Family Fun Unleashed in Greenville South Carolina

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From the arts to outdoor activities, sporting events, history, and more there is no shortage of fun to be had when visiting Greenville, SC with kids. In just under eight hours by car, you and your family can take in views of the mountains or enjoy a scenic walk along the Liberty Bridge in Falls Park on the Reedy River.

Getting to Know Greenville South Carolina

Years ago, Greenville was known as a mill town manufacturing some of the finest fabrics used across dozens of industries, from fashion to upholstery and more. The booming industry came with extensive railways connecting the city to major hubs like Charleston and up into the mountains towards Asheville, North Carolina, and beyond.

Greenville SC with kids

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You can see remnants of the city’s history in the extensive restorations of the red brick mill building or the conversion of the disused railway that has become the beloved Swamp Rabbit Trail system.

Downtown Greenville has also seen many changes and improvements that have made it a gem of a city. While walking through Falls Park, try imagining how it was just a few short decades ago, with a highway overpass almost entirely obstructing the beautiful waterfall.

In recent years, the city has transformed into a vibrant cultural hub, preserving its historical landmarks and embracing modernity while maintaining its southern charm. Today, Greenville stands as a testament to its past, celebrating its heritage while welcoming visitors with its blend of history, culture, and hospitality.

Continue reading as we highlight the best things to do and things to see in Greenville SC with the kids.

Arts and Culture In the Heart of Downtown Greenville

Greenville boasts an exceptional collection of notable museums. The best part is that several are located in the same complex, just a few minutes walk from the downtown area.

museums in Greenville South Carolina
Children’s Museum of the Upstate

Children’s Museum of the Upstate

Spend a day at the Children’s Museum of the Upstate, a hands-on interactive museum bursting with sensory activities from the moment you step foot on the campus grounds. Recommended for children 12 and under, there is no shortage of boredom-zapping activities from STEM, agricultural, health, art, and design industries to keep the kiddos occupied.

Greenville County Museum of Art

Just steps from the Children’s Museum, the Greenville County Museum of Art hosts an impressive permanent collection of works by Andrew Wyeth and other American artists. Regarded as the premier art museum of the south, it is a great place to begin introducing kids to art in a smaller, more intimate setting.

Upcountry History Museum

Discover Greenville’s history at the Upcountry History Museum with its collection of artfully designed exhibits that transport you into the daily life of the 18th century before bringing you back to the present day.

Attend a family-friendly show or performance at the Peace Center

A beautiful building set in the heart of downtown Greenville, The Peace Center has shows and performances of every type, from music to comedy, traveling Broadway shows, the symphony, and more. Shows sell out quickly, so be sure to book your tickets in advance online.

Indoor Activities in Greenville for Rainy Days or Other Inclement Weather

Just in case the weather takes a turn, there are plenty of fun activities for the family to enjoy in and around Greenville.

things to do in Greenville
Shoeless Joe Museum and Baseball Library

Head to the Movies

With three cinemas just minutes from downtown, you’re sure to find one with tickets available for whatever movie your kids are interested in. Camelot Cinemas is the closest to downtown. Regal Cherrydale is towards the north and great if you’re returning from Paris Mountain State Park or the Travelers Rest Area. Regal Hollywood is close to the core shopping areas of Greenville to the southeast and also has RPX and 3D shows available.

Haywood Mall

Not far from the Regal Hollywood cinema, this two-level shopping mall has great retailers from notable department stores like Dillards and Macy’s to smaller brands throughout. You can shop until you drop and then enjoy a sweet treat from the Cheesecake Factory or one of the other great restaurants in the mall.

Downtown Shopping

The Downtown area is filled with so many great shops and restaurants you’re sure to find a few new favorite places. Some local favorites include OP Taylors, an enchanting toy store filled with stuffed animals and every other type of toy or game.

Mast General Store combines the best of contemporary fashion, hiking apparel, home goods, and food items with good old-fashioned hospitality and customer service.

M Judson Booksellers, this quirky independent bookshop and cafe, is housed in the old courthouse building. The grand marble facade and staircase welcome you into the colorful world of stories inside. Bring the kids over on Saturday morning for free story time and a cookie!

Between the stores, coffee shops, and delicious eats, there is plenty to do downtown, so make sure to leave yourself a little time to explore all Greenville has to offer.

Top Golf

Rain, cold weather, hot weather, no matter. With top golf’s innovative covered bays, you can turn on the heat or fans to make your play more enjoyable. Think you’re not a golfer? That’s OK, Top Golf is unlike any driving range you’ve been to before. They cater to all skill levels with fun interactive games. With food and drinks available and served right at your hitting station, it’s a great place to spend a few hours together as a family.

