South Carolina is a beautiful state with so much to offer tourists. However, they often overlook destinations like Spartanburg, located in the state’s northwest corner. This is a city with a lot of history and culture, so there are plenty of things to do.
With outdoor adventures, museums, historic districts, and plenty of family-friendly activities, you’ll never run out of things to do in Spartanburg!
Ready to learn more about this charming town? Here are 16 things to do in Spartanburg SC that you can’t miss!
CROFT STATE PARK
Let’s start things off with a visit to Mother Nature. The rolling hills of Croft State Park make it a local hotspot and a great place to get some exercise while enjoying the outdoors. The park also has a playground and picnic areas, attracting many families.
Explore over 7,000 acres of forest on foot, by mountain bike, or even by horseback. The wildlife in the park includes deer, wild turkeys, and many different types of birds. Croft State Park is a nature lover’s paradise with two lakes ripe for fishing and boating.
Camping is also available in the park. There are over 25 campsites that come with water and electrical hookups. You’ll have hot showers and flush toilets available, so you can enjoy a little luxury while roughing it.
HATCHER GARDEN AND WOODLAND PRESERVE
Keeping with the theme of outdoorsy activities, Hatcher Garden and Woodland Preserve is a must-see. This hidden gem features peaceful walking trails over 10 acres of gardens.
The nursery has a wide selection of perennials, trees, shrubs, flowers, and grass if you’re looking to buy plants. These sales occur in the spring and fall, so check the website for specific dates.
The preserve also offers educational programs throughout the year, including wildflower walks, birding classes, and gardening seminars. The Hatcher Garden and Woodland Preserve is open daily from sunrise to sunset, so plan your visit accordingly.
A visit here is one of the best things to do in Spartanburg SC!
SPARTANBURG ART MUSEUM
The Spartanburg Art Museum is the place to be if you’re looking to learn about the local culture and history.
The contemporary art museum features rotating exhibitions, so there’s always something new to see. Some of the past showings have included photography, paintings, and sculptures, while their permanent art galleries contain work by local artists.
You can also experience a unique blend of wine and art at their regular “The Taste” event. Pairings are selected by a local sommelier and change every time, so it’s a great way to try something new.
The Spartanburg Art Museum also offers educational programs, such as art classes and workshops for all ages. Their art classes are especially popular, with options like pottery, painting, and drawing.
The Bavarian titan of the motor industry, or BMW, has a strong presence in Spartanburg. The BMW Zentrum is a 28,000-square-foot facility that celebrates the company’s history.
This museum tells the story of how the company started in 1916, and has since become a global leader in luxury automobiles. The museum is full of interactive exhibits that showcase the different models produced by BMW over the years.
You can also take a 90-minute tour of the plant to see how these beautiful machines are made. The tour gives you an inside look at the production process, from start to finish. You’ll see how the different parts are assembled and how the final product is tested before it hits the streets.
BMW Zentrum also takes the time to showcase BMW’s other exploits, which include planes, motorcycles, and top-of-the-line race cars.
The Johnson Collection, or TJC Gallery, is a private art museum featuring 18th and 19th-century American paintings and furniture. Overseen by Susu Johnson, the collection displays Southern history and cultural themes.
The artwork in the TJC Gallery is rotated seasonally, so there’s always something new to see. In addition to the paintings, the gallery also contains a library with over thousands of books on American art and history.
Their M.O. is ‘For the public,’ so they offer education programs and tours throughout the year. They also host a variety of events, such as fundraisers and concerts.
CHAPMAN CULTURAL CENTER
The Chapman Cultural Center is a gathering place for the arts in Spartanburg. It’s home to the Spartanburg Art Museum, the Spartanburg Little Theatre, the Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra, and the John F. Green Spartanburg Science Center.
So whether you’re looking to catch a play, listen to some music or learn about science, the Chapman Cultural Center has you covered.
This nonprofit organization’s mission is to enrich lives through vibrant arts and culture, and they do just that with their many programs and events. The organization provides sponsorship for the city’s public art, offers educational opportunities, and hosts events like “Youth Art Month,” a month-long celebration of the arts.
If you’re unsure what to do when in Spartanburg, a visit to the Chapman Cultural Center is sure to give you some ideas.
GLENDALE SHOALS PRESERVE & WATERFALLS
Next, we have Glendale Shoals. This 13-acre preserve is home to two waterfalls, the upper Glendale Falls and the lower Glendale Falls. The shoals are located at the old Glendale Mill on Lawson’s Fork Creek, and the spot is perfect for a picnic or a hike. The preserve has a loop trail that takes you along beautiful sights like the waterfalls, a former mill, and a dam.
If you’re in the mood for a picnic, there are a few picnic tables near the parking lot. And if you want to go for a swim, there’s a swimming hole at the base of the lower falls. Just be careful, as the rocks can be slippery.
There’s also a beautiful bridge that spans the river. From here, you get a great view of the surrounding area.
SPARTANBURG SCIENCE CENTER
Those traveling with kids will want to check out the Spartanburg Science Center. This hands-on museum is perfect for little ones. It exhibits different scientific concepts, like animals, planets, and the human body.
