Downtown Greenville in South Carolina may well be one of the greenest city districts in the United States. There are not many downtowns that can boast about having natural wonders right in their urban center, but Downtown Greenville can. The district has more parks than it does skyscrapers, and one of them, Falls Park, is intersected by the Reedy River and has a beautiful forty-foot high waterfall.
Downtown Greenville’s temperate climate means it’s the ideal place for enjoying outdoor activities nearly all year round, though there’s lots more to do than cycling and hiking. With over one-hundred restaurants within a ten block radius, Downtown Greenville is a foodie’s paradise. The district is renowned in South Carolina for its retail outlets and not without reason. It also has a fantastic cultural scene as well as abundant pubs and bars, and some superb events venues.
Plan ahead and make the most of your stay in the district by adding these 14 best things to do in Downtown Greenville to your vacation agenda.
1. Downtown Trolley
The Downtown Trolley service is one of the best ways to explore Downtown Greenville. The characterful vintage-style, red and blue trolleys run a loop route through the district seven days of the week.
The Downtown Trolley has multiple stops on Main Street and throughout the downtown area which are clearly signposted. No tickets are issued for the trolley as the rides are free of charge. Get on and off as many times as you like, but staying on to ride more than one full loop is not allowed.
Don’t forget to pull the yellow cord when it’s time to get off. It rings the bell to let the driver know he needs to pull up at the next stop.
Another great way to explore the city is the Greenville City Segway Tour
2. Greenville County Museum of Art
The Greenville County Museum of Art on Downtown Greenville’s College Street houses exceptional collections of American art.
The museum has over seventy thousand square feet of exhibition space in which it displays the works of American masters such as Andrew Wyeth and Jasper Johns.
The Greenville County Museum of Art also houses a large collection of contemporary and abstract paintings as well as the Southern Collection which contains artworks dating from the colonial times right up to the present day.
3. Up On The Roof
Have pre-dinner cocktails on the patio of Up On The Roof as the sun goes down over Downtown Greenville followed by dinner inside then coffee and liqueurs under the stars.
This understated restaurant and cocktail bar has amazing views from its outdoor terrace, a fabulous drinks list, and a food menu to satisfy even the most discerning of palettes.
Up On The Roof is a popular chill out spot so it’s advisable to make a table reservation in advance.
Related tour: Greenville-Craft Cocktail Tour
4. Greenville History Tour
Delve deep into the history of Downtown Greenville, and the rest of the city too, on a Greenville History Tour.
Meet the tour guide in Falls Park, the founding site of the city, and after finding out about its beginnings back in the late 18th century, take a stroll over Liberty Bridge to view other historical buildings of interest.
Fans of architecture may enjoy the Historic Neighborhoods and Architecture Tour or those who don’t like to walk may prefer the Downtown Driving Tour.
5. Falls Park
Escape back to nature with a visit to Downtown Greenville’s Falls Park. The scenic park in the Historic West End covers over thirty acres of ground space right in the heart of the downtown district.
As well as having beautifully landscaped areas full of mature trees, gardens and meandering pathways running alongside the Reedy River, the park is adorned with many public artworks including an unusual monolith of pink crystals, the Rose Crystal Tower.
Don’t miss viewing the waterfalls from Liberty Bridge. The curved, cantilever bridge is illuminated with blue lights in the evening which adds another magical touch to the stunningly scenic park.
6. The Comedy Zone
For an entertaining night with lots of belly laughs, spend an evening at The Comedy Zone on North Main Street in Downtown Greenville.
The Comedy Zone hosts nightly shows by top stand-up comedians from all over the US plus weekly open mic joke shows for budding amateurs.
The club has a small, but tasty food menu and serves up fun, joke-themed cocktails like The Punch Line, The One-Liner and The Heckler.
7. Peace Center for Performing Arts
The Peace Performing Arts Center on South Main Street is a multiple building events venue which hosts major musical and dramatic presentations in its theater, concert hall, and amphitheater.
The center, which has a combined seating capacity of over four thousand, is the home of Greenville’s symphony orchestra and ballet company who make regular performances throughout the year of both classical and contemporary works.
Pre-show drinks or dinner can be taken in the center’s in-house, glass-walled restaurant, Genevieve’s Lounge.
8. Haywood Mall
Go shopping in South Carolina’s largest commercial center, the Haywood Mall, on Haywood Road in Downtown Greenville.
The two-story shopper’s paradise has over a million square feet of retail space full of well-known chain stores, independent boutiques, cafes, and restaurants.
For even more shopping, leave the mall and take a walk down Haywood Road. It’s a lively retail area with a completely different atmosphere to the mall.
9. Greenville Glides
Glide around Downtown Greenville on an organized Segway tour. Pick up a Segway from the meeting point on Main Street, have a brief instructional session on how to ride before heading off to explore the district lead by a qualified guide.
Take the two-hour, history-oriented tour through the Historic West End and Falls Park, or opt for a shorter ride with all the sights, but no history included. For a Segway tour with a difference, try the Haunted Segway Tour of Greenville or the Taste and Glide Segway Tour with food sampling along the way.
10. Larkin’s On The River
Enjoy some southern hospitality and a classic steak lunch or dinner with waterfront views at Larkin’s On The River on South Main Street.
The award-winning restaurant offers superb seafood starters and a house specialty of dry-aged steak. Larkin’s love their wine too, have a well-stocked cellar and serve top labels by the glass.
Have a flavorsome end to an exploration of Falls Park by grabbing a table on the restaurant terrace for a refreshing glass of Californian Chardonnay accompanied by Larkin’s Signature Parmesan Truffle Fries.
11. Mice On Main
Keep your eyes peeled and have a fun scavenger hunt by searching for the Mice On Main Street.
The miniature bronze rodent statues were inspired by a novel, Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, and are located between the Hyatt Regency and the Westin Poinsett.
There are nine mice in total, and all have a plaque inscribed with a clue to finding the others.
12. Blind Horse Saloon
Get out that Stetson, shake the dust of these cowboy boots and get ready for a hoedown at the Blind Horse Saloon.
The Blind Horse Saloon is South Carolina’s top country club and over its twenty-five-year history has presented some of the best stars of country music including the legendary Garth Brooks and the Bellamy Brothers.
Be ready to hit the dance floor because at the Blind Horse Saloon it’s a country party four nights a week with music from the house band, One-Eyed Jack, and from the resident DJ, Pirate Cowboy Line Dancing.
13. Bon Secours Wellness Arena
The Bon Secours Wellness Arena is the place to go to watch major sporting events or live concerts.
The massive indoor arena on North Academy Street has a seating capacity for almost twenty thousand spectators and is home to the Greenville Swamp Rabbits ice hockey team. At the Bon Secours Wellness Arena expect to see the names of well-known stars like Alan Jackson, Kelly Clarkson or Paul McCartney topping the concert billings.
The arena’s ice rink is open for public skating from the end of December through to mid-February.
14. Frankie’s Fun Park
Head to Frankie’s Fun Park on Park Woodruff Drive in Downtown Greenville for a day or evening of theme park-style diversion.
Play Laser Tag, knock a ball for six in the Batting Cage, score a hole-in-one on the crazy golf or get hoarse from screaming on the wild Discovery ride.
Frankie’s has a fantastic outdoor go-kart circuit, an arcade with over one hundred games and two snack bars serving burgers and other fast food.