“Our downtown looks like something out of a movie,” says mom of three Ashli Stockard. “Everything is green, the landscape is manicured and there’s a beautiful bridge over the river running through the center of downtown.” A close climate relative to Dallas-Fort Worth, Greenville, South Carolina, might be the next best place to vacation this November. With temperatures usually in the 50s, it’s the perfect destination for some outdoor fall-stivities or indoor exhibitions. Stockard is a DFW native who now lives in Greenville with her husband and three girls. She gave us the rundown on all the not-to-miss spots and even notable events to keep in mind for future travels.
For the budding zoologist
Open during its fall/winter season from 10am–5pm, the Greenville Zoo is near downtown Greenville for an easy all-day schedule. Between farm animals, African cats and reptiles, there’s something for all bravery levels. Stockard notes the zoo isn’t too big, so it is walkable in around an hour and a half—“but that means you often get to see the animals getting fed or trained,” she says.
Just outside the zoo is a shaded park that Stockard likes to take her girls to for lunch and playtime after exploring the zoo. “There is also a splash pad in downtown Greenville you can hit up after the zoo if it’s especially warm,” she says.
For the curious kid
One place everyone mentions is The Children’s Museum of the Upstate—and for good reason: It was the first children’s museum to be an affiliate of the Smithsonian. With over 20 indoor and outdoor exhibits and activities for kids (Stockard recommends the experience for ages 1–9), the museum is sure to have something for every interest. Oh, and for the most curious of the bunch, littles can engage in STEAM activities (the entire downstairs section is just for art and technology) as well as imaginative play. “A favorite attraction is the farm exhibit where you can pick vegetables and even milk a fake cow,” Stockard says. Some exhibits rotate throughout the year.
For the adventurer and their tummy
Get some fresh, crisp autumn air on the Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail, equipped with restrooms, paved trails, secondary trails, half-mile markers and more. Trees line the trails, giving the perfect fall aesthetic as the red, orange and yellow leaves surround the paved path. There’s even a digital guide to food, drinks and “hops” within a mile of the trail—conveniently called The Carrot. “You can bike from Greenville to [Travelers Rest, South Carolina], and eat at the Swamp Rabbit Cafe,” Stockard says. “The menu changes often but any of their sandwiches on stecca are the bomb! [The trail is] not super hilly, so it would work for families with kids of all ages.”
For future plans
If you find yourself in or near Greenville during the holidays, there is plenty to do. A little over an hour away is a free gingerbread house exhibit in Asheville, North Carolina. Held at The Omni Grove Park Inn, the National Gingerbread House Competition viewing is from Nov. 20–Jan. 4, 2020. These go beyond the simple brown-boxed gingerbread sheets and white icing. Or in the spring and summer season, go strawberry picking at Sandy Flat Berry Patch in Taylors or blueberry picking at Blueberry Hill. “We do [Blueberry Hill] every year,” Stockard says. Blueberry Hill is family-owned by a local and has enough property to spend two to three hours just picking berries. “The kids love trying to find the biggest berries—some of them are huge!” Stockard remembers. “We fill our baskets full and occasionally taste a few and then head to pay, and the owner lets us feed fish in his koi pond.”
Images courtesy of Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail, Children’s Museum of the Upstate and the Omni Grove Park Inn.