One of South Carolina’s fastest growing urban areas, Greenville offers a long list of fun activities to try. From riding at the GHS Swamp Rabbit Trail to sampling liquor at the Dark Corner Distillery, the city will entertain you, your friends, and the whole family. This is our well placed list of the best things to do in Greenville SC 2019.
1. Visit Falls Park on the Reedy
Located in the heart of downtown, Falls Park is essentially the ‘Central Park’ of Greenville, SC. This park is one of Greenville’s greatest treasures – a true oasis in the heart of the city. It’s well maintained with green urban spaces, a selection of fascinating stonework, public art and sculptures. The Liberty Bridge, a beautiful walkway constructed above the park, offers splendid views of the area.
A visit to Falls Park is definitely one of the best things to do in downtown Greenville SC. The park is popular with both locals and visitors, most of whom consider it to be the best downtown park they’ve ever experienced. Falls Park is centered on the many rapids and waterfalls that make up the Reedy River.
You’ll be greeted by inviting trails and gardens the moment you set foot here.
2. Venture Outdoors on the GHS Swamp Rabbit Trail
The Greenville Health System Swamp Rabbit Trail provides a wonderful escape from the urban environment that surrounds it – and is no doubt one of the best things to do in Greenville SC. This is a 28.6 mile long multi-use trail system that meanders along the Reedy River. The GHS Swamp Rabbit Trail connects multiple sections of the city and offers a multitude of recreational and outdoors opportunities. Many visitors love to rent a bike in downtown Greenville (for as low as $5) and hit the trail right away. Riding along the GHS is very fascinating, and you might even come across a Blue Heron or some other animals.
If you’re not exactly a biker, you can walk the trail and experience instant solitude while you take in the forest/stream landscape. Other outdoor activities available at this Greenville attraction include jogging, running, geocaching, wildlife and bird watching.
3. Explore Arts & Culture at Greenville County Museum of Art
Often ranked among the best art museums in the country, the Greenville County Museum of Art (GCMA) is a not-to-be-missed stop in Greenville. This museum is part of the Heritage Green complex that also houses the Upcountry History Museum, the Children’s Museum of the Upstate, the Hughes Main Library, and the Greenville Little Theater. It features American art with special focus on Southern American and South Carolina-based artists. You get to enjoy great historical southern art and memorable Andrew Wyeth paintings. In fact, GCMA hosts the world’s largest public collection of watercolors by Wyeth. Other interesting collections include Jasper Johns and the carving work of Grainger McKoy.
4. Take your kids to Runway Park at GMU
This is a great park for kids to run, play, swing and enjoy themselves. Because Runway Park is located close to a functioning small airport, kids get some extra entertainment by watching the planes landing and taking off. The area is enclosed so you don’t have to worry about safety and offers a lot of fun equipment for young children to have a great time. There’s also at least one picnic pavilion where you can sit down in the shade and enjoy some snacks if you want. If you are bringing children along on your visit, this is one of the top Greenville SC things to do.
5. See Old Master Paintings at the Bob Jones University Museum & Gallery
The Bob Jones University Museum & Gallery is a great place to visit if you love ancient religious paintings and artifacts. This museum has one of the largest collections of old master paintings in the country, including 14th – 19th century work by Tintoretto, Rubens, van Dyck, and other artists. Bob Jones Museum also features the Bowen Collection of Antiquities – showing artifacts from ancient Hebrew, roman, and Egyptian cultures. Many visitors are thrilled by the sheer size of the museum’s collection – and there are discounts for kids and seniors.
Note that Bob Jones University Museum is closed through 2019 for renovation work. You can check for updates on their official newsroom at https://www.bjumg.org/news-room/.
6. Taste Great Liquor at the Dark Corner Distillery
For nearly two centuries the northeastern corner of Greenville County has been known as the ‘Dark Corner’ – thanks to its association with moonshiners. Dark Corner Distillery is a craft micro distillery situated in downtown Greenville that pays homage to this history.
The distillery produces small batches of the world’s top moonshine, aged whiskey, gin, and other special distilled spirits while informing both locals and tourists about their vibrant Appalachian heritage.
The liquor here is carefully crafted and tastes nothing like the generic brands. Many visitors who visit the Dark Corner Distillery for a quick tasting end up buying multiple bottles. They also have great ideas for cocktails in case you are planning to stage a little party soon.
7. Family Fun at The Children’s Museum of the Upstate
The Children’s Museum of the Upstate is located in downtown Greenville (on the Heritage Green cultural campus). This facility offers a wonderful interactive environment where kids of all ages can have hours of unbridled fun. They have a lot of interesting exhibits and the experience is great for the whole family. Kids can play guitar at the Garage Rock exhibit, or build flat toy ducks in the Reedy River bend. There’s also a construction zone, and a broadcasting studio.
