Greenville in South Carolina is a great city for exploring as it has something for everyone. Whether you are an art-lover, a history buff, a museum-fundi, or an outdoor enthusiast, you’ll find plenty to see and do for the whole family.
The Greenville County Museum of Art has an impressive collection of works by Southern artists spanning several centuries, while the Upcountry History Museum tells the story of South Carolina and the children’s Museum of the Upstate has some fun, hands-on exhibits for all ages.
Get out and about and explore Falls Park on the Reedy, which has beautiful riverside gardens, waterfalls, and a suspension bridge, and Paris Mountain State Park has several multi-use trails that wind around lakes and hills and are ideal for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding.
Don’t miss out on visiting Greenville if you are traveling through South Carolina and check out some of these best things to do in the city.
1. Have a Picnic in Falls Park on the Reedy
Falls Park on the Reedy is fondly regarded as the crown jewel of downtown Greenville and is a favorite go-to spot for both locals and visitors. The beautiful natural oasis in the heart of the city is based in downtown Greenville’s Historic West End and features 36 acres of pristinely manicured gardens and lawns, plenty of shady picnic spots, and a network of walking paths.
The gardens are also home to several historic ruins of mills that once operated on the Reedy River, and a selection of public art and sculptures throughout the park. The magnificent Liberty Bridge is an architecturally aesthetic walkway that spans above the park and offers spectacular views of the gardens and city.
You can enjoy 360-degree virtual tours of the park, relax with a picnic basket on the lawns or at the sheltered River Lodge, or walk along the Swamp Rabbit Trail that leads from Falls Park to Cleveland Park.
Address: 601 S Main St, Greenville, SC 29601, United States
Opening Hours: 7 am – 9 pm
2. Ride the Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail
Hailed as one of the best urban trails in the country, the Swamp Rabbit Trail is a 22-mile greenway system and paved trail that connects downtown Greenville to the city of Travelers Rest and beyond. The trail passes some of the city’s top attractions like Falls Park on the Reedy, Cleveland Park, RiverPlace, Cancer Survivors Park, and Furman University’s Swan Lake and is a great way to see the city.
You can rent bikes from several shops in the city like the Swamp Rabbit Bike Shoppe or Reedy Rides and cycle the trail.
3. Soak up Some Science at the Roper Mountain Science Center
The Roper Mountain Science Center is dedicated to all forms of science from life and natural sciences to space and physical sciences. The center is spread across several buildings and includes an arboretum, a planetarium, a living history farm, an observatory, and a butterfly world.
The center is surrounded by dense pine forests through which a mile-long nature trail winds where you can explore a pond filled with aquatic and insect life and a beautiful butterfly garden. It’s a fantastic place to have a picnic for lunch after exploring the center.
Address: 402 Roper Mountain Road, Greenville, SC
Opening Hours: 8: 30 am – 5 pm
4. Take in Some Local Art at the Greenville County Museum of Art
Considered to be one of the top art museums in the country, the Greenville County Museum of Art (GCMA) is dedicated to American art, with a particular focus on Southern American and South Carolina-based artists.
Located in downtown Greenville, the museum houses the world’s largest collection of watercolors by world-renowned American artist Andrew Wyeth, which are well worth seeing. There is also an extensive collection of works by contemporary artist Jasper Johns and an outstanding collection of American art from colonial times to the present with some striking 1726 pastel portraits.
Extras at the museum include gallery talks, musical performances, and hands-on demonstrations on Sunday afternoons.
Address: 420 College Street, Greenville, South Carolina
5. Explore the City’s Public Art Installations on a Self-Guided Tour
Greenville features amazing art installations throughout the city that can be explored and enjoyed on self-guided tours. Notable works include Yuri Tsuzuki’s Transformation, in which hundreds of steel butterflies are placed throughout downtown Greenville, and Dale Chihuly’s Rose Crystal Tower.
Use the handy interactive online map provided by the city to find the public art locations and enjoy taking in some fantastic free art!
6. Take the Kids to the Children’s Museum of the Upstate
If you are traveling with kids, this is a great way to spend the day having some educational fun! The Children’s Museum of the Upstate provides hands-on and interactive learning for children through a range of exhibitions, displays, programs, and workshops.
Interactive exhibits at the museum include “Start Your Engines” which explores the science of speed, sound, and aerodynamics, and the Reedy Riverbed boasting an intricate system of waterways, pipes, and fountains.
