The city’s trending hashtag–#yeahTHATGreenville–captures the quickly-changing realities of this small and uber-charming Southern city. Greenville? Yes, really! Just two hours from Atlanta, we recommend it for a charming, fun, beautiful family getaway that we’re confident will leave you awestruck. Here are our top recommendations of places to go, where to indulge, and things to do in Greenville, SC.
Explore the Must-See Highlights
Take in the Views at Falls Park on the Reedy
Greenville’s crown jewel, this ten-year-old park sits in the city center, a lush urban greenspace that runs along the Reedy River. Viewing the waterfalls from the iconic Liberty Bridge is a must, whether you’re on a date or with the young ones. A multi-use park, you can enjoy walking trails, shaded seating, public art, and all the amenities of the city, too.
Bike the Swamp Rabbit Trail
Atlantans who frequent the Beltline will find a neat Greenville counterpart in the Swamp Rabbit Trail, a 19.9 mile multi-use path (sans cars, that is) that will connect you to parks, attractions, local businesses and other destinations. We recommend walking or biking this beauty for scenic views of the river and a leisurely journey from Downtown up to Furman University’s campus. For bike rentals, we love Reedy Rides, located in Downtown Greenville, open 7 days a week.
Snap a Selfie at Poinsett Bridge
Pairing natural beauty with history, the Poinsett Bridge rests just north of Greenville near Traveler’s Rest. Experts believe it’s the oldest bridge surviving bridge in the state, one built in 1820 with stones as part of a major road that ran through South and North Carolina. The bridge’s namesake, Joel R. Poinsett, was the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, Greenville native, and the man who brought the iconic poinsettia flower to the U.S.!
Glide with the Gorge Zipline
As this group’s tagline says: Get ready for the ride of your life. About an hour outside of Greenville, the wow-factor of this zipline experience will be well worth the day trip. A typical canopy tour, led by two guides, includes 11 zip lines that cover over a mile of the Green River Gorge and comes with plenty of pre-zip training that will prepare the newest newbie for an aerial glide. Only kids 10 and up on this outing, and they must meet minimum weight requirements.
Get Wet with Green River Adventures
The sister company of Gorge Zipline Tours, Green River Adventures offers a variety of water sport and outdoor experiences ranked by the desired level of adrenaline, meaning there’s room for daredevils and the more moderate thrill-seekers alike. Kayak, paddleboard, waterfall rappel, or hike to a swimming hole – just be prepared to get drenched and have a blast!
Drink in the Views at Caeser’s Head State Park
Cast your pole or bring your binoculars to do some do some bird watching (especially during hawk migration season) at this nearby state park. As an outcropping of the Blue Ridge Escarpment, you’ll be able to drink in dramatic mountainscapes from outlooks and along the hiking trails. The most popular is the four-mile Raven Cliff Falls trail which–you guessed it–culminates in stunning views of the falls, even from a suspension bridge.
Stroll Through the Saturday Market
On Saturday mornings May-October, a stretch of Downtown Greenville’s Main Street closes to vehicular traffic and is filled with white-tented stalls of vendors selling fresh seasonal produce, homemade pasta, baked goods, handmade crafts and more. A charming, community-driven example of the significant growth Greenville has experienced over the past 10 years, do as the locals do by making the market part of your visit.
Bike Share Program
Greenville B-Cycle‘s nine stations throughout the city make it an easy option for hopping on and getting around on two wheels for an hour or a whole afternoon. With many stations located in close proximity to the Swamp Rabbit Trail, you’ll find convenient connectivity that doesn’t require a car to experience Greenville’s highlights. A 24-hour membership is just $5!
Enjoy the Great Outdoors
Cedar Falls Park
With over 90 acres to explore and enjoy, Cedar Falls Park makes for a day well spent in warm weather seasons. The kids will love the sand volleyball pit, playground, and safe access to the Reedy River, and the whole family can enjoy the walking/biking trails, covered pavilion, and historic sites that interpret the area’s industrial past.
Pleasant Ridge Park
Considered to be Greenville County’s “jewel in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains,” you’ll love casting a line from the shore of the 4-acre lake and mountain biking and hiking along the park’s many multi-use trails. The park’s covered shelters make for great picnic and grill out spots, too.
Lake Conestee Nature Park
Ecological diversity abounds at Lake Conestee Nature Park along the Reedy River, where deciduous and evergreen forests and even wetlands abound. Perfect for birding, family-friendly trail walks (including boardwalks and bog walks), and weekend events the kids will love – who doesn’t want to go on a wildflower walk? – this is a must-see for the nature lovers in your household.
Jones Gap State Park
This state park is ideal for mountain views, more rigorous hiking, and what’s purported to be some of the state’s best trout fishing. Savor the waterfall views that the trails afford, and wade in the river to cool off if you’re visiting during an Upcountry heat spell.
Paris Mountain State Park
A visit to Paris Mountain, a monadnock a short distance from Downtown, will afford you a little bit of everything. Rent a kayak, canoe, or paddle boat, hike and bike along the trail, cast a line, spot local birds through your binoculars, and let the kids take a dip in the swimming hole under the watchful eye of a lifeguard.
Wildcat Branch Falls
As you’re driving along Highway 11, you’ll definitely want to pull off to snap a few pictures of the scenic beauty of the Wildcat Branch Falls, fed by Wildcat Stream and measuring about 30 feet in height. No hiking is required to enjoy!