Ice Skating

Check their website for the correct times before heading out to the Pavillion Arena for open ice skating time. Having an Ice Arena is a rare attraction in the South. So if you’ve never tried ice skating, now is your chance! It’s a great activity for both younger and older kids to enjoy. It’s also a great way to burn some energy and build up an appetite for all the delicious food Greenville has to offer.

Roper Mountain Science Center

The Roper Mountain Science Center is an exceptional addition to the Greenville County School System. The campus hosts a variety of seasonal activities for families in addition to their main attractions. The Roper Mountain Science Center has a living history farm, butterfly garden, planetarium, and more.

The campus even houses a historic refracting telescope that is open to the public on select Friday Starry Nights. Whether you can attend a unique viewing of the cosmos or visit during the day, it’s the perfect place to make cherished memories with your kids.

Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum and Baseball Library

If there are any baseball fans in your family, the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum and Baseball Library will be one of the best things to see in Greenville SC. The humble museum is housed in the late home of Joe and his wife, Katie. One of the most interesting facts about the museum might be that it has been moved twice in its history to accommodate the growth and expansion of Greenville. Thanks to the generosity of the museum and its supporters, the Greenville area is the benefactor of several literacy initiatives and the preservation of baseball history right here in our own backyard.

So who is Shoeless Joe Jackson, where did his shoes go, and what is he really known for? The best way to get answers to these questions is to stop by the museum on your visit to Greenville.

Greenville Area Outdoor Activities for the Whole Family

Greenville has trails, lakes, waterfalls and more for those who love being outdoors.

things to do outdoors in Greenville South Carolina
Paris Mountain State Park

Explore the Greenville Zoo

Though a more modest attraction by zoo standards, the Greenville Zoo hosts a variety of exotic large animals like lions, giraffes, orangutans, and smaller farm animals. The 14-acre park typically takes an hour to an hour and a half for families to see all the exhibits. However, if you plan your trip accordingly, you may be able to visit during a special docent-led Q&A. The zoo hosts various seasonal exhibits and interactive special events to educate and inspire all visitors.

Take a family bike ride on the Swamp Rabbit Trail

With 22 miles of trails, the whole family will be ready for a good night’s rest after they ride at Swamp Rabbit Trail. Consider biking from downtown Greenville north towards Travelers Rest. You could pick up some sandwiches along the way at the Swamp Rabbit Grocery and Cafe before making your way to Furman University to Picnic by the lake with stunning views of Paris Mountain and the beautiful campus.

Go on a family-friendly hike at Paris Mountain State Park

Just a short five-mile drive from downtown, and you will feel like you’re deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains. This family-friendly park has hiking trails, swimming lakes, wonderful picnic areas, and more to enjoy. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can camp overnight at the park. If you have older kids, they might enjoy trying their mountain biking skills on the trails. Or if being on the water is more your preference, on the weekends, visitors can rent kayaks, pedal boats and canoes and go for a ride on the lake.

Seasonal Sporting Events in Greenville, South Carolina

If you love sports, Greenville is a perfect place to take the kids to a sporting event without the typical high prices.

Attend a Greenville Swamp Rabbits hockey game

The Greenville Swamp Rabbits are part of the ECHL league. Their season runs from October to April, with home games hosted at the Bons Secour Wellness arena just on the outskirts of downtown Greenville.

From the moment you step into the vibrant arena, the excitement in the air is contagious. The kids’ eyes light up as they watch the players glide across the ice, and the sound of cheering fans creates a thrilling atmosphere. Attending a Greenville Swamp Rabbits hockey game as a family is an exhilarating and memorable experience.

Attend the Greenville Drive baseball game

Just as hockey season ends, baseball season is starting. Flour Field, which hosts the Greenville Drive, is just a short walk from the heart of downtown Greenville. Once inside, the friendly atmosphere immediately welcomes you and your family.

The crowd’s energy rises with each hit, run, and catch, and the iconic “Green Monster” wall in left field adds a unique charm to the ballpark. The beautiful backdrop of downtown Greenville and the Blue Ridge Mountains beyond adds to the picturesque setting of Fluor Field. Attending a Greenville Drive game is not just about baseball; it’s about creating lasting memories, sharing laughter, and enjoying togetherness.

Be a spectator at a Greenville Triumph soccer game

Overlapping with the Baseball season, the Greenville Triumph soccer team is another great team to support. However, you’ll have to take an Uber or make the short drive to Furman University Triumph Stadium.  Whether you’re a die-hard soccer fan or a newcomer to the sport, the camaraderie among the crowd and the chants echoing through the stands make for an unforgettable and immersive experience.

