An increasingly popular tourist destination, Greenville lies in a scenic spot, nestled away amidst the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Besides being home to one of the most beautiful downtowns in the South, there are countless things to do in Greenville for you to check out with spectacular scenery and nature to be found nearby.
The largest city in ‘The Upstate’ of South Carolina, Greenville straddles the banks of the Reedy River with a wonderful set of waterfalls set right in the heart of downtown. Often said to be the spot where ‘Old South’ meets the ‘New South’, its streets are home to an amazing mix of historic homes and modern tower blocks with bustling businesses dotted here and there.
Thanks to its innumerable eateries, tourist attractions and events, Greenville certainly is well worth visiting if you have the chance with great outdoor activities to be enjoyed both in the city and nearby.
In this post, we'll cover:
12. Greenville County Museum of Art
In the center of the city, you can find the small but superb Greenville County Museum of Art. It hosts the world’s largest public collection of Andrew Wyeth watercolors.
Considered one of the best art museums in the South, it first opened in 1963 and now occupies a striking modernist building. Aside from seeing twenty-six of Andrew Wyeth’s iconic watercolors, there is the fabulous Southern Collection, and works by renowned artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe and Andy Warhol.
11. Runway Park at GMU
Located ten minutes’ drive east of downtown, Runway Park at GMU has fun aviation-themed playgrounds and educational displays for kids.
Besides strolling or cycling along its ‘Runways’ or ‘Perimeter Taxiway’, you can also enjoy its swing sets, slides and play structures; all of which are decorated with planes and aviation motifs.
In addition to reading its informative displays, visitors can enjoy watching planes taxiing, taking off and landing at the airport. The adjacent Runway Cafe serves food and drinks should you fancy a snack.
A great day trip destination or afternoon away, Greenville’s sister city Spartanburg is located forty minutes’ drive east of town. Nestled amidst the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, ‘Sparkle City’ has lots to see and do with something for everyone to enjoy.
Founded in 1787, it has a rich history and heritage with the city both a railway hub and textile manufacturing center. It also has a charming downtown and thriving arts scene.
Aside from stopping by its interesting historic sights or enjoying a show or concert at its cultural centers, you can also go hiking or cycling as there are parks and nature spots nearby.
9. Table Rock State Park
Table Rock State Park is certainly well worth visiting when in town. Situated forty minutes drive northwest of Greenville, it offers a wealth of outstanding outdoor activities, and epic views can be had atop its lofty peaks.
While it is named after the massive flat-topped mountain that lies at its heart, the park actually also contains the largest mountain located entirely within South Carolina. Towering 3,415 feet in height, Pinnacle Mountain is a treat to hike with spellbinding panoramas from its summit.
Visitors can camp in the park or swim at one of its lakes with sparkling waterfalls and streams found here and there.
8. Children’s Museum of the Upstate
Back in town is another of Greenville’s fun and family-friendly attractions: the Children’s Museum of the Upstate. Packed with interesting and interactive exhibits, it encourages young ones to learn about the world around them through engaging hands-on activities, experiments and games.
The museum first opened in 2009 and now has three floors of exciting educational exhibits. These focus on art and nature, science, technology and even community. Climbing structures and sensory spaces can be found alongside racing games, science labs, and themed play areas.
With so much to see and do, the museum can certainly keep children entertained for hours. There is also an on-site cafeteria and gift shop for guests to stop by.
7. Greenville Zoo
Another popular place to visit is Greenville Zoo, which lies five minutes drive east of the center in Cleveland Park. Home to an astounding array of animals, its landscaped grounds and spacious enclosures are a delight to stroll around.
Established in 1960, the zoo now contains over two hundred animals from all around the globe. As such, guests can expect to see not only giraffes and giant anteaters but lions, red pandas and chimpanzees too, with a farm animal exhibit and reptile house also on offer.
Visitors can also see animals up close and personal on in-zoo safaris, take a behind the scenes tour or even stay overnight in one of its cosy cabins.
