Your Trip to Greenville: The Complete Guide

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Greenville, South Carolina has plenty of activities for all seasons, ages, and budgets. Outdoor lovers will be pleased to find a 22-mile mixed-use trail within the city, plus six state parks under an hour's drive from downtown. Foodies will be in awe of Greenville County's culinary scene, which boasts 1,000-plus restaurants, craft breweries, and annual food festivals like Fall for Greenville. Meanwhile, art enthusiasts can enjoy nationally-recognized museums and more than 95 pieces of public art.

With so much to do, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the options. To help you get started planning your trip, here's a complete guide to Greenville, with information on best time to visit, where to stay, and getting around.

Planning Your Trip to Greenville

  • Best Time to Visit: With mild temperatures, cool evenings, and foliage on bright and colorful display, fall is the best time to visit Greenville. Autumn is also the height of Greenville's festival season, when the city celebrates everything from the visual arts to its dynamic culinary scene. Peak tourist season is in the summer, though, when daytime temperatures soar into the upper 80s and low 90s. However, evenings are cool, and the weather is ideal for outdoor adventures like kayaking and hiking at Paris Mountain State Park or Table Rock State Park.
  • Language: English
  • Currency: U.S. Dollar
  • Getting Around: If visiting or staying overnight in downtown, expect to pay for parking at one of many surface lots or garages. Most hotels offer in and out privileges, but it's best to explore the compact area on foot. Or, hop on one of six free trolley routes, which connect to points of interest such as the Greenville Zoo, Heritage Green museums, and West Greenville. Renting a bike and utilizing the Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail is a great way to explore other parts of the city, including Cleveland Park and the landscaped grounds of Furman University. Rideshare services are readily available in town, as are cabs.
  • Travel Tip: Pack comfortable walking shoes if exploring downtown, and layer up if planning a hike—temperatures can be cooler in the mountains, especially in early morning and late afternoon.
Falls Park on the Reedy
Daniela Duncan / Getty Images

Things to Do

First-time visitors will want to start by exploring downtown, including Falls Park on the Reedy. The stunning, 32-acre green space features walking trails, landscaped gardens, public art installations, dramatic stonework, and a wall from the site's original 18th-century grist mill. For the best views of the city and the park's namesake dramatic waterfalls, cross the 355-foot, single-sided suspension Liberty Bridge, one of the most unique bridges in the Western Hemisphere.

Given its location in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and mild year-round weather, no trip to Greenville is complete without enjoying outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking, paddleboarding, and mountain biking at nearby state parks like Jones Gap and Caesars Head.

Other top experiences in Greenville include:

  • Pedal or walk down the Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail. This 22-mile, mixed-use greenway follows an old railroad bed and connects downtown Greenville to the town of Travelers Rest. Rent a bike from Reedy Rides—rates start at $20 for a half-day—or take a guided tour to points of interest along the trail. Head 1 mile east from downtown to explore Cleveland Park and the Greenville Zoo. Or venture 6 miles north to picturesque Furman University and its iconic lake and bell tower, ideal for lounging with a book or enjoying a picnic. At the trail's end, just further to the north, is the Swamp Rabbit Brewery & Taproom, where you can enjoy snacks and local brews before your return trip.
  • Play at Paris Mountain State Park. Formed by a monadnock that towers above dense hardwood forest, the 1,540-acre Paris Mountain is one of the city's best recreation areas. Hike or mountain bike over 15 miles of trails, from the nearly 1-mile Lake Placid Loop to the steep 12-mile Paris Mountain Big Loop. In the warmer months, you can swim in the designated area in Lake Placid, or rent a kayak, canoe, or pedal boat to explore the calm waters. The park is 10 minutes north of downtown Greenville.
  • Visit the Heritage Green. This cluster of cultural institutions on College Street in downtown is a great place to experience the city's history, art, and music. The Green houses the Greenville County Museum of Art, The Children's Museum of the Upstate, Upcountry History Museum, the Sigal Music Museum, the Greenville Theatre, and the Greenville County Library System - Hughes Main Library.

