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South Carolina Adventure Awaits: The Ultimate Guide To Greenville & Things To Do

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When it comes to visiting South Carolina, Charleston carries much of the clout for its cultural and coastal charm. But just about 100 miles to the southeast, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, lies a quaint small city carving a niche of its own as a tourist spot. Greenville is an up-and-coming destination offering the best of both worlds, with a small-town feel full of Southern charm balanced with high-caliber entertainment, sophisticated dining, and a vibrant arts and cultural scene. Voted among the nation’s top small cities to visit by travel enthusiasts, Greenville offers a legitimate reason for a tour of South Carolina.

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Whether a history buff, art lover, foodie, or outdoor adventurer, there is no shortage of attractions and activities to fill up a traveler’s itinerary. The fun Children’s Museum of the Upstate and the scenic Swamp Rabbit Trail are just a fraction of what awaits visitors to one of the most charming cities in Palmetto State.

Here is the ultimate guide and things to do in Greenville, South Carolina!


What To Know Before Visiting Greenville

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Long Exposure of the Downtown Greenville, South Carolina, USA Skyline at Night.

There are 30+ towns and cities in the United States sharing the name Greenville, but South Carolina’s was founded in 1786, making it the first of the group and the original Greenville. This is even mirrored in the city’s tourism slogan, “yeah, that Greenville.”

With a population of just over 70,000, Greenville is the 6th largest city in the state and the 3rd largest urban area. It comprises a hospitable community that brings out the best of Southern charm in a family-friendly atmosphere, perfect for first-timers.

Like many cities in the Piedmont region of America’s southeast, Greenville experiences a mild, humid subtropical climate. The weather is pretty much enjoyable throughout the year, with 220 days of sunshine, ideal for scouting the scenic outdoors.

The city is proximally located in Upstate South Carolina, offering easy access to other small towns in the state and major cities in the region worth touring. For instance, Greenville is approximately equidistant between Charlotte, North Carolina, and Atlanta, Georgia.

Related: This Is How To Plan An Entire Day On The Myrtle Beach Boardwalk

Furthermore, it is a mere hour away from Asheville’s mountains and a few hours away from several gorgeous beaches on the east coast, making it the sweet spot to make the most of a South Carolina vacation.

Greenville guarantees no dull moment in the city, thanks to a raft of fun activities and a long list of events and festivals scheduled throughout the year. Art is alive in the city, and tourists should be on the prowl for selfie-worthy murals decorating its walls.

Meanwhile, wonderful events like the Piedmont Natural Gas Downtown Live in NOMA Square and the Indie Craft Parade offer endless entertainment for the young and old alike.

Finally, Greenville has some of the best BBQ joints in the south, and with at least 1000 restaurants to choose from, the eclectic dining scene is one of the major reasons tourists visit the city.

Best Time To Visit Greenville

Aerial image of downtown Greenville
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Drone city aerial image of downtown Greenville South Carolina SC

Greenville’s cozy sunshine weather for the better part of the year with a short and mild cold season means the city is suitable for visitors all year round.

Fall is an Excellent Time to Visit

The best time to visit is fall (September to November), when the weather is perfect (fading summer heat and humidity), top attractions like the Greenville County Museum of Art see fewer crowds, and awesome festivals, such as Euphoria and Fall for Greenville take center stage.

Fall offers an excellent opportunity to explore the city and cherish the fabulous fall foliage that blankets Greenville, which is best experienced on foot or two wheels. Hikers and bikers have the perfect setting to enjoy discovering the city in the fall.

What is Spring Like in Greenville?

Spring is another opportune season in Greenville, offering a great combination of mild weather, fewer crowds, and beautiful outdoors. Flowers are in full bloom, and lush green trees make up the dramatic scenes in the city’s numerous parks and historic neighborhoods.

Spring also opens the door to the festival season. The Greenville Greek Festival, Artisphere, and EURO Auto Festival ensure visitors are set for a fun time with multiple outdoor activities.

