Furman Swan Lake and Bell Tower in Greenville, South Carolina.

Best Things to Do in Greenville, SC

BY Matt Meltzer | January 20, 2021

Welcome to Fifty Grande’s Best of the U.S. Bucket List series. This is your one-stop travel guide to the best, most unique and quintessential experiences of a city, state or event. Want to know how to “do” Greenville? We’ve got you covered. Curated by experts, vetted by in-the-know locals, this is all you need to have the best trip ever. If we’ve written a Bucket List, we recommend you go. If it’s on this list, it’s the best the city has to offer right now. Consider this your one-stop answer to “What are the best things to do in Greenville right now?”

When you talk about cities that punch way above their weight, the conversation almost always starts with Greenville, S.C. Though it boasts no major league sports teams and its airport only has 13 gates, Greenville has put itself solidly in the top tier of Southern destinations. That’s due in large part to its walkable downtown, filled with restaurants that make even Charleston take notice. But also because of the nature around the city, and how Greenville’s made it easily accessible from the city center. This city of only 68,000 always seems to feel bigger, whether you’re enjoying the views from a sprawling rooftop bar or indulging in thick Southern food on a breezy downtown street. Whatever your taste, Greenville’s got it, so check out the best things to do in one of America’s most alluring small cities.

You’re here for Southern food

Greenville has developed a big-time reputation as a culinary destination, thanks mostly to chefs priced out of Charleston who’ve opened outposts farther north. What’s resulted is one of America’s best small food cities, where you can enjoy grits and barbecue at rooftop restaurants or along the city’s bustling Main St. The best way to try it all is at the annual Fall for Greenville in October, when Greenville’s best restaurants set up along a closed-off downtown with live music and plenty of booze. But if you can’t make it out for the festival, here are the spots to try.

Husk BBQ in Greenville, South Carolina.
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Husk BBQ in Greenville, South Carolina.

Husk BBQ

722 S Main St, Greenville, S.C., USA

Located on Greenville’s Main Street, Husk BBQ is a legit barbecue joint where you can get classic pulled pork and other pitmaster specialties alongside an impressive array of bourbon.

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Roost in Greenville, South Carolina.
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Roost in Greenville, South Carolina.

Roost

220 N Main St, Greenville, S.C., USA

Don’t let the name fool you, there’s a lot more here than chicken. The indoor/outdoor spot near the end of Main St. is known for its shrimp and grits and porcini and truffle ravioli.

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Sobys in Greenville, South Carolina.
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Sobys in Greenville, South Carolina.

Soby’s

207 S Main St, Greenville, S.C., USA

If you’re in the South, you’ve gotta get fried chicken. And Greenville’s best is at Soby’s, where the chicken’s equally as satisfying as an entrée — with mac and cheese and black pepper honey — as it is on a biscuit with sausage gravy.

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Tupelo Honey in Greenville, South Carolina.
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Tupelo Honey in Greenville, South Carolina.

Tupelo Honey

1 N Main St, Greenville, S.C., USA

Though you’ll find this spot in several cities around the South, the menu changes based on location and season, so it’s always unique.

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Neighborhoods to know

Greenville is one of the most walkable cities in the South, and if you’re not planning on renting a car, you’ll have no problem staying in these neighborhoods.

Downtown in Greenville, South Carolina. Photo credit Shutterstock.
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Downtown in Greenville, South Carolina. Photo credit Shutterstock.

Downtown

Downtown Greenville, South Main Street, Greenville, SC, USA

Greenville’s downtown is held up as a model of rehabilitation and walkability, and it’s where you’ll find the city’s best restaurants, live music venues and rooftop bars. Hit Up on the Roof for a glass of wine and a view if the weather’s cooperating, or Nose Dive if you want cocktails crafted to your specifications. And if Southern food isn’t your jam, you’ll find some of the best burgers in America at Grill Marks and stellar tacos at Cantina 76.

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Yoga class in Village of West Greenville, South Carolina.
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Yoga class in Village of West Greenville, South Carolina.

Village of West Greenville

West Greenville, Greenville, SC, USA

For a long time overshadowed by trendy downtown, West Greenville has exploded in the past five years, anchored by the Greenville Center for the Creative Arts. The former home of Shoeless Joe Jackson also has studios for several local artists, including Darin Gehrke and Sunny Mullarke. And the new Poe West space houses a distillery, brewery and fine chocolatier.

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Get outside

Upstate South Carolina is one of the unheralded scenic gems of the country, and Greenville is an ideal jumping-off point to see it all. You won’t have to go far outside the city to immerse yourself, and in some cases, you won’t even have to leave downtown.

Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville, South Carolina. Photo credit Shutterstock.
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Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville, South Carolina. Photo credit Shutterstock.