They also have a popular robotics program, where kids can learn about coding and robotics with LEGO models. During a rainy day, the Spartanburg Science Center play area is the perfect place to let kids burn off some energy.
Even if you don’t have kids, the Spartanburg Science Center is still a fun place to visit. The small staff makes for an ultra-personal experience. They are passionate about their work and want to make your day memorable.
CHILDREN’S MUSEUM OF THE UPSTATE
Another magical place for children, The Children’s Museum of the Upstate, is an interactive museum for kids under 12. The organization focuses on hands-on learning, with 21 unique exhibits touching on topics like literacy, art, science, nutrition, and health.
The studios are an excellent place for kids to explore their creativity. They can make art, music, and even movies. The museum has a preschool where kids can learn and play. Also, many structures are made from recyclable materials, like the tire tower kids can play in. This visit teaches them the importance of sustainability from a young age.
Lastly, they are well-known for their epic birthday celebrations. Can you imagine a better place to throw a kid’s birthday party than this colorful and interactive museum?
WALNUT GROVE PLANTATION
History buffs will want to stop by Walnut Grove Plantation. This plantation was built in 1765 and is the oldest standing structure in Spartanburg County. Built on land given to Charles and Mary Moore by King George III, the plantation was home to a dozen generations of Moores.
The plantation sits on 3,000 acres of land and has a variety of buildings, including the main house, a kitchen, slave quarters, and a graveyard. You can tour the main home to see how the Moores lived over 200 years ago.
There’s also a bloodstain on the top floor that has triggered the imagination of many. Some say it’s from a Union soldier killed during the Civil War. Others say it’s from a servant who was mistreated. No one knows for sure.
HUB CITY RAILROAD MUSEUM
Spartanburg is sometimes called ‘Hub City’ due to the many railroad lines that pass through the city. The Hub City Railroad Museum celebrates this rich history with exhibits and displays on the city’s railway past.
Learn how peaches and textiles were transported by rail and see some of the restored locomotives. The museum also offers model train shows and other events throughout the year. The museum is housed in an old freight depot: The Southern Railways Depot.
During the Christmas Season, the Hub City Railroad Museum is a must-see. They turn the freight depot into a winter wonderland, with trains zipping through a delightful holiday scene. Father and Mother Christmas are also on hand to take pictures with the kiddos.
Don’t forget to stop by the gift shop to collect vintage memorabilia and souvenirs!
HOLLYWILD ANIMAL PARK
Do you love animals? Then you’ll want to visit Hollywild Animal Park. This nonprofit zoo is home to over 500 animals, including alpacas, rhinos, emus, camels, and more. You can take a safari tour through the park to see the animals up close, and you can even pet some of them.
This family-friendly outing allows you to stay in the comfort of your vehicle while enjoying the animals. The park also offers educational opportunities, like behind-the-scenes tours, where you can learn about animal care and enrichment.
In January 2022, two Syrian bear cubs joined the park. These adorable fluff balls are sure to be a big hit in Hollywild, so don’t miss out on this rare opportunity!
SPARTANBURG HISTORIC DISTRICT
If you’re more of a city person, you’ll want to check out the Spartanburg Historic District. This area is home to various shops, restaurants, and businesses. You can find everything from antique stores to art galleries.
Located in the heart of downtown Spartanburg, the district was registered on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. The area includes the original town square, which was the site of the county courthouse until 1881.
The district is also home to several significant buildings in the Italianate commercial, Richardson Romanesque commercial, and early 20th-century architecture styles.
When you’re done exploring the district, grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants.
R.J. ROCKERS BREWING COMPANY
Speaking of restaurants in downtown Spartanburg, you can’t miss RJ Rockers Brewing Company. This local brewery is known for its delicious beer and pub food. You can tour the iconic red brewing tanks and learn about the brewing process.
After the tour, relax in the taproom with a pint of your favorite beer. The brewery has a rotating selection of beers, so there’s always something new to try. If you’re feeling adventurous, order a flight to sample a variety of beers.
R.J. Rockers is also a popular spot for live music, open mic nights, and other events, so if you’re looking for a wild night out on the town, this is the place to be. They also pride themselves on being eco-friendly. Solar panels on the brewery roof help supply 60% of the energy used to power production.
Cleveland Park in Spartanburg, South Carolina is a beautiful spot to relax or take a stroll. The park is home to a number of walking trails, a playground, a pond, and an amphitheater.
The park is also adjacent to the Cottonwood Trail, part of the Palmetto Trail system. The trail offers stunning views of the Upstate landscape. Located next to a lake, Cleveland Park is a fantastic spot to catch the summer sun.
Cleveland Park is a place to bring the whole family. The playground has a variety of play structures for kids of all ages, and the walking trails are perfect for a leisurely stroll or a vigorous hike.
SPARTANBURG COUNTY REGIONAL MUSEUM OF HISTORY
Last but not least, we have the Spartanburg County Regional Museum of History. This museum is dedicated to preserving the history of Spartanburg County and the surrounding area. The timeline exhibit traces the county’s history from the pre-Columbian era to the present day.
The museum offers a variety of exhibits, including one on the Revolutionary War. The county was a hotbed of activity during the war, and the museum tells the story of this turbulent time. The tourist attraction also has a research center where you can access documents and records relating to the county’s history.
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