Peak Greenville Season is in Summer

The peak tourism season in Greenville falls in the warm summer months, and as travelers arrive in droves, it is advisable to schedule flights and accommodation months in advance to avoid the high rates.

Day temperatures soar to highs of low 90-degree Fahrenheit, and top attractions get crowded with a fair share of hustling and bustling among tourists. Despite this, the conditions are ideal for indulging in watersports like kayaking, boating, and paddle boarding.

And to get away from the scorching sun, guests can always opt for indoor attractions like the Greenville County Museum of Art.

Winter Offers Steep Discounts

Winter, for many, is the most underwhelming time to be in Greenville, especially after the holidays. With the crowds dissipating post the end-of-year celebrations and temperatures getting uncomfortably cold, the town is a shell of itself.

On the bright side, this period offers an excellent opportunity to take advantage of discounted hotel rates.

Pack a warm jacket and extra layers of warm clothing if planning to camp, hike, or bike outdoors.

Best Ways To Get Around Greenville

Downtown Greenville
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Drone aerial of the downtown Greenville South Carolina SC skyline at sunrise.

The GSP International Airport hosts seven large carriers, and upon arriving in the city, travelers have various ways to get around gorgeous Greenville when surveying its top attractions.

However, the best and most exciting option is on foot or by bike. Given the city’s relatively small size and pedestrian-friendly nature, it’s best to range over its top sights at a snail’s pace while taking the time to soak in the scenes downtown and interact with the friendly locals.

Bike Around Greenville

Alternatively, hopping on two wheels is a good idea, especially when venturing into the open spaces in the city’s backcountry. While several bike paths and trail ways exist, the 20-mile Swamp Rabbit Trail, accessible downtown, is popular among tourists.

Tourists can hire a bike from Reedy Rides, which has stations conveniently located in the busy downtown district.

  • Rental rates: adult bikes $25 for half a day, kids bikes $18 for half a day, e-bikes $55 for half a day

Try Public Transit in Greensville

Another great way to traverse the city is using the public transit system. Greenlink operates a fleet of public buses plying 11 fixed routes to various destinations within Greenville County. These come with bike racks and are wheelchair accessible for convenient commuting.

Greenlink also operates six free trolley routes with 20 stops, offering a unique way to discover the city.

The colorful open-air vehicles circle the downtown district from West End to North Main Street, linking different points of interest, including the Heritage Green Museums, Greenville Zoo, and West Greenville. The trolleys operate from Thursday to Sunday.

  • Fares: $1.50 per trip, $.50 for transfers, $12.5 for a 7-day pass, and $50 for a 30-day pass.
  • Schedule: Monday to Friday (5:30 am – 11:30 pm), Weekends (8:30 am – 6:30 pm), bus passing every 60 minutes.
  • Trolley schedule: Thursday & Friday (6 pm – 11 pm), Saturday (10 am – 11 pm), Sunday (1 pm – 8 pm)

Greenlink buses only accept the exact fares when paying in cash and will turn down bills larger than $1 for a single trip.

Although not necessary, a car will also take tourists around the city for those who prefer its comforts. Rental car agencies in the region, like Budget, Avis, and Hertz, can provide a quick set of wheels.

Taxis are generally limited in the city, with only one taxi company ferrying guests to and from the airport.

Where To Stay In And Around Greenville

 Falls Park
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Waterfall at the Falls Park on the Reedy, in Greenville, South Carolina.

Greenville is divided into various neighborhoods offering tourists various convenient accommodation options to fit all budgets. With a welcoming community to interact with and unique attractions to survey, these are the top neighborhoods in Greenville to consider when contemplating lodging options.

Downtown Greenville

Downtown is the pulsating pulse of the city and where tourists converge to get a sense of Greenville’s overall vibe. The vibrant and energized district features most of the city’s businesses, which range from boutiques, cafes, and restaurants to hotels.

Strolling down the award-winning Main Street is the perfect way to discover downtown and what it offers.