Address: 300 College Street, Greenville, South Carolina
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 9 am – 5 pm / Sunday 11 am – 5 pm
7. Catch a Show at the Peace Center in Greenville
Located in the heart of downtown Greenville, the Peace Center is the cultural hub of the region and features a 2,100-seat concert hall, a 400-seat theater, an amphitheater, and a variety of rehearsal and event spaces. The center presents a wide variety of performances throughout the year from Broadway shows and ballet to jazz concerts and comedy shows. There is an elegant theater lounge where you enjoy a meal and cocktails before or after shows.
Address: 101 W Broad St, Greenville, SC 29601
8. Zip Around Town on a Segway with Greenville Glides
Explore Greenville in a unique and fun way – on a Segway! A variety of Segway tours of the city are offered, ranging from the Historic West End and Falls Park Tour, which explores downtown Greenville and the historic West End to the Haunted Segway Tour of Greenville.
The Haunted Segway Tour of Greenville is highly recommended – the tour meanders along haunted paths of the Springwood Cemetery and the buildings along the banks of the Reedy River while an expert guide tells you scary tales and legends from the past. If you aren’t a fan of the Segway, you can hop on a bicycle for bicycle tours or rent a bike and do your own exploring.
Address: 233 North Main St., Greenville, South Carolina
9. Wander Around the TD Saturday Market
The bustling and vibrant TD Saturday Market is the place to be on a Saturday morning between May and October. Downtown Greenville’s Main Street comes alive with the busy market which features over 75 vendors selling the season’s freshest produce that has been grown or produced in the Greenville region.
Vendors tout their wares which range from hand picked fruit and vegetables and aromatic herbs and spices to handcrafted clothing, jewelry, and arts and crafts. Market-goers can enjoy cooking demonstrations and tastings, freshly prepared foods and baked goods, and live music.
Address: Main Street at McBee Avenue, Greenville, South Carolina
Opening Hours: Saturday (May – October): 8 am – 12 pm
10. Spend the Day at the Greenville Zoo
The Greenville Zoo is home to a wide variety of animals from around the world that reside in a range of diverse habitats including African lions, giraffes, and Amur leopards. Founded in 1960, the zoo focuses on educating the community about the appreciation of nature and wildlife and has an excellent conservation and research program aimed at protecting endangered animals such as giant anteaters, and Gibbon monkeys.
It’s a great place to spend a day with the family, visiting the animals, walking or riding bicycles on the network of paths around the zoo, and picnicking. The zoo also has playgrounds for children, tennis and volleyball courts.
Address: 150 Cleveland Park Drive, Greenville, South Carolina
Opening Hours: 10 am – 5 pm, daily
11. Take a Downtown Trolley Tour
Hop onto the historic Greenville Trolley and take a guided tour of the city. The beautifully preserved red and blue trolleys travel up and down Main Street, transporting passengers to various locales, as well as downtown and Heritage Green. There are several interesting attractions at Heritage Green including the Greenville County Museum of Art, the Greenville County Hughes Main Library, and the Children’s Museum of the Upstate.
Operating Hours: 6 am – 11 pm
Suggested Tour: Greenville Trolley Tours
12. Join the Artisphere Greenville
Artisphere is an annual event that takes place in Greenville each year and is one of the country’s top art festivals. The signature event celebrates the arts and the region’s rich international and multicultural genius by showcasing local and international talent through displays, exhibits, demonstrations, and live performances.
The festival features a diverse array of attractions from art installations, culinary arts demos, and wine and craft beer exhibitions to science, technology, and engineering displays, University demonstrations, and a special exhibition center for children called Kidsphere. It’s well worth a visit to get a real feel for the eclectic side of the city.
Address: B, 101 Augusta St, Greenville, SC 29601
Opening Hours: 9 am – 5 pm
13. Visit the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum
The Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum celebrates the life of famous baseball legend Joe Jackson. Jackson is one of the most beloved ball players of all time, famous for being a brilliant baseball player and infamous for fixing the World Series.
Located in the house where Joe lived and died, which was relocated to Field Street in the historic West End of Greenville, the museum has the house number of 356, which stands as a reminder of Joe’s incredible lifetime batting average of .356.
The museum has an impressive collection of artifacts, photographs, records, memorabilia, and other baseball-related items from the life of Shoeless Joe Jackson.
