Back in the late 1960s downtown Greenville was withering away, suffering the same fate that wiped out thousands of Main Streets. Now, thanks to 30 years of redevelopment—including a pedestrian-friendly Main Street, a performing arts center, condos, and the stunning Liberty Bridge—what was once a desolate stretch of offices is now a vibrant town center. The genius of Greenville's reinvention isn't just its downtown, though, but the way the city's center is linked to surrounding neighborhoods. Wide, walkable sidewalks make it an easy stroll for many residents, and the city has converted an abandoned rail line into a multiuse trail, linking neighborhoods, parks, and downtown. Margaret McJunkin, 73, a Greenville native, especially enjoys Cleveland Park, which borders her neighborhood. "I use the walking paths that wind along the river—there are flowering trees and a zoo," she says.
- Vibe: Family-friendly fun, from "penny candy" to goat-cheese pizza
- Population: 59,000
- Median housing price: $151,080
- Average commute: 19 minutes
- Average number of sunny days: 220 per year
- Most relaxing way to spend an afternoon: Hiking the pristine mountain woodlands of Jones Gap State Park, just 25 miles outside Greenville
- Simple fun for less than $10: Grabbing a cup of coffee or an ice-cream cone at Spill the Beans
- Who knew?: Home to companies such as Fluor, BMW, and Michelin, the Greenville area claims one of the highest international-investment-per-capita levels in the nation.