West Greenville

While downtown is the heart of the city, West Greenville offers the chic factor within the historic West End. This laid-back village comprises old-day buildings that have been tastefully renovated and is home to several businesses, including retail shops, galleries, restaurants, and service-based firms.

Tourists can always expect a fresh experience when touring this charming historic area of the city.

Augusta Road

Located south of downtown Greenville, Augusta Road is another area that mixes old homes with renovated buildings and newer establishments. Popularly known as “05” to the locals, this awe-inspiring neighborhood offers a unique shopping experience, with at least 70 shops, specialty stores, and restaurants waiting to be perused.

Claremont

Claremont is among the newer suburbs in Greenville, developed after the turn of the millennium. It comprises a gated community with spacious homes lined with lush green trees and a calm atmosphere.

The setting is perfect for an evening stroll, and the safe and quiet context makes it a top area for tourists to stay in the city. Claremont is also an easy drive from downtown via Roper Mountain Road.

North Main

A stone’s throw away from downtown Greenville, North Main harmoniously mixes the new with the old and features older homes blended with remodeled and recently constructed houses.

A farmer’s market comes to the area every weekend, giving guests a unique opportunity to sample the city’s freshest produce and serving restaurants straight-from-the-farm ingredients.

Top Hotels In Greenville

Greenville Drive Baseball Stadium
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Greenville Drive Baseball Stadium and Skyline in Downtown Greenville South Carolina SC

A visit to Greenville starts with selecting a place to stay. Luckily, the city has endless accommodation options, ranging from luxury resorts to affordable B&Bs.

Whether looking to stay centrally in the city with front-row access to all downtown attractions or a little bit further from the urban noise in one of the city’s historic neighborhoods, here are the top hotels to consider in Greenville.

Best Overall:

Courtyard by Marriott Greenville Downtown

  • Address: 50 West Broad Street, Greenville, SC 29601
  • Cost per night: Starts from $210 for 2 guests
  • Amenities: Fitness center, Room service, Restaurant, Bar/Lounge, Business center, Free Wi-Fi, Coffee machine, Flat-screen TV, Coffee shop, complimentary Wi-Fi available in all areas

Luxury option:

The Westin Poinsett, Greenville

  • Address: 120 South Main Street, Greenville, SC 29601
  • Cost per night: Starts from $399 for 2 guests
  • Amenities: Fitness center, Free airport shuttle, Restaurant, Bar/Lounge, Room service, Business center, Valet parking, Free Wi-Fi, Tea/coffee maker, Coffee machine, Express check-out, 24hr front desk, Coffee shop

Reedy Riverwalk
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Evening sights along the Reedy Riverwalk in downtown Greenville, South Carolina

Budget option:

Modal

  • Address: 813 Augusta Street, Greenville, SC 29605
  • Cost per night: $$
  • Amenities: Adults only, Bar/Lounge, Express check-out, Free Wi-Fi, Internet available in all areas, Free parking, Laundry facilities, Hairdryer, Increased accessibility

Best for families:

Embassy Suites Greenville Golf Resort & Conference Center

  • Address: 670 Verdae Boulevard, Greenville, SC 29607
  • Cost per night: Starts from $131 for a double room
  • Amenities: Outdoor pool, Outdoor tennis, Business center, Indoor pool, Fitness center, Restaurant, Bar/Lounge, Room service, Tea/coffee maker, Coffee machine

Where To Eat In Greenville

Falls Park on the Reedy
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Path at the Falls Park on the Reedy, in Greenville, South Carolina.

Greenville is an interesting stop for food lovers and harbors more than 1000 restaurants offering casual dining and fine dining. With some of the best BBQ in the country, delectable pizzerias, and sumptuous Southern-style dishes, travelers are in for a culinary rollercoaster like no other.

The nightlife is nothing to frown upon and features a booming craft beer scene, especially in the downtown region.

