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Free Things to Do in Greenville

You don’t have to have a big budget to have a great time in Greenville, SC! Here are some free things to do—and some low-cost bonus ideas—to make the most of your trip to the area. 

 

Falls Park on the Reedy & The Liberty Bridge

Visit the “crown jewel” of downtown Greenville and gaze at the Reedy River Falls below from atop the Liberty Bridge, the only single-suspension bridge of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. Stroll within the park’s 36 acres of gardens, greenspaces, and historic ruins of mills that once made their home on the Reedy. At certain times of the year, you can catch a free showing of a movie or a performance of one of Shakespeare’s famous plays in this downtown park.

Low-Cost Level-Up:

Grab an ice cream cone from Spill the Beans, adjacent to the Main Street entrance to the park, and enjoy sitting in the grass in one of the many open greenspaces throughout the park.
 

Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail

Frequently named one of the best urban trails in the country, the Swamp Rabbit Trail extends 22 miles and connects downtown Greenville to the city of Travelers Rest and beyond. With many trail entrances across Greenville you can hop on and off with ease. Favorite stops along the trail include Cleveland Park, Cancer Survivors Park, Falls Park on the Reedy, RiverPlace, Furman University’s Swan Lake, downtown Travelers Rest, and more.

Low-Cost Level-Up:

Rent bikes from a number of local shops, like Reedy Rides or the Swamp Rabbit Bike Shoppe, and cycle the trail. Rumor has it that most days, you could run into former Tour De France cyclist George Hincapie while he uses the trail to train.

Art in Public Places Self-Guided Tour

Art enthusiasts and casual art lovers alike will love strolling the streets of Greenville, taking in the pieces of art that have become a part of the city’s DNA since the inception of the program. The City of Greenville has a handy interactive online map of the public art locations. Some notable works you might see include “Rose Crystal Tower” by Dale Chihuly (shown here) and Yuri Tsuzuki’s “Transformation,” which includes hundreds of steel butterflies placed throughout downtown Greenville.

Low-Cost Level-Up:

While out exploring the city, you’ll notice tons of unique shops and boutiques to visit along the way. Stop in at Mast General Store and have a nostalgic candy treat from their many barrels of vintage-style candies—purchase a single piece or by the pound. (We know what our preference would be…)

Downtown Trolley & Heritage Green

Rest your feet and enjoy the ride! Greenville’s delightful red and blue trolleys motor up and down Main Street to carry passengers to many downtown destinations and Heritage Green. While at Heritage Green, head to the Greenville County Museum of Art (free admission) and check out the world’s largest collection of watercolors by Andrew Wyeth as well as a significant body of work by Jasper Johns. Also be sure to visit the South Carolina Room at the Greenville County Hughes Main Library. Staffed by experienced genealogists and historians, the SC Room features an extensive collection of genealogy and local history materials, many of which are searchable. While the archive’s focus is Upstate SC history, visitors will find hundreds of items related to the history of many other locations within the United States.

Low-Cost Level-Up:

For those traveling with children, while at Heritage Green The Children’s Museum of the Upstate is a must-see; well, a must place to play. This Smithsonian-affiliated museum is the 7th largest of its kind in the nation and boasts all kinds of learning activities for young ones, up to age 12. 

 

Join the crowd downtown on Main Street on Saturday mornings and stock up on local vegetables, fruit, eggs, cheese, meats and other home-grown fare from area farmers.

Free City Events

There are numerous free events happening all over Greenville all the time. In spring through early fall, Main Street at NOMA Square shuts down on both Thursday and Friday evenings for live music at Downtown Alive and Main Street Fridays. On Saturday mornings May-October (and once in December), Main Street is shut down for the TD Saturday Market. Make sure to check out our Events page to see all the local events going on during your visit.

Low-Cost Level-Up:

Greenville’s food trucks can be found serving up delicious street food at free city events, so be sure to grab a bite to eat from one of these mobile eateries while you are there. You can also take some cash with you to all of these events to purchase beverages, produce, local goods, and more.

