Greenville SC is Fun, Affordable Destination for Budget Travelers
By Libby McMillan
Greenville Local Expert
Greenville South Carolina is all about the outdoors, which means it's a great choice for a destination when you're looking for free things to do. From free outdoor concerts and movies to some of America's most award-winning parks, Greenville has many things to explore without your having to spend a dime.
10 Children's Garden at Linky Stone Park
Kids find endless, free fun at the Children's Garden in Linky Stone Park. A six-foot tall Winnie the Pooh greets visitors as they enter the garden, which is filled with sculpted and painted storybook characters. Following the letters of the alphabet, kids can also learn more about the plants and flowers rooted throughout the green space. The Five Senses Garden offers an opportunity to touch, smell, feel, hear and taste, as well. (864-232-2273)
9 Downtown Alive
Beginning in late March and lasting until early September, Downtown Alive supplies free entertainment each Thursday evening. Hosted by the Metropolitan Arts Council at the Hyatt Plaza, this event focuses on bringing local artists and musicians into the Greenville scene and has even presented bands like Dangermuffin and American Aquarium. Before leaving home, just be sure to grab a few chairs so you can enjoy the show in comfort. (864-467-2697)
8 Paris Mountain State Park
Just a short drive from downtown, this 1,275-acre park offers a variety of hiking trails, both easy and strenuous. Swimming is permitted at the quiet lake, and camping and picnic areas let you immerse yourself in the surroundings. From I-385, take Highway 291 north and then SC 253. From there, go four miles to State Park Road, and you've found it. (864-244-5565)
7 Mice on Main
Strategically placed along Main Street to provide a tour of downtown, Mice on Main is a free attraction that appeals to even the youngest of visitors. Grab a Hints Sheet from the Visitors Center, and then head up to Hyatt Plaza to discover the first of nine tiny bronze statues. Using the clues, guests meander down the city's historic and exciting Main Street, where they find important landmarks, beautiful parks and standout restaurants. (864-232-2273)
6 Jones Gap State Park
Take US 76 west from Cleveland, turn right onto River Falls Road and follow it until it becomes Jones Gap Road. Here, on 3,346 acres, you'll discover extensive nature trails, the Middle Saluda River, camp grounds and the nature exhibits of the Environmental Education Center. For the ambitious, there's also access to the Foothills Hiking Trail. (864-836-3647)
5 Fluor Field Fireworks
Fluor Field is home to Greenville Drive baseball games, which are affordable in their own right. But for totally free fun without spending a penny, get anywhere near the ballfield on a Friday night when there's a home game. At the end of the game, the Drive shoots off a free fireworks show from just beyond the outfield . . . and it's visible for several blocks in the West End. ((864) 240-4500)
4 Cleveland Park
With over 126 acres of trails, playgrounds, tennis and volleyball courts and plenty of field space for pickup soccer and flag football, Cleveland Park is one of the most diverse free attractions in the city. Vary a workout routine by visiting the Ramona Graham Fitness Trail or let Fido mingle with other dogs at the Canine Corner. Also on-site are the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Major Anderson Memorial. (864-467-4355)
3 Swamp Rabbit Trail
Linking the charming town of Travelers Rest to the City of Greenville, the Swamp Rabbit Trail is a fun way to explore these flourishing communities. Currently, the trail is over 13 miles long and is equipped for walkers, runners and bikers. In fact, on certain sections, there is even a rubber-padded path for low-impact running. Twisting through parks, along the Reedy River and through downtown, the SRT highlights all the great, differing aspects of Greenville. (864-288-6470)
2 Liberty Bridge & Falls Park on the Reedy
The Reedy River isn't huge, but it's a much-loved feature of Greenville residents, especially now that the park around it has been revamped. Manicured plantings, open lawns, and stone pathways and terraces offer plenty to explore, and the Liberty Bridge arcs over and around the falls in a feat of beauty and engineering. The inviting park follows part of the Reedy's course, providing not only picturesque views but a brief history lesson as well, thanks to a series of markers. A great place to take a book or enjoy lunch on a sunny day. Shopping and dining opportunities are nearby too. (864-467-4350)
1 Downtown Trolley
Enjoy an absolutely free tour of downtown Greenville when you hop on the Downtown Trolley. Owned by the Greenville Drive, the two 35-passenger trolleys stop at intersections whenever flagged by patrons and provide complimentary transportation around this scenic upstate city. Thanks to its open-air design, the car's riders stay cool during the summer heat and can easily explore the North Main area all the way down to the Drive Stadium without breaking a sweat. (864-467-8887)
About Libby McMillan
A longtime travel journalist, Libby chose her beautiful city after a nationwide search for a new hometown. Greenville's amazing downtown, four mild seasons, varied terrain, friendly residents and countless nearby waterfalls made it a winner.
Libby previously spent 20 years in Florida, what she calls “the only place in the world where you drive north to reach the South.”
An avid college football fan, Libby has deep ties to the University of Oklahoma but graduated from rival Texas. She’s lived in Austin, Boston, Nashville, San Francisco and Captiva Island, Florida, including 4 happy years on a houseboat.
Read more about Libby McMillan here.