Destination Greenwood, SC. If sheltering in place and staying at home has you a little stir crazy these days – maybe you just need to get out and safely social distance on a little walking tour to see some gorgeous seasonal topiaries.
From now until July 12, 2020, my recommendation for your Day Away Destination is Greenwood, SC. In any other year, this would be the time for the city’s annual Festival of Flowers, but this the 53rd year of the annual festival, things, as we all know, are a bit different.
It was my pleasure to share all of this info with Charlotte Today host Colleen Odegaard on the June 26 show. I know many of you were watching, but in case you missed it – you can watch it here! Then come back and read all the deliciously fun details.
Garner Gardening Ideas in Greenwood, SC
All of the regular festival festivities have been postponed, but the 44 gorgeous topiaries that line up and down and around Main Street In Uptown Greenwood, are still up for visitors to enjoy as a self guided walking tour.
It’s a great way to spend the day away and out in the fresh air and sunshine. You will be amazed and inspired and will perhaps come home with a whole new idea about how your summer garden might grow!
Before We See the Flowers, Let’s Start with a Sweet Snack
But first, let’s eat. I recommend beginning your trip, heading Due West of Greenwood to Due West, SC.
It is here you will find Mama’s Sweet Shoppe – a tiny little donut/coffee shop baking up lots of love in the guise of donuts and fritters to enjoy with coffee or tea for breakfast. Mama’s is the dream come true of co-owner Sheena Imhoff.
She started making donuts and baked goods to sell at local markets as a way to raise vacation money to help her family’s summer travel plans. Before she knew it, her little baking business grew and then two years ago she partnered in an existing coffee shop and Mama’s was born.
Must Do Donuts in Due West, SC
Each donut creation here starts as a plain ring of dough, freshly baked and glazed to perfection starting each morning at 4 am. Donuts are then topped with frosting, fruit, nuts and more for flavors like Snickerdoodle, Strawberry cheese cake, and lemon blueberry.
Have a flavor you’d like to see in mind? Give Sheena a call and she’ll be happy to at least give it a go. The morning we popped in, she was making the Snickerdoodle and S’more donuts picture above – both at special request. They were party favors for a wedding done in the couple’s two favorite flavors -brilliant idea! Donuts make every occasion even sweeter!
Topiaries Top the List of Things to See in Greenwood, SC
Once you’ve had your sweet start to the day, head on over to Greenwood. Park your car and stroll up and down Main Street to see all the topiaries. You can download the walking tour map here. Consider the map the key to your Greenwood treasure hunt. Each topiary – large and small is a fabulous photo opt. They are all made with living plants and are watered trimmed and groomed throughout the festival by the City of Greenwood & City Public Works Department and Horticultural Department.
Print up the map before you leave, or pick one up in the lobby of Inn on the Square, an historic hotel located in the center of Uptown Greenwood. Read more below.
The Large and the Small of It
With the printed map in hand, you can check off each topiary as you discover and explore. You can’t miss the largest one in the group, standing 14 ft tall and 17 ft long, this tiger topiary is named “GRRRR KASASA”.
The smallest topiary might be a slightly harder find, but if you love succulents, its worth the search.
Known as Ray the baby turtle, sits with a slightly larger mama turtle and a couple of dabbing ducks just blocks down on Main Street.
In general the Gamecock topiary has the highest number of individual plants on it, somewhere around 6,000-7,000, officials tell me!
While the most plant diversity on any one topiary is Bubbles the Seahorse, created with somewhere around 30 different species of succulents. Each one is truly an amazing feet of artistic and horticultural expertise. Talk about a city with a collective green thumb!
It was my pleasure to visit Greenwood for the Festival of Flowers last year and was amazed. This year, I continue to be in awe. While many of the topiaries continue the same theme or structure, new plants and colors adorn many. These incredible horticultural feats are groomed all year long for this occasion and for the next several weeks they will be in all their summer splendor.
Kickers for Lunch is a Must!
