Greenville Introduction Walking Tour, Greenville

Greenville Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Greenville

Greenville, South Carolina, nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, seamlessly combines rich historical heritage with vibrant modern attractions: unique architectural landmarks, monumental buildings, parks, and picturesque places with waterfalls.

Greenville has roots in Cherokee hunting grounds, which became settler territory after Richard Pearis, a pioneer who had ties with the Cherokee people, established a plantation on this land around 1770. Greenville County was established in 1786, possibly named after General Nathanael Greene, an American military officer and planter who served in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. The town evolved from a village called Pleasantburg and was renamed Greenville in 1821, growing significantly through donations from Vardry McBee, a key figure in its development, who also promoted education and infrastructure like railroads.

During the Civil War, Greenville contributed significantly to the Confederate war effort, supplying over 2,000 soldiers, as well as essential supplies like food, clothing, and firearms. After the war, in 1869, Greenville transitioned from a town to a city, sparking a construction boom that included bridges, mills, and railroads. The establishment of cotton mills marked Greenville's transformation into a key textile hub, eventually earning it the title "Textile Center of the South" by 1915.

Throughout the 20th century, Greenville experienced significant growth and transformation. World War I marked its emergence as a military training hub, followed by commercial expansion in the 1920s, including the construction of the Poinsett Hotel. The Great Depression and the 1934 Textile Workers Strike severely impacted the local economy, prompting recovery efforts like the New Deal, which introduced key infrastructure projects. Post-World War II, Greenville saw further development with the rise of educational institutions and new businesses. Economic revitalization in the late 20th century included Main Street being converted into a two-lane road lined with trees and sidewalks, the opening of the Peace Center, and major corporate investments from companies like Michelin and BMW, fostering a vibrant urban and cultural landscape in Greenville.

During the 2000s, Greenville's key developments included the completion of Liberty Bridge at Falls Park in 2004 and the opening of the Swamp Rabbit Trail in 2010, boosting tourism and enhancing the popularity of nearby cities.

Today, Greenville invites guests to discover its hidden treasures. Come and see for yourself why the city continues to be a beloved destination in the heart of South Carolina. Join us on this self-guided tour to walk its charming streets, admire its historical districts, and enjoy the vibrant life of Greenville manifested in its remarkable attractions.
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Greenville Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Greenville Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: USA » Greenville (See other walking tours in Greenville)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.9 Km or 2.4 Miles
Author: Caroline
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Court Square
  • Downtown Baptist Church
  • St. Mary's Catholic Church
  • Hampton–Pinckney Historic District and McBee House
  • Holy Trinity Anglican Church
  • The Heritage Green
  • NOMA Square
  • Downtown and Main Street
  • Falls Park
  • Liberty Bridge
Court Square

1) Court Square

Serving as the historical center of Greenville, Court Square traces its origins back to the beginnings of the original town of Pleasantburg, later renamed Greenville. Since its inception, Court Square has been a focal point of civic life and community gatherings, bearing witness to the city's evolution over the centuries.

Surrounded by a captivating ensemble of 19th-century historic buildings, Court Square exudes an aura of timeless charm and architectural grandeur. From the stately wooden courthouse to the regal landmark structures that emerged in the 1820s, the square's skyline reflects the evolving architectural tastes and styles of the era. Notable landmarks such as the Mansion House hotel on the northwest corner and the County Courthouse, designed by esteemed architect Robert Mills, add to the square's allure and historical significance.

As visitors traverse the cobblestone pathways of Court Square, they are greeted by statues commemorating famous figures from Greenville's past, offering poignant reminders of the city's storied legacy. Whether admiring the elegant architecture or soaking in the ambiance of this historic hub, Court Square captivates visitors with its timeless appeal and sense of nostalgia.
Downtown Baptist Church

2) Downtown Baptist Church

Constructed in 1858, and designed by renowned architect Samuel Sloan, the Downtown Baptist Church showcases elegant Greek Revival architecture, characterized by its stately columns and graceful proportions.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977, the Downtown Baptist Church has played a central role in the religious and cultural life of Greenville for over a century. In 2011, the building underwent a significant renovation, which included the removal of side galleries and balconies that were added in 1915. Despite these changes, the church's architectural integrity and historical significance remain intact, offering visitors a glimpse into Greenville's past while embracing its present.

