Photo courtesy of VisitGreenvilleSC/ProBros Production
Vacancy rate: 13.7%
Recent homes added: 410
Projected annual growth rate (2015-2020): 1.39%
Arts-related businesses: 80
WalkScore (out of 100): 41
3. Greenville, SC
You’ll be forgiven if you feel the need to use GPS to make sure you’re actually walking through Downtown Greenville, S.C. and not some European city. The tree-lined Main Street, sidewalk cafes and waterfalls have a rather foreign feel when it comes to what you might expect in America’s Bible Belt. But we promise that’s Greenville, an unexpected treat of a small town in the Southeast. It’s Downtown Greenville’s unique appeal and projected growth that put it once again on our list of the Top 10 Downtowns.
City leaders have been focused on not just renewing Greenville’s downtown, but making it a destination that appeals to the best and brightest, and that’s exactly what Greenville does. More than 20,000 workers populate the downtown area during the day, while area residents and tourists trickle in when the sun goes down to shop, eat and be entertained. Most of the 120 independent restaurants contained in the 10 blocks that make up downtown are locally owned and one-of-a-kind. The Trappe Door serves a Belgian-inspired menu in an English pub-like atmosphere. Guests at The Lazy Goat have viewing options while waiting for their Mediterranean meals. They can gaze out at the Reedy River or watch the hard working chefs in the open kitchen. Set in a century-old building, Soby’s delivers New Southern cuisine which matches the restaurant’s cozy yet polished atmosphere.
Greenville’s arts scene reflects the city’s growing diversity, with venues that draw nationally acclaimed performers, museums housing works by classical masters like Botticelli and Andrew Wyeth and small galleries and studios where budding artists hone their craft. Located in the heart of Downtown Greenville, The Peace Center provides a performance setting that’s as acoustically pleasing as it is architecturally appealing. You’ll find comedy acts, dramatic plays, light-hearted musicals and rock concerts at Centre Stage. Located throughout downtown is a collection of sculptures, fountains and murals creating an outdoor gallery of art.
While downtown provides residents with a modern, urban environment there are plenty of ways to enjoy Mother Nature, starting with Greenville’s most photogenic spot, Falls Park on the Reedy. An oasis in the downtown area, Falls Park features the Liberty Bridge which offers unsurpassed views of the waterfalls. Running along the Reedy River is a 21-mile, multi-use trail system called the Greenville Health System Swamp Rabbit Trail. This paved pathway links downtown to surrounding communities, schools and parks. And one more venue that might leave you wondering if you’re in the right place is Fluor Field, a mini replica of Boston’s Fenway Park and home to the Greenville Drive, a Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.