What We Love About Greensboro Spend any time driving around Greensboro or meandering along downtown’s bustling Elm Street, and you’ll never imagine the state’s third-largest city was named
What We Love About Greensboro
Spend any time driving around Greensboro or meandering along downtown’s bustling Elm Street, and you’ll never imagine the state’s third-largest city was named in honor of a Revolutionary War general. It feels more likely that its name was inspired by nature. It’s true that Greensboro has been recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation as an active Tree City USA community for more than 30 years. Across the city, a series of greenways connect parks, originally developed by conservationists in the 1920s. The vision of those early community planners is alive and well today, as residents, college students — the city is home to five colleges and universities — and visitors mingle with a friendly, easy-going attitude that comes from being surrounded by beauty.
Where to Take the Family
Greensboro Science Center: This zoo-meets-aquarium-meets-nature center is a must on any family itinerary. Start indoors, where walls of African penguins, a shark reef tank, and cownose stingrays steal the show. Then head outside (prepare to linger at the exhibits along the way!) to see animals ranging from meerkats to lemurs to Gibbon monkeys. Save time for a spin on the Rotary Club of Greensboro Carousel — you’ll see it just down the hill from the parking lot — before you go.
Children’s Museum: When children are released into this expansive wonderland, their imaginations run wild: They can be cashiers at The Market, thespians at Our Town Theater, mail carriers, firefighters, police officers, Volvo truck drivers — the list goes on. A highlight is the Outdoor Play Plaza, two 30-foot-tall Neptune XXL Climbers connected by a 25-foot suspended net tunnel.
Wet and Wild: Cool off at Greensboro’s waterpark, which boasts the new triple-thrill Bermuda Triangle. Picture three classic serpentine body slides, where thrill-seekers shoot out from the darkness in their new light and sound experience.
Greensboro Grasshoppers: There’s no better way for a family to end the day in Greensboro than a minor-league Hoppers’ game at the downtown stadium. Along with your hotdog, grab a local Natty Greene’s craft beer and cheer along with Guilford the Grasshopper. Be sure to stay until the end for the post-game fireworks display.
Where to Explore the Outdoors
Greensboro greenways: Community parks anchor many of Greensboro’s neighborhoods, and a series of shaded corridors connect many of those parks. Some of these paved paths parallel rivers and stream beds, while others run alongside railway lines and utility easements. Check out trail and parking info.
Greensboro Arboretum: The 17-acre park just down the road from UNC Greensboro has two playgrounds, plenty of open green space for a pick-up soccer game, a picturesque gazebo tucked into the trees, and two paths to pick from: a wide, paved path and a narrow wooded path that snakes through the wooded hillside.
Bog Garden: Just steps behind Friendly Shopping Center, this garden in Benjamin Park feels a world away. Stroll along an elevated boardwalk, and watch for owls, turtles, and fish who’ve made their homes in the surrounding natural wetlands. Want to see flowers? Cross Hobbs Road to check out the Bicentennial Garden, known for its colorful displays of annuals.
Keeley Park: About a 15-minute drive northeast of downtown, Keeley Park is worth the car time. Most kids know it for its splash pad, but this park also features a disc-golf course, a beginner mountain bike trail, paved walking trails, and an “Up in the Air” all-inclusive playground. Bring your fishing pole; a stocked pond and pier present the perfect opportunity to cast a line.
Where to Explore Downtown
Tanger Center: When it opened in 2021, this center for the performing arts wowed theater-goers with its impressive lineup of touring Broadway productions, concerts, comedy shows, Guilford College’s Bryan Series, and Greensboro Symphony Orchestra performances.
LeBauer Park: Just two blocks from the Children’s Museum, LeBauer Park has everything required to entertain every member of your family: a huge playground, ping-pong and foosball tables, ornamental gardens, interactive fountains, food kiosks, and a big lawn where you can spread a blanket and take a nap under artist Janet Echelman’s colorful Where We Met aerial sculpture.