Today, the Downtown Baptist Church continues to serve as a beacon of faith and community in Greenville. While the congregation of the First Baptist Church relocated to a new campus on Cleveland Street in the late 1970s, a minority of members chose to remain at the downtown site, founding the Downtown Baptist Church. Now, the building has found new life as the home of Grace Church, providing a sacred space for worship, reflection, and fellowship in the heart of Greenville's vibrant downtown district.
St. Mary's Catholic Church

3) St. Mary's Catholic Church

Saint Mary's Catholic Church is characterized by its striking architecture and rich religious symbolism. Constructed primarily from red brick, the church boasts a grandiose presence, with a towering spire crowned by a pear and cross that reaches towards the heavens. This iconic feature serves as a beacon of faith and a focal point for worshippers and visitors alike.

As one enters Saint Mary's Catholic Church, they are greeted by a breathtaking display of stained glass windows adorning the walls of the sanctuary. These windows serve as vibrant canvases, depicting numerous biblical scenes and religious motifs, each infused with intricate detail and vibrant colors. From the Nativity to the Crucifixion, these windows offer a visual narrative of the Christian faith, inspiring contemplation and reverence among those who behold them.

The interior of Saint Mary's Catholic Church is adorned with a wealth of religious art, enriching the spiritual experience of worshippers and enhancing the atmosphere of reverence within the sacred space. From ornate altars to intricate statues and paintings, every aspect of the church's interior design reflects a deep reverence for Catholic tradition and devotion to the divine.
Hampton–Pinckney Historic District and McBee House

4) Hampton–Pinckney Historic District and McBee House

The Hampton–Pinckney Historic District in Greenville, is a cherished national historic district characterized by its rich architectural heritage and storied past. Encompassing 70 contributing buildings in a residential section of Greenville, the district showcases a diverse array of architectural styles spanning from about 1890 to 1930. From elegant Italianate and Greek Revival designs to picturesque Queen Anne cottages and charming bungalows, the district boasts an eclectic mix of architectural treasures that reflect the evolving tastes and influences of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Additionally, the district includes examples of Gothic Revival and Colonial Revival design, as well as vernacular forms, adding to its architectural diversity and charm.

At the heart of the Hampton–Pinckney Historic District stands the historic McBee House, a revered landmark dating back to circa 1835. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1977, with a boundary increase in 1982, the McBee House holds significant historical and architectural importance. Originally built as a one-and-one-half-story frame farmhouse, the McBee House underwent several expansions and renovations over the years, culminating in its present-day form.

The McBee House holds deep associations with Vardry McBee (1775-1864) and his son Alexander McBee (1822-1897), prominent figures in Greenville's history. Vardry McBee, often hailed as the "Father of Greenville," was a respected businessman, entrepreneur, and delegate to the Secession Convention of Greenville District, while his son Alexander followed in his father's footsteps, establishing himself as a successful businessman, banker, and state representative. The property also features three contributing outbuildings—a log barn, a brick shed, and a well house—as well as the ruins of a grist mill, offering glimpses into the area's agricultural and industrial past.
Holy Trinity Anglican Church

5) Holy Trinity Anglican Church

Holy Trinity Anglican Church stands as a bastion of English heritage, nestled in the historic downtown area of Greenville. The church's architectural design and traditional worship services harken back to its roots, offering a glimpse into a bygone era. Constructed from stone with the appearance of an ancient edifice, Holy Trinity Anglican Church exudes a timeless charm. Topped with crosses and boasting a solid granite structure, the church's distinguished presence adds to the rich tapestry of the Hampton-Pinckney Historic District.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the church building was erected in 1914, embracing the traditional English Gothic style. Its walls, crafted from solid granite, and roof adorned with slate, speak to the craftsmanship of yesteryears. Originally built by Saint James Episcopal Church, Holy Trinity Anglican Church found its current home when a group of Traditionalist Episcopalians formed a new congregation in 1967. With a commitment to preserving the church's heritage and traditions, the parish purchased the former Saint James Episcopal Church building, ensuring its continued legacy.

