From the tall brick storefronts to the friendly people — and even the historic railroad depot that now serves as a local museum — Belton, SC is a classic American small town. The largest green space in Belton is Leda Poore Park, a place for the whole family to get a workout. While the kids try the tennis courts or ball fields, your fur babies can take a walk on the grassy lawns and meet your neighbors.
A good, if somber, walk can be had on Anderson Street just outside of downtown: the small, beautifully landscaped Belton Veterans Memorial Park is managed by the American Legion. After sniffing out the granite monument, you might head across the street and take in the town’s history on the winding paths of the Mt. Zion Cemetery.
Surprising for its size, Belton offers a truly unique dining experience that attracts visitors from all over this part of South Carolina: the dog-friendly covered patio at Grits & Groceries. This old-school restaurant in a converted farmhouse is owned by two former New Orleans French Quarter chefs with serious haute cuisine pedigrees. Grits & Groceries elevates traditional Southern food while keeping prices and décor humble. Be sure to bring cash or check, as the restaurant doesn’t accept cards (like we said, it’s old school).
From Belton, the retail and service options of Anderson are just 20 minutes away, and the shores of 56,000-acre Lake Hartwell are just another 15 minutes farther. With Downtown Greenville only 40 minutes away, the area’s largest city is within easy reach, too.
Less than 9 miles from Belton, the 300-acre Broadway Lake attracts local fishermen and nature lovers alike. Broadway Lake Park, on the western shore of the lake, is an ideal place for a shady walk on a warm day. The lower level of the park consists of fishing piers and picnic spots along the shoreline, great for enjoying a breeze off the lake. The upper level of the park consists of wide lawns, shaded picnic spots, and more squirrels than you could possibly hope to chase. Though public enough to feel safe, the upper level is rarely used and big enough for large dogs to really let off some steam: it’s ideal for pups who don’t play well with others. On the eastern shore of Broadway Lake, Allen Park has some grassy areas that are also good for a quick run, but this park seems to breed more mosquitoes than you’ll find at Broadway Lake Park.
The Dog Park in Downtown Anderson might be the most pawpular meeting place for Belton’s canine population. With small- and large-dog fenced areas, water fountains, benches, and plenty of shade from the hot Southern summer, you can relax while your buddies make some new friends. Once they’re back on-leash, it’s easy to explore the historic downtown area on the comfortable sidewalks throughout. Head a few blocks over to Wren Park, where you might discover the splash pad or evening light show, the summer outdoor movie series, the winter ice skating (for humans only, unfortunately), or any number of festivals and special events. Then, camp out on the Main Street patio dining at Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers or one of the other dog-friendly restaurants and do some people-watching, or cross through downtown to reach Galloway Park and Abney Mills Park.
At seven acres, Cater Lake Park packs a lot into a small space. The pond is always full of ducks and geese, so there is plenty of aquatic entertainment for your pups to sniff and bark at. The paved walking path makes your adventure easy on tender paws, too. You can grill out at the picnic area and share some burgers and dogs, or head a few blocks east to the manicured campus of Anderson University to continue your walk in this pedestrian-safe part of town. On the other side of the university is the Rocky River Nature Preserve, where you'll find some rustic hiking paths through the river’s wetlands. If you’re looking for indulgence rather than more exercise, the Molly and Me Dog Bakery is located a few blocks northwest of Cater Lake.
A perfect launch point to enjoy Lake Hartwell, Sadler’s Creek State Park is well worth the small daily parking fee. With two boat ramps and a 100-foot pier ready to take you out on the water, your dogs will be eager to start paddling. At almost 400 acres, Sadler’s Creek also has six miles of hiking trails for your on-leash exploration. The Pine Grove Trail is an easy 0.6 mile loop, while the longer biking trails take you deep into the park’s pine forest. The lakefront campground is dog friendly, too, so you can extend your stay and frolic a whole weekend away.
Although the 40-minute drive into Downtown Greenville might be saved for a special occasion, it’s impossible to live in Belton without enjoying the hip, vibrant beauty of this up-and-coming city. Start with the stunning Falls Park, on the southern end of the Main Street business district and near the Peace Center for Performing Arts. This affluent part of the city has lots of chic restaurants with dog-friendly patios, but you may want to grab something to-go and spend the entire afternoon enjoying the natural waterfall, scenic bridge, art installations, picnic spots, and community spirit of Falls Park. Greenville has plenty of other lush parks to explore, but your pack might prefer to catch the Swamp Rabbit Trailhead at Falls Park. The 22-mile Swamp Rabbit Trail is a mixed-use converted railway beloved by athletes of the furry and not-furry varieties.