A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

Editor’s Note: This story was originally published in 2019 and updated in 2024. From her perch at EMERGE Art Gallery in Greenville, Programs Director Paula Rountree greets a steady stream

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

Editor’s Note: This story was originally published in 2019 and updated in 2024. From her perch at EMERGE Art Gallery in Greenville, Programs Director Paula Rountree greets a steady stream

A Guide to Greenville

Editor’s Note: This story was originally published in 2019 and updated in 2024.

From her perch at EMERGE Art Gallery in Greenville, Programs Director Paula Rountree greets a steady stream of visitors who’ve come to Uptown to check out First Friday ArtWalk. Every time the door opens, live music drifts in from Evans Street. Art lovers help themselves to a glass of wine before making their way around the gallery, which features work by local artists and ECU alumni in addition to two rotating exhibitions.

“This is a community that loves art,” Rountree says. “We have amazing farm-to-table restaurants that take an artistic approach to creating their menus and presenting their food. Even outdoor activities lead back to the arts — like the DownEast exhibition trail, where you can wander around and see sculptures throughout our community.”

Browse budding artists’ work at local Greenville galleries like EMERGE. photograph by Emerge

Invigorating galleries, inventive cuisine, refreshing rivers and parks: At every turn, Greenville inspires. If you’re planning a visit to this eastern North Carolina town, be sure to consult our roundup of restaurants, galleries, and outdoor activities.



Ford + Shep

Chef Brandon Qualls isn’t one for labels. After all, how would you categorize Earl Grey and mallow flower tea-brined pork loin served with charred lemon new potatoes and pea tendrils, plus Lusty Monk mustard and honey? “We love to take the bounty from what’s around and put our own creative twist on it,” Qualls says. “Our menu usually gets a makeover once a week based on what comes in from our local farms and producers.” 

(252) 689-6853

Enjoy a creative bite in Shep + Ford’s indoor-outdoor dining room. photograph by Visit Greenville, NC


The Scullery

From 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. (and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday!), The Scullery Coffee House and Creamery will satisfy your every craving. Try the grilled cheese with sharp cheddar and blue cheese on wheat berry bread. And whether you’re stopping in for breakfast, lunch, or a snack, you’re covered in the beverage department — one page of their menu is almost entirely devoted to coffee, soda, wine, and local craft beer options.

(252) 321-1550


B’s Barbecue

Want some barbecue? Some real barbecue? You’re in luck — when it comes to eastern North Carolina ’cue, Greenville lives high on the hog. For more than four decades, B’s has been the go-to stop for a barbecue plate and all the classic fixin’s. Bring cash and get there early — when they run out, they’re out. 

(252) 758-7126

This legendary Greenville barbecue joint is worth the trip. photograph by Visit Greenville, NC


Starlight Café and Farm

At this acclaimed upscale diner in Uptown, the farm-to-table process takes a matter of minutes. The cafe was started by former owners Alan and Susan Boutilier in 2000 — their son, Executive Chef Tobias Boutilier, and his wife, Kelly Boutilier, are now the current owners. The family grows fruit in their orchard, gathers eggs from their chickens, harvests honey from their bees, and picks vegetables and herbs from their garden. They bring their daily harvest straight to Starlight Café’s kitchen, where Chef Boutilier and his team turn the family’s daily harvest into mouthwatering delicacies.

(252) 707-9033


Luna Pizza

Locals love this Uptown pizza joint, and it’s pretty clear why. Luna has it all: organic tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and local ingredients. Fired in an 800-degree brick oven, this pizza is as good as it gets. The credit goes to owner Richard Williams, who trained at the Bivero Pizza Academy in Florence, Italy. 

(252) 751-0900


Pitt Street Brewing Company

There’s a lot to be said for a great brewery that’s just a stone’s throw from a great pizza joint — especially when that brewery regularly features live music. Order a pizza from Luna and eat it at Pitt Street Brewing Company, housed in the same renovated Coca-Cola bottling plant.

(252) 227-4151

There’s a pour just for you at Pitt Street Brewing Company. photograph by Visit Greenville, NC


Uptown Brewing Company

Belly up to the 60-foot concrete bar for an unobstructed view of Uptown Brewing Company’s brewmasters working their magic. If you’re looking for the perfect mid-afternoon pick-me-up, order the smooth coffee porter, brewed with beans from local roaster Smashed Waffles.

(252) 689-6487



Kayaking the Tar River

Kelsey Curtis, owner of Knee Deep Adventures, grew up paddling on the scenic Tar River. With its cypress swamps, sandbars, and a low, flat shoreline covered in vegetation and ancient trees, the river is perfect for kayaking, Curtis says. Plus, it’s fairly shallow and has a slow current. “Little development can be seen along the river, which makes it a great habitat for fish and other wildlife,” Curtis says. She recommends accessing the river at Town Commons Park near Uptown, or at the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Port Terminal boat access.

(252) 714-5836

Grab a paddle and go on an adventure on the Tar River. photograph by Visit Greenville, NC


Fishing at River Park North

Want to try your hand at fishing, on the fly? Rent a rod at this community pond, and for just $3 a day for nonresidents and $1.50 for locals, you stand a great chance of reeling in a prize catfish. It’s all thanks to a cooperative program with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, which keeps the channel stocked with healthy fish.

(252) 329-4560


Hike at the South Tar River Greenway

Glimpse some of the Tar River’s most picturesque views from the three-mile, paved South Tar River Greenway. This is the longest of Greenville’s three greenways, and you can access it near Uptown at Town Commons Park. After snaking through cool, lush woods and along a few residential streets, the greenway ends at Green Springs Park on Fifth Street.

See Greenville from a fresh perspective on this scenic three-mile path. photograph by City of Greenville, NC



Greenville Museum of Art

Francis Speight and his wife, Sarah Blakeslee, were significant players in the international art world — but they were especially beloved in Greenville. Before he died in 1989, Speight was an artist-in-residence and a professor at East Carolina University. While exhibits of Speight’s work have been on display at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, the Greenville Museum of Art is your best bet for viewing a large collection of Speight’s — and Blakeslee’s — landscapes and portraits.

(252) 758-1946


Wellington B. Gray Gallery

East Carolina University’s School of Art and Design draws applicants from around the country who are attracted by the school’s array of fine-arts disciplines, from graphic design to woodworking. At the Wellington B. Gray Gallery, faculty and student ceramics, photography, paintings, and drawings are on display.

(252) 328-1312

This story was published on Oct 16, 2019

Robin Sutton Anders

Robin Sutton Anders is a writer based in Greensboro.