When guests first arrive in Greenville, South Carolina, they’re captivated by the unique blend of traditional Southern charm and cosmopolitan cool that permeates the area. Clearly, this is not your typical sleepy Southern town.
From its bustling, award-winning and walkable Main Street and remarkable Liberty Bridge — a 325-foot pedestrian span overlooking the downtown waterfalls in the 32-acre Falls Park on the Reedy — to the nearby parks, rivers and lakes edging the Blue Ridge Mountains, it becomes clearer with each glance why this Greenville – one of 36 in the country – has become known as Yeah, THAT Greenville. And when you look a little closer, it’s easy to see why Greenville is a terrific destination for learning, exploring and discovering.
Arts, Culture and Science
You don’t have to go much further than Main Street to get a sense of how important the arts are to Greenville. More than 70 pieces of public art adorn the area, ranging from a collection of little bronze mice hiding out along Main Street — “Mice on Main” – a terrific scavenger hunt for students of all ages — to the stunning “Rose Crystal Tower” by renowned artist Dale Chihuly. Put them all together, and you’ve got an outdoor walking art tour that will rival any museum.
Speaking of museums, the Children’s Museum of the Upstate is as good as they get. Located just steps from Main Street, the museum was the first in the nation to be named a Smithsonian Affiliate, and boasts 80,000 square feet on three floors housing 19 interactive exhibits!
Speaking of interactive, be sure to check out the Roper Mountain Science Center. Anchored in the belief that “science is for everyone,” the RMSC cultivates exploration and discovery across the scientific spectrum by offering everything from a planetarium and observatory to an arboretum, butterfly garden, nature trails and more.
Looking to include something a little more dramatic? Be sure to take in a performance at the Greenville Little Theatre. Established in 1926, this talented troupe puts on multiple shows annually, including productions and plays geared just for the younger audience.
You’ll find the arts to be alive and well – and accessible – when you visit the South Carolina Governor’s School for The Arts and Humanities. Committed to the growth of the arts throughout and beyond the state of South Carolina, SCGSAH offers a terrific outreach program both on and off campus that includes master classes, on-site workshops, guest artists and more.
Great Activities in the Great Outdoors
It’s really hard to imagine visiting a place as beautiful as Greenville without getting outside to enjoy it. As luck, and great planning, would have it, you’ll find an assortment of activities that will celebrate the area’s natural beauty while exciting and informing students of all ages.
Your students will go ape for the Greenville Zoo, which has custom-tailored programs for kids K4 through high school. Located in the city’s sprawling Cleveland Park, the zoo is more than a collection of animals — it’s a carefully curated collection of experiences and educational opportunities — disguised as a really fun place with really awesome critters of every size and description.
Want to encounter nature without the glass and fences? Take a stroll through Lake Conestee Nature Park. Located along the Reedy River just minutes from downtown, the 400-acre park features multi-station “learning loops” designed with teachers in mind. Offering customized programs for students from pre-school to high school, Lake Conestee is a great destination for learning and exploring. Admission is free, but some programs do have permitting fees.
Ready to get their hearts pumping? Reedy Rides is just the ticket. A great place to rent a bike and helmet, you’ll have ready access to the Greenville Health System Swamp Rabbit Trail – a 21-mile stretch of paved rails-to-trails bikeway that travels through stunning scenery and past Furman University on its way to the quaint town of Travelers Rest. Guided tours along the trail as well as throughout downtown Greenville are available. If you’re looking for a place to cool down, be sure to look into the Jocassee Outdoor Center, known throughout the region for their informative waterfall tours and breathtaking hiking and kayaking adventures — all centered on beautiful Lake Jocassee.
|Furman University Bell Tower|
Leap into the Past
Greenville is more than just a pretty face and a fun place to visit. This town has a history that is as rich as any in the South. Founded and settled in the late 1700s, the town grew and evolved over the next century, eventually turning its focus toward cotton farming and milling until Greenville became known as the “Textile Capital of the World.” At the same time, education was taking hold with the 1851 founding of highly-regarded Furman University. Throughout the years, Greenville has changed with the times, rising quickly in recent years to become an international leader in automotive technology and research. Today, the future of Greenville is as bright as its history is profound. There are lots of ways for you to explore that history when you visit!
The Upcountry History Museum – Furman University connects people, culture and history in a host of dynamic and engaging ways that bring the rich heritage of this 15-county region to life. Programs and exhibits change regularly, so be sure to contact the museum for details in advance of your visit.
Ready to get out and take a stroll? The Greenville West End Walking Tour is a great way to explore one of America’s great downtowns. Our West End starts at Falls Park on The Reedy with its award-winning pedestrian Liberty Bridge — with a stunning view of the 40-foot falls below — and takes you on a stroll through Greenville’s past and future. It’s a fabulous way to get to know Greenville, and a terrific education in the evolution of life and commerce in the southern states.
Greenville is also a great place to explore one of the most colorful characters ever associated with our national pastime — baseball’s Shoeless Joe Jackson. Joe was born and raised here, played his first games here and remained a local icon until the day he died. The Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum and Library is located just steps from the West End’s Fluor Field, home of the Boston Red Sox Single-A affiliate, the Greenville Drive. Be sure to grab a tour map and follow in Joe’s footsteps, including a visit to the original mill ball field where “Shoeless Joe” earned his nickname.
Visit nearby Greenbrier Farms for an entirely different kind of tour. Their one and a half hour Farm Tour includes visits to the working greenhouses, gardens, event barn and livestock/pastures. This is a terrific tour regardless of the season, and can be tailored to your needs. Farm-to-table lunches are also available (yum!).
Greenville is located right along the I-85 corridor, about halfway between Charlotte, North Carolina and Atlanta, Georgia. We’re easy to find, easy to reach and easy to explore, with helpful people at every turn and a virtually endless supply of adventures, surprises and discoveries around every corner. We hope you’ll come and discover Greenville for yourself and enjoy all that this remarkable place has to offer you and your students. When you do, we’re sure you’ll all go home with a great experience in your backpack and a greater understanding of why we say we’re not just any Greenville – we’re THAT Greenville.