Greenville, South Carolina is one of the most-talked-about Southern cities in America, thanks to its quaint Main Street, bike-friendly atmosphere, fun art scene, and delicious food. Depending on what you decide to do, this is a fun spot for a girls’ weekend getaway, a family vacation with the kids, or a romantic couple’s trip to celebrate something special. With parks, shops, a waterfall, public art, and family-friendly attractions, what more could you want from a vacation? From outdoor recreation to fun festivals and much more, here are the best things to do in Greenville.
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Bike the Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail
The Prisma Swamp Rabbit Trail is a 22-mile multi-use trail that has received lots of awards, including #1 America’s Best Urban Bike Paths by Fodor’s Travel, #3 Best Urban Trail by USA Today 10Best, and #12 Most Incredible Bike Trail in the US by the Daily Burn. More than 750,000 locals and visitors ride the trail each year. If you don’t bring your own bike along, you can rent a bike at Reedy Rides, a local bicycle rental business in Greenville, before hopping on the trail from downtown.
Admire the Views at Paris Mountain State Park
Located a few minutes outside of Downtown Greenville, Paris Mountain State Park offers with more than 15 miles of hiking and biking trails, as well as canoe, kayak, and paddleboat rentals. There are four lakes in the park and a swimming area for the summer months. This awesome state park also has camping facilities, including 39 paved sites, 13 of which have tent pads and five trail-side sites by the North Lake Trail Loop.
Spend Time in Falls Park on the Reedy
Falls Park on the Reedy is a nationally acclaimed green space with a spectacular bridge that allows unobstructed views of the Reedy River Falls. The Liberty Bridge, a 345-foot curved bridge, is held in the air by a single suspension cable, and it’s the only one of its kind in the U.S. The park is open from 7am to 9pm daily, and there is no admission fee.
View Art in Public Places
Currently, more than 70 works of art are featured as part of Greenville, South Carolina’s Arts in Public Places initiative. An “Orbital Trio” serves as the anchor of North Main Street downtown at NOMA Square. Meanwhile, “Nexus of Light” anchors the corner of South Main Street and Augusta Street, and “Octo 2” is a kinetic, wind-powered, stainless-steel sculpture made up of linked stainless shapes rotating around a circular axis. The red steel “Untitled 2002-2003” sculpture (referred to by residents as Gumby) winds up in the background of almost every iconic photo take in Greenville, as it sits at one end of The Liberty Bridge in Falls Park. Also, don’t miss the newest Dale Chihuly “Rose Crystal Tower” at the other end of Falls Park.
Experience a Festival Weekend
With the countless free annual events and activities in Greenville’s very walkable downtown area, there seems to always be something going on. In October, you can check out Fall for Greenville, one of the largest food festivals in the South. This is a foodie’s paradise with more than 40 locally-owned restaurants lining the streets of downtown and offering more than 200 menu items of small plate favorites. During the second weekend of May, experience Artisphere, a nationally renowned free three-day art festival over Mother’s Day weekend. At this event, Downtown Greenville transforms into a pop-up outdoor art gallery, as more than 250 artists from all around the world take over Main Street, showcasing 17 different mediums. In addition to the pop-up shops that span five city blocks, festival-goers are treated to more than 20 live musical performances throughout the weekend and hands-on experiences, such as jewelry making and sculpting. Then in mid-late September, come to Greenville’s food and wine festival, Euphoria, which brings chefs in from all over the country for four days of exclusive tasting events, cooking demonstrations, and wine seminars, as well as multi-course dinners and live music concerts. Sign up for a class or indulge in one of the Michelin Star chef meals.
Test Drive BMWs at BMW Zentrum
At BMW Zentrum, the past, present, and future of BMW come together in a one-of-a-kind building. Experience the cars, the speed, and the innovation all for free in the only BMW museum in North America. The Zentrum is more than just a museum; it’s a meeting and events center, a cafe, a gallery, and a history lesson all wrapped into one very unique experience. The BMW Performance School is the only place in the country where you can drive the latest BMW models going 90 mph on a wet/dry track, slalom race, off-road course, and more.
Explore the Heritage Green
Nestled in the heart of downtown Greenville, South Carolina, Heritage Green is an urban arts and cultural campus worth checking out. Heritage Green is located on College Street, just three blocks from the Hyatt Regency Greenville. The campus is home to the Greenville County Library System’s Hughes Main Library, the Greenville County Museum of Art (home to the largest collection of Andrew Wyeth watercolor paintings), the Greenville Little Theatre, the Children’s Museum of the Upstate, the Upcountry History Museum, and most recently, the Carolina Music Museum.
Catch a Show at Peace Center
Located in the heart of Downtown Greenville, the Peace Center brings in award-winning Broadway shows each year in its 2,100-seat concert hall and 400-seat theater. The Peace Center is also home to five resident companies: Carolina Ballet Theatre, Greenville Chorale, Greenville Symphony, International Ballet, and South Carolina Children’s Theatre. Check the venue’s website to see what’s going on during your trip.
Join a Culinary Tour
Greenville is a top foodie destination, and you can get a taste of the local cuisine by taking a seat “At the Chef’s Table” for a tour of five diverse downtown restaurants with John Nolan, a local author and historian. On the tour, you’ll meet the chefs and hear about the history of Greenville and its restaurants. If you’re looking for something more casual and classically Southern, go for a trip on the BBQ Trail Tour. On this tour, you’ll drive through textile mill villages and learn about grilling techniques, but just save plenty of room for the assortment of main dishes and sides that await you.