Travelers Rest is really just a short car ride away, but more often than not we drive through without stopping on our way north to Caesars Head, Jones Gap or Table Rock. Originally home to the Catawba, Creek and Cherokee Indian tribes, it later became a stopover for travelers and livestock drovers. In more recent years the town has gained popularity with outdoor enthusiasts heading north into the Blue Ridge Mountains, but since the development of the Swamp Rabbit Trail (the multi-use trail stretching almost twenty miles from Greenville Tech to Travelers Rest) a surge of new businesses have opened along this corridor, encouraging the growth of a quaint Upstate tourism spot.
It was the annual Art on the Trail that brought us out on a brilliant autumn day, a fine arts and craft festival with not just art but music, performers and food. Events were spread out over a stretch of Main Street with a shuttle set up to help get around. The main event was a juried art fair, and vendors were set up in Trailblazer Park selling pottery, jewelry, textiles and much more. We got a slight head start on our Christmas presents while admiring the wares of talented artists from all over the southeast. Musicians in the amphitheater kept things lively with the good southern stuff, bluegrass to country to folk and everything in between. (While we were there it was the Drovers Old Time Medicine Show, the self-billed 'foot-stompin' hillbilly band' based here in the Upstate.) There were even performers on stilts wandering around from Greenville-based TimTv & the Secret Cirkus, getting both kids and adults into hoola-hoops…
We spent a good bit of time in the Kid’s Corner, making bracelets, eating popcorn, getting balloon animals and building a riding mower with Home Depot. The boys tested their ball-throwing skills and watched older kids playing soccer, but soon our stomachs were growling for something more substantial, and although a couple of food trucks and several other food and coffee establishments were represented in the park, we headed out to a place I’ve had my eye on for quite some time.
Located just off the main drag in town, Upcountry Provisions Bakery & Bistro has been supplying freshly baked bread, croissants and other goodies to Travelers Rest since 2011. The menu features sandwiches, wraps and salads named after famous Upcountry spots. For example I ordered the Swamp Rabbit - hummus, avocado, garden veggies, crispy onions, mixed greens & balsamic vinaigrette dressing wrapped in flatbread - and Roberts had the Blue Ridge: pepperoni, turkey, red onions, roasted red pepper, mixed greens & blue cheese vinaigrette on ciabatta. The flatbread and ciabatta are both made in house, as well as the cinnamon roll and pain au chocolate that the boys chose for their lunch. Everything was delicious, and coming from Roberts this is high praise indeed – most often he prefers a quick lunch at home, but his sandwich disappeared almost as quickly as mine… The croissant with chocolate was a little more “doughy” than flaky (compared to the typical pain au chocolate in France), but with a generous portion of chocolate it gets my vote, while the cinnamon roll practically oozed decadence. Both boys were in a state of disbelief that mom was calling this lunch!
More Upstate businesses than ever are using seasonal, organic and local produce when possible, and UP is one of them, boasting hormone free meats and cheese. Although we didn’t drink any this visit, I was happy to hear the coffee is also roasted right here in Greenville, by West End Coffee. There is outdoor seating in addition to the large room inside, perfect for cyclists stopping in off the Swamp Rabbit Trail or for sunny autumn days such as this one, and with breakfast, lunch and dinner on the menu there are plenty of options for the hungry traveler to choose from. Now that we’ve found this spot it will be much harder to pass through on our way home from our many destinations farther north; in fact, Travelers Rest might just become a destination in itself!
Located at 102 S. Poinsett Highway, Upcountry Provisions is open Tuesday through Saturday from 7:30am to 7:00pm.