Today, Holy Trinity Anglican Church remains a cherished landmark in downtown Greenville, serving as a place of worship and a symbol of enduring faith. Its reverence for English heritage, reflected in its architecture and worship practices, creates an atmosphere of reverence and spiritual connection. As part of the Hampton-Pinckney Historic District, the church contributes to Greenville's cultural landscape, inviting visitors to explore its storied past and experience the beauty of traditional Anglican worship.
The Heritage Green

6) The Heritage Green

The Heritage Green campus in Greenville, stands as a cultural haven, housing seven comprehensive facilities that offer a diverse range of educational experiences. From art and history to theater and music, Heritage Green has something for everyone. The Greenville County Museum of Art showcases a nationally acclaimed collection of American art, including works by renowned artists like Andrew Wyeth and Jasper Johns. Greenville Theatre provides an immersive theatrical experience, while The Children's Museum of the Upstate offers interactive exhibits and play-based learning opportunities for families.

For those interested in delving into the region's history, the Upcountry History Museum provides engaging exhibits that explore various aspects of the Upstate's past. Additionally, the Sigal Music Museum, the newest addition to the campus, offers a captivating journey through the history of musical instruments. With the Greenville County Library System's Hughes Main Library also located on the campus, visitors can access a wealth of resources and information. Together, these cultural facilities at Heritage Green create a dynamic and enriching environment where visitors can immerse themselves in art, history, theater, music, and literature.
NOMA Square

7) NOMA Square

NOMA Square stands as a vibrant public plaza located at the corner of Main and Beattie Streets, near the Hyatt Regency Greenville hotel. This bustling square offers a plethora of activities and events that cater to a diverse range of interests and preferences. Whether you're looking to participate in a yoga class, enjoy Yappy Hour with your furry friend, groove to live music, catch a fashion show, or join the annual Oktoberfest festival, NOMA Square has something for everyone.

As the largest plaza in downtown Greenville, NOMA Square regularly hosts free community events, fostering a lively and inclusive atmosphere. Visitors are encouraged to explore the retail stores, savor the local cuisine, and immerse themselves in the vibrant energy of the square. Oil & Vinegar offers a delightful selection of imported olive oils, vinegars, pesto, tapenades, and more, while Kilwins Chocolate, Fudge, and Ice Cream tantalize taste buds with their delicious treats, including ice cream cones, fudge slices, and gourmet caramel apples.

For a memorable dining experience, visitors can indulge in farm-to-table cuisine at Roost Restaurant, which boasts a fresh and seasonal menu showcasing the finest local and organic ingredients. With handcrafted cocktails and locally brewed beer available, patrons can relax and unwind on the beautiful outdoor patio overlooking Main Street. Additionally, NOMA Square is home to the Hyatt Regency Greenville, a prestigious AAA Four Diamond Hotel that has been a cherished landmark in downtown Greenville since its opening in 1982.
Downtown and Main Street

8) Downtown and Main Street

Downtown Greenville stands as a shining beacon of culture, commerce, and community in the Upstate region. Renowned as one of the Top 10 Best Downtowns in the country by Livability and lauded as a "national model for a pedestrian-friendly city center" by The New York Times, downtown Greenville offers an inviting and vibrant atmosphere that captivates visitors and residents alike.

Beyond its vibrant shopping scene, downtown Greenville has emerged as a haven for culinary enthusiasts, earning a well-deserved reputation as a foodie's paradise. With more than 120 independent restaurants scattered across its 10-block stretch, downtown Greenville offers a diverse array of dining options to satisfy every palate and budget. From cozy cafes and upscale bistros to lively pubs and farm-to-table eateries, downtown Greenville's dining scene celebrates the region's rich culinary heritage while embracing innovative flavors and techniques.

