Family Travel

Kerry Egan

SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

 

Go on a mouse hunt in Greenville

Posted 6/3/2013 2:30:00 PM

My children, Jimmy and Mary Frances, love the candy that appears in their Easter baskets and eat it with enthusiasm, believe me. But that’s not actually what they look forward to most on Easter morning. No, it's the egg hunt that gets them running down the stairs.

I wish it was the protein of several dozen hard-boiled eggs they long for, but it's the thrill of searching for hidden tiny things and the satisfaction of finding them. I can remember the feeling myself; can't you?

And "Mice on Main" in Greenville is like a enormous Easter egg hunt across a lovely downtown.

Nine tiny bronze statues of mice are scattered along the leafy Main Street of Greenville. The hunt starts by the Hyatt Regency hotel and winds its way down seven blocks past restaurants, shops, cafes, street performers, secret gardens and hidden alleyways.

Here's what's so great about Mice in Main: it combines something kids love with something their parents love (but that their kids usually don't): strolling down the main avenue of a new town. If my husband, Alex, and I were to spend an entire afternoon walking very, very slowly down a street filled with restaurants and shops, my children would be in open revolt by the time hour two began. But because they were busy searching every corner, drainpipe, railing and barrier for the next little mouse, we were all happy. And you can't get a better street to wander down that Greenville's Main Street. Mice on Main's creator, Jimmy Ryan (who started work on this project as a high school student!) is a genius in my book.

You can get a list of hints to help you know where to look. A list really is essential, because these little bronze mice are tiny! We discovered that there are at least three different lists of hints, each written in rhyming, poem form, but with different clues. We pulled one from the internet, found one on a map from the Greenville Downtown Visitors Center (206 S. Main St.), and was given another from the kind girl working at O.P. Taylor's, a toy shop located at 117 N. Main St. Some little mice were so challenging that it took all three sets of clues to find them. Of course, the harder the mouse was to find, the greater the excitement when we finally discovered it.

Finding all the Mice on Main took us much longer than we expected. Give yourself a full afternoon for this, especially if you plan to explore some of the shops along the way (and you should.) We especially loved the giant, old fashioned candy aisle at Mast General Store, the pastries at The Chocolate Moose, the toys at O.P. Taylor's, and the gelato at Luna Rosa, right off Main at 9 W. Washington St. In fact, we loved the gelato so much, the kids and I had it three times over the course of the day. My husband had it just once, and watched us in a bit of awe (he would say horror) the other two times. It's right up there with some of the best ice cream I've ever had.

Insider Tip: You know, I've never been a fan of the backpack leashes for toddlers and never used one myself, but this is exactly the type of activity that I would use one if I had a child under three. Otherwise, I wouldn't be comfortable leaving the toddler out of the strollers to join the hunt.