Located just two hours north of Atlanta, the city of Greenville, SC, nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, is a family-friendly town full of outdoor adventures, great dining, arts and culture, special events, and plenty of natural beauty.
It was our second visit to this area of the South Carolina, and I seriously fell even deeper in love. How much so? We pondered the prospect of moving here. A gorgeous mid-sized city, divine food scene, bustling downtown district, and easy access to a myriad of outdoor activities? Be still my heart.
Use our guide to the sensational things to do in Greenville SC to plan your own adventure!
COOLEST PLACES TO STAY IN GREENVILLE
- Where We Stayed (And LOVED!): Hyatt Regency – Greenville is located in the heart of Greenville and is 1.2 mi from Falls Park on Reedy River. Guests can enjoy an outdoor pool, a restaurant, and a lounge throughout their stay. We loved our stay here, and you’ll find our full review at the bottom of this post.
- Best Downtown Greenville Hotel: Situated around a newly renovated downtown, the Westin Poinsett Greenville is just steps away from more than 100 shops, restaurants and other attractions like The Peace Center for the Performing Arts, Falls Park on the Reedy River, and the Bon Secours Wellness Arena. This 1920s-inspired hotel is also home to Spoonbread Restaurant, The Piano Bar and Lounge, and Joel’s Java Coffee Shop.
- Best Near Airport: The Greenville Marriott hotel is located off Interstate 85 Exit 54 and is 4 mi from Greenville-Spartanburg Airport. Featuring a spa, 24-hour fitness center, and full-service restaurant and bar, this hotel is 10 miles from downtown, and only 20 minutes’ drive from Paris Mountain State Park.
- Best Near Zoo: The Greenville Crowne Plaza Hotel is a 10 minute drive from the Greenville Zoo. Guests of this hotel will enjoy 2 restaurants and an indoor pool on site along with a flat-screen TV in each room.
- Best Campground: Springwood RV Park in Greenville provides a clean, safe and secure park whether you are there for one night or several months. With extra large and nature-facing RV premium sites, this RV park also offers free WiFi connectivity throughout.
FALLS PARK ON THE REEDY
Greenville’s pride and joy, the amazing Falls Park on the Reedy, sits in the city center – a lush urban green space that runs along the Reedy River.
Viewing the waterfalls from the iconic Liberty Bridge is a must, whether you’re on a date or with the young ones. It’s a 345-foot, curved bridge held in the air by a single suspension cable – the only one of its kind in the country.
After you’ve snapped a few pictures and relaxed on the rocks…try walking the trails and hunting for the public art in the area.
SWAMP RABBIT TRAIL WITH REEDY RIDES
Much like Atlanta has the BeltLine, Greenville residents enjoy the Swamp Rabbit Trail, a 28-mile multi-use path that connects you to parks, attractions, local businesses and other destinations.
We recommend walking or biking this beauty for scenic views. Our family rented bikes from Reedy Rides, located in Downtown Greenville and open 7 days a week. They offer adult and kid bikes, child trailers, tag-a-longs, and tandems.
We rode from the Reedy Rides downtown location, north through the Furman University campus to Travelers Rest. It was about a 9-mile ride there and back (18 miles total) and very easy – though I’ll admit to still being super proud of the boys. This was their longest bike ride yet, but also the one with the least complaints.
Our stop in Travelers Rest included crepes and coffee at Tandem, then Farmhouse Tacos for tacos and a margarita. Both places were fantastic. Get your coffee fix from Leopard Forest before heading to Trailblazer Park, the site of a weekly farmer’s market, and the Carolina Bee Company is a must-stop to pick up some local honey before heading out.
- Insider’s Tip #1: If you visit Traveler’s Rest by car rather than biking along the Trail, then consider adding a stop in the northern part of the city at Poinsett Bridge. Experts believe it’s the oldest surviving bridge in the state – and it is gorgeous!
- Insider Tip #2: If you want to explore the Trail without going all the way out to Travelers Rest, consider a (shorter) ride to Swamp Rabbit Cafe and Grocery. It’s a great place for a fast lunch, offering delicious pizza and sodas, hand-crafted beer options, and fun outdoor patio seating.
- Insider Tip #3: For more impeccable eats, try 2020 James Beard Nominated Best Chef Southeast Adam Cooke of Topsoil; Upcountry Provisions, where the bread is baked fresh; or Monkey Wrench Smokehouse, because no trip in the South is complete without some BBQ.
TREETOP QUEST ADVENTURE
You may know Treetop Quest from their Dunwoody and Gwinnett locations in Georgia, but now they are also in Greenville!
Plan to spend about 2.5 hours playing in the tree canopy — ziplining and conquering the obstacles and suspension bridges. If you have little ones, they’ll love the Chick Pea Course (ages 4-6). Our kiddos spent their time on the ziplines in Levels 1-3…and Dan and the 12yo also tackled Level 4 and LOVED it.