Table Rock State Park
Head here for boating, camping, fishing, birding, swimming, geocaching–the full gamut of state park amenities. In its Top 5 recommendation list, hiking to the top of Table Rock Mountain is, of course, listed as #1. This mountain is an access point for the state’s Foothills Trail, for the serious hikers on the trip.
Bald Rock Heritage Preserve
Part of the state’s Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, Bald Rock is a popular attraction for those seeking some pretty amazing views of the surrounding mountainous area. You can access the outcropping by pulling off to the side of Highway 276, then hop back in the car for five more miles, where you’ll find yourself at Caesar’s Head State Park.
Engage The Kids
Though this zoo is modest in size, you can see lions, ocelot, lemurs, apes, exotic birds, amphibians and reptiles, all in about 90 minutes. The zoo also offers covered picnic areas and allows guests to bring in outside food and drink, making this a pretty ideal lunch safari adventure. The zoo is part of the 120+ acre Cleveland Park, also worth exploring.
The Children’s Museum of the Upstate
An attraction devoted to young ones and experiential learning through play, this library-turned-museum is filled with hands-on activities and exhibits that will teach them about bodies, biology, banking and more. An ideal kid-friendly stop no matter what time of year you visit.
Upcountry History Museum
Located on Furman University’s campus, the Upcountry History Museum aims to–you guessed it–share and interpret the history of the distinct, 15-county Upcountry region (as opposed to Lowcountry) of South Carolina that includes Greenville. In addition to permanent exhibitions about the state’s history, temporary exhibitions explore topics related to U.S. history, including major wars, political campaigns, pop culture, fine arts and more. Admission is inexpensive, and children under age 3 are FREE.
Children’s Garden at Linky Stone Park
Along the Reedy River north of Liberty Bridge in Downtown Greenville, this charming children’s garden is comprised of a variety of themed gardens, including geology, the five senses, and storybook characters. This FREE outdoor attraction will invite your kiddos to explore, see, touch, smell and savor some fresh air activity in the heart of the city.
Mice on Main
Do your little ones love the book Goodnight Moon? Then this no-cost activity is a must! Using this sheet of hints as your guide, see if you can find all nine bronze mouse statues hidden along Downtown Greenville’s Main Street (five blocks in span). Don’t forget to snap a few pictures with these cuties!
BMW Performance Center
Want to ramp up the Wow Factor of your Greenville getaway? Book a class at the BMW Performance Center, where driving instructors will school you and your teens on safety skills like panic braking, emergency lane changes, avoiding obstacles, and many more thrilling know-hows. This is driving school unlike no other.
Where to Chow
Poppington’s Gourmet Popcorn
When Bob and Rose Augustyn decided to bring a nostalgia-infused snack shop to Downtown Greenville, they had no idea how poppin’ it would be. Poppington’s is now a beloved local business serving locals and visitors alike. Stop by for a tin (or two), and be prepared to mull over a plethora of flavor options. Salty? Sweet? Cheesy? Spicy? They’ve got you covered.
The Nose Dive
Specializing in “urban comfort food,” we recommend this Greenville classic for an easy-going atmosphere run by folks who know how to whip up good food and drink. The burgers are awesome, but we think they make the best lobster roll in the South – and pairing it with sweet potato fries is a must. Check out the tiki drinks on the cocktail menu, too.
The perfect combination of al fresco dining, Reedy River views, and French-inspired cuisine can be found as Passerelle’s Bistro – we recommend it for a great early dinner with your kids. This restaurant is so committed to its location in Falls Park along the Reedy that proceeds from its operations go to support the park’s upkeep and maintenance, meaning you can dine for a great cause.
If you happen to have a night to yourself, the chic atmosphere of Green Room makes for an ideal Greenville date night out on the town. Their sophisticated Southern dinner menu, paired with a Main Street Martini, will invite you to unwind in style. Take advantage of the daily happy hour from 4:00-6:00 p.m. if you’re vying for an earlier meal.
Stella’s Southern Bistro
While you may be in the Upcountry, there’s no rule against enjoying the foodways of the Lowcountry, right? A space and menu described as being filled with “understated elegance,” this spot has garnered national attention for its thoughtfully and locally-sourced food that will be sure to wow you. Get the buttermilk fried okra and shrimp & grits if you’re feeling extra Southern.
Where to Sleep
Courtyard by Marriott Greenville Downtown
Large rooms, great location and super kid-friendly…this is where Lesli and her kids stayed during their visit, and she highly recommends it. Enjoy a 5-minute walk to Reedy Falls from here, where you’re right in the center of all the action.
Embassy Suites by Hilton Greenville Golf Resort & Conference Center
Embassy Suites just completed a 24–month full property renovation of its suites, lobby, restaurant, bar and meeting spaces. It has also introduced a new restaurant and bar, Craft 670. All guest suites now feature new sofas and chairs, carpeting, window treatments, bedding, tiled showers, lighting and artwork. The resort’s unique outdoor venues also received a refresh, including new decking, roofline and patio umbrella tables on the Overlook Deck at The Preserve at Verdae, along with enhanced lighting, and landscaping along the Pavilion at The Preserve, located adjacent to the 1st tee box.
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