My wife grew up in the upstate of South Carolina, so every time we south to visit her family, we inevitably end up hanging out in Greenville. It’s a charming little city with a beautiful Main Street and an abundance of activities for all ages. While there are tons of family-friendly opportunities, I narrowed it down to our top six favorites:
The Mice on Main
Main Street Greenville is filled with eclectic shops and restaurants serving up every kind of food, from Indian and Sushi to Pizza and Tapas. Independent coffee shops, like Coffee Underground, serve up great java and tasty desserts, while Barley’s Taproom & Pizzeria has the perfect combination of laid-back atmosphere and great food that makes for a fun dinner out with the kids. Mast General Store has an incredible selection of outdoor gear and apparel. Kendra and I can (and have) spend hours strolling down Main Street, stopping for coffee, wandering into the many art galleries, and browsing the wares of the many shops.
But what keeps the interest of the little ones while strolling down Main Street? The mice, of course! What started as a senior project for one high schooler, Jim Ryan, turned into a fun scavenger hunt for kids of all ages. Eight little bronze mice sculptures, created by Greenville artists Zan Wells, are spaced along Main Street from the Hyatt to the Westin Poinsett Hotel. You can find them with the help of this list of hints!
I highly recommend making a stop at the Luna Rosa Gelato Cafe before your start your search! It’s not often you taste gelato this good outside of Europe!
Smack dab in the middle of urban Greenville is Falls Park. Located in the West End district, on the banks of the Reedy River, the area has been transformed from crumbling mill buildings into a 26-acre refuge within the urban confines of the city.
Here you can cross the Reedy River Falls by walking across the Liberty Bridge – a spectacular suspension bridge that provides a great view of the falls and gardens below.
Hot summer days are suddenly cooler when spent running through the kids’ water fountains, exploring the public art, and meandering through the many gorgeous gardens planted throughout the park. At night, catch a performance of Shakespeare at the Carolina First Amphitheatre.
Falls Park is open daily from 7 am to 9 pm. There is no admission fee.
Swamp Rabbit Trail
Springing from the Falls Park, the 17.5-mile Swamp Rabbit Trail runs along the Reedy River and connects Greenville to nearby Traveler’s Rest. (Yes, that’s an actual name of a town in South Carolina. They have a lot of strange names like that – my father-in-law grew up in Due West. I just go with it…)
We have spent time biking along the trail, which is a reclaimed railroad route. The tracks have been replaced with paved asphalt, providing a great surface for walking, running, or cycling in a traffic-free, kid-friendly environment. It runs through urban areas, as well as pockets of natural beauty – a great mix for those who love the outdoors.
The Greenville Drive
As a diehard Red Sox fan, I think I am genetically programmed to love baseball. There is something to be said about sitting in the stands at a game, snacking on hot dogs, sipping soda, and cheering for the home team, that beats out watching a game on TV. And with tickets as cheap as $5 per person, (little ones younger than two are free!), seeing a game at Fluor Field is an inexpensive family outing.
But that’s just part of the reason going to see the Greenville Drive is awesome. The best part? They are a Red Sox farm team! In fact, the entire stadium is a smaller-scale Fenway Park, right down to their very own Green Monster.
The stadium is so small; any seat is a good seat. There’s a family section with picnic tables and a lawn -the perfect place to sprawl out with your little ones. We munched on nachos, ice cream, and boiled peanuts (gross gross gross) while enjoying the game under the lights. There’s even a playground adjacent to the lawn seating!
The Children’s Museum of the Upstate
On those days when you can’t get outside (the south has notoriously strong thunderstorms!), the Children’s Museum is the perfect place to while away the day. Housed in a former library, the museum features a dozen interactive exhibits for kids of all ages.
Addison loved the Toddler Lily Pond, which featured a small waterfall, statues of frogs spouting sprays of water, little pails, and interactive water powered toys. There are cute waterproof smocks for the kids to wear, but Addie was still soaked after playing with this exhibit. It’s a good idea to bring a change of clothing with you, just in case the kids get wet or dirty while exploring the museum!
There are also a lot of neat exhibits geared toward older kids, including a television studio and flight simulator. The Kaleidoscope climber, a multi-story climbing area for kids, offers a fun place for kids to explore their physical abilities without danger of falling. Addie was VERY sad that she wasn’t old enough or tall enough to get in on that action!
The one drawback to this museum is the price (though really, it’s cheaper than going to the Museum of Science in Boston…) – a family of four could easily pay $38 for admission.
The museum is open Tuesday – Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm, and Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm. Admission Prices: Child (age 2-12) $9; Adult $10; Senior/Military $9.50; Under age 2 FREE
Strawberry Picking at Hunter Farms
I’ll admit it – I had never been strawberry picking before we took Addison to Hunter Farms. She loved it! We spent about an hour picking juicy strawberries from the rows of plants, stopping to taste some along the way. Nothing beats the rewards of a little hard work! It’s also a great way to teach the kids a little about farming.
Disclaimer – this one is a little outside of Greenville, but totally worth the 30 minute drive. Hunter Farms is open Monday – Saturday from 8 am – 8 pm, and Sunday from 1 pm – 5 pm. It costs $9 per gallon of strawberries if you bring your own container, or $9.50 if you need to buy a container.
Greenville is an awesome city to visit – not just if you’re in the area, but as a destination itself. With so many family-friendly activities, it’s a great place to bring the kids. If you’ve been, what are your favorites?