There’s a lot going on in the South lately. This summer, take a swing by some unexpectedly cool places south of the Mason Dixon line to find the fun.
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Greenville, South Carolina
The Reedy River runs right through this gorgeous town that has everyone buzzing, including The New York Times, Thrillist, Condé Nast Traveler and Travel & Leisure. Stay at the modern, IKEA-inspired Swamp Rabbit Inn and hop on the bikes that are available. Take a ride along the tree-lined 22-mile Swamp Rabbit Trail, then devour a sweet or savory crepe at Tandem Creperie. The baristas at Brooklyn-vibed Methodical Coffee make the best lattes in the city, so grab a café table outside, or opt for a healthy açai bowl at Southern Pressed Juicery, then plan to leisurely stroll Greenville’s charming and shady Main Street. Shop at J. Britt for fashion and Splash on Main for designer swimwear. Peek into Vintage Now Modern for Hollywood Regency home décor or drive a short hop from downtown to the super-chic Paula Rallis Home. Lunch overlooking the scenic and lushly green Falls Park at Passerelle Bistro, indulge in gelato at Luna Rosa, then check out the bar at Hall’s Chop House. For dinner, it’s Husk for updated Southern cuisine, and the James Beard-nominated Anchorage for innovative eats. Finish off with a handcrafted cocktail like the Roof-Tini with amazing views at Up on The Roof.
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
There’s a lot of revitalization going on in Winston-Salem. Formerly tobacco ruled this town and massive fortunes were made. Now the legacy left behind includes two amazing estates and gardens – Reynolda and Graylyn, which should be toured. Reynolda has an on-site museum with an astonishing selection of American paintings and the original 1917 interiors. Graylyn is a Norman Revival-style chateau with an eclectic collection of antiques including a set of original 18th-century paneled doors from Paris. (Oprah stays here when in she’s in town.) Check into the Kimpton Cardinal hotel, a flawlessly restored Art Deco skyscraper that was the prototype for the Empire State Building. An easy, fun way to tour Winston-Salem is with a narrated guide on an electric bike from Triad ECO Adventures. Pedal around nearby Old Salem for a bit of living history in this restored 19th-century village. The food scene is vibrant, so lunch on the patio at Mozelle’s Fresh Southern Bistro in the West End, juice up at the Village Juice Company, or grab and go from the gourmet Canteen Market or treat-heavy Camino Bakery. If midcentury modern décor is of interest, the renovated new Hotel Indigo and their Sir Winston Wine Loft and Restaurant should be seen. Try the Moravian Mule, a nod to the Moravian settlers who established the town. For dinner, eat at the Spring House Kitchen & Bar housed in a restored former mansion or the Katherine Restaurant at the Kimpton, which serves a French brasserie menu. A quick walk over to the Innovation Quarter and the Bailey Power Plant complex is where you can choose sophisticated Mexican flavors and a cool bar scene at Alma Mexicana or wood-fired pizza outside at Cugino Forno.
Asheville, North Carolina
Just a short hour-and-a-half drive north of Greenville, Asheville is cradled at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. At once funky but with an incredibly sophisticated food scene, Asheville is home to the majestic Biltmore, America’s largest home. Eight thousand acres in total, the 19th-century, 250-room chateau is the living legacy of the Vanderbilt family and boasts gardens and grounds designed by Fredrick Law Olmsted of Central Park fame. Plan to spend a few hours touring. In town, lunch at renowned chef Katie Button’s Curate for the authentic tapas cuisine of Spain, then hit the French Broad Chocolate Lounge for their house-made, bean-to-bar chocolates, desserts and ice creams. For a mid-day refresher, The Wake Foot Sanctuary offers treatments like aromatic foot soaks and massages. The historic Grove Park Inn is worth a look-see, done in the Arts & Crafts style, and frequented by F. Scott Fitzgerald in the ‘30s; the views from the patio at sunset are a must. At dinner get dazzled with Indian at Chai Pani, Contemporary American at Posana, and Sovereign Remedies for drinks and late-night tidbits like bone marrow tater tots. Cocktail culture also reigns supreme at Antidote, and there’s a huge craft beer scene, so imbibe at the New Belgium brewery. Forage is a botanical café offering artisanal drinks and gourmet bites inside Flora, their floral boutique. Lastly, after brunch at Blackbird, check out the working studios and galleries in the River Arts District and dine at Vivian Restaurant.
Durham, North Carolina
Nicknamed Bull City, Durham’s downtown is home to two incredibly unusual hotels. Once the proud jewel in the city as The Jack Tar Motor Lodge in 1962, it fell on hard times and was slated for demolition, until Preservation Durham came to the rescue to maintain its unique heritage and sense of place. A superior example of midcentury modern architecture, it now shines as the Unscripted Durham, a boutique hotel from the Dream Hotel Group, where the rooftop pool and lounge beckon. The 21c Museum Hotel offers up a contemporary art museum on the premises featuring site-specific installations, the art-filled restaurant named the Counting House, plus a lounge in the old bank vault. Vert & Vogue showcases contemporary clothing from independent designers with Billy Reid upstairs for the guys. Cool off with Spiced Rum ice cream, one of the yummy, handmade flavors at The Parlour. Parisian bistro Vin Rouge, M Sushi, Mateo Tapas, Piedmont and Mothers and Sons Italian Trattoria are just a few of Durham’s foodie favorites, in addition to the famous barbeque. In the late evening, duck into the intimate cocktail establishment Bar Virgile for a perfectly crafted nightcap.
By: Ruta Fox
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