Covering 35 square miles in the eastern region of North Carolina, the polished “Emerald City” is home to approximately 90,000 people. Once a cotton export center and notable tobacco market, Greenville is a city that continues to evolve, aided by an ever-expanding environment of commerce, culture and academia.
Greenville sprouts a growing number of public green spaces that, thanks to a mild climate, can be enjoyed throughout the year. The Town Common, located downtown, features a pedestrian-friendly walkway that meanders along the quiet Tar River and a central amphitheater where major concerts and events are held throughout the year.
Shopping spots downtown include the Greenville Mall, filled with retail chains and familiar brands. Across from the mall, Greenville Square is the place to find big-box retailers. Restaurants are sprinkled throughout downtown, many of them focused on standard American fare. Seek out establishments serving regional cuisine to sample seafood from the coast or Eastern North Carolina barbecue, slow-cooked pulled pork typically served with coleslaw, hushpuppies and sweet iced tea. Nightlife options in Greenville are more than plentiful, with the bulk of the city’s bars and clubs clustered near the campus of East Carolina University.
Uptown Greenville is a revitalized neighborhood where remnants of the past are visible in the architecture of the buildings, many of which have been converted into chic galleries, eateries or shops. Among the things to do in this Greenville neighborhood: pay a visit to the outdoor farmers’ and artisans’ market that is open during warm-weather months. The Uptown Umbrella Market features vendors selling everything from fresh seafood and artisan cheeses to antiques and jewelry. Cap off a visit to Uptown with a tour of the Greenville Museum of Art. Focused on North Carolina artists, the museum houses pieces from 1860 to the present, including works by leading American landscape artists.
Cultural activities thrive throughout the year in Downtown Greenville, particularly on the campus of East Carolina University, part of the University of North Carolina system. Adjacent to Downtown, the main campus covers approximately 530 acres and is home to approximately 28,000 students. Top among cultural attractions in Greenville is East Carolina's esteemed S. Rudolph Alexander Performing Arts Series, which draws high-profile dancers and musicians to the city. The university also hosts a summer theater program and outdoor concert series downtown at Town Commons. Other fun things to do on the Greenville campus include visiting the Ledonia Wright Cultural Center, home to 150 works by the African Kuba tribe, and the Wellington B. Gray Gallery, which features displays of ceramics and African art.
Count architecture among the key Greenville attractions, as several neighborhoods are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Many historic buildings have survived the years in splendid form, and now house restaurants and even clubs. Adjacent to the East Carolina campus is one such area: the quaint, residential College View Historic District. Its diverse collection of architectural gems, ranging from Tudor Revival and Craftsman to Spanish Eclectic and Italian Renaissance Revival, demonstrates the city’s evolution.