Elm Street: For the quintessential Greensboro experience, plan to spend some time simply meandering around downtown. Stops along this main thoroughfare include Scuppernong, Greensboro’s beloved independent bookstore; Cheesecakes by Alex, a mainstay for all-things-dessert; and Just Be, a quaint shop that delivers on its promise to stock “gifts with stories to sell.” Cap your day with a cheese plate and glass of wine from the intimate Lewis and Elm. Other Elm Street favorites include Bourbon and Bowl, Design Archives, Hudson Hill, Wrangler’s pop-up store, and Area Modern Furniture, among others.
Where to Sip
Breweries that paved the way: Back before downtown Greensboro was the buzzy destination it is today, Natty Greene’s Brewing Company stood watch over Elm and McGee streets, delighting customers with burgers and craft beers. Also leading the beer charge is Red Oak Brewery, which first opened as a restaurant in 1979 but quickly made a name for its Bavarian lagers. In 2007, it moved its state-of-the-art facility just east of Greensboro. Schedule a brewery tour, followed by a tasting.
Stellar atmosphere: From its home on Gate City Boulevard, Oden Brewing Company’s outdoor seating includes a side porch that feels like home and picnic tables shaded by big ol’ trees. Check their calendar for trivia, live music, and movie nights. Tucked behind Elm Street down Lewis Street, Southend also has a great outdoor hangout space, not to mention a fabulous Sunday brunch. On the north side of downtown, Joymongers invites long conversations in the fresh air — from the lush front lawn to the taproom with garage doors that roll up to let in the sunshine. taproom and front lawn, on the north end of downtown, invites long conversations in the fresh air.
While you drink: At Pig Pounder Brewery, you can drink beer while you play pool, ping pong, or even engage in a little axe-throwing. Tuckered out? Red Cinema is just across the street. At Little Brother Brewing’s downtown Elm Street taproom, we recommend people-watching from cozy couches overlooking Hamburger Square. Prep for a show at the coliseum with a pre- or post-brew at Steel Hands on Gate City Boulevard.
In good spirits: Tucked at the far end of State Street, Bull City Ciderworks serves hard ciders made with 100% apple juice that’s naturally gluten-free. There’s the classic, dry cider, the blueberry cider, cherry tart, crème de l’Orange, orange peel & hibiscus, ginger, honey, pineapple, the list goes on. On the menu at the local, family-owned Fainting Goat Spirits is their Tiny Cat Vodka, Emulsion New American Gin, and a selection of whiskeys aged in American white-oak barrels. Taste it, and take a bottle to go.
Where to Eat
Fine dining: In Greensboro, the world is your oyster—or your rack of lamb or farm-fresh salad. 1618 West Seafood Grille is known for upscale, fresh seafood, while Undercurrent features fresh and creative flavor combinations revolving around local, seasonal ingredients. If you’ve heard about the James Beard-nominated MACHETE, be sure to make a reservation in advance; dining is a true experience with perfect cocktails and small plates that delight the senses.
Downtown dining: Start your day with an unbeatable French breakfast (or lunch) at Chez Genèse — their roasted chicken on a rosemary biscuit is truly decadent. Or try the smoked salmon salad, which will fuel you through dinnertime but is light enough to keep you on the go. Later in the day, try the Southern Cajun Creole selections at Blue Denim or a plate of artfully prepared tacos at Crafted.
Greensboro classics: Since 1906, not much has changed about Yum Yum’s homemade ice cream and redder-than-red hot dogs. From its home on Spring Garden Street at the heart of UNC Greensboro, it’s the ideal stop for fuel before a shady campus stroll. Or try the family-owned Lox, Stock, and Bagel, which has reliably fresh and delicious sandwiches. Just across from the coliseum, Stamey’s Barbecue has thrilled ’cue lovers for 90 years: Expect Lexington-style, pit-cooked pig — a sure sign you’re in the Piedmont.
Al fresco favorites: Named for a giant oak tree on the Guilford Courthouse Battlefield, Liberty Oak Restaurant and Bar offers hearty dinners like steak risotto and shrimp and grits. Other sure bets for an outdoor patio experience are Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen, Lindley Park Filling Station, and Café Europa.
