As Greenville continues to gain attention as one of the South’s best cities, we speak often of all the things that make it an attractive place to live. Nightlife and dining often claim much of the spotlight as does the city’s natural beauty. While we often think of these things from an adult’s perspective, just how much fun Greenville has to offer our younger generations cannot be overlooked.
Whether you are spending the day at the Children’s Museum of the Upstate, getting hands-on with science at the Roper Mountain Science Center, or exploring the woods at Paris Mountain State Park or Lake Conestee Park, there is never reason for any Upstate parent to hear those dreaded two words, “I’m booooored”. 10Best.com has everything you need to plan your kids’ next adventure that does not involve staring at a screen or mobile device so get out there and enjoy the fun the Upstate has to offer all year long.
Photo courtesy of 3/09 photo from RMSC – 3 others of the butterfly garden in the Lydia – Not Used folder
When it comes to interactive learning experiences, it is hard to beat Roper Mountain Science Center which has been captivating young minds since 1985. The facilities include two science halls, a living history farm, a planetarium, and an observatory. Themed events occur on the second Saturday of every month with things like The Butterfly Adventure and Blueberry Festival taking over the entire campus as great kid-friendly opportunities. Friday’s Starry Nights features shows in their recently renovated planetarium that are guaranteed to blow some young minds. Lastly, the refractor telescope in the observatory is the eighth largest of its type in the United States and was originally installed in Princeton University in 1882, bringing a significant piece of science history right here to the Upstate.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Roper Mountain Science Center is a unique education center that has been fascinating Upstate children since 1985.
Brett’s expert tip: The Roper Mountain Science Center is currently closed for normal operating hours due to COVID but still opens for special events and summer camps.
M. Judson Booksellers & Storytellers is absolute heaven for young readers. The kids’ section is wonderfully curated with some beautiful books for infants to young adults to choose from. The mouths of children and parents alike will water over the delicious goodies coming out of Camilla’s Kitchen located right in the book store. Arguably the best chocolate chip cookie in town, this alone is reason enough to bring the kids in for a treat. Located right in the heart of Downtown Greenville in the historic family courthouse, this is a beautiful landmark that the whole family is guaranteed to enjoy.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: M. Judson features a great kids’ section, summer reading lists, and all the tasty treats from Camilla’s Kitchen.
Brett’s expert tip: Parents with strollers will want to use the rear entrance with elevator access as the front steps can be quite daunting.
One feature that you can see from just about anywhere in Greenville is Paris Mountain State Park. Located just minutes from Downtown Greenville, the park offers outdoor adventure in the form of hiking, camping, and boating at minimal cost and effort. Want to take the youngest, fresh walkers on their first hike? Try out the easy mile lake loop right at the park’s entrance. Want to get an older kid ready for an assault on Table Rock? Trails at the top of the park offer a variety of difficulties to advance a child’s love of the outdoors. Summer months see plenty of fun happening in the lower lake’s swimming area where paddling and fishing are also fun outdoor options.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Kids of all ages and abilities will love the trails at Paris Mountain, and summertime swimming and paddle boating are icing on the cake.
Brett’s expert tip: It is so close to town you are going to want to visit a lot, which makes the $50 SC Inland State Park Pass a wise investment.
There are a ton of reasons that make Lake Conestee Nature Park the ultimate destination for kids; a great playground, a huge field for outdoor play, baseball fields, and miles of trails are all available for your kids’ enjoyment. What sets it apart from other parks, however, is the fact that it is the perfect destination for kids to try their hands at mountain biking with some super fun and easy trails perfect for young riders. The trails are generally flat and will get beginners acclimated with the challenges of trail riding while surrounding yourselves in some impressive natural beauty just a few miles from Downtown Greenville.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: For kids looking to get a little dirt under their tires on the safest trails around, this is the spot.
Brett’s expert tip: Keep a picture of the trail map handy as there are so many spur and connector trails that it is surprisingly easy to get lost. An easy fix is just to snap a pic of the map at the trailheads to keep on your phone while you explore.
From the middle of the Liberty Bridge, kids will enjoy a view of Falls Park, unlike anything you will find in any other American city. Down on the ground, they will love climbing along the rocks at the base of the falls and can run freely in the green space at the center of the park. The scene is impressive to humans of any age but it is the children with the biggest smiles, viewing the falls and the bridge as far bigger than any adult perspective could ever allow. As a bonus, you are merely a stone’s throw from Spill the Beans and all of the ice cream and yogurt a kid could ever dream of.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: The crown jewel of Downtown Greenville, Falls Park and the Liberty Bridge are loved by kids of all ages.
