Greenwood, South Carolina – Part 1


I’ve been following Uptown Greenwood on Facebook for some time now, and I’m impressed with what I see.  There are so many little towns in South Carolina that had their heyday decades ago – or even 100 years ago – and need revitalizing now. And revitalization is exactly what’s happening in Greenwood. The recent reopening of the Inn on the Square was just at the beginning of October. But the most recent breath of life is the grand opening of the Carolina Executive Car at the Railroad Historical Center on Friday night. That train car was once my great grandfather’s office on wheels. However, I will cover that in Part 2 of this post. I’m focusing on the Inn on the Square today.



I think this hotel is doing incredibly well to have just opened its doors again on October 1. I told them so. I can’t be sure, but it’s possible that I may have been the first person to stay in my room since the renovation. My only hint at this is that a man from the cable company had to come into my room and program my television.




While there was no mini-fridge and no microwave, I’m betting those will be added soon. In the meantime, everything is freshly painted and ready for guests to relax and enjoy. I did suggest that they add another towel bar and a hook in the bathroom for convenience. But I was just fine as it was. One thing I think is interesting is the shower. There’s no shower curtain to collect mildew or to gross out the germophobes. There’s simply a fixed glass pane. The shower is a fresh, modern touch in a vintage hotel.



The bed was comfortable, the desk was sufficient, and the big armchair in the corner was plush and lovely. My parents’ room on the front of the building had a view of the street. My room on the back had a view of the roof over the reception room. But the views are not the reason you would come to this hotel. If you want a nice view, you would go to the beach or mountains.  This is a bustling downtown area.

The Dining Room


The service in the Carriage House dining room was fantastic. The wait staff makes it a very personal experience and works hard to please. But Tom, the maitre d’, absolutely makes the experience. Attentive to every request, he treats guests as if each one is a VIP, while maintaining an entertaining and appropriate sense of humor. I hope they hold on to Tom, because he really makes the experience. As far as the food is concerned, everything we had was absolutely delicious. My shrimp and grits was not too saucy, as some are. My mother raved about the monkfish, and my father (a lifelong fisherman, chef of his own catch, and connoisseur of seafood) proclaimed that the tuna was prepared as it is supposed to be, and was delicious. In fact, he was too full to finish and told the waitress, “I hope you have a favorite cat who will get these scraps, because this is too good to throw away.” If you are a guest at the inn, breakfast is complimentary. And this breakfast is no Hampton Inn buffet, let me tell you. You will be seated and served your choice from the menu. The presentation of the food is beautiful, the portions are more than ample, and it’s all fabulous. I believe the restaurant was my favorite part of this delightful little boutique hotel.

Now, there is also a lounge called the Fox & Hound, which was originally a tavern before. This is where the majority of the ghost stories about the hotel originate. I didn’t have a reason to go into the lounge, so I can’t verify whether the ghost (dubbed Bill) actually taps people on the shoulder.

I think it’s important to mention that not only had the hotel just opened a couple of weeks before we were there, but there was also a wedding party staying there. The rehearsal dinner was in this rustically elegant room downstairs on Friday night:


The reception was on Saturday was also held at the hotel. Not once did I feel slighted or like I was not receiving the attention I needed from hotel staff. They were eager to please and enthusiastically accepted my suggestions about additional towel bars for the bathrooms. They still have a little polishing to do (a dried drop of paint on the floor in my bathroom, etc), but that is to be expected for a newly-renovated place. The public areas are perfect.

I will definitely stay at the Inn on the Square again, and will confidently send clients there.

Azalea Travel Agency

Delightful Days in Wilmington, NC

If you live in the Carolinas, the ancient port city of Wilmington makes a great weekend destination. If you have been hitting up the same Savannah-Hilton Head-Myrtle Beach-etc. weekend spots over and over, why not try something different? There’s a little too much to see to just take a day trip. Historic and charming, Wilmington is often overlooked in favor of its southern sisters Charleston and Savannah, I think, but is definitely worth every minute you spend there, and probably many more.

Things to Do


My favorite spot was the antebellum Bellamy Mansion last time I visited Wilmington. If you are a preservation buff or if you just like grand old homes, this is a must-see. The admission is not steep at all, and the architecture alone evokes a true portrait of life in the past. Back with the Tide is a fascinating little book written by Ellen Bellamy, the last Bellamy family member to live in the house. It makes a nice keepsake from your visit at just around $10 and offers a personal memoir of her days in the mansion.  The picture below is of a little stage on one of the upper floors of the house.  Children who lived in the house would use it as a stage to perform plays.


A couple of other attractions include the Battleship North Carolina and the Wilmington Railroad Museum.  If it’s a tour you’re looking for, you might want to try the Cape Fear Riverboat Tours or a Segway Tour.  If you’re into ghosts, the Haunted Cotton Exchange Tour can hook you up with chills and a little humor. But call ahead to make reservations. The tour guide will only come out if she has pre-sold tickets.