PARIS MOUNTAIN STATE PARK
Paris Mountain is only about 15 minutes from downtown, but feels like you’ve escaped to the mountain. It’s a monadnock (like Stone Mountain or Arabia Mountain in Atlanta) with plenty of activities to enjoy.
Rent a kayak, canoe, or paddle boat, hike or bike along the trail, cast a line, spot local birds through your binoculars, or let the kids take a dip in the swimming hole under the watchful eye of a lifeguard (seasonal). We hiked around Lake Placid while here, and loved the boardwalk foot bridge and views of the waterfall in front of the dam.
The perfect combination of al fresco dining, Reedy River views, and French-inspired cuisine can be found at Passerelle Bistro. We recommend it for a great weekend brunch with the family (like we enjoyed), lunch with friends, or a romantic dinner.
You cannot go wrong with any of the food here. We started with the Crispy Goat Cheese and I cannot recommend it enough. Bloody Marys and Mimosas are only $5 during brunch, so it’s a must! Dan and I enjoyed the Parisian Ham & Gruyère Omelette and the Niçoise* Salad with seared tuna and they were divine.
There is also a kid menu…Cooper had croissants with fresh jam and fruit, and Elliot had the child’s portion of steak and frites. They loved it!
Zentrum is the BMW Museum on the BMW Campus just outside of downtown. Inside we found a series of vehicles to grab our attention: motorcycles, race cars, antique cars, mini cars. This was heaven on earth for hubs and our youngest, who both love cars.
You can watch the movie, see the cars and visit the gift shop all in under an hour. And the best part? It’s free!!
SHOELESS JOE JACKSON MUSEUM AND BASEBALL LIBRARY
Open on Saturdays, the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum and Baseball Library is worth a stop. The museum is located in the home Joe and his wife lived in until their deaths.
See many original artifacts, photos, and countless books in the on-site research library and learn more about one of the greatest baseball players of all time.
THINGS TO DO IN GREENVILLE SC: TAKE IN THE ARTS
Art Crossing sits along the Reedy River, right off South Main at Riverplace. We loved visiting the galleries and seeing artistry of all mediums. Painters, sculptors, jewelers, textile artists, and so much more.
Many of the studios also participate in the First Fridays event of each month and welcome visitors from 6 to 9 PM on those nights.
Heritage Green is an urban arts and cultural campus, and home to the Upcountry History Museum, The Children’s Museum of the Upstate, and the Greenville County Museum of Art, which features the largest Andrew Wyeth exhibit in the United States.
Located in a former Coca-Cola bottling plant on Heritage Green, the Sigal Music Museum is home to the world-famous Carolina Clavier Collection, plus harpsichords, early pianos and more.
The Greenville County Museum of Art is the perfect place to spend the day. Known as one of the South’s best art museums, it houses the world’s largest public collection of watercolors by American artist Andrew Wyeth. You’ll also find a large collection of paintings and prints by Jasper Johns.
THE PEACE CENTER
The Peace Center is a beautiful performing arts center in downtown Greenville, and home to five local companies: the Carolina Ballet Theatre, the International Ballet, the Greenville Symphony, the Greenville Chorale, and the South Carolina Children’s Theater. Catching a performance here is guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience.
ART IN PUBLIC PLACES IN GREENVILLE SC
The galleries, the museums, the public art…the Greenville art scene is one of the main reasons I love this city. Currently more than 70 works of art are featured as part of Greenville, South Carolina’s, Arts in Public Places initiative.
- An Orbital Trio serves as the anchor of North Main Street downtown at NOMA Square.
- Nexus of Light anchors the corner of South Main Street and Augusta St.
- Octo 2 is a kinetic, wind-powered stainless-steel sculpture made up of linked stainless shapes rotating around a circular axis.
- The red steel Untitled 2002-2003 sculpture, referred to by many residents as Gumby, winds up in the background of almost every iconic photo take in Greenville as it sits at one end of The Liberty Bridge in Falls Park.
- The newest Dale Chihuly Rose Crystal Tower sits at the other end of Falls Park.
We visited ALL of these, and you can too with this Greenville Public Art walking tour.
MICE ON MAIN
One of our favorite art exhibits was hunting the Mice on Main. Find all nine bronze mouse statues hidden along Downtown Greenville’s Main Street within about a five-block span.
My kids loved this, and it kept them busy as we were exploring Downtown. If you want the perfect Greenville souvenir, head into Mast General Store (on Main) and pick up a few adorable tiny mice statues to take home with you.