Stop for lunch at one of my favorite places in Greenwood – Kickers Take Out at 301 Maxwell Ave. Chef Abdel Abdel Dimiati and his team have made the pivot required to keep things going through this Covid Crisis and are doing an excellent job. Open from 11-2:30 ,Monday – Friday this is lunch only , but definitely worth a midday stop.
Social distancing in this tiny little spot, might have been hard. But necessity is the mother of invention; and so Abdel, took half of the restaurants tables and chairs outside and has repurposed the parking lot into a cleverly staged patio for alfresco dining with service. Curbside pick up for advance or phone in orders is also available. You’ll find the menu here. Call (864) 943-5300 to place your order.
Abdel, who comes to Greenwood from Zimbabwe, adds a delicious twist of flavor to each of the dishes on the menu and his son’s are following in his footsteps working side by side with their Dad this summer.
Known for onion rings, fries, wraps and sandwiches, there are also delicious salads. This trip we ordered the main course Thai Chicken Salad, but ordered it topped with perfectly grilled salmon and the results did not disappoint. Salads aside, look for burgers and sandwiches, a fabulous array of soups and daily specials on the menu – not a bad bite on the list.
When One Day Isn’t Enough…
Topiaries aside, there is much to do and see in the Greenwood SC area. If you’d like, plan to make your visit a two day away vaca, and book reservations to stay at Inn on The Square.
I highly recommend this historic hotel, located right in the center of town. Especially important to note right now are the hotel’s studio rooms, apart from the main building, with private outdoor patios for easy dining alfresco.
These rooms also have a charming corner for in room office-ing, if you’ve got emails to attend to or need to hop on a quick Zoom call before you start your getaway.
Several restaurants are within walking distance or the hotel is offering an abbreviated menu right now for dinner and breakfast in the hotel’s cozy Fox and Hound Lounge.
You may dine in or you could easily bring back take out to enjoy on your own private patio. Another of my favorite Greenwood dining spots is BuenaVista Latin Cafe for cocktails or great Cuban cuisine.
Why You Should stay over for Saturday Morning
If you are in town on a Saturday, don’t miss the Uptown Greenwood Farmers’ Market, where you will find all sorts of delicious baked goods from Olivia Taylor, the talented pastry chef at Inn on the Square. These chocolate chip cookies are the bomb!
Then, if you are up for some more outdoor adventure, look to opportunities at Lake Greenwood or one or two of South Carolina parks in and around Greenwood and enjoy the hiking trails.
One More Sweet Stop at Swartzentruber’s
On the way back to Charlotte, be sure to stop in at Swartzentruber’s Bakery in Abbeville, SC, about a 20 minute drive from Greenwood.
Here you will find homemade, pies, pastries and homemade pound cakes that simply melt in your mouth.
The poundcake recipe is 55 years old, handed down from generation to generation of this family bakery now run by Loretta Swartzentruber.
There are over a dozen different flavors to choose from, but you won’t go wrong with the signature lemon, orange and vanilla. It’s a must have. If you can’t decide which flavor to order, Loretta has made it easy for you to enjoy them all.
Poundcakes are available as whole or half cakes or by the slice! And don’t miss the cherry pie. You’ll want to be sure to get one to take home along with the poundcake. The thin sugary classic pie crust surrounds a sweet cherry pie filling that is the perfect foil for a cup of coffee or tea.
I loved every single bite and can’t wait to go back for a second helping. Pie and Poundcake, what’s not to love?
Many thanks to Director Barbara Ware and her team at Old 96 Tourism for all of their warm Southern Hospitality and for helping to make this post possible.
Abbeville, Edgefield, Greenwood, Laurens and McCormick counties make up this small corner of the Palmetto state, and every where you turn the area is packed with lots of history and adventure, fun retail opportunities and fabulous food. The topiaries and the sweet treats detailed here are just a few of the fabulous finds you’ll discover. Can’t wait to share more…stay tuned and be sure to #TellThemHeidiSentYou.