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 both the history and future of BMW. Adjacent to BMW's only assembly plant in the U.S (and 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 a meeting space but admission itself is always free.
Recommended for Free Things to Do because: BMW's only assembly plant in the U.S. is located in the Upstate, meaning you won't find anything like the Zentrum anywhere else.
Libby's expert tip: Snack before your visit as the BMW Zentrum cafe is closed during the pandemic.
As far as free events go, NOMA Square has you covered from Spring until Fall when Greenville's weather is at its best. The square just outside of Roost and the Hyatt Regency is effectively the place Downtown's revitalization all began nearly 40 years ago. The plaza played host to the very first Fall for Greenville and today it is still the site Downtown for free, public outdoor events. Downtown Alive is a long-standing Greenville tradition on Thursdays and is accompanied by Main Street Fridays, outdoor yoga sessions, and regular Yappy Hours to support our four-legged family members. Food and drink are not free, of course, but admission to each of these events is always free of charge.
Recommended for Free Things to Do because: If you care for a break while enjoying one of NOMA Square's many events, swing by Kilwins for a sweet treat.
10Best's expert tip: Many of NOMA Square's events are seasonal and/or adjusted for the pandemic, so be sure to consult a calendar before making the drive Downtown.
Looking out over the foothills and Table Rock, Bald Rock Heritage Preserve offers an unbeatable panoramic vista just steps away from Highway 276. Located on a "blink and you will miss it" stretch of road on the way to Caesar's Head State Park, Bald Rock is a football field slab of granite gazing out over Pickens and Greenville counties and the iconic Table Rock Mountain. Look for a group of parked cars (there are always a few people there) five miles south of Caesar's Head State Park and find a place to safely pull off with them. From there you will notice a wooden footbridge that will lead you to the rock itself. The view is unmarred by guard rails and is an unbelievable spot for photos, a picnic, or quiet reflection as you take it all in.
Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Bald Rock Heritage Preserve is completely free to enjoy and is a bit of a hidden gem since it's unmarked.
10Best's expert tip: You will see lots of graffiti on the rock, but this isn't an invitation to leave your own mark.
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 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 Free Things to Do because: The Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum offers a lot of neat history and even docent-led tours, all for free.
Brett's expert tip: Check the museum's website as it is reopening to the public this spring after renovations.
The Furman University campus is not just a site of higher education and entertaining athletic and performing arts events, but a slice of Upstate beauty that anyone will enjoy exploring. Located in the heart of the rolling foothills to the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Upstate's natural beauty is enhanced with classical red brick buildings, sparkling fountains and landscaping that changes with each season across the 750-acre campus. Paved walking paths, picnic areas and resident swans draw many visitors to the scenic lake while 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 moved directly from Japan.
Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Furman University doesn't charge admission or a parking fee, so it's completely free to explore the campus and enjoy the beautiful grounds.
Libby's expert tip: Check out the James B. Duke Library while you're on campus. They always have an interesting exhibition going on.
Once a polluted, toxic wasteland, Lake Conestee Nature Park is one of the most impressive nature reclamation projects you will ever see. Located just behind the old Greenville Braves stadium, you will find miles of paved, natural, and boardwalk trails around Lake Conestee and the Reedy River. The marshy edge of the lake is a scene reminiscent of a coastal park right here in the Upstate, making this one of the most unique parks in our area. Wildlife abounds with the National Audobon Society designating the park as an Important Bird Area of Global Significance with more than 200 different species being reported there. Take it all in with the aid of viewing towers looking out over the lake, beaver dams, and (on a good day) more birds than you have ever seen in one place.
Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Greenville's downtown is so eminently walkable, and that's only heightened by the variety and volume of its striking public artwork.
Brett's expert tip: Keep a picture of the trail map handy as there are so many spur and connector trails that it is surprisingly easy to get lost. An easy fix is just to snap a pic of the map at the trailheads to keep on your phone while you explore.
On the list of things that make the Poinsett Bridge significant, one has to wonder where to even begin. It is the oldest bridge in South Carolina and, quite possibly, the Southeast as a whole. Built in 1820 as part of a road connecting Charleston to Tennessee, it was named after Joel Poinsett, a prominent Greenville resident and eventual US ambassador to Mexico. Perhaps most notable is the fact that its architect was Robert Mills who went on to be the architect for a little thing known as the Washington Monument. There is so much history here that it should be a legal requirement for Upstate residents to walk across this bridge at least once in their lives.
Recommended for Free Things to Do because: This historical landmark has ties to both our local and national history and is easily accessible for everyone.
Brett's expert tip: As long as you are in the neighborhood, nearby Restaurant 17 at Hotel Domestique is worth a visit. Watching the sunset with a seasonal cocktail at the restaurant's bar is the perfect end to your adventure.
There are a lot of things that are unique to Greenville but Mice on Main has to be one of the most one of its kind attractions that you will find anywhere. The brainchild of a local high school student who partnered with a local artist, nine bronze mice were carefully placed along Main St. in Downtown Greenville in the early 2000s and Greenville residents and guests alike have clamored to find them all. The mice were so popular that a children's book was written to both tell their stories and offer clues as to where to find them. Chances are good that seeing your child's eyes light up every time they find another mouse just might be the highlight of any trip to Downtown Greenville.
Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Mice on Main is a fun way to spend some time downtown, and it doesn't cost you a penny to enjoy.
Brett's expert tip: If you'd like to pick up a "Mice on Main" book while you're hunting, head into O.P. Taylor's or Mast General Store, which are both located on Main Street.
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 CafÃ© & 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 Free Things to Do because: The Swamp Rabbit Trail offers a different way to experience Greenville, while also allowing you to enjoy the outdoors.
Libby's expert tip: The Swamp Rabbit Trail is great for cycling and there are many bike rental companies in Greenville, including one which brings the bikes to you.
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 attractions.
Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Falls Park and Liberty Bridge are not only the best attractions in Greenville, they're completely free to enjoy as well.
Brett's expert tip: During the summer, the Upstate Shakespeare Festival takes place, putting on free shows in the park.