GREENVILLE ENGAGES THE KIDS
Though the Greenville Zoo is modest in size, you can see lions, ocelot, lemurs, apes, exotic birds, amphibians and reptiles, all in about 90 minutes. The zoo also offers covered picnic areas and allows guests to bring in outside food and drink, making this a pretty ideal lunch safari adventure. It is part of the 120+ acre Cleveland Park, also worth exploring.
THE CHILDREN’S MUSEUM OF THE UPSTATE
The Children’s Museum of the Upstate is devoted to young ones and experiential learning through play. This library-turned-museum is filled with hands-on activities and exhibits that will teach them about bodies, biology, banking and more. An ideal kid-friendly stop no matter what time of year you visit, and it’s a great rainy-day choice too.
We visited The Children’s Museum of the Upstate several years ago, and it was one of our favorite kiddo museums (and we’ve been to over a dozen)!
LINKY STONE PARK
Along the Reedy River north of Liberty Bridge in Downtown Greenville, Linky Stone Park, a charming children’s garden, is comprised of a variety of themed gardens — including geology, the five senses, and storybook characters. This FREE outdoor attraction will invite your kiddos to explore, see, touch, smell and savor some fresh air activity in the heart of the city.
THINGS TO DO IN GREENVILLE SC: EATS & SWEETS
Cantina 76 was first founded in Columbia by some college friends, and can now be found in a number of South Carolina cities including Downtown Greenville.
It’s a Mexican-inspired casual restaurant with a really upbeat vibe (and fantastic music) that works for drinks with friends, a relaxed date night, or the family. And speaking of drinks with friends…the margaritas here are the bomb!
The specialty here is tacos, and you can’t go wrong ordering a selection. Between the four of us we tried several, like the Smoked Pork with ancho BBQ and the Fried Chicken with jalapeño lime aioli, and loved them all. The boys loved the fried ice cream!
GRAB A SNACK AT POPPINGTON’S GOURMET POPCORN
Poppington’s is a beloved local gourmet popcorn business serving locals and visitors alike. Stop by for a tin (or two), and be prepared to mull over a plethora of flavor options.
Poppington’s offers over 75 different kinds of popcorn flavors like Bloody Mary, Dill, Buffalo Wing and more. The most popular flavor is the Greenville Mix – caramel popcorn mixed with White Cheddar and Golden Cheddar flavors.
When we stopped by Kilwin’s in the Downtown District for treats and had no regrets. The boys picked a caramel apple and some chocolate covered pretzel sticks…along with a scoop of ice cream. The fudge is the main draw here, though.
Mackinac Island Fudge comes from the original recipes developed by Don & Katy Kilwin – one they’ve been making since 1948. Best part? You can buy two pieces and get one free!
HYATT REGENCY GREENVILLE
We stayed at Hyatt Regency Greenville on this visit, and I HIGHLY recommend it. The Hyatt Regency is centrally located in Downtown, with easy parking. We were close to all the shopping and restaurants, Falls Park, Reedy Rides and the Swamp Rabbit Trail.
It was just a hop and a skip to the Heritage Green, and museums there…and an easy shot out to Paris Mountain and Treetop Quest.
We stayed in the Atrium Suite with spectacular views of the hotel atrium (see above, lighted up at dusk).
The Suite was large, with plenty of space for relaxing. It included a mini fridge (microwave on every floor) and full dining table, which was perfect for getting a little work done. It also had two full bathrooms, a separate bedroom, and a sleeper sofa.
The Atrium Suite was probably designed for entertaining or business meetings, but for a family staying several nights in the area – it also worked perfectly!
AMENITIES AND DINING
The hotel offers an outdoor pool and a fitness center. You’ll find a Starbucks in the building, as well as Kilwin’s (see more above).
We dined one evening at Roost, their farm-to-table restaurant, which we loved. Orb Lounge is a great place to grab a drink.
GREENVILLE SC FAQ
What are the top attractions in Greenville?
Some top attractions in Greenville include Falls Park on the Reedy, The Children’s Museum of the Upstate, and the Greenville Zoo.
What is Greenville known for?
Greenville is known for its outdoor recreation, a downtown area full of cultural entertainment, and one-of-a-kind boutiques and art galleries.
Which famous people are from Greenville?
Some famous people from Greenville include Chadwick Boseman (technically born in the neighboring town of Anderson), Jesse Jackson, Civil Rights leader and Minister, and Edwin McCain, singer and songwriter.
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR TRIP TO SOUTH CAROLINA
- SOUTH CAROLINA VACATION
- COLUMBIA: 15 Family-Friendly Things To Do in Columbia SC and Lake Murray Country
- BEAUFORT:29 Things To Do in Beaufort SC for a Perfect Weekend Getaway
- GEORGETOWN: 7+ Relaxing Things To Do in Georgetown SC for a Calming Getaway
- LAKES: 19 Best Lakes in South Carolina for Your Next Visit
WHERE TO STAY IN GREENVILLE
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