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Cool and Cultured: What to Do when You Visit Greenville, South Carolina

Cool and Cultured: What to Do when You Visit Greenville, South Carolina | CosmosMariners.com


Of the cities in South Carolina, Greenville is one of my favorites (second only to Charleston, of course). For a smaller city, it packs in a little bit for everyone: nature trails, museums, great restaurants, and excellent theatre.

Basically, if you haven't been to this corner of Upstate South Carolina, you're missing out. Here are my favorite fun things to do when I visit Greenville, South Carolina.


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A 20 Year Revitalization

My relationship with Greenville spans over two decades. I spent my elementary school years about 40 minutes away from Greenville, I interned at a legal clinic in downtown Greenville while at Clemson University, and my in-laws still live nearby.

When I graduated from Clemson in 2007, downtown Greenville, South Carolina, was just starting to rally itself from the boarded up shops and empty restaurants that had crept into the area over the last few decades. Back in the mid-2000s, I could see what Greenville had the potential to become with some patience and a clear direction from the powers that be.

After leaving the area after graduation, I moved back to Charleston, but I kept hearing things about Greenville: BMW had built a massive plant there and many companies were locating their regional headquarters in the area. It wasn't until I saw a commercial for Greenville in a movie theatre in Charleston that I really suspected that something serious had taken place in the South Carolina upstate.

So, I set off to see what had caused Greenville to go from a fairly small downtown in desperate need of revitalization to a city that charted on many different national lists, including USA Today's Top Places to Retire and CBS News' Hottest Travel Destinations of 2015. I kept thinking, "That Greenville?! No way!" which is quite appropriate since the CVB has launched a campaign with a tagline of "Yeah, that Greenville."

Cool and Cultured: What to Do when You Visit Greenville, South Carolina
Main Street, Greenville
As I explored the adorable, clean, and friendly downtown on a crisp Saturday in early December, I kept telling my dad, "How is this the same city?!" He knew the Greenville of the late '70s, which is when he and my mom first lived in the area, and he couldn't believe the change either.

In short, Greenville lives up to the hype, and I can see why locals and national media alike are buzzing about it.

Cool and Cultured: What to Do when You Visit Greenville, South Carolina
Local sidewalk art
I happily spent an entire day roaming around downtown, checking out the best of Greenville's cultured side. If you like museums, art, and architecture as much as I do, here's where you need to go when you visit Greenville, South Carolina.



See what's playing at the Peace Center.


The Peace Center has long been a staple of the Greenville arts scene and predates the more recent revitalization of the downtown area. I remember going to see a play here with Landon (my husband, but then boyfriend) during my sophomore year at Clemson. Today, it still offers plays, ballets, lecture series and more. Definitely check the calendar when you're in town to see what's on.

Take a walk through Falls Park. 


For an afternoon out that the entire family will enjoy on your Greenville, SC, visit, head over to Falls Park on the Reedy River. The stars of this 32-acre park are the pedestrian suspension bridge and the cascading Reedy River Falls.

History buffs will appreciate the plaques scattered through the park that explain the different eras of this space including the original grist mill from the late 1770s (the ruins of which are still on site). If you're visiting during the summer, make sure to catch a performance at the annual Shakespeare Festival held here.

Cool and Cultured: What to Do when You Visit Greenville, South Carolina
The falls and suspension bridge.

Expand your knowledge at Heritage Green.

A short walk from Falls Park is the Heritage Green, a one block space that packs a massive punch for those interested in the history, culture, and arts of Upstate South Carolina. Within this concentrated area, you can find several major Greenville, SC, points of interest: 4 museums, a theatre, and a county library.

Cool and Cultured: What to Do when You Visit Greenville, South Carolina

We began our adventures on the Green at the Children's Museum of the Upstate, something that my toddler had been begging to do since we'd started our day. We're no strangers to kids' museums (having visited ones in Rutherford County, North Carolina, and Charleston, South Carolina, among others), but the Children's Museum of the Upstate managed to surprise me with its unique approach to learning. As the daughter of a commercial banker and the wife of a retail banker, I thought the banking area (complete with ATM and drive through teller counter) was adorable.

Cool and Cultured: What to Do when You Visit Greenville, South Carolina
Helping a client out with a new loan!
My toddler, Britton, couldn't get enough of the multi-story climbing exhibit that runs up through the heart of the museum. Grandma Betty's Farm, which is aimed towards toddlers, had a cow to milk, a farmhouse to organize, and eggs to collect.

The Upcountry Museum, which is on the other side of Heritage Green from the Children's Museum, is also well worth a visit. This museum, which has been open to the public for eight years, provides an in-depth look at the history of upper South Carolina. I was amazed to learn that the Upstate felt as if they were separated (both in ideology and geography) from the lower part of the state as Charleston made the decision to enter the Civil War. The exhibits follow the area from the antebellum hardships to the textile culture of the early 20th century and are well researched and imaginatively presented.

Cool and Cultured: What to Do when You Visit Greenville, South Carolina


The nearby Greenville County Museum of Art is located in quite an austere building, but fans of photography, prints, and watercolors will be delighted in a visit. The Museum houses the world's largest collection of works by Andrew Wyeth. The Southern Collection, which focuses on artists with ties to the South, is well curated.

Cool and Cultured: What to Do when You Visit Greenville, South Carolina

Also housed in Heritage Green is the Greenville Little Theatre and the M&G Art Museum. The M&G rotates its collection frequently and encourages an immersive experience for all of its visitors through the interactive displays.

Find the mice on Main. 


Several years ago, a high school student wanted to do an art installation in Greenville based around Goodnight, Moon. With the help of the city and a local sculptor, he designed, cast, and placed 9 bronze mice around the downtown area for people to find.

The Greenville mice have become a bit of a local phenomenon, spawning a children's book and t-shirts. Today, you can find the Mice on Main with the help of the website or the book (each of which gives unique clues as to where you can find the entire mice family).

It's one of the most fun things to do in Greenville, SC, so add an hour or so into your itinerary. And, best of all, it's free!

Do you have more time in Greenville? While you're in the area, make sure to pop over to nearby Travelers Rest, another part of Greenville County that has seen an amazing revitalization in recent years.

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Which of these fun things would you like to do when you visit Greenville, South Carolina?

This post contains affiliates. If you choose to purchase through one of the above affiliates, I will receive a small commission at no additional charge to you. 

Thank you to the Greenville CVB for providing complimentary access to the museums. As always, opinions are my own.

Cool and Cultured: What to Do when You Visit Greenville, South Carolina

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