When it comes to places to visit in South Carolina, the small city of Greenville may not be high on your list. However, this hidden gem has a thriving arts and culture scene along with world-class dining, quirky local microbreweries, and top-notch entertainment. All of that is colored by Greenville's relaxed, small-town atmosphere and classic Southern charm. Whether you're just stopping there for a quick weekend getaway or planning a longer trip in the area, you're sure to find plenty of things to do in Greenville.
You don't have to get out of the city to explore the beauty of nature in Greenville. Falls Park on the Reedy is a lush, green park located right in the heart of the city. Check out the natural waterfalls that give it its name, or stroll along the well-maintained, wheelchair-accessible walking paths while you enjoy the sculptures and public art displays scattered throughout the park. It also hosts frequent free entertainment and workshop events for visitors and residents to enjoy. Be sure to stop on Liberty Bridge for the best views of the falls.
If you really want to get a feel for the culture and beauty of Greenville, leave the car parked for the day and take a bike tour. Swamp Rabbit Trail is the best path to take. This multi-use path is nearly 20 miles long and connects many of the city's major attractions. If you don't want to bring your own bikes, there are several options for daily rentals in Greenville, including a mix of private businesses and inexpensive bike share programs. Swamp Rabbit Trail is also open to pedestrians if you prefer to explore on foot.
Greenville's quirky atmosphere and creative spirit has turned it into a bit of a regional center for microbreweries and small-scale distilleries, so fans of craft beer and liquor should be sure to schedule plenty of time to taste the local wares. Visit the Yee-Haw Brewing Company for a fun, slightly rowdy time like the name implies, or head over to Quest Brewing Co. for a wide selection of truly unique brews made with ingredients such as jalapenos and fruit that you can enjoy while watching live music or other special events. For a bit of classic Southern moonshine, plan a visit to Dark Corner Distillery, a local favorite. Bus tours are available to let you spend the day tasting without having to worry about driving yourself around.
For a more relaxed outdoor adventure, plan a hike at nearby Caesar's Head State Park. This mountainous park is located on a rocky portion of the Blue Ridge Escarpment, giving it unique geological features and dramatic views. It's also a major draw for birdwatchers due to its abundant wildlife, so be sure to bring your binoculars. This park features a mix of trails suitable for everyone from young families to experienced hikers.
If you're in Greenville between the months of May and October, be sure to spend part of your Saturday at the weekly TD Saturday Market. This massive farmer's market features fresh produce grown nearby and other gems, included handmade art and jewelry crafted by local artists. The specific items available vary depending on the day and season, but you're sure to find something you'll love.
If you're an art lover, you can't miss the Greenville County Museum of Art. The building itself is a must-see landmark due to its unique architecture and contemporary design. Inside, you'll find the largest public collection of famous artist Andrew Wyeth's watercolors, along with other amazing collections from famous Southern artists. Pieces include everything from old-fashioned folk art to contemporary, abstract art by Jasper Johns. Admittance is free, so it's a great choice for budget-conscious travelers.
If you're interested in American history, the Upcountry History Museum is a must-see attraction. This unique museum focuses on the impact of the 15 counties that make up South Carolina's Upcountry region on American history. Interactive exhibits and genuine historical artifacts lead you through the earliest days of European settlers in South Carolina through the Civil Rights Era. This museum is great for all ages.
Inspired by the famous children's book Goodnight Moon, local artists hid nine small, bronze statues of mice along a five-block span on Greenville's Main Street. Pick up a sheet of hints at one of the city's visitor centers to start your hunt, then keep your eyes peeled for these whimsical statues. It's fun for all ages and a great way to explore the district.
After a big day of exploring, hit up one of Greenville's many excellent restaurants to enjoy some refreshments. Local favorites include the Passerelle Bistro, a family-friendly restaurant with spectacular views of the Reedy River, and Soby's, a classic New South restaurant located in a renovated cotton mill from the 1800s. Numerous other options are available, providing everything from classic Southern soul food to contemporary world fusion dishes.
No matter when you're in Greenville, there's sure to be something going on at the Peace Center. This beautiful entertainment venue features a concert hall, theater, and outdoor amphitheater that host more than 300 shows a year. Acts range from local community theater plays to internationally known artists, so there's something for everyone to enjoy. Free shows and workshops are even available from time to time, so check out the event schedule when you're planning your trip.