Address: 356 Field Street, Across from Fluor Field, Historic West End, Greenville, South Carolina
Opening Hours: By appointment only
14. Go Fishing in Caesars Head State Park
Located in northern Greenville County about an hour’s drive from Greenville, Caesars Head State Park is a 13,000-acre recreational park with pristine untouched natural landscapes, spectacular waterfalls, including Raven Cliff Falls, gorgeous panoramic views, and several excellent hiking trails.
The park is fantastic for enjoying an array of outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain biking, fishing, climbing, and picnicking. It’s home to a diverse range of wildlife and birds, so nature-lovers will delight in seeing birds like peregrine falcons and thousands of migrant hawks that head to the park during the summer. Keep an eye out for black bears and the endangered green salamander.
Address: 8155 Geer HWY, Cleveland, SC 29635
Opening Hours: 9 am – 9 pm
15. Play GI Joe at the Military History Center of the Carolinas
The Military History Center of the Carolinas is a small center that is dedicated to all things military. Located in a former airplane hangar at the Greenville Downtown Airport, the museum has grown from a room of artifacts to a modern museum, complete with a gift shop, and is well worth a visit if you are a military buff.
Exhibits focus on 20th-century conflicts and the museum houses an impressive collection of paraphernalia and memorabilia such as a vintage Model T that was used as an ambulance in World War I, a 45-star American flag, and a remote-controlled model of a World War II-era P39 fighter plane.
Address: 14 Airport Rd Ext, Greenville, SC 29607, United States
Opening Hours: Saturdays and Sundays: 9 am – 5 pm
16. Explore the Kilgore-Lewis House
The Kilgore-Lewis House is a historic home in the heart of Greenville that serves as an excellent example of vernacular Palladian-style design. Also known as the Josiah Kilgore House, the house was built in 1838 by Josiah Kilgore as a wedding gift for his daughter and is thought to be one of the oldest surviving structures in Greenville County.
The house has an L-shape, double-story design on a low foundation, and a pedimented portico supported by square posts. Originally located next to Buncombe Street United Methodist on Buncombe Street in downtown Greenville, the house was used as a Sunday school building for the neighboring church. It was then moved to McPherson Park, where it rests today and is open to the public for docent-led tours.
Address: 560 N Academy St, Greenville, SC 29601, United States
Opening Hours: Wednesday – Friday: 10 am – 2 pm
17. Discover a World Apart at Lake Conestee Nature Preserve
Located six miles south of downtown Greenville, Lake Conestee Nature Preserve is a bird-watching haven and is designated an “Important Bird Area of Global Significance” by the National Audubon Society. The 400-acre preserve has a variety of beautiful habitats that attract a wealth of bird species, as well as other wildlife like beavers, otters, foxes, deer, and raccoons.
There are over 14 miles of hiking and biking trails that wind through extensive wetlands, and hardwood and evergreen forest, and along three miles of the Reedy River.
Address: 840 Mauldin Rd, Greenville, SC 29607, United States
Opening Hours: 7:30 am – 5:30 pm
18. Satisfy Your Need for Speed at the BMW Zentrum Museum
The BMW Zentrum Museum is the only official BMW museum in North America and well worth a visit if you are a motorhead or BMW fan. The museum showcases the past, present, and future of the famous automotive brand with examples of rare and significant vehicles in the story of BMW, including one known as the “Bubblecar.”
Take a guided factory tour of the BMW Manufacturing plant to see how the Ultimate Driving Machine® is built and visit the BMW Performance Driving School to get behind the wheel and drive various models. You can also take advanced driving lessons from the Other Roads course and try out the X-vehicles terrain challenges.
Address: 1400 SC-101, Greer, SC 29651, United States
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday: 9:30 am – 5:30 pm
19. Visit the Historic Poinsett Bridge and Campbell’s Covered Bridge
Step back in time with a visit to these two historic bridges in northern Greenville County. Constructed in 1820, it is believed to have been designed by Robert Mills, the architect of the Washington Monument, and is the oldest surviving bridge in the state. The 14-foot Gothic arch stone structure that stretches 130 feet over Little Gap Creek rests at the center of the Poinsett Bridge Heritage preserve.
Campbell’s Covered Bridge was built in 1909 and is the last remaining covered bridge in the state. Spanning Beaverdam Creek in Landrum, the 38-foot-long, 12-foot-wide pine structure was named for Lafayette Campbell, who owned 194 acres of land in the area. The bridge and surrounding landscapes are protected by a park where visitors can explore the foundations of the old grist mill, dabble in the creek, and picnic along its banks.