Other Fun Activities to do in Greenville

You can join a dessert tour around town.

Go on a city segway tour.

Do a morning walking tour with breakfast.

Do a paranormal walking tour with a certified paranormal investigator.

Go on a fun family scavenger hunt around town.

Dining Out With The Family in Greenville SC

When you’re downtown, you can start walking in just about any direction and find a delicious restaurant. The list below is barely the tip of the iceberg for the great dining options available.

where to eat in Greenville, South Carolina
Rocky’s Hot Chicken

Mellow Mushroom – Pizza $  – Well-known pizza chain serving your favorite custom or signature pizza pies in a colorful, family-friendly atmosphere. Located in the West End of downtown Greenville this restaurant is sure to be a crowd-pleaser within walking distance from many of the downtown hotels and shops while walking around.

Grill Marks – Burgers & Milkshakes $ – A local mainstay for delicious burgers, fries, and decadent milkshakes in an airy loft-like dining room in the heart of downtown Greenville. We highly recommend the sweet potato fries!

Rocky’s Hot Chicken – Fried Chicken & Southern Sides $ – Started in Asheville, North Carolina, this small multi-location establishment is famous for its extra crunchy yet juicy fried chicken. Their collard greens and hush puppies aren’t ones to be missed. The best surprise of all is their exceptionally fresh and delicious salads. All dressings and sauces are house-made, and you can tell – they are amazing!

Sirin Thai – Thai Noodle, Rice & Curry Dishes $ – Another local favorite with two locations just outside downtown. Their small, simple dining room is a striking contrast to the flavor-packed dishes they serve. Make sure to order the basil rolls, they’re a favorite, but you really cannot go wrong with anything on the menu it is all fantastic.

Papi’s Taco’s – Street Tacos & Tortas $ – Perfect for grabbing something to enjoy as you walk along the river. Papi’s refers to itself as a food truck without wheels. Their quaint counter service offers limited outdoor seating, but on a beautiful day, there are plenty of places near the park perfect for enjoying your tasty tacos or tortas.

Smoke on The Water – Southern BBQ $$ – Casual, delicious BBQ with an expansive patio in the West End of Downtown Greenville. They have a variety of BBQ sauce types to try and everything from BBQ chicken to brisket and pulled pork on the menu. You’ll know you’re getting close by the incredible smells coming from the restaurant.

The Lazy Goat – $$$ – If you have older kids or mom and dad need a night to themselves, the Lazy Goat is a perfect choice. The delicious Mediterranean cuisine served is almost outdone by the incredible setting overlooking the Reedy River. They also have a beautiful outdoor patio with stunning water features and a view of downtown and the river.

Lodging in Greenville SC

There are dozens of great lodging options around the city, from well-known hotel brands to local bed and breakfasts to suit your budget and family needs.

where to stay in Greenville
Grand Bohemian Lodge

Hyatt Regency Greenville

Located on the north side of downtown, the Hyatt Regency Greenville is a large hotel in easy walking distance from shopping and dining options throughout downtown. Due to its size, this location is great for wedding receptions and smaller conventions, so keep this in mind when booking.

Grand Bohemian Lodge Greenville

Part of the Autograph Collection of properties by Mariott, the Grand Bohemian Lodge Greenville creates an experience, unlike any other hotel you’ve stayed in, from the moment you step foot out of your car. Completed in 2022, this hotel makes a beautiful new addition to the landscape of Downtown Greenville. From the artfully decorated common areas to the luxurious finishes in each room, the Grand Bohemian is a great getaway spot in its own right.

The Swamp Rabbit Inn

For a cozy home away from home feel, consider staying in one of Greenvilles’s local bed and breakfast options. The Swamp Rabbit Inn has two quaint locations, one in Downtown Greenville and the other in Travelers Rest. Both locations boast easy access to the Swamp Rabbit Trail and other local attractions, from dining to shopping and more.

​Should you visit Greenville, South Carolina?

With convenient transportation by car or plane and so many wonderful activities for the whole family, Greenville, South Carolina, is a great place to consider for your next family vacation. There is no shortage of opportunities to make lasting memories your family will remember for years to come. Greenville truly has the best of both worlds with plenty of different options no matter what your family loves.

About the Author
Marly is a lifestyle writer and creator of simplylivinghappy.com, a site for readers pursuing ways to optimize their health, wealth, mindset, and overall happiness. Visit her blog for more travel tips here.

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