Best Things to Do in Greenville

City's best attractions illustrate what Greenville is all about

Identifying Greenville’s best attractions is no easy task as there is such a diverse range of options to choose from. Are you looking for the best destinations that highlight the Upstate’s natural beauty? In that case, look no further than Falls Park in the heart of Downtown Greenville or Paris Mountain State Park just a short drive away. Want to entertain a sports fan? One of the greatest hitters and controversial characters in baseball history – Shoeless Joe Jackson – lived and died here and his home is now a museum in his honor. Add the fact that the stars of tomorrow play for the Greenville Drive right Downtown at Fluor Field and this is a baseball fan’s dream.

Automotive enthusiasts will love BMW’s Zentrum experience while kids will love The Children’s Museum of the Upstate and the Swamp Rabbit Trail. Craft beer lovers will not even know where to start with Greenville's growing list of breweries but, thankfully, there is a service to help you navigate just that. There are no wrong answers when taking it all in and will leave you with no doubt as to why Greenville is one of the best up and coming cities in the country. Help start your tour today with our 10Best list of Greenville attractions and activities below.


North Pleasantburg
Paris Mountain State Park

One feature that you can see from just about anywhere in Greenville is Paris Mountain, State Park. Located just minutes from Downtown Greenville, the park offers outdoor adventure in the form of hiking, camping, and boating at minimal cost and effort. Want to take the youngest, fresh walkers on their first hike? Try out the easy mile lake loop right at the park's entrance. Want to get yourself ready for an assault on Table Rock or a backpacking adventure on the Foothills Trail? There are some really difficult trails and enough of a network to string a 10-15 mile hike together. Summer months see plenty of fun happening in the lower lake's swimming area where paddling and fishing are also fun outdoor options.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: Paris Mountain State Park offers a taste of the outdoors, mere minutes from the city.

Brett's expert tip: Pets are welcome if they're kept on a leash.

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Greenville Zoo
Photo courtesy of Libby McMillan

Kids (and kids at heart) love zoos and, especially, the Greenville Zoo is perfectly tailored for their enjoyment. The zoo is small and easily walkable but is packed with some really great exhibits. The giraffes are towering and impressive (even the new arrival born in July 2019) and getting just a piece-of-glass-close to a lion is a humbling experience for guests of any age. The exhibits are clean, the animals are well cared for, and the staff is friendly and informative. This is the perfect adventure for kids of all ages and, as an added bonus, the zoo is right next door to Cleveland Park and some pretty epic playground equipment to round out the day.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: The Greenville Zoo has a lot to offer, from an array of animal exhibits to special programs and events.

Libby's expert tip: The Greenville Zoo is currently operating at reduced capacity so reserve your spot in advance to guarantee entry.

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For minor league baseball action there are few fields nicer than Flour Field in Downtown Greenville's West End. Home to the Greenville Drive, a high-A league affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, this is where you can see the potential stars of tomorrow on their way through the minor league system. Thanks to the Drive's association with the Red Sox, the stadium was built as an almost-exactly-to-scale model of Boston's Fenway Park, complete with its own Green Monster out in left field. Greenville's Green Monster is just a few feet short of the original in Boston but is still an impressive sight as it looms large over the outfield.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: The Greenville Drive is a great draw for baseball fans, and a solid option for a fun afternoon or evening out.

Brett's expert tip: Follow the Greenville Drive on social media to keep up with game schedules and other special events like Bark in the Park and Friday fireworks displays.

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When the Children's Museum of the Upstate opened in 2009, kids of all ages received a Mecca of entertainment and hands-on educational experience. Located just two blocks from Main St. in Downtown Greenville, the 80,000 square foot museum features 19 exhibit galleries designed for children from ages 1 to 15 but, really, perfectly suited for all kids at heart, regardless of age. The quality of the Children's Museum has not gone unnoticed outside of Greenville as it became the first such museum to become an affiliate of the Smithsonian in 2014 and, just last year welcomed visitors from all 50 states and 13 foreign countries.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: The Children's Museum of the Upstate offers top-notch programs and exhibits that keep kids interested and entertained.

Brett's expert tip: You have to be accompanied by a minor to be allowed entry to the museum.

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One of the greatest debates in baseball history is the banning of "Shoeless" Joe Jackson from the game. Yes, he was a member of the 1919 "Black Sox" scandal but in no way participated in the corruption, hitting a record 12 hits with a .375 batting average and no errors in the World Series. Still, he was banned for life making him one of the two greatest players ever to be barred from the Baseball Hall of Fame. Arguably Greenville's most famous native, his home has been turned into a museum highlighting his life and a baseball career cut far too short.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: You don't have to know anything about Shoeless Joe Jackson to appreciate this museum. It's a great stop for anyone who enjoys baseball.

