With a rich history as old as any in South Carolina, Spartanburg is home to a wide range of cultural, ancient, and peculiar attractions. Named after a local militia in the American Revolutionary War, you have your choice of museums and historical buildings at the Walnut Grove Plantation or nature at Hatcher Garden and Glendale Shoals.
A family-friendly tourist destination, you’ll have a simple time keeping the young ones entertained with plenty of fun things to do in Spartanburg.
As a well-connected town, Spartanburg is a breeze to get around, allowing you more time to discover one of the coolest parts of South Carolina.
12. Barnet Park
In downtown Spartanburg, the spacious Barnet Park is home to an accessible and paved two-mile walking trail, an interactive water fountain for those hot summer days, along with a large picnic pavilion for group gatherings. With ample room to run and play games, it’s easy to see why Barnet Park is a popular destination.
A highlight of Barnet Park is the Zimmerli Amphitheater. With a capacity to seat 1,000 people, with room for many more on the surrounding lawns, the amphitheater plays host to major festivals and community events throughout the year. Many of the public concerts are free, making it a top choice for couples, friends and family looking to enjoy some live entertainment.
11. Anderson’s Mill
Built in the latter 1800s, Anderson’s Mill is a well-preserved historical building in Spartanburg. The mill is a water-powered gristmill that has undergone many iterations over its life and has also been known as Nicholl’s Fort and Tanner’s Mill.
Regardless, it’s the oldest still-standing mill in South Carolina and remained in operation until 1975. Along the North Tyger River, the mill is an especially beautiful place to visit in the fall, with the auburn foliage providing a gorgeous backdrop. After exploring the mill, find a cozy spot along the river and take in the natural scenery.
10. Hub City Railroad Museum
Dedicated to preserving the history of railroads in South Carolina, the fascinating Hub City Railroad Museum has a great selection of exhibits and attractions. The museum explores the importance of the railroads in supporting the peach and textile industries in South Carolina.
Train enthusiasts and history buffs will fall in love with the old engines, have the chance to ring a locomotive bell from 1940 and learn how to operate a telegraph system. After seeing it all, head into the railroad gift shop for a memorable souvenir before relaxing on the spacious lawns that surround the museum.
The Hub City Railroad Museum is open two days a week, on Wednesday and Saturday between 10am and 2pm.
9. Glendale Shoals Preserve
Fun for photographers, hikers and birdwatchers, there’s lots to do in Glendale Shoals Preserve. Along Lawson’s Fork Creek, where the old Glendale Mill once operated, you can explore the serene landscape on foot, complete with a dam, a waterfall and plenty of space for a family picnic.
The many hiking trails meander throughout the preserve, some leading you to the ruins of the Glendale Mill, which was built in the 19th century. The mill played a major role in local life, supporting the community with its enormous cotton factory.
Aside from historical buildings, you’ll discover ample nature with the diverse range of plant life home for many types of birds.
8. The Peachoid
A 30 minute drive northeast of Spartanburg is a 135 foot water tower in the shape of a peach. The intriguing roadside attraction can hold up to one million gallons of water. Known to locals by several names, including The Peach, Mr Peach and the Moon over Gaffney, you can easily spot the monument from miles away.
The peach design was chosen as Gaffney is a part of Cherokee County, who in 1980 produced more of the fruit than the entirety of Georgia, known as the “Peach State”. The colorful water tower was an immediate hit and has gone on to become a unique tourist attraction and was even involved in a plotline of the show House of Cards.
7. Walnut Grove Plantation
Near the Tyger River, the history of the Walnut Grove Plantation dates all the way back to the American Revolution. With land rights granted by King George the Third, the Moore’s built the original home in 1765 with the help of slaves, who’re said to be some of the first in the region.
Fast forward two centuries and the plantation became a public museum. Visitors have a chance to not only explore the history but also the tragedy linked to the plantation from which the surrounding towns, including Spartanburg, grew.
The home has been well-preserved throughout the years and is one of a few remaining homes from the period in South Carolina’s upcountry. Explore the home to learn the earliest stories of Spartanburg, including the Moore family and the lives of slaves on the plantation.
6. RJ Rockers Brewing Company
In downtown Spartanburg, RJ Rockers is a family business that has ticked all the boxes over the last two decades. Locally owned and operated, RJ Rockers Brewing Company is powered purely by solar energy and provides not just the best craft beer, but some of the best spirits in town.
If you’re someone who loves to try the latest craft beer wherever they travel, then get comfortable with a flight of the IPAs, pale ales, fruit beers and brown ales. Beer not your thing? Have your choice of some great local wines, ciders and their delicious barrel aged bourbon and rum.
From Thursday through Saturday, you can embark on a tasting tour of the brewery that is later complemented by either live music or trivia.
5. Hollywild Animal Park
A nonprofit animal sanctuary, the Hollywild Animal Park is home to almost 500 animals, many of which have graced the Silver Screen and appeared on our favorite TV shows. A great family activity, the park provides a close up experience with the “animal actors” such as bison, camels and deer, emus and Scottish highlanders.
The best way to explore Hollywild Animal Park is on the safari ride that will guide you through the expansive free-roaming area where many animals in the park live. Along the way, you have the opportunity to hand-feed and interact with some of the playful animals.
The safari does an amazing job educating visitors about each animal and the important role that the Hollywild Animal Park plays.
4. BMW Zentrum
As the only BMW Zentrum museum not just in South Carolina but in North America as a whole, a trip to Spartanburg is an envious opportunity to learn all about the iconic car company. The museum strongly focuses on the brand’s early years, providing an insight into the development of BMW and how it managed its rise to fandom.
The BMW Zentrum has many incredible exhibits, including the famous Isetta Bubblecar from the 1950s, perhaps the strangest car BMW ever made. Other highlights include the company’s history of racing and an exclusive collection of rare models and classic cars.
3. Spartanburg Historic District
A great way to get to know Spartanburg is to spend some time wandering through the Historic District. The area was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983 and is based around Morgan Square, home to a statue of Daniel Morgan, a prominent local figure.
Around the square you’ll find beautiful examples of the town’s original architecture with many of the buildings from the 1800s and the early 20th century. Featuring Roman influences, these buildings were once home to a thriving textile industry, along with the present day Cleveland Hotel and local waterworks.
So grab a coffee and explore on foot to get a glimpse of Spartanburg as it was at the turn of the 20th century.
2. Croft State Park
The sprawling Croft State Park is home to over 20 miles of hiking and biking trails for you to enjoy. If it’s a beautiful day in Spartanburg, then there may be no better place to go. Load up the picnic basket and head to the rushing rivers that surge through the park for a shady picnic surrounded by peaceful nature.
When you’re ready for some adventuring, join one of the many trails through the park and explore the local forest. The Croft State Park also features two large lakes, which are great fishing and boating spots for those that wish to get out on the water.
For those with families, you’ll find playgrounds and the opportunity to further explore on horseback thanks to the resident equestrian facilities.
1. Hatcher Garden and Woodland Preserve
Along a variety of scenic walking trails, you can explore the beautiful conifer forests in the Hatcher Garden and Woodland Preserve. Through the pristine environment, you’ll discover over 200 species of trees and plants, including towering pines, firs, sequoias and spruces.
Open year-round between sunup and sundown, the park is easy to access and you’ll find stunning perennials to complement the giant conifer trees in the ornate gardens. While the Woodland Preserve allows visitors to stroll along meandering creeks on their way to charming ponds and a cascading waterfall.
Joining you will be a variety of wildlife, especially birds who flutter through the air before hanging out in the canopy. There are also a selection of ranger-led walks and programs that will further explore the tranquil environment.