Many cities making their way out of the recession began their recoveries with infrastructure projects to revive their downtown cores. A case in point is Greenville, South Carolina, where an eyesore highway bridge was removed and replaced with a picturesque pedestrian walk along the Reedy River, which now connects a string of parks and cafes.

In addition to its pedestrian promenade along the Reedy — which encompasses the riverside gardens, suspension bridge and waterfall views of Falls Park — Greenville offers plenty of other quality-of-life enticements. Southern artists are the focus of the Greenville County Museum of Art, while interpretive exhibits at the Upcountry History Museum relate the story of upstate South Carolina. To the north of the city, hiking and biking trails snake around lakes and through the hillsides in Paris Mountain State Park.