Brett's expert tip: Check the museum's website as it is reopening to the public this spring after renovations.

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Furman University
Photo courtesy of Maggie Tyner

Founded in 1826, Furman University is a liberal arts college located among the rolling foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Classical red brick buildings, sparkling fountains and landscaping that changes with each season span the 750-acre campus. A paved walking path, picnic areas and resident swans â€" including the elusive black swans â€" draw many visitors to the scenic lake. The Florentine bell tower, a university landmark, overlooks the water and marks the hours as they leisurely pass by. You'll also find a stunning rose garden surrounding a gorgeous gazebo, and the Place of Peace, a Japanese temple imported directly from Japan. In addition to the attractive grounds, the university features a full slate of athletic and performing arts events each season.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: Furman University is nationally recognized for its beautiful campus and there's always something interesting on the events calendar.

Libby's expert tip: Trails and paths around the lake offer scenic views for a morning stroll on campus.

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A certain crescent-shaped building is destined to catch the eye of anyone driving down I-85 in between Greenville and Spartanburg. This 28,000-square-foot complex is the Zentrum, a museum celebrating the past, present and future of BMW. Adjacent to BMW's only plant in the U.S. as well as the company's largest the world over, there is indeed much to celebrate. Renovated and redesigned in 2016, the Zentrum showcases a fleet of BMW vehicles from throughout the company's storied history, including models manufactured here in the Upstate. A towering 25-foot-tall video wall presents commercials, product films and behind-the-scenes footage from the factory next door, all in high definition. The Zentrum also includes a gift shop, a cafe and meeting space. Admission is free.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: With the engineering and artistry invested into BMW's vehicles, the Zentrum is both an art museum and a history museum for gearheads.

Libby's expert tip: Factory tours offer an expanded view of the facility but just remember reservations are required and limited to 10 people per group.

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Swamp Rabbit Trail
Photo courtesy of Libby McMillan

The 22-mile multi-use greenway that is the Swamp Rabbit Trail is one of the most visited landmarks in the Upstate and simply begs to host a family outing. Connecting Downtown Greenville and Travelers Rest â€" and beyond â€" the trail is flat and easily bikeable by kids and adults alike. Kids love the sense of adventure as families can pedal through urban centers, miles of green space, and can't-miss attractions like the Swamp Rabbit Café & Grocery, Hampton Station, and Furman University. Additionally, beginning or ending a journey with a cold craft beer at Birds Fly South or Swamp Rabbit Brewery is never a bad idea.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: The Swamp Rabbit Trail has made Greenville significantly easier to traverse by bicycle and it's such a fun way to explore.

Libby's expert tip: Use the Swamp Rabbit Trail to bike into Travelers Rest for brunch and a beer at spots like Topsoil Kitchen & Market at Swamp Rabbit Brewery.

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Liberty Bridge & Falls Park on the Reedy
Photo courtesy of Libby McMillan

The crown jewel of Downtown Greenville, it is hard to argue that there is any more notable attraction than Falls Park and the Liberty Bridge. How many cities in the United States have a river running through the heart of town, complete with a 28' waterfall right in the middle of it? Just to add to the scene, the 345' suspension bridge over the top of the falls gives pedestrians some truly stunning views of the Reedy River, waterfall, and the Downtown Greenville skyline. Greenville has a lot of unique qualities but this one really stands out above all others when compared to other city's attractions.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: Liberty Bridge and Falls Park serve as the centerpiece of downtown Greenville, offering inspiration for other downtown areas across the United States.

Brett's expert tip: While the water may look inviting, heed the signs surrounding the river and stay out.

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Unity Park

Unity Park is almost a misnomer, simply because it is so expansive and features so many amenities that the word "park" almost seems too small to accurately describe it. Covering 60 acres around the Reedy River, Unity Park is home to plenty of green space, a 4,100 square foot splash pad, multiple play areas, and basketball courts and a baseball field. The Swamp Rabbit Trail runs right through the whole thing and an additional 2.5 of loop trails through the park make it the perfect destination for a day outside. Even better, The Commons, Pangaea Brewing, and Southernside Brewing are all right nearby so parents can relax with a tasty beverage as soon as the kids are properly exhausted from the park.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: The 60 acre park is arguably the biggest and most visible new attraction in Greenville since the opening of Falls Park and the Liberty Bridge.

Brett's expert tip: Parking can be insane but you can bike or walk in from Downtown parking lots or even Travelers Rest via the Swamp Rabbit Trail.

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Meet Brett Barest

Brett Barest is a freelance writer in Greenville, South Carolina that has watched the city grow from cow pastures and boarded up buildings to the tourist destination it has become today. He...  More About Brett