Want to do some exploring during your stay in South Carolina? Get inspiration by digging into all the fun day trips from Greenville, SC! Located in the center of the Upstate region, Greenville has a great location for discovering three different states, meaning you have the best of the Southeast at your fingertips.
On a driving adventure from Greenville, you’ll experience everything from interesting cities to epic outdoor adventures. Live the Bavarian lifestyle in Helen, GA, or chase the city lights of Atlanta. Hike, bike, and raft your way through majestic landscapes like DuPont State Forest, Table Rock State Park, and Congaree National Park.
Ready for some spectacular days out of one of South Carolina’s coolest cities? Discover new horizons with this complete guide to the top-rated Greenville side trips!
Top-rated Greenville, SC, side trips
Cross the border to North Carolina and spend the day in Asheville, NC. It takes around an hour and 20 minutes to get here from Greenville. If you love pretty scenery and a lively creative scene, you’ll have a fantastic time!
Asheville is super scenic. As the city is set against the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains, outdoor lovers will have easy access to hikes, rafting, and mountain biking. Make sure to check out the waterfalls at Pisgah National Forest on your drive into the city.
Back in town, 1920s architecture sets a dreamy scene as you walk through the streets. The stunning Biltmore Estate is a French Renaissance castle that includes a grand home and expansive gardens. Be sure to carve out time to explore this top Asheville tourist attraction built by George Vanderbilt.
With such beautiful surroundings, it’s natural that hundred of creatives find inspiration in Asheville. Spend the day hanging out in the River Arts District or follow the South Slope Mural Trail.
This creativity even extends to your taste buds. Farm-to-table experiences and global cuisine will put foodies in heaven. And with the most breweries per capita in the United States, you’ll find plenty to wash it down.
You can also pair your day in Asheville with a road trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The stunning drive takes you through 469 miles of mountain vistas and rural landscapes.
DuPont State Forest, SC
If you’re looking for natural wonders, you’ll find plenty in DuPont State Forest. Only an hour away from Greenville, the 12,500-acre forest is an emporium of biodiversity, waterfalls, and outdoor fun.
DuPont State Forest has one of the best trail systems in the Southeast. It’s perfect if you love hiking, mountain biking, or horseback riding.
Triple Falls Trail will take you up a trickling river before emerging at an overlook of the impressive Triple Falls. If you’re looking to cool off, the waterfall at Hooker Falls Trail is smaller, but the softer currents make it a nice spot for swimming on a hot day.
The landscape of DuPont State Forest is so majestic it was used as a filming location for major movies like The Hunger Games. Channel your inner warrior at sites like Bridal Veil Falls and the Little River.
There are also plenty of attractive lakes within the DuPont State Forest where you can swim, fish, or relax with a picnic. Sites like Lake Julia and Lake Dense are only accessible by trail, so when you arrive, you are rewarded with a quiet and secluded spot away from the crowds.
Table Rock State Park, SC
Find epic mountain scenery at Table Rock State Park. Resting at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, around 45 minutes from Greenville, this top-rated Greenville attraction is an amazing spot to immerse yourself in nature, take in stunning vistas, or find relaxing recreational activities.
Table Rock State Park gets its name from the park’s highlight: the immense Table Rock Mountain. This epic plateaued peak is a distinctive shape in the South Carolina landscape. The hike to the summit is medium difficulty, but when you arrive at the top, you’re treated to otherworldly views of the park and Linville Gorge.
If you don’t feel like hiking, there are two lakes in Table Rock State Park. Cool down with a swim, or try catching bass, bream, and catfish from the shoreline.
Want to explore more of the area around the lakes? At Lake Pinnacle, you can rent kayaks, canoes, and pedal boats. Get competitive on the sand volleyball court and horseshoes lawns, or just relax in the shady picnic area.
Croft State Park, SC
Escape to the peaceful woodlands of Croft State Park, under a one-hour drive from Greenville. If you’re looking for a place to switch off for the day, these 7,000 acres of natural beauty will do the trick.
