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13 Reasons You Should Make Greenville, SC Your Next Adventure Destination

Greenville, SC is quickly making a name for itself as the perfect weekend getaway.

If you’re scratching your head thinking, ‘Greenville, where’s that?’ You’re not alone. It’s long been overshadowed by the southeast’s adventure capital, Asheville, which is only about an hour to the north as well as Atlanta and Charlotte. But in the last several years Greenville has been making a name for itself as one of the fastest-growing urban areas in South Carolina. It’s got outdoor parks and green spaces, a 22-mile multi-use urban trail, a shipping container gathering spot, old warehouses converted into breweries, and tons of great places to grab a bite to eat. Come see why we think Greenville is the new coolest outdoor city in the southeast.

Note: One of the toughest things about traveling to a new town or city can be knowing where to find safe spaces. Though part of the fun comes from exploring and discovering things on your own, sometimes you want and need to know where it is safe to grab a bite or a beer without fear of harassment or discrimination. The following places in Greenville get the green light as being a safe and welcoming space for everyone.

How To Get to Greenville

If you’re traveling by car, Greenville is about 145 miles from Atlanta (just under 2 and a half hours if there’s no traffic). Charlotte is a bit of a shorter drive coming in at a little over 100 miles. Squeeze a little more out of your weekend though and hop on a plane. American, Allegiant, Delta, United, Southwest, and Frontier all service the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport (GSP).

Where to Stay

If you plan on camping, we recommend checking out the campsites at Paris Mountain State Park. They’ve got 39 sites, each with water and electric. You’ll be within close range of downtown Greenville and yet far enough away that you can still escape into the sounds of nature.

If you’d rather make your base camp downtown and in a hotel, opt for the Courtyard Marriott Downtown. It’s centrally located (Falls Park on the Reedy is a five-minute walk from the front door) and the parking is easy (you can either valet your car or self-park it in the nearby garage). They’ve also got free wi-fi and laundry facilities on-site for those of you who have been on the road for some time. Plus, the entire facility is smoke-free and clean. 

1. Rent Bikes at Reedy Rides and Ride the Swamp Rabbit Trail

Stop by Reedy Rides, rent a couple of cruisers, and then hop on the Swamp Rabbit Trail. The trail is 19.9 miles (one way) and follows the Reedy River, passes through Furman University, and runs on into the nearby town of Travelers Rest. It’s a slight uphill to Travelers Rest from Greenville but it makes the return trip home easy. You’ll be sharing the road with both walkers, cyclists, runners, and parents pushing strollers so be sure to signal in advance and give way when necessary.

2. Get Up In the Trees with Treetop Quest 

Treetop Quest is your chance to get up in the air for a bit and zoom through the canopy on a zip line. No experience is necessary and all of the equipment you’ll need (helmet, gloves, harness) is provided for you. This is a family-friendly kind of place, too, with a section of the course available to kids as young as 4 years old.

3. Visit Paris Mountain State Park

One of my favorite things to do in Greenville is to pay a visit to nearby Paris Mountain State Park. It’s about 6 miles north of downtown or 15 minutes by car depending on traffic. You can pretty much do it all here: hike, bike (no mountain bikes on Saturdays), trail run, bird watch, go swimming, learn about the park and its ecology through it’s 1.2 mile Lake Placid interpretive Trail. Water lovers will be happy to know there are kayaks, canoes, and pedal boats available for rent. 

4. Skate at the Poe Mill DIY Skatepark

In 2003 the old textile mill on the edge of town burst into flames and burnt down. Once the fires were put out, there was a ton of debris where the mill once stood. All that was left post-cleanup was a concrete foundation and a few stacks. But that was plenty for the local skate community, who pitched in to to build their own skatepark. There’s a handful of makeshift ramps and rails on-site. Best part is, it’s free. 

5. Play Disc Golf at Timmons Park

The disc golf course at Timmon’s Park has 18 holes set in one of the prettiest parks in Greenville. Most of the holes are under 300 feet but a few are between 300 and 400 feet. It’s a great course for beginners because the course is well marked and it’s fairly short. There’s a lot more to this park than just disc golf, though. You can also hike, mountain bike, trail run, and use one of the picnic shelters to just hang out with friends. 