Brett’s expert tip: While the water may look inviting, heed the signs surrounding the river and stay out.
I remember when I was a kid, my Dad would take me to the Downtown Greenville Airport and I would eat my pre-packed peanut butter and jelly sandwich on the hood of his Buick as I watched the planes take off and land on the runway before me. Today, the experience is a bit more full-service as the Runway Café lets families enjoy the show with the luxury of a beer and wine bar and food menu right next to the runway. Kids will love the food and front row seat of the airplanes and, should they need to burn off some energy, can play on the airplane-themed playground at Runway Park right next to the restaurant.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Children are mesmerized watching airplanes land and depart from a local airport and Runway Café gives them a front-row seat.
Brett’s expert tip: Keep an eye on the calendar and make sure to visit when the WWII era bombers and fighters visit in the fall (generally in October).
There are a lot of things that are unique to Greenville but Mice on Main has to be one of the most one of its kind attractions that you will find anywhere. The brainchild of a local high school student who partnered with a local artist, nine bronze mice were carefully placed along Main St. in downtown Greenville in the early 2000s and Greenville residents and guests alike have clamored to find them all. The mice were so popular that a children’s book was written to both tell their stories and offer clues as to where to find them. Chances are good that seeing your child’s eyes light up every time they find another mouse just might be the highlight of any trip to Downtown Greenville.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Mice on Main is a unique scavenger hunt type of adventure that will challenge kids and adults alike.
Brett’s expert tip: If you’d like to pick up the “Mice on Main” book while you’re hunting, head into O.P. Taylor’s or Mast General Store, which are both located on Main Street.
The 22-mile multi-use greenway that is the Swamp Rabbit Trail is one of the most visited landmarks in the Upstate and simply begs to host a family outing. Connecting Downtown Greenville and Travelers Rest â” and beyond â” the trail is flat and easily bikeable by kids and adults alike. Kids love the sense of adventure as families can pedal through urban centers, miles of green space, and can’t-miss attractions like the Swamp Rabbit CafÃ© & Grocery, Hampton Station, and Furman University. Additionally, beginning or ending a journey with a cold craft beer at Birds Fly South while the kids frolic in the field is never a bad idea.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Whether they’re getting pulled by a parent or pedaling under their own power, there are tons of young smiling faces on the Swamp Rabbit Trail.
Brett’s expert tip: When the weather is nice, be prepared for a crowded trail, especially closer to Greenville and Travelers Rest. There are plenty of access points outside of the city centers like Furman University or Conestee Park where traffic will be lighter as you get started.
Kids love zoos and, especially, the Greenville Zoo is perfectly tailored for their enjoyment. The zoo is small and easily walkable but is packed with some really great exhibits. The giraffes are towering and impressive (even the new arrival born in March 2021) and getting just a piece-of-glass-close to a lion is a humbling experience for guests of any age. The exhibits are clean, the animals are well cared for, and the staff is friendly and informative. This is the perfect adventure for kids of all ages and, as an added bonus, the zoo is right next door to Cleveland Park and some pretty epic playground equipment to round out the day.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: There are few things that will thrill a child more than getting up close and personal with their favorite animals at the local zoo.
Libby’s expert tip: Currently operating at reduced capacity, order your tickets online to assure entry.
When the Children’s Museum of the Upstate opened in 2009, kids of all ages received a Mecca of entertainment and hands-on educational experience. Located just two blocks from Main St. in downtown Greenville, the 80,000 square foot museum features 19 exhibit galleries designed for children from ages 1 to 15 but, really, perfectly suited for all kids at heart, regardless of age. The quality of the Children’s Museum has not gone unnoticed outside of Greenville as it became the first such museum to become an affiliate of the Smithsonian in 2014 and, just last year welcomed visitors from all 50 states and 13 foreign countries.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Hot or cold, rain or shine, the Children’s Museum is the perfect place for kids of all ages to play and learn all year round.
Brett’s expert tip: While the Children’s Museum is open during the pandemic, tickets must be ordered in advance for timed entry admission.