For breakfast:

Biscuit Head

Nobody does breakfast in Greenville better than Biscuit Head. The restaurant uses fresh ingredients sourced from local farms in the city. Inspired by Southern cooking, the Biscuit Head serves tasty meals like mimosa fried chicken biscuits and pulled pork chicken.

The biscuit donuts are also to die for, and the homemade jam buffet will leave a lasting impression.

  • Address: 823 S Church St Ste C, Greenville, SC 29601-4709
  • Hours: Monday to Friday (7 am – 2 pm), Saturday & Sunday(8 am – 3 pm)

Related: A Guide To The Best Southern Food In Charleston

For lunch and dinner:

Fork & Plough

This local joint uses farm-fresh produce from local farmers to prepare delectable and healthy dishes. The menu consists of everything from burgers to wings, and the spot’s casual ambiance proves to be a draw to locals and tourists.

Patrons also fall in love with the pork chops served with herb risotto. The best part is that the resident chef introduces customers to a fresh menu every visit, creating a unique culinary experience.

  • Address: 1629 East North Street, Greenville, SC 29607
  • Hours: Monday to Friday (11 am – 9 pm), Saturday (10 am – 9 pm), Sunday (10 am – 2 pm)

Tourists should make a reservation for a comfortable experience at Fork & Plough since it fills up fast, being one of the top restaurants in the city.

The Lazy Goat

When searching for the best Mediterranean cuisine in Greenville, this trendy spot in West End is the go-to place. With sumptuous servings of delectable dishes native to Spain, France, Italy, and Morocco, the restaurant has a magnetic effect on the locals.

Most-loved meals include duck duck goat pizza and lazy paella. The atmosphere is welcoming, with ample lighting and vibrant décor.

  • Address: 170 Riverplace, Greenville, SC 29601-2578
  • Hours: Tuesday to Wednesday (5 pm – 9 pm), Friday & Saturday (11 am – 10 pm), Sunday (11 am – 9 pm)

For drinks:

The Trappe Door

This Belgian restaurant has a unique international history. Borrowing from an idea started by Belgian monks in Sydney, the popular joint features 10 beer taps to go with at least 150 bottles of the best and rarest beer in the country.

Besides the drinks, The Trappe Door serves delicious meals like Belgian meatballs and flavored mussels.

  • Address: 23 W Washington St, Greenville, SC 29601-2734
  • Hours: Sunday to Thursday (5 pm – 11 pm), Friday & Saturday (5 pm – 12 am)

Top Things To Do In Greenville

Reedy River panorama
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Reedy River panorama of RiverPlace in downtown Greenville South Carolina SC.

The city of Greenville boasts some of the best pastimes in South Carolina. From iconic museums and scenic parks to endless outdoor activities, it has all the hallmarks of an action-packed vacation destination.

Whether spending a day in town or settling in for the entire summer season, these attractions will guarantee a memorable holiday in Greenville.

Falls Park on the Reedy

One of the best outdoor spaces in Greenville, this natural oasis in the center of the city is a gem tourists will be glad to encounter. This awesome city park sits in the Historic West End district and features a lush green urban space where people come to savor the scenic sights and sounds.

The park has a range of recreational activities for adults and children, as well as gorgeous public sculptures and stonework.

Visitors can marvel at the awe-inspiring Liberty Bridge or enjoy a relaxed walk along the Swamp Rabbit Trail. The park also offers a unique 360-degree virtual tour of the area that is easily the highlight of the visit.

Children’s Museum of the Upstate

Vacationing families with curious little ones can quench their thirst for new information at the resourceful Children’s Museum of the Upstate.

With interactive and hands-on learning opportunities offered through exhibitions, workshops, and displays, this is the ideal place to nurture their knack for absorbing novel knowledge.

Related: What To Do In Traveler’s Rest, South Carolina’s ‘Coolest Small Town’

The museum is an information haven for children of all age groups, and one of its highlights is the Reedy River Bed. This showcases an intricate structure of pipes, waterways, and fountains that will bring out the best in the young souls.