6. Check out Lake Conestee Nature Preserve

If you’ve only got time for one outdoor space, we’d probably pick this one. Lake Conestee is a 406 acre of state-designated Wildlife Sanctuary. If you’re at all into birding, this is the place in Greenville you’ll want to post-up. There are numerous trails, both paved and unpaved, for stretching your legs and going for a hike or run. Bikes are welcome but only on paved trails. One of our favorite things about this park is that several of the trails are accessible with ramps to observation decks that allow people to enjoy what they call “The Wildest Place in Greenville.”

7. Sue Simpson Garden

There’s a lot of competition in Greenville when it comes to pretty parks to enjoy a picnic lunch. You’ve got Falls Park (cover photo) on the Reedy and Cleveland Park, both of which are incredible places to spend some time outdoors on a blanket, enjoying lunch with a friend, or meditating. But if you’re needing a little bit of alone time, check out the tiny little half-heart shaped park sandwiched in between Falls Park and Cleveland Park. There you’ll find the Sue Simpson Garden. There’s a picnic table and a few benches and though you’ll hear a little car traffic, it’s a great spot to clear your head and just be out in nature.

8. Bike Skills Flow Park at Gateway Park

This is exactly what it sounds like - a place to build your bike skills. There are a couple of different sections with varying degrees of difficulty so you can work your way up as you improve your skills. This is also a great spot to park your car and leave it if you want to access the Swamp Rabbit Trail. 

9. Falls Park on the Reedy River

This is one of the most happening outdoors spaces in the city. It's located right in the heart of downtown and is a great spot for walking, taking photos, getting a breath of fresh air on your lunch break, or meeting up with friends for a social distanced hangout. It's easily one of the top three things to do in Greenville.

Fun, Delicious, and Safe Places to Eat and Drink in Greenville

9. Tandem Creperie and Coffee House

Got a love for old VW vans? Yeah, me too. And this one happens to serve up hot coffee seven days a week. Pop in here to get fueled up for your adventures and snag a cool photo for your Instagram feed, too. 

10. Gather GVL 

Gather is one of the newest spots in Greenville and is located just a few minutes from Fluor Field, home of the Greenville Drive, the city’s minor league baseball team. Look for the brightly colored shipping containers. The space is kid-friendly and there are a ton of options to choose from including HenDough (they serve up the best of both worlds, fried chicken sandwiches and creative doughnuts), the Greenville Beer Exchange, KO Burger, and more. There are tons of seating options so you can spread out and stay socially distanced. It’s also a pet-friendly 

11. Birds Fly South 

Shawn is the owner of Birds Fly South and he’s about as down to earth as they come. He’s also extremely good at making beer. Stop by his brewery which is housed inside an old cotton warehouse and try a few of his farmhouse ales, funky IPA’s and barrel-aged beers. I’ve loved every single thing I’ve tried there.

12. Topsoil Kitchen & Market

Adam Cooke of nearby Travelers Rest, SC was recently tapped as a semifinalist for Best Chef: Southeast by the James Beard Foundation for his work at Topsoil Kitchen & Market. It’s really no surprise. The food is fresh, it’s made with locally sourced ingredients, and it’s creative. After a long day on the trails, this would be our pick for a healthy and delicious bite to eat. 

13. Fireforge Crafted Beer 

Nicole and Brian, the owners of Fire Forge are two of the nicest locals you’ll meet in Greenville. They’re natural ambassadors for their city as they’re quick to share their love for Greenville and it’s people. Visit their location which is inside a former tire warehouse, and be sure to give Perlin’s Ghost Pepper Ale (it’s not as hot as you think but it’s one of the most unique beers we’ve ever had) and their John Hopcock IPA a try.

If you haven’t made it to Greenville, SC yet, we get it. It’s not on everyone’s radar. At least not yet. That said, we think it’s worth a visit. There’s more to the southeast than meets the eye. 

Want to know more? Check out Visit Greenville | #yeahTHATgreenville

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Erin McGrady

Korean - American based in Asheville, North Carolina, and traveling the country in a small camper van with my wife. Trail runner, small wave surfer, bike enthusiast. I'll probably ask to pet your dog.