The Children’s Museum of the Upstate is one of the best experiences for children in the entire stage of South Carolina. Story hours, crafts, science classes, and changing interactive displays will certainly give your little ones a memorable time here.
8. Visit the Paris Mountain State Park
For outdoor enthusiasts who’d love to catch a little more fun outside downtown Greenville, Paris Mountain State Park is located just 5 miles North of Greenville. The park offers campsites, picnic shelters, a playground, camp store, a swimming area, and a 15-acre lake with canoe, kayak, fishing and pedal boat rentals. There is a selection of trails with varying levels of difficulty, and the signage is clear and interesting. You can spend a wonderful afternoon hiking the trails at the base of Paris Mountain, or take your kids to the swimming area. This Greenville attraction is terrific for families with kids and pets.
9. Watch a Concert at the Peace Center
The Peace Center is a performing arts center located right in the heart of downtown Greenville. This is one of the most popular entertainment spots in the city. It features a 2,100 set concert venue, a 400-seat theater, as well as an outdoor amphitheater. This is a great place to visit, and the quality of shows is excellent. The beating heart of Greenville, Peace Center hosts comedy, dance, Broadway shows, and musical performances. It is also the home to two ballet companies, the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, the Greenville SC Chorale, as well as South Carolina Children’s Theater. Many shows sell out fast, so it’s important to plan ahead for your visit.
10. Visit the Home of a Legend at the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum
The Shoeless Joe Jackson museum is a bucket list destination for all basketball fans. You get to visit the actual house where Jackson spent his final years. Greenville County simply relocated the house to a more prominent location on Field St., across from the Fluor Field. In honor of the baseball legend, the Museum’s house number is 356. This represents the .356 lifetime batting average by Joe, which is the third highest in baseball history after Ty Cobb and Rogers Hornsby. A not-for-profit facility, the museum displays artifacts, photographs, records, film and other items of interest in the career of Shoeless Joe Jackson. The volunteers here will entertain you with interesting stories as you stroll through the very rooms in which Shoeless Joe lived and died.
11. Learn at the Roper Mountain Science Center
The Roper Mountain Science Center is a one-of-a-kind learning center dedicated to fueling an interest in science. Conveniently owned by the Greenville County School District, this is an excellent places for both adults and kids to learn about life and natural sciences, as well as space and physical sciences. There are a number of faculty buildings at the Roper Mountain Science Center, including a planetarium, a living history farm, an arboretum, a butterfly world, and an observatory. The living history farm is a particularly ideal opportunity for kids to see how things were in the past. A mile long nature trail that winds through the pine forests takes visitors to a butterfly garden and a pond where they can see aquatic and insect life. This is definitely the place to be for an interactive field learning experience.
12. Tour Downtown Greenville on a Segway at Greenville Glides
Greenville Glides offers educational and entertaining small-group Segway tours so you can experience the downtown area like never before. While you can take a bus or walking tour of the fast-growing city, a Segway adds a new perspective to it all. The tour starts with a basic training in the parking lot to make sure that you can handle the Segway safely and confidently. Then the group will embark on a 1 hour (up to 1.5 hours) tour to explore the booming business district, lush parks, and famed greenways. As you cruise through the Historic West End and Falls Park, you’ll be able to explore the bustling energy of the city. You may also opt to take the Haunted Segway Tour that takes you through the haunted paths of the Springwood cemetery, the hotels, buildings, and mills along the banks of the Reedy River.
Most visitors who take a Segway tour with Greenville Glides find the tour guides to be highly knowledgeable, entertaining and funny.
This is a great festival held in downtown Greenville in mid-May. It brings together over 100 artists from all over the country. You get to see and buy all sorts of media, from pottery, glass, fine art, jewelry, and more. Music is everywhere and the exhibits by colleges can be particularly enticing. Because it showcases local and international talent through a series of demonstrations, performances, and exhibits, the Artisphere attracts thousands of visitors to Greenville each year.
There are also craft beer exhibits, technology, science, culinary arts demos, engineering displays, and an exhibition center for kids known as the Kidsphere. If you happen to be in Greenville around this time, the artisphere is an excellent opportunity to explore very fine works of art. Although some visitors find the pricing to be above what they expected, they all agree that the quality justifies the pricing.
14. Support Local Talent at the Center Stage
Centre Stage is a small venue that showcases local talent. Located off River Street Greenville in the Smith Barney building, they present current Broadway and off-Broadway comedies, musicals, and dramas. This is a great place to visit if you’d like to catch some entertainment while supporting the talented local folks. You can enjoy the well-done entertainment while you drink a beer, wine or soda.