MiceOnMain

Mice on Main Scavenger Hunt

Also part of the Art in Public Places initiative, the Mice on Main are 9 tiny bronze mice hidden along a section of Main Street for kids and kids-at-heart to discover. Inspired by the children's book Goodnight Moon, the mice were originally ideated as a local high-schooler's class project. Stop by the VisitGreenvilleSC Visitor Center in City Hall for your free copy of the Mice on Main clues or you can get them online.

Low-Cost Level-Up:

Pop into O.P. Taylor’s toy store and grab a copy of the book, Mice on Main, written by Linda Kelly and illustrated by mice sculptor, Zan Wells, as an adorable reminder of your experience.

Yoga in NOMA Square

NOMA Square & ONE City Plaza

Two of the most prominent open gathering spaces downtown, both NOMA Square and ONE City plaza are hubs of activity and offer things to do like free yoga classes, live music, dog-friendly "yappy" hours, and more.

Low-Cost Level-Up:

There are tons of shopping and dining options surrounding both plazas. Try a few chocolate confections at Kilwins Chocolates, Fudge & Ice Cream, or maybe take home an interesting foodie souvenir from Oil & Vinegar. If you're hungry, grab a seat at Roost Restaurant. Feeling creative? Join  a candle-making class at Magnolia Scents by Design near NOMA. If you’re at ONE, you can grab a table outdoors for a meal at Sassafras Southern Bistro, Tupelo Honey, or Cantina 76, and later browse the clothing selections at Anthropologie.

 

Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum & Baseball Library, Gravesite & Memorial Park

Visit the museum dedicated to arguably one of the greatest baseball players to ever live. The museum is located in Joe’s actual home. It was moved from its original location to its current location (closed until further notice due to relocating the building again) and includes memorabilia and photos celebrating the life and career of Shoeless Joe. You can also visit the site of the ballpark where he played and was scouted for the Big Leagues, located in the former Brandon Mill complex. Jackson’s gravesite is located in Woodlawn Memorial Park and here you will see baseballs, bats, cleats, and other memorabilia that visitors have left to honor the legendary player.

Low-Cost Level-Up:

Get tickets for a baseball game at the mini Fenway Park known as Fluor Field at the West End, home of the Greenville Drive, the Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.

Runway Park at GMU & Military History Center of the Carolinas

Take the kids for an exciting aviation-themed outing to the playground at Runway Park. The playground includes “runways” and “taxiways” for play as well as other plane-themed play structures. One of the coolest parts of the experience are the park’s views of the planes at the Greenville Downtown Airport taking off and landing. Make a visit to the Military History Center of the Carolinas next door to check out their fascinating collection of military memorabilia, including a rare Model-T ambulance from World War I.

Low-Cost Level-Up:

While you’re there, visit the Runway Café and enjoy all kinds of aeronautical menu items like the “$100 Hamburger.” It’s not actually $100—it’s $11.99, but the name refers to the anecdote that small-plane pilots often look for any reason to take their plane out for a ride. They would often fly somewhere to enjoy a hamburger and then go home, hence resulting in hundreds of dollars in fuel costs alone!

Kilgore-Lewis House

Take a docent-led tour of an historic house built in 1838 with 3.5 acres of quaint gardens on a small beautiful lake that feels like a secret romantic hideaway.

Low-Cost Level-Up:

In the fall and winter, walk down the street to Bon Secours Wellness Arena for a Greenville Swamp Rabbits hockey game. The Swamp Rabbits are an ECHL affiliate of both the Carolina Hurricanes and Charlotte Checkers. There are year-round opportunities for concerts, sporting events, and other special events at “The Well” so check out the events that are happening during your visit.

 

3 Bears Linky Stone Park

City and County Parks and Gardens

Greenville County is home to numerous parks and greenspaces that are free to enjoy. For the kids, visit the Children’s Garden at Linky Stone Park, a unique garden that features interactive displays for young ones.

