Many of Greenville's Star Attractions Are Completely Free

We've heard it said that "the best things in life are free."  While that may not always be true, you'll certainly be able to appreciate the sentiment in Greenville.  The city and surrounding areas have a whole slew of free attractions and activities to offer.  From hunting little bronze mice on Main Street and enjoying Greenville's public art, to free museums and magnificent scenery, you certainly have your pick of wallet-friendly options.

Besides the cost of transportation, each item on this list of free things to do is the genuine article.  You won't even have to pay for parking (unless you choose to).


Public Art Walking Tour

Greenville has long celebrated the area's wealth of artistic talent, and quite a bit of artwork is out in the open for visitors and locals alike to enjoy. Dozens upon dozens of statues, sculptures, murals, fountains and memorials can be found throughout downtown and its surrounding areas. High-five a bronze Great Dane in Cleveland Park, place a coin into the mouth of Poinsett Plaza's Il Porcellino sculpture for good luck, and marvel at the entrancing, stainless steel Octo 2 at East McBee Avenue and Falls Street as it whirls away on a blustery afternoon. Greenville's public art is a celebration of the city's past, its present, and its astonishing artistry.

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.

10Best's expert tip: The city of Greenville has created an interactive map of the area's public art for use on tablets and mobile devices. It's an indispensable guide, especially for those interested in what can be found beyond Main Street.

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Greenville County Museum of Art

The Greenville County Museum of Art displays a wonderful collection of art with a Southern connection. A variety of regional and national artists are represented, including works by Andrew Wyeth, Georgia O'Keeffe, Jasper Johns and others. The museum also offers traveling exhibitions and art classes, as well as other special events. Be sure to stop by the gift shop before you leave.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: The Greenville County Museum of Art never charges admission, which is astonishing when you consider the amazing works of art on display.

Libby's expert tip: You cannot carry a large bag or backpack with you into the museum, so leave those items in the car or at home if you don't want to check them at the door.

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Mice on Main
Photo courtesy of Libby McMillan

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 NOMA Square to discover the first of nine tiny bronze statues. Using the clues, guests meander down the city's historic and populated Main Street. In addition to the mice, you'll also find important landmarks, beautiful parks and standout restaurants.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Mice on Main is a fun away to spend some time downtown, and it doesn't cost you a penny to enjoy.

Libby'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.

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Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum

"Shoeless" Joe Jackson, a celebrated baseball player of the early 1900s and a Greenville native, gained renewed fame in the movie, Field of Dreams. And in 2006, the home where he lived and died was moved to a new spot, across from Fluor Field. It became a museum dedicated to telling his story and commemorating his career and title as "The World's Greatest Slugger." You'll also find a library of books about baseball and its role in American culture, located in the former trophy room.

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.

Libby's expert tip: This makes a great stop before going to a Greenville Drive game at adjacent Fluor Field.

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Swamp Rabbit Trail
Photo courtesy of Libby McMillan

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.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: The Swamp Rabbit Trail is 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.

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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 – including the elusive black swans – 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 moved directly from Japan. In addition to the attractive grounds, the university features a full slate of athletic and performing arts events each season. Tickets for those are not free, but exploring the beautiful grounds costs nothing.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Fumran 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.

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Bald Rock Heritage Preserve
Photo courtesy of Maggie Tyner

Looking out over the foothills and Table Rock, Bald Rock Heritage Preserve offers an unbeatable panoramic vista. Located on Highway 276, you'll pass this overlook on the way to Caesar's Head State Park. However, there isn't much on the side of the road to tip you off that this magnificent view lies just beyond the trees, with the exception of the cars you might see parked there. Once you pull off, you'll 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. To find Bald Rock, look for it when you're about 5 miles south of Caesar's Head on 276.

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'll see lots of graffiti on the rock, but this isn't an invitation to leave your own mark.

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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 assembly 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 Free Things to Do because: BMW Zentrum is an extremely unique – and astonishingly free – attraction. Since the only assembly plant in the U.S. is located in the Upstate, you won't find anything like the Zentrum elsewhere.

Libby's expert tip: Factory tours are currently on hold due to a billion dollar expansion, but the Zentrum is still very much open to the public.

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Adjacent to the Hyatt Regency, the corner of Main and Beattie Streets hosts some of Greenville's most infectiously fun events. Among the highlights are the free Downtown Alive and Main Street Fridays concert series, complimentary yoga sessions, and a Yappy Hour on Thursdays for our four-legged friends. The many retailers in the North Main area are ideal for window shopping before and after each event.

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, so be sure to consult a calendar before making the drive downtown.

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

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.

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.

Libby's expert tip: During the summer, the Upstate Shakespeare Festival takes place, putting on free shows in the park.

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