15. Grab Some Tasty Food at the TD Saturday Market
Every Saturday morning between May and October, the downtown Greenville area comes to live with the bustling TD Saturday Market. Dozens of vendors sell the season’s local produce – sourced exclusively from the Greenville region. This popular market offers an opportunity for both locals and visitors to catch some fresh fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices, flowers, cheeses, and more. There are lots of places to listen to street musicians, eat fresh baked goods, and more. Local artists sell their arts and crafts, and handcrafted jewelry.
16. Walk at the Cleveland Park
A part of the Greenville Park System, Cleveland Park is located on the far end of the GHS Swamp Rabbit Trail. It is an excellent place to walk while enjoying waterfalls, river views, flowers, and beautiful nature. Cleveland Park is a great place for family and friends who’d love to have some quality outdoors time in an excellent environment. There’s a Zoo located inside the park, war memorials, tennis courts, an airplane, as well as biking and running trails. There are also playgrounds for children. You can take a joyous stroll right here in the park, read, sit, play, or jog. It’s no wonder the Park has plenty of visitors during all hours of daylight.
17. See Lions at the Greenville Zoo
The Greenville Zoo is located right inside Cleveland Park at 150 Cleveland Park Drive. This is a small, beautifully-set Zoo that hosts a wide variety of animals, from red pandas to leopards and giraffes. There’s lovely greenery on site with a stone path that leads to all the animals. You can get very close to the animal enclosures to take a good look. This Zoo is an excellent opportunity to see birds, turtles, lions, monkeys, and even a gorgeous orangutan. They have a petting zoo, as well as a reptile house with snakes and lizards. Greenville Zoo has a place to grab some food and a gift shop available to visitors.
18. Catch Local Sports Events at Fluor Field
Located on Greenville’s beautiful West End, Fluor Field is a small ballpark with a big league feel. The stadium is modelled after Fenway Park, and has its own version of the ‘Green Monster’ (a 30-foot high wall in left field that’s equipped with a manual scoreboard). Fluor Field is home to over 70 Drive home games that fans come to enjoy every season. The facility also hosts civic functions, and numerous special sporting events. If you are in Greenville and would like to get close to the action, this is the place to be.
19. Tour the BMW Factory
The BMW plant tour is a #1 must-do for all car buffs who find themselves in the Greenville region. You’ll need to make reservations first before you head there. During busy times of the year (e.g. summer), you may have to book a few weeks in advance. Keep in mind that children under 12 years are not allowed and there are no babysitting services here. There’s a small museum onsite where you can see vintage BMW cars and motorcycles while you wait for your factory tour to start.
The factory tour is an opportunity to see first-hand how cars are made at a multi-billion dollar BMW manufacturing facility. The only one of its kind in North America, this plant is truly wondrous. Visitors are required to wear glasses and a headset (all provided), after which they can witness the complicated process of making BMW X-series vehicles. If you want, you can pay roughly 100 bucks to drive a new BMW around their track. You have to call in advance though to find out if this is available.
20. Go Bird Watching at Lake Conestee
If you are into bird watching, Lake Conestee Nature Park is the place to be. The Lake occupies roughly 400 acres of natural habitat on the Reedy River just 6 miles south of downtown Greenville. This Park is rated by many visitors as one of the best birding sites in Upstate South Carolina. It is also a part of a global network of habitats recognized for their outstanding value to bird conservation. Lake Conestee is home to a variety of wildlife species, including deer, raccoon, fox, beaver, and river otters. You can take a family friendly walk here while you enjoy numerous species of birds. The Greenville County Bird Club also conducts a guided tour through the Park every third Saturday of the month.
21. Sample the Food Scene
Your visit to Greenville would never be complete without a thorough sampling of the town’s robust food scene. You can sip a wonderful cocktail at the seductive rooftop lounge, or enjoy true southern cuisine at one of the many restaurants. Soby’s is one of Greenville’s most popular restaurants. It offers traditional American food blended with Southern ingredients, as well as an award-winning list of over 500 wine bottles.
Larkin’s on the River is another premium dining spot famed for its super-fresh seafood, premium cut steaks, and fine boutique wines. Passerelle Bistro – located at the base of the Liberty Bridge – is a casual French-style bistro that serves French fare with a local twist. Other fine dining spots include Grill Marks and The Lazy Goat.
What is the best time to visit Greenville SC?
Most visitors agree that the best time for a trip to Greenville is between September to November, and from March to May. During this time, temperatures are mild without the intense humidity that characterizes summer. The attraction sites are also less crowded. Bikers and hikers may want to visit in Fall – when the foliage at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains bursts into color.