Poinsett Bridge – Address: 580 Callahan Mountain Rd, Travelers Rest, SC 29690
Campbell’s Covered Bridge – Address: 171 Campbell’s Covered Bridge Rd, Landrum, SC 29356
20. Picnic in Paris Mountain State Park
Paris Mountain State Park is a 1,540-acre park surrounding the monadnock—a mountain that stands alone – is Paris Mountain. Located five miles north of Greenville, the park preserves the natural beauty and the heritage of this small peak and offers a wealth of outdoor recreation and activities.
The Park Center is a beautifully renovated former stone-and-timber bathhouse that was built during the Great Depression by the Civilian Conservation Corps and has several informative historical exhibits and a gift shop.
Paris Mountain has over 15 miles of hiking and biking trails, and the eight-acre Lake Placid is ideal for canoeing, kayaking, boating, fishing, paddle-boating, and swimming. There is also a 15-acre reservoir packed with fish for anglers and a campground with 39 paved campsites and trailside camping.
Address: 2401 State Park Rd, Greenville, SC 29609, United States
Opening Hours: 8 am – 6 pm
The Best of Greenville, SC
Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Greenville, SC
Greenville recently revitalized the Downtown district in one of the best places to stay when visiting the city if you want to be in the heart of the action. The district is pedestrian-friendly and home to a wealth of restaurants, cafés, bars, and scenic attractions including pocket parks, art sculptures, and the beautiful Liberty Bridge at Falls Park that provides breathtaking views of the city.
As a gateway to points north such as Furman University and Paris Mountain State Park, Cherrydale Point has several residential neighborhoods along with an expanding Cherrydale Point Shopping Center. The Center features a multi-screen cinema complex.
Haywood Road Area
More of a retail destination than a residential neighborhood, Haywood Road Area is home to Haywood Mall, with five anchor stores and 150 specialty retailers. It is the largest mall in South Carolina. The area has also attracted several hotels, restaurants, and entertainment venues.
Village of West Greenville
Often nicknamed the “SoHo of Greenville,” the Village of West Greenville is a favorite place for tourists to shop and eat, especially during the warm-weather months. The area is home to more than 65 businesses and has plenty of accommodation options.
West End Historic District
Boasting a rich history that dates back to the 1830s and Greenville’s dynamic textile industry, the West End Historic District is a vibrant arts and entertainment district along with interesting shops and highly rated independent restaurants.
Roper Mountain Road Area
This is a good area to stay if you are traveling with kids as it has easy access to many family-friendly attractions like the Roper Mountain Science Center, Daniel Observatory, a living history farm, and a butterfly garden.
Augusta Road Area
Augusta Road Area has a distinct centralized shopping district with more than 75 shops, restaurants, and specialty stores.
Pelham Road Area
Pelham is a great area for business and leisure travelers due to its proximity to Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport and Downtown Greenville. This is the best area to stay if you plan on visiting the Michelin and BMW headquarters buildings.
Best Hotels in Greenville, SC
The Westin Poinsett, Greenville
The Westin Poinsett, Greenville is an elegant five-star hotel that has been beautifully restored to its 1920’s grandeur with the addition of state-of-the-art technology and modern conveniences.
Located a short walk from the Peace Center, the hotel offers luxurious guest rooms and suites with 1920s-inspired décor and high-end facilities like two glamorous marble ballrooms with crystal chandeliers and a stylish gym. The Westin Poinsett is close to Downtown Greenville and all the entertainment and restaurants it offers.
Address: 120 S Main St, Greenville, SC 29601, United States, Phone: +1 864-421-9700
Hyatt Regency Greenville
The Hyatt Regency Greenville is a contemporary hotel in downtown Greenville’s trendy NOMA Square neighborhood that offers luxurious rooms, high-end facilities including an outdoor swimming pool, sundeck, and fitness center.
The hotel has a fantastic lobby bar and a highly acclaimed farm-to-table restaurant that serves traditional Southern fare with a modern twist and is within walking distance from the Peace Center and the Haywood Mall.
Address: 220 N Main St, Greenville, SC 29601, United States, Phone: +1 864-235-1234
Embassy Suites by Hilton Greenville Downtown Riverplace
Based in the heart of the Downtown Greenville district of Greenville, Embassy Suites by Hilton Greenville Downtown Riverplace offers all the bells and whistles. Located a few hundred feet from the Peace Center and a short walk from Fluor Field, the all-suite hotel offers luxury accommodations with en-suite bathrooms and deluxe in-room conveniences.