Explore more activities with our full-length articles on the top things to do in Greenville, Greenville's best museums, the best parks in Greenville, and where to go hiking in Greenville.

Jianna

Courtesy of Jianna

What to Eat and Drink

From causal spots slinging Texas-style barbecue to fine dining restaurants offering steak dinners with a view, Greenville's restaurants offer a variety of options for every budget and palate.

For a fancy evening out, try seasonal, shareable small plates at the acclaimed The Anchorage, or sip on Italian aperitivi while eating house-made pasta at Jianna. If you want traditional Southern fare such as pimento cheese with pickled okra, she-crab soup, fried chicken, and shrimp and grits, head to Soby's, one of the city's original fine dining establishments. For a more laid-back meal, try Sidewall Pizza Company for build-your-own pies (with gluten-free options), Kitchen Sync for farm-fresh fare and vegetable-forward dishes, or Bobby's BBQ for wood-smoked meats and Southern sides.

The city also has a thriving nightlife, with dive bars, swanky speakeasies, and local breweries. The Trappe Door is a basement bar with the city's best selection of Belgian and Belgian-style beers, plus several varieties of moules-frites (mussels and French fries). Drink with panoramic views at UP on the Roof, which has an extensive list of wines by the bottle and glass, local and regional craft beer, and seasonal cocktails. Vault & Vator is a downtown subterranean speakeasy pouring classic cocktails, house specialty drinks, wine, beer, and a concise menu of small plates. Or, dance the night away at Abanico Tapas Bar, Restaurant & Music, which serves pitchers of sangria and Spanish-style tapas like patatas bravas.

The city is also home to more than a dozen breweries. Birds Fly South Ale Project is known for its farmhouse/saison-style beers, while Fireforge Crafted Beer has a large outdoor beer garden and more than 15 types of beers on tap. To explore more of the city's beer scene, book a tour with the experts at The Brewery Experience.

For more information on where to eat and drink, read our guides to the best restaurants in Greenville and Greenville's nightlife scene.

Where to Stay

Not only is Greenville's downtown prized for its proximity to the city's most popular attractions, it has hotel options for every budget. You'll find everything from high-end options like the iconic Westin Poinsett to modern boutiques like the AC Hilton and Aloft. For an all-around favorite, consider booking a stay at the Embassy Suites.

Just 9 miles from downtown, the city of Traveler's Rest offers quieter, more affordable choices for visitors. Try the intimate bed & breakfast Swamp Rabbit Inn or reliable chains like the Best Western and Hampton Inn. For a one-of-a-kind luxury stay, the Hotel Domestique is a lush, European-style country manor with manicured lawns and championship golf courses, Tuscan décor, and extensive activities like yoga classes and guided cycling tours.

Getting There

Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport offers more than 100 daily nonstop flights to and from 20 major cities in the United States, including Chicago, Houston, Miami, and New York City. It is served by six major carriers: American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Silver Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines.

The drive from the airport to downtown Greenville is 13 miles and takes approximately 15 minutes. You can rent a car at the airport, catch a rideshare like Lyft or Uber, or hail a taxi just outside of baggage claim. Many area hotels offer complimentary shuttle service to and from the airport, but those arrangements must be made in advance.

Greenville is an easy drive from nearby major cities like Asheville (63 miles), Atlanta (145 miles), and Charlotte (104 miles). Most of the city's hotels have parking lots or valet, so driving a car into the city isn't an issue, as long as you don't mind paying parking fees.

Money-Saving Tips

  • Take advantage of free admission at several area attractions, including the Upcountry History Museum, the Kilgore-Lewis House, and the Greenville County Museum of Art.
  • The city's renowned parks—including Falls Park on the Reedy, Cleveland Park, Linky Stone Park: The Children's Garden, and Conestee Nature Preserve—are all free and open to the public during daylight hours.
Article Sources
TripSavvy uses only high-quality, trusted sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism. "Park Finder." August 2021.

  2. VisitGreenvilleSC. "Food & Drink." August 2021.

  3. VisitGreenvilleSC. "Art in Public Places." August 2021.

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