Walking around in downtown Wilmington is just a delight in itself. The buildings and streets remind me of Charleston and Savannah with the charm of the old world and a glimpse into trade in centuries past. (Explore a map of shops here.)  No matter who you are, you’re almost certain to find a shop that suits your fancy. And you know, wherever I go, if there is a good book store, I must find it. I found it here: Two Sisters Bookery.



As you can see in the picture, my friend and I enjoyed lunch on a wrought iron balcony at Roy’s Riverboat Landing. The picture is a little dark due to an overcast day and a less than stellar camera, but you can take my word for it that we were very pleased with every aspect of lunch. The little balcony is just the right size for a table for two, and it’s delightful when the weather is right. The picture below is the front of the restaurant. One of the side balconies on the second floor is where we sat.



If you don’t stay overnight, you are cheating yourself.  And the ghost tours happen at night, if that’s one of your objectives. If you prefer a hotel chain, Courtyard by Marriott has a location in the downtown area and offers a reliable product with spacious rooms and suites.  Hilton Wilmington Riverside also has a nice location. But if a more intimate, charming setting is what you seek, then the Port City Guest House is a lovely B&B near the Bellamy Mansion.

For One Tree Hill fans

These stairs were used in at least one episode.


Okay, I’ll admit to watching a few episodes. I was in law school at the time and didn’t have cable. I would come home from a long afternoon in the library and look for something to watch while I ate dinner. And a little bit of unrealistic, cheesy teen drama that left me asking Where is the parental supervision?! was sometimes just what I needed to unwind.  Please don’t judge me.  So anyway, if you want to check out some of the spots where the show was filmed and do a little self-guided tour, here are a couple of resources:

A local perspective

And a fan page

So, what do you think? Are you ready to go this weekend?  Contact Azalea Travel to help you make your plans!

Thank you, LSU and Louisiana


Thanks to the flood, it’s been over a week since I last posted here. While we have been extremely fortunate, much more so than many of our friends who live only a couple of miles away, the whole state of South Carolina has been thrown a curve ball, to say the least.  Even with my son back in school before most of the others in the area, I have had to play catch-up with other aspects of work.

But I have to take a moment and express gratitude, as a lifelong South Carolina Gamecocks fan, for the love, sportsmanship, and hospitality shown to my state by Louisiana. The Gamecocks were scheduled to have a home game in Columbia this weekend, against LSU. Columbia is one of the parts of the state that have been hit hardest by the flood, and many are now homeless. The state and the city are still struggling to pump out water and keep more dams from breaking, with water still rising on some rivers. We can’t even get to the clean-up yet, because the event is still ongoing in many places. 17 lives have been lost, and folks are still evacuating their homes.

So this weekend’s game was moved to Louisiana State University’s stadium in Baton Rouge. That decision makes sense. But LSU, no stranger to natural disasters, is taking extraordinary measures to make the Gamecocks feel that it’s still a home game.

LSU has sent their jet to pick up the Gamecocks. LSU’s band has held extra practices this week to learn USC’s alma mater and the fight song, which they will play for them during today’s game. They are collecting donations such as bottled water to send back to Columbia. They will play “Sandstorm” before kickoff, as is the custom at home games in Columbia. A visit to LSU’s website today looks like this:

welcome gamecocks

But that’s not all.

All ticket sale profits for tomorrow’s game in Baton Rouge will be donated to flood relief in South Carolina.  LSU is hosting a tailgate for Tiger and Gamecock fans with free food.  LSU Student Government will present USC student representatives with keys to the LSU Tiger stadium. And then there are billboards all over Baton Rouge like this one I saw on Facebook: Geaux Gamecocks

I wish I could add photo credits to this, but I don’t have them…if someone knows whose picture this is, please tell me so I can give proper credit. It makes me cry every time I see it. If you would like to see more like this, you can check out the Gamecock Born & Bred Facebook page.

And here’s what people flying into the Baton Rouge airport are seeing today:

airport welcome sign Judi Gatson

Photo credit: Judi Gatson

The last time I traveled to Louisiana, I was in my twenties. I flew into Baton Rouge, rented a car, and drove to Lake Charles to visit a friend. Other than doing some catching up and giggling, my standout memories of the trip are of trying my first muffaletta and of the long, pretty drive over some marshy areas. But I intend to go back to Louisiana soon. While I’m there, I won’t give everyone I meet a hug, because that would be weird. But I will hug someone. If you live in Louisiana, watch out, because I’m coming, and I might hug you. That’s what Louisiana is doing for South Carolina right now – giving us an enormous state-to-state hug.

In the years to come, I won’t remember who wins the game today. But what I will never forget is the friendship extended to the Gamecocks by the LSU Tigers.  I’ll always be a Gamecocks fan, but I’ve got a new team to root for now, too. Geaux Gamecocks, and Geaux Tigers.

-Perrin Conrad, Azalea Travel