First of all, if I were tasked to come up with a top 5 list of favorite things, in general, I just might put top 5 lists on that list. If you like top 5 lists, and music, and romance, and comedy, then I highly recommend reading High Fidelity by Nick Hornsby – it’s full of pure top 5 list gold. Secondly, I know this post may not have the most usefulness as many of you prospective students want to know everything about Wofford EXCEPT what it’s like in the summer, because you most likely won’t be here. Still, there is this thing called summer school that is very popular for Wofford students (since no one ever wants to leave!), and most if not all of the things on my list are applicable to the non-summer months as well, especially since temps typically reach the 80s in April and stay warm through most of September. So useful or not, get ready for a list (a no-particular-order list).
1. Downtown Spartanburg. If you are an aforementioned summer school student, this is a great one, because in the summer you practically get downtown to yourself. I say practically, since there are, in fact, still “townies” walking about. Townies, like me, who have been there the whole time, right through the school year – you just haven’t noticed them. Still, summer is a time when there is a lot to do downtown and not a ton of people creating clutter and lines. For starters, music on main is in full-swing every Thursday, and there is no better time than summer to listen to some live, outdoors music. Another perk is the community bike system, in which you can rent bikes for the day, or take out a month-long or annual membership. Finally, the restaurants and bars. Again, these things are here year-round, but something about the summer, the longer days, and the outdoor seating (see below), makes the whole downtown square just more fun in the summer. They even put up a Ferris Wheel downtown last summer, so maybe there will be something else this year…
2. Sitting outside to eat. There is nothing like some warm weather and the ability to finally sit outside at your favorite spots. Especially if those favorite spots have a tendency of sticking their scent on you when you sit inside. There is no excuse for going back to work smelling like a deep fryer or a sandwich press… So here are my top 3 favorite places to eat outside (again, no order):
Ikes – The best burger in Spartanburg. I don’t want to hear it, loyal Beacon-goers, or Nu-Way Redneck Cheeseburger fan club… If you want a delicious, pure, American cheeseburger, then go to Ike’s. And sit outside (seriously, this is one of those places that shares its smell). They have a great outdoor patio, with shaded areas and areas in the sun, and the menu is sharing-friendly, especially the fresh-cut fries and onion rings.
Gerhards – One of the “high-dollar” restaurants in Spartanburg, but also one of the best eats in the Upstate. Gerhards, with its European feel, has a cozy “bier garten” of sorts, with a gravel bed and several picnic tables for a casual gathering. On Tuesdays, the recommended night to go, they have team trivia, and specials on beer and wood-fire pizzas.
Willy Taco – The newest sensation in Spartanburg, Willy Taco was developed by the same people who opened Spartanburg’s most popular restaurant, Cribb’s Kitchen. Willy Taco is an authentic taco dive bar, that has a simple and delicious menu to choose from, including homemade salsas, queso, and guacamole to start, 11 unique tacos with typically two daily-featured tacos, and an extended list of entrees to choose from. The atmosphere and feel is everything you want out of a Mexican restaurant – the screened in patio helps you sit out side and still stay cool, and the food and drink is delicious and creative.
(Honorable mention: The Back Porch – A cajun-creole, hidden gem in Spartanburg, and as the name suggests, The Back Porch has a wonderful back porch that is covered and shaded, making it ideal for warmer nights. The menu is as big as the flavor, with delicious seafood and other bayou staples.)
3. Golf. With it staying light until well after 9 at the peak of summer, there is ample opportunity to go golfing, even if it means getting in 9 holes after work. As far as courses in Spartanburg go, there are the college favorites (due to cheapness of rates), and if you’re just looking to get outside and play a cheap round you really need to look no further than the Creek and Heddles Hideaway, both found off of South Pine Street. However, I recently stumbled onto a real treasure of a course in Duncan, about 15 minutes outside the city. River Falls Plantation is a Gary Player design, and has the look of a course designed by someone who has as much passion for the game as the Black Knight himself. Every hole has imagination and cleverness that makes it a fun course, yet not so difficult that you’re left debating whether or not to pawn your clubs on the drive back. It is located next to the Tyger river, so there are several holes that have beautiful, scenic views.
4. Going to the U.S. National Whitewater Center. Located just south of Charlotte, NC; this is a stretch because it’s not really “Spartanburg.” However, I discovered this place last summer and it is so incredibly worth the drive. Imagine a theme park, except instead of rollercoasters, they featured every outdoors activity you can imagine instead. Well, you have just defined the U.S. National Whitewater Center. Doubling as an Olympics training site, the USNWC opens its doors to the public every summer and features a huge, manmade rafting course in the center of their property, as well as high ropes courses, zip lining, mountain biking courses, and kayaking courses all around it. You can easily spend an entire day here without a single dull moment, and every night when the rides close down, they have live music and lots of places to get food and drink. I’m sure these kinds of places are a dime-a-dozen in Colorado, but in the Carolinas, you cannot find another place like it. If you don’t believe me, just check out their website: http://usnwc.org/.
5. More water, because summer is better with water. Drinking water is important, and I recommend you have some everyday, but the water I’m talking about here is the “body of” kind. Now is the time, May-August, to get more water in your life. And we have a lot of it around us. Whether it is a weekend trip to the beach, or a nearby lake like Lake Bowen or Lake Keowee, some of the best time spent in the summer is around water. And don’t forget about Spartanburg – there are great opportunities for canoeing, kayaking, and tubing on Lawson’s Fork Creek, as well as the Tyger River. I would go as far as to say summer is not complete without water sports, and recreational water activities.
So there is my list. You may not agree with it, but I dare you to argue it. Summer is a time to be active, enjoy yourself, and enjoy the company of others. All of these things provide great opportunities to do just that, and these are just 5 of many reasons why Spartanburg is and can be a great home. Now if you excuse me, I’m going to get ready for the official start to the weekend/summer, and hopefully partake in multiple items on this list…