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.”
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.
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WINE AND DINE
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.”
From 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., The Scullery Coffee House and Creamery will satisfy your every craving. Try one of the three grilled cheese options, like the California Grilled Cheese with Cheddar, tomato, avocado, and basil cream cheese mayo. 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.
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.
Starlight Café and Farm
At this acclaimed upscale diner in Uptown, the farm-to-table process takes a matter of minutes. Owners Alan and Susan Boutilier grow fruit in their orchard, gather eggs from their chickens, harvest honey from their bees, and pick vegetables and herbs from their garden. They bring their daily harvest straight to Starlight Café’s kitchen, where their son and Executive Chef Tobias Boutilier and his team turn the family’s daily harvest into mouthwatering delicacies.
Dickinson Avenue Public House
Good old-fashioned Southern cuisine collides with Creole and Asian flavors at this Greenville gastropub. The result is a menu where everybody in your party gets exactly what they want. And that’s a good thing, because the atmosphere invites long conversations and another round of cocktails — like the House Fig and Honey, made from Old Grand-Dad bourbon, honey simple syrup, lemon juice, and fig preserves.
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.
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.
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 Smash Waffles.
RECONNECT WITH NATURE
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.
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.
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.
EXPLORE THE ARTS
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.
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.
The Art Lab at A Time for Science
At this arts incubator and gallery, visitors can watch four artists-in-residence at work in their studio spaces. Before you leave, swing by the gallery to purchase a one-of-a-kind keepsake.