Greenville, South Carolina, and its surrounding areas enjoy a wide variety of attractions for families, from parks and a zoo to one of the nation's top children's museums. Of course, other cities have fun family-oriented things to see, too.
But no other city has "Mice On Main," which combines local sculptures, an illustrated children's book and a popular scavenger hunt for all ages in downtown Greenville.
Nine bronze mice, created by Greenville sculptor Zan Wells and based on a popular children's book, "Goodnight Moon," are located along Main Street. The website offers a printable list of "hints" to find them, and the hunt begins with a bronzed sculpture of the book and the first mouse mounted on the Hyatt Regency hotel's outdoor fountain on North Main.
For families looking for relaxation after a "mice hunt," Falls Park on the Reedy River is a downtown garden spot overlooking the Reedy River, which spills over rock formations as it flows through the park. The iconic Liberty Bridge, a 355-foot, cantilevered pedestrian bridge, offers great views of the 62-foot Reedy River Falls and landscaped gardens. The park has guided tours and is close to the West End District's shopping and dining.
Another kids-specific site is The Children's Museum of the Upstate on the downtown Heritage Green campus. With three floors and more than 80,000 square feet of interactive exhibits, the museum is the seventh-largest children's museum in the U.S. and 10th-largest in the world - a treat for the entire family.
If the kids and/or the parents are baseball fans, Fluor Field in the West End is home to Class A minor league baseball's Greenville Drive. Even if it's not baseball season, the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum is located near the ballpark in the former home of the legendary Greenville native, who was part of the Black Sox Scandal in the early 1900s. Exhibits focus on Jackson's career, and admission is free.
The Greenville Zoo is a short walk from Main Street in Cleveland Park and has 25 exhibit areas with more than 80 species of animals - from bears, deer and bobcats to monkeys, giraffes, lions, elephants and even red pandas - spread over the 14-acre site. The zoo includes a reptile house and a farm exhibit, and is open seven days a week.
If families are tired of walking, there's Downtown Trolley, which offers free transportation on 35-seat, wheelchair-accessible trolleys built to look like old-fashioned trains, complete with cowcatchers. Trolleys operate Thursday-Sunday, with special routes to the Children's Museum of the Upstate, and also shuttle fans to Fluor Field during baseball season. For the more adventurous, there's Greenville Glides Segway Tours, covering the downtown district, nearby parks and even Falls Park.
Some sights require leaving downtown, such as the GHS Swamp Rabbit Trail, a 22-mile, multi-use trail system running along the Reedy River and connecting downtown with the nearby Travelers Rest community. And the nearby Roper Mountain Science Center contains the largest planetarium in South Carolina and the U.S.'s eighth-largest refractor telescope.
Other attractions include the Happy Cow Creamery in Pelzer, a working dairy farm offering tours and dairy products (including most excellent chocolate milk), and the Miniature World of Trains in Taylors, with one of the nation's largest displays of HO-scale train models. In the summer, three city-run water parks - Discovery Island, Otter Creek and 7th Inning Splash - help families beat the heat.