Those planning to visit Greenville, South Carolina for the first time will be pleasantly surprised at the broad range of activities and attractions available in this beautiful and culturally diverse city. Whether one is planning a solitary adventure, romantic getaway, or family vacation, there is a virtually unlimited number of entertainment venues and attractions from which to choose. The international community in Greenville has successfully created a diverse array of dining and shopping options for visitors as well.
Greenville is consistently rated among the top 20 tourist destinations in the state by the South Carolina Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Department. In addition, it is the only city in upstate South Carolina to be awarded this distinction. Annual events such as Fall for Greenville attract thousands of visitors to the city's downtown area every year, and such events showcase the culinary and artistic talents that thrive in the area. Numerous outdoor celebrations and festivals are scheduled on a weekly basis from early May to late October.
The Greenville Zoo
Situated a few blocks from Greenville's Main Street, the city's award-winning zoo is a 14 acre establishment that is home to over 300 exotic animal species, including elephants, tigers, and reptiles. Dirty Harry, an eight foot long boa constrictor and Joy, a larger than life elephant are two of the most celebrated residents of the zoo. A two million dollar expansion was recently completed, and as a result the zoo now boasts exotic exhibits and additional animals including a family of giraffes. Featuring endangered species as well, the Greenville Zoo is home to Amur the leopard and Bornean the orangutan, both of which represent animals in danger of extinction. Because of its diversity, the Greenville Zoo is recognized as one of the nation's finest small zoos.
The Greenville Cultural Exchange Center is a must see for anyone interested in history, education, and research. Guided tours, exhibits, and archives are continuously improved to provide even greater resources for those seeking additional information about the city's history and accomplishments.
The Children's Museum of the Upstate
Among the city's many museums is the Children's Museum of the Upstate–TCMU. This 80,000 square foot establishment is the world's 10th largest children's museum and features 18 galleries, outdoor programming space, several outside interactive exhibits, and a traveling exhibit hall. The museum has programs to suit children of all ages, and youngsters may choose from experiences such as flight simulation, designing their own race car, or exploring the museum's Kaleidoscope Climber. Conveniently located on the cultural campus of Heritage Green in the city's downtown area, the Museum is committed to meeting the interests and needs of all children, and helping them to develop a lifelong curiosity about the world in which they live.
The Greenville County Museum of Art is also counted among the nation's premier American Art establishments. It features selections by two of the greatest contemporary artists in the United States, Andrew Wyeth and Jasper Johns. The work of these celebrated artists draws tourists from around the world.
Shopping and outdoor dining
Over 90 downtown restaurants offer visitors a wide selection of dining choices that cater to every taste and budget. Tempting menu items are available to please local residents and tourists alike, and most establishments are unique, rather than nationwide franchise branches. Cuisine choices include Dutch, Thai, Mexican, Greek and Italian fare.
Boutiques, art galleries and a wide assortment of specialty shops, the majority of which are locally owned and operated, provide a vast array of choices for even the most discriminating shopper.
Activities and entertainment for the budget-conscious traveler
Having fun in Greenville can be a budget-friendly experience. The city regularly hosts free events that are suitable for people of all ages. Located in front of the beautiful Westin Hotel in Downtown Greenville is an all-purpose plaza that hosts many of the aforementioned streetside festivals and events.
Falls Park on the Reedy
One of the biggest and most popular free attractions in downtown Greenville is Falls Park on the Reedy. The park features two sets of waterfalls, as well as several miles of bicycle and walking trails that run parallel to the river, the latter of which follows the downtown greenway.
Mice on Main
Greenville's hunt for the mice is one of the city's most enjoyable family activities. Nine bronze mice are hidden in the downtown area for visitors to find. Beginning at Noma Square, participants are encouraged to use the hints provided to search for the mice, which can take anywhere from an hour to an entire afternoon. Regardless of the timeframe involved, youngsters are guaranteed to find this activity fun and exciting.
Public art exhibits
Taking a scenic drive or walk through Greenville to discover the diverse collection of artwork the city boasts is an ideal way to spend a leisurely morning with family or friends. The city's Art in Public Places guide is the perfect resource to help one find the unique artwork that has complemented Greenville for decades. Each guide provides maps, pictures and descriptions of the various pieces, and historical information.
With its wide sidewalks, outdoor plazas, and streetside dining opportunities, downtown Greenville boasts a pedestrian-friendly, European style environment. Most travelers agree that these characteristics make visiting the city a highly enjoyable experience. Those planning a getaway to Greenville will certainly be satisfied with what they find in this beautiful and intriguing area of South Carolina.