There’s a great network of trails at Croft State Park open to hikers, bikers, and equestrians. Why not try the Foster Mill Trail? Along the way, you’ll spot cool historical features like cemeteries and trestle bridges. Meander past the trickling Kelsey Creek and come out on the shore of Lake Craig.
Lake Craig is a 165-acre lake that’s perfect for soaking up the serene atmosphere of the park. Drift across the water on a kayak, or try your luck catching bass, bream, catfish, and crappie.
While you’re at Croft State Park, make sure you take the time to cross Advance America Bridge. The 65-foot expansion bridge stretches across Fairforest Creek. It’s the longest trail bridge in a state park.
Take a two-hour drive and transport yourself to the German mountains. Helen, GA, is an alpine village brimming with Bavarian architecture, natural beauty, and unique culture.
As you stroll down the cobblestone streets of Alpine Helen, take in the adorable timber-frame buildings and colorful murals. Pop into cute stores selling everything from Bavarian clockwork to the finest fudge.
If wining and dining is more your thing, you’re in luck. One of the coolest things to do in Helen, GA, is to enjoy hearty and traditional German food on the sunny patios. Make sure to try the out-the-box dishes at Muller’s Famous Fried Cheese. Helen is at the heart of the wine country in Georgia, and you’ll find a fabulous choice of wineries and breweries throughout the area.
Helen also has a charming arts and crafts scene. At The Gourd Place, you can see what’s in a traditional gourd shop and check out other crafts made from nature. Learn more about Georgia’s pottery heritage at The Folk Pottery Museum of Northeast Georgia and Hickory Flat Pottery.
Congaree National Park, SC
Lose yourself in the wilderness of Congaree National Park. The park is a two-hour drive away from Greenville, but it is more than worth the journey. As one of the oldest and tallest forests east of the Mississippi, Congaree National Park is rich in biodiversity and natural splendor.
Hike the excellent variety of trails around the oldest in-tact bottomland hardwood forest in the United States. From pretty maple trees to ancient oaks, you can feel nature’s history all around you.
Cover more ground by taking to the waterways. Bring a canoe or kayak and drift through the trees on the Cedar Creek Canoe Trail. As well as some of the tallest trees on the East Coast, you’ll have the chance to spot river otters, turtles, and alligators.
Congaree National Park also has different ranger-led programs throughout the year, offering everything from hiking to yoga. Look to the skies with a beginner’s birdwatching class or with a guided owl prowl.
One hour and 40 minutes from Greenville, you’ll find the exciting city of Charlotte, NC. A great cultural scene, colorful history, and fun shopping and dining opportunities make this North Carolina city a real crowd-pleaser. The natural areas surrounding the city also open up heaps of outdoor recreation options.
Charlotte has deep roots in the Old South, so history buffs can start their day in Charlotte digging all the way back to Colonial times. Understand what shaped the city you see today at the Charlotte Museum of History. As it’s based on a historic site, you’ll get a fascinating insight into how the city evolved at this popular Charlotte tourist attraction.
Combine history with artistic spirit by searching for street murals celebrating Charlotte’s African-American history. All over the city, there’s vibrant street art detailing important figures in black culture and significant historical events.
Foodies will be in heaven in Charlotte, with everything from classic southern dishes to international innovations. Sample everything at the Market at 7th Street. This food hall is bustling with independent vendors and fresh produce from regional farmers.
Charlotte is also an ideal launch pad for outdoor adventures. Paddleboard on Lake Norman or try out white water rafting on the Catawba River.
If you’re looking for a historic city with a youthful vibe, head over to Athens, GA. This lively college town has a thriving music and arts scene, enchanting local neighborhoods, and tasty food.
Athens’ distinct neighborhoods have loads of local charm. Step into the 1920s in Five Point, with traditional architecture and independent boutiques. Embrace your inner hipster at the quirky cocktail bars and breweries in Normaltown. Or throw yourself into the buzzing creative energy of Downtown Athens.