At the heart of downtown Greenville lies Main Street, a bustling thoroughfare lined with an eclectic mix of over 100 retailers, including art galleries, specialty stores, and local designer boutiques alongside national favorites like Anthropologie, Orvis, and Brooks Brothers. Whether you're in search of unique artisanal crafts or the latest fashion trends, Main Street promises a shopper's paradise with something to suit every taste and preference.

Hailed as a "Great American Main Street" by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, downtown Greenville's charm extends beyond its retail and dining offerings. Tree-lined Main Street exudes a captivating ambiance, particularly after dark when the maples and oaks shimmer with enchanting white lights, creating a magical backdrop for leisurely strolls, casual gatherings, and memorable experiences. Whether you're exploring its historic landmarks, savoring its culinary delights, or simply soaking in its vibrant atmosphere, downtown Greenville invites you to discover the essence of Southern hospitality and charm.
Falls Park

9) Falls Park (must see)

Falls Park on the Reedy stands as a captivating 32-acre oasis nestled adjacent to downtown Greenville, within the historic West End district. Established in 1967 through the efforts of the Carolina Foothills Garden Club, the park occupies a significant portion of land that was once utilized for textile mills. Over the years, Falls Park has undergone extensive renovation, with a notable acceleration in the late 1990s that led to the formation of the Falls Park Endowment—a private charity dedicated to supporting ongoing development initiatives.

One of the park's most iconic features is the Liberty Bridge at Falls Park on the Reedy, a remarkable pedestrian bridge that gracefully curves around a picturesque waterfall on the Reedy River. In addition to the stunning bridge, Falls Park boasts a diverse array of attractions, including a collection of meticulously curated public gardens that add to the park's natural beauty. Visitors can also explore remnants of history within the park, such as a preserved wall from the original 1776 grist mill that once graced the site. With its blend of natural splendor and historical significance, Falls Park offers a tranquil escape for both locals and tourists alike, providing a serene retreat in the heart of Greenville's bustling urban landscape.
Liberty Bridge

10) Liberty Bridge (must see)

Greenville's Liberty Bridge is a distinctive structure that pays tribute to W. Frank Hipp, the founder of Liberty Corporation, and his children for their contributions to the community. Funded by the City of Greenville's Hospitality Tax, this $4.5 million bridge was built over the course of a year by Taylor and Murphy Construction Co., with design by Miquel Rosales and engineering by Schlaich Bergermann.

What sets this bridge apart is its lightweight design, described by Chris Britton, structural division manager for Taylor and Murphy, as appearing to "float on air." Spanning 345 feet in length, 12 feet in width, and featuring an 8-inch thick concrete deck supported by a single suspension cable, the Liberty Bridge boasts a distinctive curved shape with a radius of 214 feet. This unique geometry, cantilevered over the Reedy River Falls, is unlike anything found elsewhere in the United States, despite similar concepts in European bridges.

Beneath the bridge lies the historic site where Greenville's first European settler, Richard Pearis, established his trading post in 1768. Subsequently, grist and saw mills were built in this location, making it a vital center of industry in Greenville until the 1920s. The Liberty Bridge serves not only as a modern architectural marvel but also as a connection to the city's rich historical roots.

Walking Tours in Greenville, South Carolina

Create Your Own Walk in Greenville

Create Your Own Walk in Greenville

Creating your own self-guided walk in Greenville is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Historical Greenville Walking Tour

Historical Greenville Walking Tour

Greenville, South Carolina, is steeped in history. Having evolved throughout the centuries into a prosperous and appealing destination, the city boasts a rich tapestry of historical sites that paint a vivid picture of its past.

Starting with the Museum & Library of Confederate History, visitors are transported to the Civil War era through a collection of artifacts and documents that...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 Km or 2.5 Miles