Elsewhere, the Construction Zone allows children to check out different construction displays and try some during after-school classes.

Liberty Bridge
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Illuminated Liberty Bridge in Falls Park in Downtown Greenville, South Carolina SC

Greenville County Museum of Art

Visitors should consider touring the magnificent Greenville County Museum of Art to taste Greenville’s artistic heritage. The establishment is home to predominantly American art but also incorporates pieces from South American artists.

Situated in the downtown neighborhood, guests can marvel at the largest watercolor collection by artist Andrew Wyeth. Furthermore, they will also benefit from informative programs featuring musical performances, gallery talks, and exciting hands-on demos.

Roper Mountain Science Center

Science enthusiasts and budding space explorers can find inspiration at the Roper Mountain Science Center, an awesome facility dedicated to stimulating an interest in all sciences. The center hosts several buildings and faculties, including a planetarium, butterfly world, arboretum, and observatory.

Thanks to various educational programs hosted by the center, such as Science on Wheels and Starry Nights, visitors can learn interesting facts about the world of science.

These will especially be a hit with kids and a great way to spark their interest in science. While at the facility, take advantage of the natural trails to stretch out and survey the biodiversity at the Roper Mountain Science Center.

Greenville Zoo

Tourists who’ve never had a furry friend can take the rare opportunity to practice animal whispering at the charming Greenville Zoo. The facility was established in 1960 and has become a darling to the Greenville community and first-timers.

Dedicated to appreciating and preserving wildlife, the zoo is home to various habitats occupied by indigenous and exotic species, such as giraffes, lions, snakes, Amur leopards, and various domestic animals.

The center’s Quarters for Conservation is an interesting research program that sponsors efforts to protect endangered species like giant anteaters and Gibbon monkeys. Guests can also explore the zoo on walking and bicycle paths as children blast at the on-site playgrounds.

How To Spend The Perfect Day In Greenville

Table Rock State Park in autumn
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Table Rock State Park, South Carolina, USA landscape at dusk in autumn.

Begin the day with breakfast at Biscuit Head to fuel up for the adventures ahead. The first stop is downtown Greenville to explore the city’s vibrant core.

A stroll down tree-lined Mains Street is the perfect way to check out the multiple local businesses in the area, including boutiques and coffee shops.

Head to the Saturday Market and shop for all manner of goodies and sample the freshest produce the local farms have in store, from fresh fruits and ingredients to other merchandise.

Proceed to Falls Park on the Reedy, one of the most sought-after outdoor spaces in the city, and marvel at the awe-inspiring Reedy River Falls.

Related: Charleston In 24 Hours: Where To Eat & What To Do In A Day

Be sure to stop at the iconic Liberty Bridge and snap a few pics of the architectural masterpiece for the gram. Afterward, hit the city Swamp Rabbit Trail on foot or bike, and soak in the sights within Falls park.

Grab a quick lunch at the Lazy Goat to restock the dwindling energy reserves before opting for a more laid-back tour of the Greenville Zoo.

After close encounters with rare and endangered species, discover the city’s art scene at the Greenville County Museum of Art before taking the kids to the Children’s Museum of the Upstate to satisfy their hunger for knowledge.

Wrap up the day’s activities with a happy hour session at the Rooftop bar, then have dinner at the Trappe door before settling down for a few drinks till late into the night.

FAQ

Q: Where is the best place to live in South Carolina State?

South Carolina is home to multiple charming towns that first-timers will easily take a liking to, but locals rate Forest Acres and Seven Oaks as the best places to live. Columbia, the capital, is also among the top choices.

Q: What makes Greenville so interesting to tourists?

Greenville is known for its vibrant art scene with numerous displays of public art. It also has several interesting museums and boasts some of the best parks and outdoor spaces in South Carolina.

Q: Which Carolina state is better to visit?

Torn between North Carolina and South Carolina? While both offer unique attractions, many prefer the southern state due to its warmer weather for the better part of the year, which is one of the many reasons tourists gravitate toward South Carolina.

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