we made our way back to the hotel to grab drinks at Fox & Hound Lounge before dinner. It was only 6 o’clock, but live music was already echoing from inside the bar, making for a lively pre-meal experience.
Dining At The New Cambridge Chop House
Cambridge Chop House, Inn on the Square’s new dining venture, had just opened a few weeks prior, so we were excited to be among the first to try it. A classic American steakhouse, the restaurant features reasonably priced steaks, fish, chicken, and a variety of sides. I ordered a mouthwatering petite filet with mashed potatoes and, naturally, wound up eating half of my fiancé’s mac and cheese. That’s what he gets for ordering the most decadent side dish on the menu!
It’s always nice to stay at a place where you don’t have to leave the property to grab a meal, despite how easy it would’ve been to walk over to Main Street for a bite. The meal and service at Cambridge Chop House were equally delightful, capping off our first day in the area with a gratifying end. It’s a good thing the bed was as comfortable as it was because I was more than ready for a long, luxurious sleep to prepare for the day ahead.
Lakefront Dining At Break On The Lake
The amazing thing about staying in Greenwood is that you’re less than 20 minutes from beautiful Lake Greenwood and Abbeville, a picturesque town with ample shops and year-round events. We kicked off the second day of our visit with lunch at Break on the Lake, a family-style steak and seafood joint with incredible lake views. The restaurant reminded me of Hello Sailor in the Lake Norman area, but it blew their views out of the water – no pun intended.
I paired my fish sandwich and fries (which were amazing, by the way) with a mimosa, as one does when dining by the water. While we were there, we watched an older couple exit by walking over to their boat on the restaurant’s dock and driving off into the distance. First thought in my mind? Retirement goals. Break on the Lake had the fresh flavors and aesthetic appeal you hope to see in a waterfront restaurant, but it was the views that truly sent it over the top in my book.
Exploring Hogs & Hens BBQ Festival
Later, we ventured over to nearby Abbeville to check out the annual Hogs & Hens BBQ Festival. I’ll preface this by saying that I’ve never been the biggest barbecue fan, but my opinion changed after that event. The moment we got there, we were met with an abundance of craft vendors from all over selling everything from artisan-made jewelry and fall-inspired home decor to homemade candles and baked goods from inside an old horse stable. Everyone was friendly and welcoming in true Southern fashion, setting the stage for an exciting evening.
After doing a little shopping, we followed the mesmerizing smells of pork barbecue to the center of the Abbeville Square where dozens of tents and food trucks were lined up to serve. We were among the first to arrive, so we started with beers and people-watching on the Two Brews patio. Mac Arnold kicked off the party by performing on the coolest guitar I’ve ever seen, then we started our search for the perfect meal. We followed the ridiculously long line to More Than BBQ, a Greenwood-based food truck owned by the Workman family.
I ordered a brisket sandwich with smoked mac and cheese; the meal that forever changed my mind about barbecue. The meat was tender, juicy, bursting with flavor, and perfectly pink on the inside. It was everything you’d want in a barbecue sandwich and, to be honest, I’m still thinking about it. The Hogs & Hens BBQ Festival was exactly the kind of event that people hope to stumble across when visiting a small town. Seeing friends and families from around the area come together over good food, local crafts, and live music was a breath of fresh air. It was the perfect end to a fantastic weekend in the Old 96 District.
Hayley Hutson is a freelance travel writer based in Charlotte. Channeling her passion for exploration into her work, she loves writing about everything from charming towns off the beaten path to luxury spa resorts in popular destinations. When she’s not on the road, you can often find her listening to a podcast or wheezing her way through a hot yoga class. Follow her on IG @haaayleyh.