6. Peace Center
The Peace Center is the place to go if you want to see a play, concert or dance show. Lying right in the heart of downtown, the performing arts center puts on countless performances during the year, with music shows and spectacles that will appeal to everyone.
Made up of a concert hall, theater and amphitheater, it was opened in 1990 and has attracted full houses of locals and tourists alike ever since. As well as the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, it is also home to two ballet companies and the South Carolina Children’s Theater.
In total, the state-of-the-art center now hosts more than 300 events a year. Broadway shows and classical music concerts take place alongside stand-up comedy nights, theater plays, and dance performances.
5. Liberty Bridge
Curving its way gracefully above the Reedy River is the striking Liberty Bridge, which boasts the best view of the city’s famed falls. Set right in the center of town, it is a treat to stroll along due to its modern architecture and the views it offers of the river, trees and waterfall below.
Built in 2004, the pedestrian bridge is supported by two inclined towers and is held up by a single suspension cable. Stretching 345 feet in length, it spans the breadth of the forested ravine that surrounds the Reedy River and bisects the city in two.
Due to its innovative, award-winning design, the bridge appears to almost float above the landscape and is majestically lit up at night. With such stunning views on offer of the falls below, no trip to town can be complete without a visit to the iconic bridge.
4. Paris Mountain State Park
Located just fifteen minutes drive north Greenville is the picturesque Paris Mountain State Park; one of the most popular places to enjoy outdoor activities in the area. Its sprawling and scenic confines offer hiking, mountain biking, swimming, kayaking, and camping.
Centered around the large mount that lies at its heart, the park was founded in 1935 and has attracted nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts ever since. While some splendid swimming, kayaking and fishing can be had at its four lakes, countless hiking trails weave their way through its woods.
In addition to its fabulous fauna and flora and epic outdoor activities, the Park Center also has interesting exhibits on the history and nature of the region to explore.
3. Fluor Field
An exciting event to attend when in Greenville is watching an action-packed baseball game at the fantastic Fluor Field. Set right in the city center, the atmospheric stadium is the home of the Greenville Drive – a minor league affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.
Built in 2006, the ballpark almost exactly replicates the dimensions of the famed Fenway Park in Boston with only its ‘Green Monster’ wall being slightly smaller. As such, it has a lovely old time look and feel with the stadium actually having been built out of reclaimed bricks from local mills.
Due to its intimate size and excellent sight lines, there is always an electrifying atmosphere about the stadium when Greenville Drive plays a game.
2. Swamp Rabbit Trail
A wonderful way to see both Greenville and its surroundings is to walk, run, cycle or skateboard along the Swamp Rabbit Trail. Running alongside the Reedy River, the paved path weaves its way through downtown, taking you past shops, sights, and nature spots along the way.
Opened in 2010, it already stretches over 20 miles in length with new scenic sections being added all the time. Mostly following the bed of a former railroad, it currently terminates at Travelers Rest, a small city that lies to the north of Greenville.
Besides connecting up various parks and picnic spots, the multi-purpose trail also meanders its way past some great cafes and restaurants. Other trails and attractions can also be found at various points along the route.
1. Falls Park on the Reedy
Boasting not only beautiful waterfalls and lush nature but the lovely Liberty Bridge too, Falls Park on the Reedy is undoubtedly the city’s standout sight. Popular with locals and tourists alike, it lies right in the heart of downtown, just a stone’s throw from countless shops, restaurants and attractions.
Considered to be the birthplace of Greenville, the fabulous falls and the idyllic ravine were turned into a park in 1967, having previously been used by textile mills. Nowadays, there are pretty paths for you to stroll along with picnic areas, public art installations and gorgeous green spaces.
The highlight is, of course, wandering across Liberty Bridge and taking in the phenomenal views of the falls down below. These stand out delightfully against the rugged rocks and verdant trees that surround them.