-reported by Samantha Chancey
Spartanburg, South Carolina is a little town with a lot going on under the radar. The traditional guidebooks couldn’t (and wouldn’t) explore all of the delightful oddities that make the town so interesting.
The Underground Guide to Spartanburg
, which includes more unusual, obscure, and funky destinations than any of its run-of-the-
mill predecessors could have dreamed of. Betsy Teter with Hub City Press sums up the appeal of this new guide nicely: “Personally, when I travel I’m interested in what’s quirky and unusual. People want to see what’s off the beaten path—the weirdness in town.”
The guide started as an initiative by the Visitors Bureau
to create a tourism action plan which would showcase local business. In order to spotlight local places in a way that had never been done before, Hub City Bookshop put out a call for anyone they thought would be able to contribute to the project in a unique way.
“Basically, we started an army of writers and photographers,” laughs Joe Mullinax, the book’s editor.
The team evolved into a group of about 35 who wrote, edited, took photographs, and made videos of all of their favorite hidden gems of Spartanburg.
Teter explains,“This is a city with a lot of hidden treasures that aren’t all collected in one place. You might not know it from the outside but there are a lot of young people very specifically engaged- whether it’s outdoors, arts, sustainability, biking. It’s a community where young people are running a lot of great organizations.”
The sites included within the guide cover just about any interest you could think of, and even some you probably couldn’t. There are hip outdoor destinations, international groceries, coffeehouses, bike trails, tattoo parlors, Buddhist temples, roller derby competitions, unique eateries, flea markets, French bakeries, dive bars, Frisbee golf, and live music—and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Night owls will appreciate the inclusion of late-night music and restaurants for munchies after midnight.
Then there’s Pineview Drive yard art, which Mullinax describes as “yard art to the extreme,” complete with mannequins, a miniature village, and a small version of the statue of liberty.
Spartanburg has some truly unexpected sights.
“We have two pieces of the Berlin wall!” exclaims Mullinax. No two destinations included in the guide are alike. “It’s really a calling card for the creativity of Spartanburg,” says Teter.
The underground guidebook works perfectly as a companion to previous guidebooks with more standard fare, by giving visitors a real understanding of what’s going on under the surface in Spartanburg.
Even long-time residents can make new discoveries about their city in The Underground Guide to Spartanburg
; Mullinax himself has first-hand experience.
He explains that at the beginning of the project he expected to know most, if not all, of the locations that would be included. But when the list came together, he ended up being surprised by the incredible amount of places and facts about his hometown that he had never known about.
“I grew up here and we always had the mantra that ‘there’s nothing to do here.’ That may have been true when I was in high school but it’s certainly not true now.”
If you’re interested in picking up your own copy of The Underground Guide to Spartanburg
, check out the website for more information and a preview
of what you’ll find between the pages.
book cover art courtesy of The Underground Guide to Spartanburg and Hub City Press