The Swamp Rabbit Trail

102 S Memminger St, Greenville, SC 29601, USA

There are few better ways to spend an afternoon in Greenville than renting a bike in downtown Greenville and heading down the 22-mile Swamp Rabbit Trail. You’ll pedal through city parks and lush trees to the town of Travelers Rest, where Sidewall Pizza awaits, rewarding you with hot pies and craft beers.

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Liberty Bridge in Greenville, South Carolina. Photo credit Shutterstock.
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Liberty Bridge in Greenville, South Carolina. Photo credit Shutterstock.

Falls Park

Falls Park, Greenville, SC, South Main Street, Greenville, SC, USA

The Instagrammable highlight of Greenville is the Liberty Bridge, a 345-foot suspension bridge sprawling over Reedy River. You’ll find it in Falls Park, a cascading swath of urban green space where you can relax by a waterfall, jog along waterfront paths or enjoy your lunch with a stunning view of the city and the falls for which the park is named. 

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Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area in Greenville, South Carolina. Photo credit Shutterstock.
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Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area in Greenville, South Carolina. Photo credit Shutterstock.

Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area

8155 Geer Highway, Cleveland, S.C., USA

The Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area boasts 50 miles of hiking trails between Jones Gap and Caesar’s Head State Parks. But by far the coolest trek you can make is to the top of the 420-foot Raven Cliff Falls at Caesar’s Head. At the top, you’ll find a solid suspension bridge that’s perfect for a wilderness photo op.

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Where to stay

Greenville hasn’t delved too deep into the world of boutique hotels yet, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in awesome places to stay. Greenville’s best hotels are all within short walks of everything you’d want to do, and many have restaurants and bars that are destinations themselves.

Embassy Suites in Greenville, South Carolina.
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Embassy Suites in Greenville, South Carolina.

Embassy Suites Downtown Greenville

250 Riverplace, Greenville, S.C., USA

Greenville’s Embassy Suites is home to the city’s best rooftop bar at Up on the Roof. The hotel itself is also a lot more modern than the atriumed Embassies you’re used to. And this one’s right on the river.

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Aloft Greenville Downtown in Greenville, South Carolina.
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Aloft Greenville Downtown in Greenville, South Carolina.

Aloft Greenville Downtown

5 N Laurens St, Greenville, S.C., USA

This isn’t just the most pet-friendly hotel in Greenville, it actually offers its own pet adoption program if you’d like a four-legged souvenir from your trip. It’s also home to the W XYZ Bar, another of the city’s great elevated drinking experiences.

Also see

Aloft Greenville Downtown

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Train like a ninja warrior

Motive in Greenville, South Carolina.
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Motive in Greenville, South Carolina.

Motive School of Movement

10 Webb Rd, Greenville, S.C., USA

The name might sound like some kind of modern dance studio, but this spot — founded by a group of former “American Ninja Warrior” competitors — lets you practice everything from parkour to flips on a spring-loaded floor.

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Sample beers, whiskey and custom-made craft cocktails

Much like it has with food, Greenville’s made a big name for itself with its booze scene too. Whether it’s craft cocktails or endless taps of beer, you’ll find plenty to quench your thirst all within a short walk.

Pour Tap Room in Greenville, South Carolina.
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Pour Tap Room in Greenville, South Carolina.

Pour Tap Room

7 Falls Park Drive, Greenville, S.C., USA

If drinking beer to you means sampling stuff from all over the country, you’ve found your heaven at Pour. Here, you grab a glass and head from tap to tap, paying by the ounce and tasting whatever you like.

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Nose Dive in Greenville, South Carolina.
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Nose Dive in Greenville, South Carolina.

Nose Dive

116 S Main St, Greenville, S.C., USA

The upstairs bar in this downtown gastropub serves up the best cocktail menu in Greenville. And if you’re not feeling any of their creations, tell the bartender what you’re into and they’ll make up something special.

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Neat Bourbon Bar in Greenville, South Carolina.
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Neat Bourbon Bar in Greenville, South Carolina.

Neat Bourbon Bar

109b N Main St, Greenville, S.C., USA

On the north end of Main St., you’ll find a collection of hundreds of bourbons tucked into this gray-wood drinking den. If the 2-oz. pours are a little aggressive for you, there’s also a solid menu of cool, original whiskey cocktails too.

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Take in some live music

With Furman University in town and mega-school Clemson just down the road, the creative spirit is strong in Greenville. That’s especially evident in its live music venues, where bands from all over the South play regularly to packed (during pre-pandemic times, anyway) houses most nights of the week.

At Smiley’s Acoustic Café you’ll always find entertaining acts — and the no cover charge policy is a big bonus — but if you want to get into the live music act yourself, show up on Monday nights for open mic. If you love to sing but aren’t trying to impress anyone, head in on Wednesday for live band karaoke.

And at Gottrocks, you — or someone — will need to drive from downtown, but this spot just off I-385 has been a live music hub since long before Greeneville got cool. They’ve been hosting live acts since 2000 and serve a pretty solid menu of bar food too.