A Guide to the Perfect Outdoor Weekend in Travelers Rest

Catching up over coffee and crepes at Tandem CC.
Catching up over coffee and crepes at Tandem CC. Melina Coogan
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With charming cafes, a lively farmers market, and an award-winning brewery, Travelers Rest is the jewel of South Carolina's Upcountry. Visitors will find themselves at the intersection of small town sundries and mountain backcountry, where the comforts and convenience of Main Street blends with the joy and solace of the wilderness. Lose yourself in the foothills of the Blue Ridge, then reemerge in the evening for wood-fired pizza and a microbrew.

From your morning espresso to your best night's sleep, here's how to have the perfect weekend full of fun and adventure in Travelers Rest.

Start Off Right

Before embarking on your day of Upcountry adventure, make sure and stop by Tandem CC for coffee and breakfast. The bright, immaculate interior of this Main Street establishment creates an ambience so delightful, you just might choose to sit down and stay a while. The sweet crepes are tantalizing, from the simple lemon and cane sugar to the decadent tiramisu, and the savory offerings are artfully prepared. The lumberjack breakfast crepe is particularly hearty. Hot tea is served in individual glass pots and cappuccinos are lightly dusted in cinnamon. From hipster baristas to a mouth-watering menu, Tandem has it all.

If you want to grab and go, The Forest Coffeehouseoffers the richest and most robust espresso drinks in town, as well as a full menu of smoothies, yogurt parfaits, and breakfast sandwiches—even breakfast pizza! If you're feeling indulgent, ask one of the friendly baristas to make their specialty house drink, Black Cat Chai with almond and a shot of espresso. And don't forget a house baked chocolate chip cookie for the road.

Hit the Trail

The view from Caesar's Head State Park on a hazy day.
The view from Caesar's Head State Park on a hazy day. Scott Oves

The Swamp Rabbit Trail is a 17.5 mile rails-to-trail greenway connecting Travelers Rest to nearby Greenville. Spend a pleasant afternoon exploring the towns, cruising through tranquil countryside, and hiking beneath leafy tunnels of forest. The best part, is there are plenty of trailside shops in which to poke around and eateries where you can grab a bite. Before hitting the trail, check out Sunrift Adventures for bike rentals and a gourmet popsicle.

There are also plenty of rewarding, short to mid-range hikes to be had at Paris Mountain State Park, located just seven miles out of town. Take a stroll around Lake Placid on the Lake Placid Nature Trail, or enjoy the rhododendron blooms and mountain laurel on the steep, rocky Sulphur Springs Trail, a 3.6 mile loop which leads to the serene shores of Mountain Lake.

For some truly spectacular vistas, head over to Caesar's Head State Park. An outcrop of granite gneiss high atop the Blue Ridge Escarpment provides some of the most stunning views in the Southeast. For a moderate hike with a big payoff, hop on the the Raven Cliff Falls Trail. This two mile out-and-back trail leads to an overlook with a view of the tallest waterfall in South Carolina.

Finally, just 25 minutes away from downtown, Table Rock State Park offers 3,000 acres of pristine wilderness laced with streams, waterfalls, and hiking trails. If you're up for a challenge, the rugged Table Rock Trail (3.6 miles one way) climbs 2,000 feet to the domed granite summit of Table Rock Mountain. Here you'll be rewarded by soaring views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, fading ridge by ridge into the distance.

Where to Grab Lunch

Upcountry Provisions is a great spot for lunch and coffee.
Upcountry Provisions is a great spot for lunch and coffee. Melina Coogan

Step inside Upcountry Provisions bakery and bistro, and prepare to be swept away by the heavenly aroma of warm cinnamon rolls. For a midday pick-me-up, choose from a selection of sandwiches prepared on freshly baked bread, a bowl of soup with a side salad of local, organic greens, or a slice of focaccia pizza. Before you head back to the trail, polish off a warm piece of cranberry brioche and a cup of West End Coffee, roasted just down the Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville.

If you're in the mood for a burger, Shortfield's dishes up classic American pub fare with a Southern twist. They offer everything from fried dill pickles and bourbon BB wings to Carolina Mountain Trout. Make sure and ask to sit outside on their bustling Main Street patio for some fresh air and good people watching.

Get Cultured

The lively Saturday Farmers Market is the heart and soul of Travelers Rest.
The lively Saturday Farmers Market is the heart and soul of Travelers Rest. Courtesy of Travelers Rest Farmers Market

From the beginning of May till the end of October, downtown Travelers Rest comes alive on Saturday afternoons when it plays host to South Carolina's largest, independent Farmers Market . Shop for fresh produce, local honey, farm-raised meats, crafts, baked goods, and so much more, while listening to live music and watching chefs from the region's best restaurants whip up the weekly "Market Recipe."

If you have children, they'll love participating in market activities like hula-hooping, painting, and smoothie workshops. Free gardening classes and yoga in the park round out this Upcountry cornucopia. If you're visiting in the fall, drop by the Harvest Market every Thursday evening in October. Peruse the region's finest fall produce, drink a glass of fresh pressed apple cider, and enjoy the jovial strains of music at the weekly bluegrass festival.

Post-Adventure Bites and Brews

The Swamp Rabbit Brewery and Taproom on Main street.
The Swamp Rabbit Brewery and Taproom on Main street. Courtesy of Swamp Rabbit Brewery

The amount of culture and cuisine you will find in this Southern town belies its small size and the sleepy demeanor. After a day well spent in the wilderness, head back to town where, as in the old days, you'll find all the best restaurants right there on Main Street.

Drop by theSwamp Rabbit Brewery and tip back a cold pint of liquid gold from a selection of award winning microbrews. Although there is no food served in the taproom, just out back you'll find one of the local food trucks, such as Ellada Kouzina Greek Food or Automatic Taco, dishing up something delicious. You're also welcome to bring in take-out from any spot in town.

After you've quenched your thirst, stroll down to Sidewall Pizza. Thin crust, wood-fired pizzas are handcrafted from a blend of local produce and authentic Italian ingredients, then served up in a hip refurbished tire shop. Try the classic margarita with a glass of chilled Sauvignon Blanc, or indulge in a Roasted Mushroom Pie with creamy garlic sauce paired with the spicy hop of a Westbrook IPA. Save room for a dish of Sidewall's famous ice cream, made in-house with local milk. The innovative flavors change daily—think Mexican Chocolate, Kit Kat, and Blackberry Cream Cheese Swirl.

Where to Get a Good Night's Sleep

Relax at Hotel Domestique at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Relax at Hotel Domestique at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Courtesy of Hotel Domestique

If you're in need of a luxurious weekend retreat, check out Hotel Domestique , a boutique hotel nestled at the foot of mountains. Created by legendary cyclist George Hincapie, Domestique caters specifically to the outdoor enthusiast by offering guided adventures, a fleet of high-end Trek bikes for rent, and even an in-house bike mechanic. In your down time, schedule a soothing yoga class, spa treatment, or take a swim in the outdoor saltwater pool. Domestique is also a renowned culinary destination, offering rustic, modern cuisine exquisitely prepared at their very own Restaurant 17 .

If high-end lodging is not in the cards, never fear. For just a few dollars, sleep under the stars in one of the backcountry or trailside camping sites at Caesar's Head State Park. Light a fire, kick back and help yourself to fresh mountain air, serenity, and solitude. The car camping sites at Paris Mountain State Park are spacious, affordable, and equipped with restrooms and hot showers. If you're looking for ultra convenient camping, the Travelers Rest KOA offers plenty of amenities, including a saltwater pool, camp store, and Wi-Fi.

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