Low-Cost Level-Up:

In the warmer months, make sure to pay a visit to one of three Greenville County Waterparks. For dog-lovers, each year in the early fall, Discovery Island and Otter Creek waterparks both host Waggin’ at the Waterpark⁠—events just for pups!

History Museum of Travelers Rest

History Museum of Travelers Rest

This historic grocery store-turned museum houses artifacts and exhibits related to Travelers Rest and surrounding areas, highlighting the history of the town being a “resting place” for people traveling through the mountains to the coast and beyond.

Low-Cost Level-Up:

While in TR (as the locals call it), visit the downtown area and peruse the shops and dining in this quaint local town like Tandem Creperie and Coffeehouse and The Carolina Honey Bee Company. You can also head one block over to Upcountry Provisions Bakery and Bistro for freshly baked breads and other delicious and tempting baked goods. 

Lake Conestee Nature Preserve

Lake Conestee Nature Preserve

Designated an “Important Bird Area of Global Significance” by the National Audubon Society, this nature preserve’s 400 acres of beautiful natural habitat is a true treat for any nature lover. Not only can you see birds here, but you can find numerous other species of animals like deer, raccoon, beaver, fox, river otter, and various other small mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.

Low-Cost Level-Up:

Once each month, the preserve hosts fun, learning-based Knee-High Naturalists events led by local educators where kids will be able to do various activities like building fairy houses. Keep an eye out for these special events on our Events page.

 

BMW Zentrum Museum

Visit the only official BMW museum in North America where you’ll experience the past, present and future of the famed automotive brand. You’ll see rare and important vehicles in the story of BMW including one known as the “Bubblecar.”

Low-Cost Level-Up:

See for yourself how the Ultimate Driving Machine® is built by taking a guided factory tour of the BMW Manufacturing plant, the global producer of several BMW X models. And if you still didn’t get your fix of BMW history, visit the nearby BMW Car Club of America Museum. For the ultimate fan of the brand, check out the BMW Performance Center. While not low-cost, the experiences here are a must for anyone with a need for speed.

Poinsett Bridge & Campbell’s Covered Bridge

Feel like you have stepped back in time at these two historic bridges in northern Greenville County. The Poinsett Bridge is believed to be the oldest surviving bridge in the state. It is a 14-foot Gothic arch stone structure and stretches 130 feet over Little Gap Creek. Historians believe that is was designed by Robert Mills, architect of the Washington Monument. Campbell’s Covered Bridge is the only remaining covered bridge in the state. The area around the bridge is available for guests to explore the foundations of the old grist mill and home site that were once there.

Low-Cost Level-Up:

Grab food for a picnic from one of many downtown eateries like Rick’s Deli & Market, Sully’s Steamers, or Rainer's Cafe to enjoy at either historic bridge.

Cherokee Foothills Scenic Hwy 11 & The Blue Ridge Escarpment

Take a drive up scenic Hwy 11 and enjoy the beautiful views of the Blue Ridge Escarpment and the region’s mountains and other natural assets. Take a look at some of the historic sites along the highway here. On your drive, make a pit stop at Caesars Head State Park to check out the iconic view from the overlook.

Low-Cost Level-Up:

Pack your walking shoes while visiting Caesars Head State Park to hike the trails and see the waterfalls. You can also browse the unique wares available at the gift shop.

South Carolina Botanical Garden

Located just a short drive away in Clemson, SC, the South Carolina Botanical Garden is a 295-acre set of gardens, trails, and a distinctive and nationally recognized nature-based sculpture collection. While there, you may also want to visit the Bob Campbell Geology Museum (it seriously rocks). Admission to the museum is free.

Low-Cost Level-Up:

Visit the Clemson University ’55 Exchange and indulge in a long-standing tradition of eating student-made Clemson Ice Cream from their original recipe.