Greenville and the Biltmore Estate

I had such a great time in Greenville. It’s a charming city with good food and a scenic river. And while there’s plenty to do inside the city, if you’re only in town for a few days, you must take the hour and a half drive to Asheville and see the Biltmore Estate.

Start with breakfast at the Tupelo Honey Cafe

Tupelo Honey

Tupelo is an institution in the Carolinas with cafes in Greenville, Asheville, Charlotte and Raleigh. They’ve even branched into Tennessee. Their food is fresh and delicious, their biscuits are made from scratch so they do the South proud and if you love it, you can buy a cookbook to take home with you. This local restaurant chain started in Asheville and their produce still comes from Sunshot Farms nearby but the location in downtown Greenville is delightful as well.

Alternatively, try Homegrown in Asheville

Homegrown

That’s a breakfast pot pie with scrambled eggs, sausage and country gravy topped with a biscuit. Awesome and amazing. There’s no getting away from biscuits in the South so just embrace it! As their name suggests, Homegrown makes locally sourced slow food and does it “right quick.” They support local farmers while also making fresh food affordable and delicious. Their quirky little restaurant is a treasure so pay them a visit.

If you’re driving up from Greenville to see the Biltmore Estate, be prepared to make a day of it.

Biltmore Estate

Built by George Vanderbilt in the late 1800’s, the estate has 250 rooms on 3 floors, 65 fireplaces, an indoor bowling alley and pool. The surrounding 8,000 acres of land back up into the Pisgah National Forest and include a village, a winery and an inn, so there’s plenty to see. You can choose from several guided tours as well as audio tours that last around 90 minutes. The $60 tickets are not cheap but include a tour of the winery and unlimited tastings at the bar

Vanderbilt wine

What with the priceless Singer Sargent paintings, the gorgeous landscaped gardens and the general Gilded Age excess, I found the Biltmore to be intensely glamorous. It feels like a house built by happy people who loved living there and a house with a happy history has a very different feel from some of the tragic mansions I’ve visited in the past. I would put this estate in my top 10 tourist experiences for the year.

We stopped at Cedric’s Tavern in the estate’s Antler Hill Village and I recommend you do the same

Cedric's Tavern

The tavern is named for a beloved family dog and serves rich Southern food (try the pub cheese). There’s likely to be live music while you’re there so get one of the Bilmore beers brewed specifically for this pub and hang out for awhile.

There are many scenic driving routes around Asheville that will take you through parts of the Blue Ridge Mountains so you want to take a leisurely route either coming or going, check out this website for recommendations.

Back in Greenville, take a walk by Reedy River to stretch your legs.

Greenville river

The Swamp Rabbit Trail runs for 18.7 miles long this river and is a multi-use greenway good for bikes, runners and strollers. This waterfall is right in the middle of town and can be easily seen from several vantage points. It’s lovely place to spend the early evening and parts of the trail are well lit even after sunset.

Greenville has a number of great restaurants for dinner. For great burgers in a casual setting, go to Grill Marks

Grill Marks

That’s pimento cheese all over that burger, in case you were curious. Mark and Larkin Hammond own several restaurants in the Greenville area and this upscale burger joint is really tasty. The burgers are perfectly cooked and come piled high with luscious high end cheeses, bacon, mushrooms, barbq sauce or whatever suits you. They also offer adult milkshakes with booze in them and a kind of indoor/outdoor seating with a large covered patio.

For something less casual, go to the The Lazy Goat

Their location on the edge of the Reedy River makes for perfect dinner time views and their food is Mediterranean and inspired. Make a reservations and definitely try the roasted mussels and chorizo.

If you have more time, stick around Greenville and have brunch at the Green Room (try the  Crab Benedict) and definitely go eat Thai food at Lemongrass Thai. I spent two weeks in Greenville and could happily have stayed for two more. I hope you enjoyed your day in the Carolinas!

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