Editor’s Note—I took another trip to Clemson, South Carolina in July 2020 for 4th of July weekend and wrote about it here.
Two weekends ago, I went down to Clemson, South Carolina with my sister, Jennifer, to visit our sister, Lindsey, who is a freshman at Clemson University. It was the best sister weekend, and it was so fun to see Lindsey’s daily life in action—her dorm, her beautiful campus, and her favorite restaurants in town. The warm, sunny spring weather was really the cherry on top. I can see why she picked Clemson for college!
Since I wanted to disconnect on this trip and be present with my sisters, I left my DSLR at home. (That thing is definitely challenging to carry around on trips sometime—it requires a bag larger than a crossbody!) However, I snapped some good iPhone photos and fell in love with Clemson and nearby Greenville, which we explored one evening for dinner, so I wanted to share our trip with you in case you ever find yourself in town. And, if you’re looking for a fun weekend girls getaway, definitely consider Greenville! There are so many cute restaurants and bars, a beautiful public park on the Reedy River, and ample opportunities to shop. I have a feeling it’s about to blow up in popularity because it is just such a special place.
HOW WE HANDLED TRANSPORTATION /
Jennifer and I took off work on Friday and caught the first flight down to Greenville, the closest airport to Clemson. We flew on United out of IAD, which was the most economical choice for the times we wanted to fly, but American also flies to GSP out of DCA once or twice a day, too.
Because the Greenville airport is about an hour away from Clemson, we opted to rent a car at the airport instead of relying on a costly Uber to get us to and from the airport. This was actually my first time renting a car and it couldn’t have been easier to pick it up from Enterprise. It was much more convenient and economical to not to have call an Uber anytime we wanted to go somewhere. Clemson and Greenville are very car-friendly towns with ample public parking available for free or very cheap (like $0.50 an hour cheap!), which made getting around a breeze.
WHERE WE STAYED /
When we picked the weekend we were going to visit Clemson, we didn’t realize it was the weekend of the spring football game where the team scrimmages against one another. When we started looking at hotels, we were shocked that even the budget hotels were ranging $300/night. That’s when we put two and two together that the demand was high for a reason! Since we were going to have to commit that kind of money anyway, we decided to splurge on one of the newer hotels in town: The Inn at Patrick Square.
Located about ten minutes from campus, The Inn at Patrick Square is in a new urbanist planned community called Patrick Square. It’s brand new and has a great mix of retail, townhomes, and single family homes, many of which are still under construction. We loved this area so much that we actually took a few joyrides through the neighborhoods because the homes were so cute. They were done in the craftsman style, and many had amazing front porches and fun colorful doors.
The hotel is situated at the front of the community and just opened last year. It is stunning and still has that amazing new building smell. The concierge team here was one of the warmest and most gracious I’ve ever had the pleasure of dealing with—they came in clutch with a corkscrew!—and our room was beautifully decorated and very comfortable. They also had the coolest ice machine I’d ever seen. Instead of the traditional model where you take your bucket of ice to the machine, they had a cooler next to every elevator containing bags of ice. You could easily grab one to take back to your room or load them up in your cooler for tailgating. I thought it was brilliant! We’d definitely stay here again, and I’ve already recommended it to my parents for their future trips to town.
WHERE WE ATE /
Can we all agree that college towns just have the best food? We ate GOOD while we were in town and I have a substantial list of places I want to try on my next visit. We also did dinner one night in Greenville, and my bucket list of restaurants there is even longer than the Clemson one! Here’s where we ate this trip:
- TD’s—a great sports bar on College Avenue, Clemson’s main strip of restaurants and shops, with traditional pub fare. We ate here for lunch the first day, and you can tell this is a fun place at night.
- Spill the Beans—this is a cute ice cream and coffee shop right off College Avenue, and there is also one in Greenville. We stopped in for an afternoon snack, and I had soft serve vanilla with cake batter mixed in. It was so good!