Athens has given birth to some serious musical talent, including R.E.M. and The B-52’s. See what legends you can spot on the Athens Music Walk of Fame, or discover the next superstar at iconic music venues like 40 Watt Club and the Georgia Theater.
With Southern treats, local breweries, and award-winning restaurants, your tastebuds are in for a treat! Athens is one of the South’s most underrated food cities. For an elegant take on classic southern food, check out home.made. The restaurant creates pretty and delicate plates from seasonal ingredients from local sources.
Want to see more of the beautiful architecture in Athens? Explore the University of Georgia campus. It’s home to major Athens, GA, attractions like the Georgia Museum of Art and its historic North Campus.
Chimney Rock State Park, NC
Ready for more outdoor adventure? Carve out some time for Chimney Rock State Park, reachable from Greenville in less than one hour and 30 minutes. Step into 5,700 acres of epic landscapes, rich nature, and stunning natural beauty.
The park gets its name from Chimney Rock, an immense granite monolith that juts out from the bristles of the surrounding trees. Take the modern elevator or, if you’re up for an adventure, combine it with a hike on the Outcroppings Trail. The reward at the top is huge, with sweeping views of the vibrant valley floor.
Another hiking route in Chimney Rock State Park is the Hickory Nut Falls Trail. This easy hike leads you to one of the highest waterfalls east of the Mississippi River. Venture through lush forest and rocky cliff faces before emerging at a 404-foot tumbling delight. For a bird’s-eye view of Hickory Nut Falls, take the Skyline Trail. On your way, you’ll stop at Peregrine’s Point, the highest lookout in the park.
There’s a chance you’ll spot black bears, bobcats, and mule deer on your adventures through Chimney Rock State Park. Learn more about the furry creatures hanging out here at the Great Woodland Adventure Trail and Animal Discovery Den.
Art, history, and pretty scenery make Spartanburg, SC, a great stop on your South Carolina itinerary. The city is a short 40-minute drive from Greenville, so it’s a great option if you want a last-minute adventure. And with so much to do, you might even want to come back twice!
Spartanburg has roots going back to the Revolutionary War. The area was once home to Cherokee and Catawba tribes, and in the 19th century, it was a major textile exporter. Get an exciting and varied history lesson at the Spartanburg Regional History Museum, or learn about enslaved peoples’ fight for independence at the Walnut Grove Plantation.
The city’s buzzing creative scene is great for discovering rising talent. At the Artists Collective Spartanburg, you can admire the work of young local artists. The former church creates a calm setting to watch new artists hard at work. The Chapman Cultural Center is a major creative hub, housing the Spartanburg Art Museum, Spartanburg Little Theatre, and Ballet Spartanburg.
If you’d rather keep it outdoors, you’ll find plenty to do in Spartanburg, SC. Minutes from the city, you’ll find great hiking like the Cottonwood Trail, or head over to Croft State Park for hiking, biking, fishing, and boating.
Got a hankering for the big city? Atlanta is one of the most exciting day trips from Greenville. Georgia’s capital and largest city is about three hours away from Greenville, but you’ll be welcomed by a buzzing city with heaps of exciting things to do. Delve into the city’s rich history, throw yourself into diverse cultures, or stuff your face with tasty Southern food.
As the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr., Atlanta is a must-visit for anyone interested in the Civil Rights Movement. Start your day in Atlanta by getting an in-depth look at how it shaped US history at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and at Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park. Or get a wider look at Atlanta’s heritage at the Atlanta History Center, home to the Atlanta Cyclorama, the largest oil painting in the world.
With so much to see and do in Atlanta, you can cover more ground by taking a trolley tour. Hop on and off a traditional bus as it takes you to top sights like the birth home of Martin Luther King Jr. and Krog Street Market.
Krog Street Market is a foodie’s dream. A cool historic building and fun communal dining options make this the perfect jumping-off point for Atlanta’s yummy food scene.