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TEN BEST THINGS GREENSBORO’S VISITORS SHOULD KNOW

by Eric Ginsburg

TEN BEST THINGS GREENSBORO’S VISITORS SHOULD KNOW RANDOMLY COMPILED BY ERIC GINSBURG

Small city/big town

Greensboro struggles with competing identities because of its small — yet relatively big — size. It’s one of the largest cities in the state but maintains a big-town aura, where it’s easy to run across familiar faces. The size has advantages for locals and visitors — if you can figure out the maze of streets, the city is small enough that you can wrap your fingers around it but big enough that there’s an airport and a lot of things happening.

It’s decentralized

Things are spread out, but that just means you have to know what you’re looking for. The city has pockets of activity, from the affordable international food options on High Point Road to the heart of the Lindley Park neighborhood. The bicentennial and bog gardens are next to each other, the Troy Bumpas B&B is a stone’s throw from Tate Street and there’s plenty of activity downtown.

Here be dragons

Friends in college put up a map of the region on their wall, cutting out and removing South Carolina and leaving a simple note, “Here be dragons.” This is not South Carolina, and we don’t appreciate it when people confuse the two. Dropping references to Petey Pablo, college basketball, John Edwards, Michael Jordan and NASCAR might not be enough to fit in, but remembering the differences between the two states is key.

Progressive mystique

The city and state have a history of putting on progressive airs to mask reality on the ground. It rears its head when people try to publicly discuss things like race, but it isn’t always a farce; Greensboro City Council passed a resolution against a statewide gay-marriage ban, the city and state went for Obama in 2008 and there are numerous grassroots organizing efforts. Read Civilities and Civil Rights by William Chafe for more.

The barbecue

Yes, we spell it with a “c” here. Barbecue options abound, but get it with coleslaw on top like the locals do. If you’re in the eastern part of the city, try the $2.50 sandwich at Boss Hog’s, go to Stephanie’s II in the south, Brown Gardiner Drug Co. in the north and, if you’re in the west, just keep driving to Bib’s in Winston-Salem. If you’re downtown, head to Fincastles, and try the pimiento cheese too.

Coupon book

I haphazardly picked up a visitors’ guide at the Greensboro Coliseum and found two pages of great coupons in the back — buy one get one free mini-golf at Celebration Station, 10 percent off at Biscuitville, two-for-one Triad Stage or Greensboro Symphony tickets, a free Red Oak Brewery tour and more. The discounts are great for residents too and can be found online.

History

The Revolutionary and Civil War were both fought here, and so was the battle for Civil Rights, most notably the launch of the sit-in movement. While some locals would like to sweep certain events under the rug, like the 1979 Greensboro Massacre, other aspects are proudly on display at places like the International Civil Rights Center & Museum. Scroll through our archives and learn about the Negro League that played here or the textile, tobacco and furniture industries that sculpted the region.

Demographics

Greensboro has sizeable black population, as well as significant Latino and Vietnamese communities, not to mention a huge number of college students at a handful of different schools. It’s been rated one of the most religious cities in the country, in part because of all the faithbased community work that’s happening.

Sweet tea

Pepsi may be from the Carolinas, but nobody really professes loyalty to it. More important to us is Cheerwine, especially if it’s in a float from Cook Out or in a glass bottle. But above all you have to get down with sweet tea, even if you’re only here for the weekend. The sweeter the better, and people may look at you weird if you don’t get it — or your water — with a lemon slice.

Events and attractions

Flip through our pages for an extensive list of events, dining options and reviews. So much has happened here in the last month alone — the city’s first food-truck festival, the Central Carolina Fair, a barbecue festival, tattoo convention, Dog and Kennel Show, 17 Days…. Plus there’s plenty coming up — like NC A&T University Homecoming — and many permanent attractions like the Natural Science Center or Hagan-Stone Park.

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