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Bring the Family to Greenville - And Don't Forget Your Walking Shoes

Bob Gillespie Bob Gillespie
Bob is a former sports writer at Columbia’s The State newspaper. He enjoys golf at South Carolina’s 350-plus courses, and after a round, sampling craft beers from the Palmetto State’s breweries.
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Look for Greenville's "Mice on Main" as you walk the streets of downtown Greenville.

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.

 

The Liberty Bridge over the Reedy River makes it easy for families to explore both sides of Falls Park in downtown Greenville.

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.

 

The Children's Museum of the Upstate is a fun spot to take the kids in Greenville. Photo by Anne McQuary.

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.

 

Kids love meeting and taking photos of the Greenville Drive's mascot, Reedy Rip's the Frog.

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 elephant exhibit is one of the popular exhibits at the Greenville Zoo . Photo courtesy of the Greenville Zoo.

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.

 

A Greenville Glides guide leads a group of Segway riders through the city’s vibrant downtown.

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.

 

The Swamp Rabbit Trail connects downtown Greenville to Travelers Rest.

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.

 

Train fans, young and old, will enjoy a visit to the Miniature World of Trains in Greenville.

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.

For more information on attractions downtown and elsewhere, visit UpcountrySC.com or Visit Greenville SC.

Bob Gillespie
Bob is a former sports writer at Columbia’s The State newspaper. He enjoys golf at South Carolina’s 350-plus courses, and after a round, sampling craft beers from the Palmetto State’s breweries.