Tandem Crêperie & Coffeehouse photo
Across the street from the Swamp Rabbit Trail, Tandem Crêperie & Coffeehouse sweetens Main Street.
In the early 19th century, before making the arduous journey across the Blue Ridge, South Carolinians would rest and restock on commodities in the Upstate stopover that became known as Travelers Rest. Typically arriving by wagon or stagecoach, those travelers would sometimes have to wait out winter before heading into the mountains.
More recently, the “gateway to the foothills” became the home of Furman University and the northern terminus of the popular Swamp Rabbit Trail, an 18.7-mile paved path along a former railroad bed linking the town to Greenville, South Carolina. Again folks are funneling into Travelers Rest, where a crop of new businesses has transformed the once sleepy Main Street into a destination in its own right. Chronicling its evolution since 1808 is History of Travelers Rest, SC: A Sense of Place, a 16-chapter book of interviews, anecdotes, and in-depth local reporting published last summer by the Travelers Rest Historical Society.
Whether in town to hit the Swamp Rabbit Trail or the Travelers Rest Farmers Market, which opens for the 2016 season on May 7 with a plant and garden sale and a free gardening class, be sure to spend some time on Main Street, too. Here are a few highlights:
Crepe intentions: Brightening up an historic brick building across the street from an access point to the Swamp Rabbit, Tandem Crêperie and Coffeehouse does brisk business serving families, college students, cyclists, and other people refueling after a morning on the trail. Single-origin coffee and lavender-honey lattes pair deliciously with sweet and savory crepes and waffles. Take the cafe’s motto of “together is best” to heart; the menu is too tempting to try just one kind of crepe. Favorites include the lumberjack—a cornmeal crepe stuffed with ham, bacon, egg, cheese, béchamel sauce and maple syrup—and the tiramisu, laced with mascarpone and espresso.
New uses for old places: Complete with a large slide-up door, Sidewall Pizza slings thin-crust, brick-oven pies and scoops of house-made ice scream in a former tire shop. Up the street, two native daughters brought the Williams Hardware shop back to life as the cozy Cafe at Williams Hardware, serving Southern lunch specialties like fried bologna sandwiches and tomato okra soup alongside locally made gifts for sale. Expanded and renovated in 2013, the Whistle Stop has been family owned since 1945 and a local landmark since 1932 as the American Cafe. Vintage bar stools, a handmade chestnut counter, exposed ceiling beams and brick walls, and menu items like the hamburger steak with onion gravy harken back to the days when the cafe served as a “whistle stop” along the Swamp Rabbit rail line.
On the move: A couple of blocks from the Swamp Rabbit Trail, Gateway Park’s bike skills flow park attracts mountain bikers of all ages with a multi-loop course including a beginner-friendly pump track, short kids loop, and technical cross-country track with drops. In the middle of all the action is locally owned Sunrift Adventures, which has outfitted the Upstate for land and water excursions from inside an historic cotton gin since 1980. In addition to the shop’s inventory, which ranges from stand-up paddleboards and canoes to cycling gloves and helmets, Sunrift rents kayaks, canoes, boat trailers, road and mountain bikes, backpacking tents and equipment, and climbing crash pads.
Drink up: Swamp Rabbit Brewery & Taproom’s Ben Pierson brings classic German brewing training and 30 years’ experience in craft beer to Main Street. But none of that really matters while relaxing with one of his gold medal-winning double IPAs or a nitro chocolate brown porter. Need something stronger? On the same block, Copperhead Mountain Distillery offers tastings of its small-batch rum, whiskey, and 11 naturally flavored moonshines made in all-copper stills. Lest any drinkers be left out, the new Tasting Room Wine Shop stocks low-production vintages from around the world alongside a bar that pours craft beer and wine by the glass.