Ruth’s Chris steakhouse is set in the lobby of the hotel and serves award-winning steaks and fine wines, and an eighth-floor rooftop bar is a great spot for cocktails and snacks. Embassy Suites is home to Downtown’s only indoor saltwater swimming pool, and the hotel is just a few steps from the Swamp Rabbit Trail.
Address: 250 Riverplace, Greenville, SC 29601, United States, Phone: +1 864-263-4800
Best Restaurants in Greenville, SC
Larkin’s on the River
Set in a historic pre-civil war building with exposed brick walls on the banks of the Reedy River, Larkin’s on the River is an award-winning restaurant and one of Greenville’s premier dining destinations. Owned and managed by Mark and Larkin Hammond, the restaurant is famous for its premium cut steaks, ocean-fresh seafood, world-class boutique wines, and outstanding service. Larkin’s on the River serves lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday and a laid-back Sunday brunch.
Address: 318 S. Main Street, Greenville, SC 29601, Phone: 864-467-9777,
Nestled at the base of the Liberty Bridge in the heart of Falls Park, Passerelle Bistro is a casual French-style bistro that serves chef-inspired French fare with a local twist. The bistro has cozy interiors that are intimate and warm, a charming patio overlooking the Falls, and a chef’s bar, where you can watch the cuisine being expertly prepared. Passerelle Bistro serves lunch Monday-Friday, dinner Monday – Sunday, and brunch on Saturday and Sundays.
Address: 601 South Main Street, Greenville, SC 29601, Phone: 864 – 509 – 0142
Grill Marks is a bright and airy restaurant with a laid-back ambiance that serves classic American fare with a gourmet upgrade. Owned by Mark and Larkin Hammond of Larkin’s on the River, Grill Marks are renowned for their Angus Beef burgers packed with decadent toppings, gourmet milkshakes and sundaes, and an impressive wine list. Grill Marks is open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week.
Address: 209 S. Main Street, Greenville, SC 29601, Phone: 864-233-5825
Best Bars in Greenville, SC
Vault & Vator
Vault & Vator is the epitome of a speakeasy bar with dim lighting that transports you back to another era in American history. The cocktails are phenomenal, there is a dress code, and no mobile phones are allowed in the joint. Don’t come hungry – this elegant spot is all about drinking.
Address: 655 S Main St, Greenville, SC 29601, United States, Phone: +1 864-603-1881
The Velo Fellow is a quaint European-style hub public house with a classic British public house atmosphere that serves great craft beer selection, many of which are handcrafted on-site, wine and whiskey offerings, and a menu of eclectic fare including traditional fish and chips. The bar has a listening room where you can kick back to some live music over drinks with friends, and shuffleboard.
Address: 1 Augusta St #126, Greenville, SC 29601, United States, Phone: +1 864-242-9296
Up on the Roof
Up on the Roof is the best place to go for sundowners and spectacular scenic city views. Perched on the rooftop of Downtown Greenville’s Embassy Suites, the stylish rooftop hangout serves a wide variety of domestic and craft beers, casual and fine wines, and handcrafted cocktails, along with modern American eats from the full-service restaurant kitchen.
Address: 250 Riverplace #800, Greenville, SC 29601, United States, Phone: +1 864-242-4000
Best Coffee in Greenville, SC
Coffee Underground is the locals’ go-to coffee place downtown. Located below street level near one of the busiest intersections on Main Street, the hidden gem has a mishmash of tables, booths, wingback chairs, and loveseats and serves decent coffee and a wide selection of food and desserts.
Address: 1 E Coffee St, Greenville, SC 29601, United States, Phone: +1 864-298-0494
Tucked away at the base of the Bank of America building in the One City Plaza, Methodical is a sleek, contemporary coffee shop that serves fantastic coffee in a cool hipster atmosphere. The coffee shop has three locations around town – downtown, inside the Landmark Project Flagship Store, and The Commons.
Address: 101 N Main St, Greenville, SC 29601, United States, Phone: +1 864-301-5630
The Village Grind
The Village Grind is a contemporary coffee shop with exposed brick and beams, Edison bulbs and plants dangling from the ceiling, and colorful art on the walls. Located in the budding, new neighborhood of the West Village, the café is surrounded by art galleries, great restaurants, an artisan ice-cream shop, and a growler haus. They serve a fantastic coffee menu and light bites. Perfect for a quick cuppa on the go.
Address: 1258 Pendleton St, Greenville, SC 29611, United States