7 Family-Friendly Things to Do in Greenville
South Carolina’s upstate oasis is a perfect family summer escape.
Yes. We’re talking about #yeahTHATgreenville: Greenville, South Carolina, located just 60 miles south of Asheville, NC, and four hours west of Charleston, SC. Greenville is a beautiful, charming city that has gone through a major revitalization since 2011. From Shakespeare in the (Falls) Park, ample clean public restrooms, a wide selection of restaurants and indoor/outdoor entertainment, all make Greenville a walkable and enjoyable town for all.
Here are 7 things to do in Greenville with the family this summer.
1. The Children’s Museum of the Upstate
This museum packs a kid-friendly punch. After you park, in what’s technically the back of the building, the kids will go running toward Bib’s World, an outdoor play area that’s only accessible after you’ve entered the museum. Bib’s World comes with a large yellow twisting slide attached to a climbing aparatus, a play area for toddlers, a giant climbing tire tower and more.
When the kids first walk into the museum they’ll notice a large indoor climbing structure that will take them from Level 2 to Level 3 in just a few climbs. They’ll enjoy towering above mom and dad. The additional level—Level 1—holds several noteworthy activities such as Reedy River Bend and Toddler Lily Pond—areas for the lovers of water—both young and older; Garage Rock, which showcases several different percussion instruments on the wall, plus others that the children can interact with; another noteworthy area is Off the Wall, a creative arts and crafts area. Currently on Level 3, children can get a taste of what the future holds for their playgrounds in a traveling exhibit called FuturePark (open May 24 until September 4, 2017). FuturePark demonstrates the exciting and forever-changing world of technology and how it can be used alongside something as simple as a child’s interactive playground and drawing exercises.
2. Greenville Zoo
Located in the city's Cleveland Park neighborhood, the Greenville Zoo is home to over 300 different types of animals and is perfect for children (most zoos are but most are too big and on a hot day, you’re lucky to see everything.) Arrive early at the Greenville Zoo to see all the animals waking up, eating and playing together. The zoo has an astonishing number of baby animals right now, born in the spring of 2017, including two ocelot kittens and a baby giraffe, to name a couple.
The park is one giant loop around, so as you make your way you’ll pass a concession stand and a space for Farm Animals where you can pay a small fee to feed 3 eager adult goats; an adorable sensory experience where kids can work on their motor skills and get acquainted with a giant “bear.” Continuing on, you’ll see the majestic African Lions that are also next to the giraffe family.
Adjacent to the lions and giraffes is a toddler playground with benches to rest your weary feet. One of the most endearing qualities about the zoo, is the playground situated just outside of the zoo gates. There are two large parks, one for ages 5-12 and then one for ages 0-5. There are picnic tables and benches (inside the zoo as well), perfect for lunch-time.
3. Falls Park on the Reedy River
Falls Park is truly something out of a picture book. It's Greenville’s gem. Visit the park to enjoy the falls, cross the expansion bridge to see the sights from higher up, enjoy the lush green park and watch some Shakespeare during the summer months. The kids will enjoy the large grassy hill that beckons them to play tag and body roll down the hill. See free live performances of Shakespeare in the Park Thursday through Sunday from 6-9 p.m. during the summer months.
4. Walk Along N. and S. Main Street
What’s a small town without its Main Street? With an abundance of restaurants, ice cream shops and boutique stands, Main Street has a little something for everyone and is no sleepy town. Reminders of Greenville’s connection to the great outdoors and its Falls Park are obvious highlights in town, with water fountains and water features throughout. For a real treat, order a scoop or two from Spill the Beans, Greenville’s coffee house and creamery, located right at the entrance to Falls Park on the Reedy River.
5. Mice on Main Street Scavenger Hunt
What better way to get the kids involved with a walk along Main Street, than to keep them busy looking for the Mice on Main Street, inspired by the beloved children’s classic Goodnight, Moon. Can you find all 8? Whether you start your way up from the Hyatt Hotel or work your way down from the Westin Poinsett Hotel, you’re sure to find them all.
6. Saturday Market
Now that everyone seems to be aware of the organic and farm-to-table craze, farmers' markets have stepped it up—a major notch. It’s not just about attending for the freshest fruits and vegetables, but also to see what the local artisans have been up to. Welcome to Saturday Market. Open every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon from May 6 to October 28, Saturday Market takes place on Main Street at McBee Ave and is open to pedestrians only, so the little ones can play freely.
7. Get Your “BLD” on Main Street
Whether you’re heading out for breakfast, lunch or dinner (BLD), there are tons of family-friendly options to choose from. Brunch lovers will enjoy outside or inside dining at Nose Dive on Saturdays and Sundays. Saturdays are perfect for a little people watching during the city’s Saturday Market which unfolds right in front of Nose Dive. Don’t miss their savory grits bar with all the fixings such as tikka masala, gumbo sauce, gravy and of course chives, tomatoes, cheese, etc. Be sure to order their fried chicken and waffles. The waffles are especially good.
Another great option for breakfast is Roost Restaurant at the Hyatt Hotel. The breakfast buffet, including the made-to-order omelet and pancakes and waffles are a must. Roost is also open for lunch and dinner.
Speaking of lunch, grab a salad, sandwich and something sweet at Caviar and Bananas located just outside of the Aloft Hotel. If you’re looking for something a bit more hearty, then just across the pedestrian walkway from Caviar and Bananas is Tupelo Honey. Known for its Southern charm, Tupelo Honey offers up brunch, lunch and dinner. For lunch, order savory classics such as shrimp and grits, pork confit, buttermilk fried chicken and/or fried green tomatoes. You can’t go wrong!
When the children are whining for dinner and it’s been a long day of sightseeing, be everyone’s hero when you announce to them, “We’re going to Grill Marks for dinner!” Revel in knowing you’ve completed their day on a high note. Grill Marks is the burger joint in Greenville. They are known for their juicy hamburgers and UnBurgers, such as a Portabello and Heavenly Veggie. Grill Marks Freak Shakes are also a crowd pleaser. Freak Shakes come fully loaded with toppings, such as caramels, Heath Bar Crunch, caramel sauce, gummy worms, Oreo crumbles and a chocolate crack dipped brownie. No dieting allowed at Grill Marks, folks.
If Grill Marks has your blood sugar racing, not to worry, another good option to check out for dinner is Cantina 76, a Tex-Mex family-friendly restaurant along Main Street. The fish tacos and Peruvian shrimp tacos are fantastic.