Spartanburg is a city in Upstate South Carolina.
Two major Interstate Highways intersect a short distance from Spartanburg, making highway travel into the city quite easy. Interstate 85 (and the Business 85 Loop) runs on an east-west axis along the northern edge of the city and Interstate 26 runs on a north-south axis to the west of the city. Major U.S. Highways 29 and 221 also run through the heart of the city.
Spartanburg is served by two airports: The Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, located on Interstate 85 just west of the city, and the Spartanburg Downtown Memorial Airport.
Additionally, downtown Spartanburg hosts an Amtrak terminal as well as a Greyhound Bus terminal.
Downtown traffic can be stop-and-go, but is far more convenient than in years past due to a recently renovated Morgan Square. Downtown bypasses such as Daniel Morgan Avenue and St. John Street make the traffic flow easier as well.
Spartanburg is serviced by an efficient public transportation system, SPARTA, but, although recently updated, it is less utilized than similar systems in larger cities.
See and Do
Spartanburg’s rich past has left its mark on the landscape of the area, which abounds with historical and natural phenomena. The history of this area can be divided into a few chapters, each of which remains apparent in different areas of the city and county.
This land was for centuries a cherished hunting ground of the Catawba and Cherokee tribes, which occupied land east and west of this area, respectively. This distant heritage can be glimpsed in some of the remaining natural features, though often neglected and in need of help, that dot the landscape.
- Lawson’s Fork Creek, a tributary of the Pacolet River, was once known for its plentiful wildlife and crystal clear waters. Parks and woodlands line much of its banks (which lie entirely in Spartanburg county) and rocky shoals and natural waterfalls can be found throughout its course. It stretches from the northern end of the county to the southern end, where it empties into the Pacolet.
- The Cottonwood Trail, a walking trail that runs along Lawson’s Fork, remains home to much of the wildlife for which this entire area was once known. The trail includes picnic areas, a raised path over an extensive wetlands area and sporadic sandy banks. It is used frequently by cyclists, joggers and walkers and is located just east of downtown.
- Hatcher Garden and Woodland Preserve is located in the midst of an urban environment, but is a welcome oasis of natural beauty. The pet project of a retired social activist, Hatcher Garden has been transformed from an eroding gully into a thick woods and flower garden and serves as a haven for birds and other wildlife.
Early European settlers to this area included French fur trappers, English woodsmen, and Scots-Irish farmers. Few remnants remain of these early pioneering days, but traces can be found, particularly in the more rural areas of the county.
- Walnut Grove Plantation, an 18th-century farmhouse, has been diligently preserved by the Spartanburg County Historical Association. It lies south of Spartanburg near the town of Roebuck and is open to the public for tours as well as during annual festivals.
- The Seay House, another 18th-century home, is a better representative of the typical pioneer home. It’s single stone fireplace and simple construction were common traits associated with farmsteads from this period
- The Price House, the third 18th-century home maintained by the Historical Association, is unique. Its sturdy Flemish-bond brick construction and three stories are less widespread for this area. By carefully examining the original inventory lists of the house, the Historical Association has been able to retrieve period pieces that approximate the original contents of the house.
First established in the 1780s as a courthouse village, Spartanburg is thought to have been named after the Spartan regiment of the South Carolina Militia. The city of Spartanburg was incorporated in 1831, when the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Cowpens, a pivotal battle of the American Revolution that took place only a few miles away, was celebrated. The city’s streets and architectural record reflect the changes of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
- Morgan Square, the city’s primary downtown hub, is the original courthouse village. It was founded adjacent to a small spring (now underground) on the western slope of a ridge. The oldest existing buildings on the square date to the 1880s. It is now a thriving center for daytime commerce as well as nightlife.
- The Magnolia Street Train Depot is one of the older buildings in the city and stands as a reminder of Spartanburg’s old nickname “the Hub City,” referring to the many transportation routes that connected Spartanburg with cities throughout the region. It is now the home of the Amtrak station, the Visitor’s Bureau and the Hub City Farmer’s Market.
Beginning in the mid-19th century, developers began to take note of the abundant streams and rivers in the area that were just beginning their descent towards the lower-lying Midlands region. In many places, these waterways descend abruptly, providing a source for plentiful waterpower. Cotton mills were built along these rivers to harness this power and so began the region’s servitude to King Cotton. These mills, their owners and their laborers dominated the politics and economy of the region for nearly a century. Although nearly all abandoned, many mills remain along the riverbanks, the Piedmont equivalent of Gothic ruins.
- Glendale Mill is located off of Lawson’s Fork Creek southeast of the city. Although gutted by fire several years ago, a few towers and smokestacks remain, providing a dramatic backdrop to the dam, shoals and waterfalls of the creek below.
- Beaumont Mill is located just north of downtown and has recently been renovated to house the Southern Conference headquarters.
