From BMWs to Black History Tours: The Top Things to See and Do in Greenville, South Carolina

With a motto of “America’s friendliest city”, Greenville, South Carolina is a smallish city that packs lots of big city energy. With the perfect balance of old town feels—as evidenced by its Main Street corridor—meets modern day metropolis, travelers young and old are heading to the Southern city for their escape from the hustle and bustle of their everyday surroundings.

EBONY recently popped up in Greenville for a fun weekend filled with adventure, exploration and delving deeper into the city’s origins. From pushing pedal to the metal at the BMW Performance Center to trying out unique dining experiences that left our soul renewed, we’ve curated this insider’s guide to put you on to the best things to see and do during your visit to the South Carolina town.

Get vulnerable with strangers at Keipi Restaurant

Table spread at Keipi Restaurant. Image: DeAnna Taylor.

Easily one of the most unique dining experiences we’ve had (and we’ve had tons), Keipi Restaurant—located in the city’s Hampton Station—showed us what it meant to break bread with community. A Georgian-inspired concept, patrons are taken through a multi course feast that includes lots of toasts while also being willing to do deeper with your conversation. Led by the Tamada (the dinner leader), the table is asked to speak about various themes chosen by the host throughout the night, and end each with a celebratory toast. We laughed, cried and drank lots of native wines during our dinner and let’s just say, the way we approach dinner conversations will never be the same.

Take a city tour with Black History in Greenville Tours

Sometimes going beyond the surface of a city helps you to better appreciate or understand it. As a local resident, the brand’s owner, Kendra, makes sure to tell the stories that are often forgotten or overlooked within the area. From a Civil Rights site to public art displays that pay homage to the Black men and women who made an impact on Greenville over the years, this Saturday tour is highly recommended if you’re in town on a weekend.

Shop with locally-owned brands up and down Main Street

The downtown area is home to over 125 locally-owned restaurants and retail stores. Get a taste of that South Carolina charm by popping into places like Greenville Soy Candles, where you can also take candle making classes; M Judson Booksellers for an array of books and trinkets or even a latte; as well as Old Europe Coffee and Desserts, a Black-owned coffee shop and wine bar.

Falls Park on the Reedy. Image: Courtesy of VisitGreenvilleSC.

Go green at one of the many parks

Outside of being of the country’s friendliest city’s, Greenville has also been named one of the prettiest. It’s plethora of green spaces, parks and trails help contribute to this designation. Unity Park is literally one of the most gorgeous parks we’ve seen. On any given day, you’ll see families playing with their kids on the playgrounds or tossing footballs, runners and bikes taking advantage of the park’s trails or even those who just want to ground in nature. We also suggest carving out time to spend time at Falls Park on the Reedy. Located in the city’s historic West End district, you’ll get soothing waterfalls and tons of open space to simply kick back and relax.

Get dressed up for a night on the town

We must admit, the city pleasantly surprised us, especially as far as its fun bars and places to grab cocktails. If you’re in town on a Tuesday, you’ll want to hit up Limoncello’s $2 Prosecco Tuesday offer. If you plan to pop in during the weekend, head to the rooftop of the AC Hotel for a Instagram-worthy bar by the name of Juniper. Like it’s name, you’ll be met with tons of stunning floral arrangements throughout the bar and a cocktail menu to match. And for something super unique, check out the seasonal pop-up bar experience just downstairs from Juniper in Press Room Greenville. The current installation is Alice and Wonderland themed and will be around until August.

Go 0 to 100 at the BMW Performance Center

Image: Courtesy of BMW Performance Center.

Have you ever gone 0 to 60 in under 4 seconds? Well, it’s possible at the BMW Performance Center, and you want get a ticket for your lead foot. Try your hand at some of the brand’s fastest models like the M2, M4 competition, M5 competition, X5 competition and a Z4. The average experience lasts 2-hours and includes being able to drive the listed cars on a test track as well as X5s on an off-road course. If you can, request David Dalton as your coach, he’s a young, Black race car driver that also works at the BMW campus.

Other things to know

There are plenty of hotels in and around downtown Greenville, so you won’t be without a place to stay. You can find most major chains and a few boutiques, too. This city is very walkable and most major things are within less than a 30-minute stroll (you will need a car to get to the BMW experience).

Beyond the activities mentioned, other suggestions of things to see and do include: hailing a bike taxi to your destination—it’s an excursion in itself—visiting the historic West End district especially for the fun murals, eating your way through Main Street or even attending the minor league baseball team’s latest game.

Updated: June 6, 2024 — 3:02 pm