Greenville, South Carolina, (yeah, that Greenville) is the growing seat of Greenville county, home to a thriving economy and emerging arts scene. Livability recently ranked Greenville, South Carolina, as one of the Top 100 Places to Live (it really is!), and it’s also a great place to visit. Whether you enjoy outdoor activities and sports or food and the arts, you’ll find something you love among all the top things to do in Greenville, SC.
We do get a lot of people coming to the area who are traveling for work (Michelin and BMW have their North American headquarters in or near Greenville), but if you’re planning to be in the general vicinity for pleasure, I think you should consider making Greenville a stop on your trip itinerary.
Things to do in Greenville, SC
Explore downtown Greenville
The city of Greenville has spent a number of years developing its downtown into an area that its residents and guests can enjoy exploring and generally just hanging out in. Livability recently ranked Greenville as having one of the best downtowns in America for its pedestrian-friendly, tree-lined Main Street full of shops and sidewalk cafes. Of all the Greenville things to do, this is one of my favorites.
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You’ll find locally owned coffee shops, restaurants, and boutiques alongside well-known retailers like Brooks Brothers and Anthropologie. Downtown Greenville is also turning into rather a foodie’s paradise with help from local restaurateurs like Rick Erwin and Carl Sobocinski (Table 301). Though you’ll certainly find chain restaurants in the mix, local eateries get a lot of love in Greenville.
Wander through Falls Park on the Reedy
While you’re downtown, grab a coffee drink or an ice cream at Spill the Beans and enjoy Greenville’s beautiful Falls Park, one of the most popular activities in Greenville, SC. The park is named for the Reedy River falls at the west end of downtown Greenville. The 354-foot long Liberty Bridge over the river forms the centerpiece of the park. Its award-winning design is unique to the United States.
There are many top restaurants within an easy walk of the park or better yet pack a picnic and enjoy your meal at one of the many lovely picnic spots along the Reedy River. I mean, if the weather is good. And it very often is.
The park is free for guests to explore and is open every day from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Attend a concert or show at the Peace Center
Another fixture of downtown Greenville is the Peace Center, a premier performing arts venue. In addition to being the home of the Greenville Symphony Orchestra and the Greenville Chorale, the Peace Center regularly brings in top artists such as Renee Fleming, Audra McDonald and Joshua Bell. A full theater calendar draws visitors from all over the Upstate for Broadway shows like Hamilton, The Lion King, and Wicked. Steve Martin and Martin Short recorded their Emmy-nominated Netflix special An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life at the Peace Center.
And in addition to being a top-notch venue, the Peace Center is committed to reducing their impact on the environment, and is even believed to be the first zero-waste-to-landfill arts facility.
Take in a Greenville Drive game
Now, I know the performing arts aren’t for everyone, but everyone loves baseball, right? Well, if you don’t it’s probably just that you haven’t given it enough of a chance. Just commit yourself to watching a few hours of ball every week, and you’ll be hooked like me. Try it.
I’m not joking.
Whether you love baseball or not, if you’re in Greenville, South Carolina, during baseball season I highly recommend going to see the Greenville Drive play at Fluor Field. The Greenville Drive are a class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, and they have one of the best minor league ballparks in the U.S. Seriously, I love it. They even have their own Green Monster like at Fenway in Boston. Parking is free, and they offer a complimentary shuttle to the park. or walking the few blocks will be a bit quicker.
Who knows? You might even get to see the next Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts or Jackie Bradley, Jr.
Hike Paris Mountain State Park
For the more active visitors to Greenville, Paris Mountain State Park is an excellent option. Paris Mountain is one of 16 South Carolina State Parks built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, and it’s on the National Register of Historic Places.
There are more than 15 miles of hiking and biking trails rated from easy to strenuous in the park. It has also become a top camping destination in the Greenville area. Other park activities include swimming, kayaking, pedal boating and picnicking. Yes, picnicking is an activity. It’s a good activity.
The $5 admission fee is waived for children ages 5 and under, and includes access to the swimming area when it’s open. Pets are welcome at Paris Mountain State Park except in and around any of the lodging areas.
Visit the Greenville County Museum of Art
I love visiting art museums when I travel, and I’ve been to some of the best museums in the world. The Greenville County Museum of Art has one of the best collections of American art I’ve had the joy of seeing in a regional museum, including the largest public collection of Andrew Wyeth watercolors. I’m partial to their wonderful collection of Jasper Johns paintings and prints.
The museum is located at Heritage Green, very near downtown Greenville. Heritage Green is a cultural campus that includes the GCMA (of course), the main branch (Hughes) of the Greenville County Library System, the Greenville Little Theater, the Children’s Museum and the Upcountry History Museum. Admission to the Greenville County Museum of Art is free, but there is a small charge to park in the Heritage Green parking lot during normal business hours on weekdays.
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Bike or jog the Swamp Rabbit Trail
The Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail is a 22-mile long historic rail trail that runs from Greenville to Travelers Rest, South Carolina. Jogging or biking the Swamp Rabbit is a popular weekend activity in Greenville. There are even places along the trail you can stop for a bite to eat, a cup of coffee or an ice cream. A lot of it runs along the Reedy River, the same river that flows through Falls Park in downtown Greenville.
The interactive map is useful for finding parking, restrooms, and water fountains along the main trail or secondary trails.
Yes, the name is odd. We also have an East Coast Hockey League team called the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. I swear I am not making that up. Apparently, the swamp rabbit is indigenous to this area. Why we think that means we have to name a bunch of stuff after it, I really couldn’t tell you. Nevertheless, here we are.
Visit the Greenville Zoo
If you’re an animal lover like me, I recommend a visit to the Greenville Zoo while you’re in town. It’s one of the finest small zoos I’ve ever been to. I admire their commitment to conservation, including the establishment of a grant funding programs for conservation efforts in South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. Parking is free at two nearby lots, and the zoo is also conveniently close to Cleveland Park and the Swamp Rabbit Trail.
And they have a baby giraffe, y’all!
Take a walk around the lake at Furman University
If you’re looking for a picturesque place for a weekend stroll, I highly recommend the Lake Loop Trail at Furman University. The 1.5-mile paved trail takes you around a 40-acre spring-fed lake. Places of interest on the trail include a beautiful rose garden and the campus’ iconic bell tower.
This isn’t the only trail on the beautiful Furman campus, but it is believed to be the most popular. In fact, on sunny Sunday afternoons, you’ll likely encounter quite a few others walking, jogging or biking the trail along with you.
Visit one of the many festivals or seasonal activities
Greenville, South Carolina, is home to a growing number of special festivals and seasonal activities, and depending on what time of year you’re visiting, you might be right on time for a signature city event such as Artisphere (May) or Fall for Greenville (October).
Other great seasonal events and activities include:
- U.Day (October), Christmas Carol Sing and Lighting Ceremony (Friday after Thanksgiving) and Living Gallery (Easter Weekend) at Bob Jones University
- Music by the Lake free summer concert series at Furman University
- Indie Craft Parade (September)
- Restaurant Week (summer and winter versions)
Plus lots and lots more!
The bottom line: what to do in Greenville, SC
Whether you’re stopping over for business or pleasure, you’re sure to find lots of stuff to do in Greenville, SC. From food to the arts and outdoor sports, Greenville, is a terrific place to live and visit at any time of year.
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