- Converse Mill is located to the east of the city along the Pacolet River and has recently been purchased by a developer whose exact plans for the site have yet to be revealed. The mill was reconstructed in 1903 after a huge flood washed away the original mill.
Despite its size as a small city, Spartanburg has, throughout its history, been a fruitful home to a creative community. Cultural events and institutions abound in the city and county and consistently draw large crowds.
- The Chapman Cultural Center, currently under construction and scheduled to open in the fall of 2007, promises to be an unparalleled hub of cultural activity. It will house the Museum of Art, Regional Museum of History, Science Center, Little Theatre, Ballet, Music Foundation and other groups that are currently based out of The Arts Center [] on South Spring Street.
- The Showroom, the home of Hub-Bub [] and The Hub City Writers’ Project [], is a new center for progressive arts in the community. It houses a gallery, film screen, stage, and concert venue and is home to a nationally-recognized artist residency program. Hub-Bub is the creative effort responsible for the founding of The Showroom and, as a project goal, seeks to attract and retain creative talent in the community. The Hub City Writers’ Project began the Hub-Bub project and serves the community as a local publishing company.
- Converse College [] is a nationally known four-year liberal arts institution recognized for its strong music and visual art programs. It hosts events open to the community throughout the year.
- Wofford College [] is a similarly prestigious liberal arts college with particularly strong theatre and creative writing departments.
- The Spartanburg County Public Library Headquarters [], housed in an innovative building on South Church Street is home to a voluminous collection of fiction, nonfiction, children’s literature, A/V materials and items relating to local history and genealogy. Additionally, the library hosts many meetings, concerts and presentations.
Spartanburg has a wide range of dining options, from soul food to Asian fusion. Most of the innovative options are located in and around downtown, although some of the best eateries are located in odd corners of the county.
- The Beacon Drive-In, “world famous” for its greasy a-plenty platters and very sweet tea, this restaurant is more of an institution than a greasy spoon. It is said to be the world’s largest seller of iced tea. Be prepared in advance so that J.C. doesn’t have to wait to call your order. “Walk and talk!”
- Wade’s Restaurant started off as a roadside barbeque joint but has evolved into a country-cooking mecca. No one can beat their yeast rolls and for “greasy greens” they are the best place this side of momma’s kitchen. Avoid on holidays and Wednesday nights unless you want to wait outside.
- Wasabi Sushi is on the complete other end of the spectrum. Fresh, tasty and reasonably priced, Wasabi has a wide variety of genuinely tasty Japanese dishes. Don’t skip the appetizers, they’re really good and they help make the sushi worth the wait.
- Monsoon Noodle House and Lime Leaf, both located on Morgan Square, are both home to some wonderful Asian fusion dishes. Lime Leaf has a Thai focus but doesn’t stop there and Monsoon is all over the spectrum. Stay late for drinks at Lime Leaf.
- Papa’s Breakfast Nook is Spartanburg’s very own 24-hour “breakfast and more” diner. Although the “more” can sometimes hit the spot, the breakfast side of the menu takes the pancake. Make sure to at least consider the Pecan Pancakes and the Trashcan Omlet, but really it’s all good. The home fries are delicious!
Spartanburg has a number of great watering holes that can suit any taste.
- Z Place is unique in Spartanburg for its selection of delicious teas. Located on Morgan Square, make sure to wander into the back for the tea bar (the front is a boutique). Look into the bubble teas and don’t be afraid to try the exotic hot teas. Keep an eye out for vegetarian dishes too.
- Crossroad Coffee serves some wonderful coffees and desserts and they have a great location (an old storage basement).
- Café Ishi is another downtown coffee house and offers a wide variety of coffees and desserts. They’re also known to have some good local musicians perform there.
- The Nu-Way Lounge is a mainstay for a certain crowd of Spartans, who go there for the cheap beer, fried food and eclectic music. As the oldest bar in Spartanburg, it has a following and a certain down-home cheep-wood-veneer flair.
- Delaney’s Irish Pub has some of the best local brews around and serves a good sandwich to boot. It’s located on Morgan Square
- Wild Wing Café, another Morgan Square restaurant and bar, frequently has bands playing into the wee hours of the morning and good drink specials.
- Carriage House Wines offers an alternative to the bar scene by offering a fine selection of great wines. Go there for some samples and some wonderful recommendations from the staff.
Although Spartanburg certainly has plenty of inexpensive hotel and motel options, it’s always nice to find somewhere with a little more character, assuming your budget allows.
- The Inn on Main is a fantastic bed and breakfast located downtown in a beautiful turn-of-the-century mansion. Each room is uniquely decorated with local themes (textiles, railroads, agriculture, etc) and a full breakfast is included.
- The Marriot at Renaissance Park is downtown’s high-rise hotel, featuring ballrooms, suites and other plush accommodations. It is located on North Church Street in downtown Spartanburg.