What does a high-speed BMW track, a 2019 James Beard Awards semifinalist and a repurposed historic tobacco warehouse have in common? They all reside in and around thriving Greenville, South Carolina, an area to consider for your next event.
“We’re a bit of an unknown destination, which is fun for people, or they keep hearing about us and want to come,” said David Montgomery, vice president of sales for Visit Greenville. “When they do get here, it exceeds expectations, and that’s ultimately where we deliver.”
Apparently so, as the destination has been steadily popping up on “best of” lists citing everything from its flourishing culinary scene to and progressive redevelopment to its laid-back historic charm.
With it all comes opportunities for attendees to immerse themselves in locally driven signature experiences, including the following six options.
There’s nothing quite like a 120-mph rush of adrenaline to create a memorable experience for attendees.
At the BMW Performance Center, they can do just that, pushing every M-Class BMW to the limit and taking hair-raising, high-speed ride-alongs, all while forging bonds with colleagues in unforgettable ways.
“Someone once coined it Disneyland for adults,” Montgomery said. “You have the opportunity to get behind the wheel of seven different models of BMWs to test drive at the track, do time trials against your competitors, where you are driving around cones at high speeds then having to make a dead stop at a stop box, and have team-bonding experiences with other coworkers in the car during ride-alongs.
“We get a lot people who are reluctant at first and then afterward they are hooked adrenaline junkies,” he added.
The center, located in nearby Spartanburg, is a premier draw for groups meeting in Greenville, according to Montgomery.
Experiences can be customized for groups during half-day and full-day outings, and the venue features a cafe and a conference room, as well as catering services. Events as small as 30 people up to several hundred can be accommodated.
The accolades keep rolling in for Greenville’s culinary scene. Most recently, Southern Living magazine called it a “foodie paradise,” John Buck of Husk Greenville was honored as a semifinalist for Best Chef Southeast in the 2019 James Beard Awards, and The Anchorage restaurant in West Greenville was named one of 18 best restaurants in the world that doesn’t require reservations by the 2019 inaugural World Restaurant Awards.
From famous South Carolina barbecue and creative food truck fare to chefs blazing innovative new culinary trails, Greenville’s cuisine scene doesn’t skimp on authenticity and creativity.
A flavorsome way for groups to indulge in Greenville is on Greenville History Tours’ At the Chef’s Table program.
“It’s one of our great culinary tours that local historian John Nolan does, and he caters it to groups,” Montgomery said. “It’s a perfect taste of Greenville in a pedestrian environment, so you see the signature areas of downtown Greenville, such as Falls Park and Main Street, and you get to meet and hear stories from chefs and restaurant owners.”
Along the way, Nolan weaves in the fascinating history of Greenville, Montgomery added.
“He covers the transformation of what was a booming textile town to the sad days of decline to ultimately an urban redevelopment and rebirth and the repurposing of old textile buildings,” Montgomery said, adding that many of the restaurants are situated within the repurposed buildings. “We now have this great historic architecture that has been salvaged instead of being replaced.”
Renowned Southeastern architect Keith Summerour designed Avenue, a new high-end private space aimed at elevating the event experience—literally.
“Avenue is a great rooftop space with fantastic views of downtown and indoor and outdoor capabilities, so it’s flexible based on weather,” Montgomery said.
The slick, modern look and feel of Avenue, which can host up to 250 people for fully catered events, is a nice juxtaposition to Greenville’s historic buildings, he added.
“Avenue is a very contemporary building, and on the flipside of that you have places like the Wyche Pavilion on the Reedy River, a historic, shelled-out structure that is part of the Peace Center performing arts complex, or the Old Cigar Warehouse, another old mill building that has been repurposed,” Montgomery added. “We have those historic elements, but we also have the hip and trendy element.”
Old Cigar Warehouse, built in 1882 and originally used to store cigars and cotton, is a popular spot for planners looking to plant groups in one of Greenville’s most atmospheric venues. Exposed brick, 45-foot-high ceilings and vintage chandeliers are some of the key features.
“It’s a blank-canvas venue—one of the repurposed historic buildings in the West End of downtown that is utilized for everything from weddings to corporate events,” Montgomery said.
Old Cigar Warehouse can accommodate 500 people for events inside and 1,000 people when utilizing the outdoor space.
History of the baseball kind can be experienced at Fluor Field, home to the Greenville Drive, the city’s Minor League Baseball team. The stadium is a replica of Fenway Park in Boston.
“It’s the exact dimensions of Fenway complete with the Green Monster, which baseball fans will know immediately,” Montgomery said.
While groups can certainly head to the Fluor Field for a baseball game, it also doubles as one of the city’s most unique meeting and event spaces, he added.
“This is a place where we’ve brought in food trucks into the outfield area or used the concourse for some of our food festivals, such as the annual Euphoria,” Montgomery said. “They have great spaces, and it’s all scalable based on the needs of the organization, from cool rooftop areas and an enclosed champion’s club to utilizing the whole space for groups of 2,000 to 3,000.”
Greenville lives up to its name with no shortage of green space and recreation for attendees to enjoy. With the 32-acre Falls Park at the Reedy in the city’s West End and some of the country’s most beautiful natural regions situated nearby, the great outdoors in and around Greenville provides another immersive experience outside the meeting room.
Attendees can take advantage of biking, running or walking on the Swamp Rabbit Trail that runs perpendicular and into Falls Park at the Reedy, enjoy some leafy calm while meditating in the park or head out for more intense outdoor adventures.
“We have some very signature hiking opportunities, whether it’s the Jones Gap or Dupont State Forest, watersports at the gorgeous lakes at the Blue Ridge Mountains and canopy zipline tours and whitewater rafting,” Montgomery said.
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Green River Adventures is one of the top options for group adventure excursions, he said. The company offers whitewater paddling on the Green River, waterfall treks, waterfall rappelling and zipline canopy tours. The steepest and fastest is the Gorge Zipline, which descends 1,000 vertical feet over and into old growth forests and offers panoramic views of the Green River Gorge.
Just another rich rush of adrenaline for attendees to forever hold in their memory banks.
Greenville, South Carolina, CVB Contact Information