- El Jimador—any Mexican restaurant that serves up $16 pitchers of margaritas is a good Mexican restaurant in my book. We ate here for dinner on Friday night, and had a great time. The atmosphere is lively and the food is good—it comes out fast!
- Stumphouse Cafe—Stumphouse is the coffee shop located in the lobby of the Inn at Patrick Square. Truthfully, we weren’t super impressed—the food was just okay and the baristas forgot to make our smoothies until we reminded them twenty minutes later. For the price, I’d try somewhere else unless you’re staying at the hotel and in a rush.
- Loose Change—another fun bar on Clemson’s College Avenue, Loose Change was a cool spot because they have a tradition where you can sign a dollar bill and hang it on their walls, which are covered in them! The menu is no frills, but the burger and fried chicken sandwich are great. We popped into watch some of the spring football game here and had a great time.
- Up on the Roof—located on the rooftop of the Embassy Suites Hotel in Greenville, we stopped in for dinner and loved this place. We initially had a reservation, which I recommend if you want a table. However, the reservations are only for the tables inside. Since we wanted to sit outside, we scoped out the crowded bar and were lucky enough to grab a table pretty much right away. Watching the sunset from here was a highlight of the trip. I had the fried chicken BLT and would totally order that again!
- Pot Belly Deli—this is your quintessential college town bagel shop and deli. We popped in here Sunday morning and the line was out the door—that’s how you know it’s good. We loved the food, but the service was slow. It probably took us 40 minutes from the time we arrived to the time we ate, so if you’re in a rush, this is not your place.
In case you’re planning a trip and want some other ideas, I’d love to go to Esso, Soby’s, Larkin’s on the River, Smoke on the Water, Jianna’s, The Anchorage, Willy Taco, Golden Brown & Delicious, and the Husk in Greenville to see how it compares to the one in Charleston.
WHAT WE DID /
The main purpose of our trip was to see Lindsey’s daily life in action, so it was only natural that we started our trip with her grand tour of Clemson’s campus. It is a beautiful school—I especially loved the pond and amphitheater near the main library! While we were walking around campus, we stopped into Fort Hill, which was the home of famed South Carolina statesman, John Calhoun, and later is daughter, Anna, who married the founder of the University, Thomas Green Clemson. The house is well preserved with much of the initial furnishings in tact, and is open daily for walk-in tours. I love historic homes and it was fun to explore this one tucked right on Clemson’s campus.
On Saturday morning, we went to Clemson Y Beach, which is located right across a bridge from campus. It’s a cute sandy shore public beach with a few long docks that jet out into the lake. If we had more time, we would have loved to take a beach chair or two and spend an afternoon there watching the boats go by. We dipped our feet into the water, but it was a bit cold!
A highlight of the trip—which I am sure you have gathered by now!—was spending an afternoon in downtown Greenville, South Carolina. It was about 45 minute drive from Clemson, but so worth it! We started our afternoon there at Falls Park on the Reedy River, which is a beautiful public park. There’s a suspension bridge so you can take in some amazing views of the rocks and rapids below and ample green space and benches for lounging. It was incredibly landscaped and filled with families, couples, prom groups, and wedding parties. We loved walking around and taking in the scenery and people watching! We also took some time to explore the shops on Main Street and scouted our restaurants for future visits. The energy in Greenville was great—everyone wanted to be out celebrating the warm spring night. I would love to go back and spend an entire weekend there since we really only scratched the surface.
I want to leave you with a picture of the Publix sugar cookies we picked up for a Saturday night treat. We don’t have Publix grocery stores up this north, but I discovered their cookies years ago and they are so good! They are soft and chewy, which is my favorite combination. If you’re in a town with a Publix, definitely pick up a dozen—or two!
I absolutely loved my weekend visiting Lindsey at Clemson—go Tigers! I hope to make it back to town several more times before she graduates, and would love to experience a football game in Death Valley and explore downtown Greenville more. If you have any recs for my future trips down to Tiger Town, let me know! x