Where to Dive into History
Guilford Courthouse Battlefield: Walk on the hallowed ground of an American Revolutionary War battlefield. Here, during the largest battle of the Southern campaign, Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Greene’s men killed a quarter of British Gen. Charles Cornwallis’s men, leading to the eventual American victory in the war. Now, it’s part of a leafy, shady park.
The Historic Magnolia House: One of only a few North Carolina Green Book locations still in operation, this bed and breakfast has four luxurious rooms for rent and a fabulous brunch and dinner menu featuring elegant Southern cuisine.
The International Civil Rights Center & Museum: Explore Greensboro’s deep connections with the Civil Rights movement and the brave people who stood up — and sat down — for equality at the original Woolworths (now a museum) downtown. Visit the restored lunch counter and explore 13 galleries with photography, interactive exhibits, and video reenactments.
ACC Hall of Champions: Whether your favorite college sports team’s victories feel like current events or a treasured memory, unleash your inner sports fanatic at the Greensboro Coliseum’s Special Events Center. Check out the “You Call the Play” interactive broadcasting booth and life-size ACC school mascots while you’re here.
Where to Shop
Replacements, Ltd.: Enthusiasts come from around the country to explore eight football fields’ worth of estate jewelry, dinnerware, and collectibles at this treasure trove just east of Greensboro. Need that impossible-to-find piece? Replacements also happens to be the world’s largest supplier of active and discontinued tableware.
Farmers markets: Thanks to the abundant homemade goods and homegrown produce at two of Greensboro’s biggest farmers markets, the original Curb Market on Yanceyville Road and Triad Farmers Market on Sandy Ridge Road, you’ll easily stock your fridge, pantry, and garden for the week ahead.
State Street: Head north out of downtown, and the tiny but mighty State Street awaits. Classified as “social,” this district welcomes you to grab your favorite drink at State Street Wine or Bull City Ciderworks and invites you to meander along, peeking in windows and picking up the perfect wares from the children’s consignment shop Be Kind Kids and housewares Sweet Tea Studios. If you want a non-alcoholic drink for your wander, stop in at Vida Pour Tea and let their baristas custom craft a special brew to suit your mood, your health, or any other needs you might have. While you wait, mosey around the lounge and explore the store, which sells clean-burn candles, books, wellness items, and more.
Fleet-Plummer: Don’t let the name fool you: This hardware store, more than 100 years old, sells more than just hammers and nails. Today, the lifestyle store is your guaranteed spot for big-ticket items, from outdoor furniture to grills. It also offers clothes, jewelry, and more.
Where to Stay
O. Henry Hotel: Named for the native Greensborian who achieved literary fame, this plush hotel offers the robust elegance of an English manor home. In addition to luxurious quarters, the Green Valley Grill is predictably delicious, with a beautiful patio and afternoon tea. Ease into a leather armchair in the wood-paneled lobby and sip your favorite steep.
Proximity Hotel: If your idea of luxury leans more modern, visit this AAA Four Diamond hotel — O. Henry’s sister property. One of the first hotels in America to receive the LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, Proximity’s guest rooms are designed for restful comfort, with Maji bedding and triple-filtered air. The restaurant, Print Works Bistro, has unbeatable European-French bistro fare with a Creekside terrace for al fresco dining.
Grandover Resort & Spa: Here, the stay is the destination. While you’re visiting this Wyndham Grand Hotel in Sedgefield, take advantage of 36 holes of championship golf, tennis, indoor and outdoor pools, a day spa, two restaurants, and more.
Double Oaks: For an unforgettable historic stay, you can’t do better than this bed and breakfast named for the two 200-plus-year-old oak trees towering on the front lawn. Just on the outskirts of downtown, the Colonial Revival home is on the National Register of Historic Places. Each room has its own charm; don’t be surprised if you keep coming back to try them all.
Explore More in Greensboro
It’s easy being green in the Gate City: Discover six of the best parks and green spaces to explore with your family this weekend.
Where to take a hike, ride your bike, float your boat, and play a round of golf in this Piedmont city surrounded by nature.
A chef learned about farm-to-table fare working in his grandparents’ garden. Now, he pays tribute to them in delectable dishes at his Greensboro restaurant.
This story was published on Jul 28, 2023