For too many families, the notion of spending vacation time visiting museums evokes visions of dusty hallways and "Quiet Please" signs. Not in Greenville, South Carolina, though.
Whether it's adults viewing exhibits about textile mills, the area's settlement and the state's civil rights movement (with oral history provided by Greenville native and two-time presidential candidate Jesse Jackson) at the Upcountry History Museum, or youngsters having fun with interactive exhibits that also serve as learning tools in The Children's Museum of the Upstate, Greenville's vibrant museum scene is about making learning come alive.
Other must-see museums include Roper Mountain Science Center, Greer Heritage Museum, depicting the town's railroad history from 1876, and the Greenville County Museum of Art, considered the premier American art museum in the South. It is home to the world's largest public collection of watercolors by iconic American artist Andrew Wyeth, along with a range of artwork from Federal portraits to contemporary abstractions. The museum also features an acclaimed Southern Collection, inviting viewers to survey American art history through works with ties to the South.
Start your museum tour with the Upcountry History Museum, which opened in 2007 and explores three centuries of Upcountry South Carolina through permanent and traveling exhibits - many of them interactive - in a 45,000 square-foot public space.
A short walk away, the Children's Museum of the Upstate is the definition of "user- and kid-friendly," with 19 permanent exhibits that entertain while also teaching about everything from grocery stores to banks to TV stations and even the space shuttle. Visitors (adults must be accompanied by their children) can shop in the "Baby Publix," use a mock ATM, run a TV studio camera, even "pilot" the shuttle into space. The three-story, 80,000-square-foot facility is the seventh largest children's museum in the U.S. and is the first in the nation to be named a Smithsonian affiliate.