Discover the Carolinas: Best Free Day Trips from Greenville, SC

Estimated read time 5 min read

Greetings, my dear adventurers! One of the best things to do is to just load up the car and head out on a day trip, especially when the destination is both intriguing and free! Greenville, South Carolina, a hidden treasure in its own way, offers a multitude of charming destinations for those in-the-know. Today, we’ll delve into two breathtaking locations that make great free day trips from Greenville and under two hours away, both certain to feed your wanderlust and keep your pocket happy: Cedar Falls Park and Symmes Chapel, also known as The Pretty Place.

Before we delve into our main attractions, I’d like to share these tips: Greenville is brimming with free activities right in its vicinity. Some of my favorite things to do include visiting the Falls Park on the Reedy, biking along the Swamp Rabbit Trail, exploring Art Crossing at RiverPlace, admiring the art at the Greenville County Museum of Art, and following the GHS Swamp Rabbit Tram Trail. You could also enjoy a free visit to the Roper Mountain Science Center on the second Saturday of the month, browse through the Travelers Rest Farmers Market, or relish a free day at Paris Mountain State Park on the first day of the month. And don’t forget the free Downtown Alive concert every Thursday evening from March to August, or the leisurely window shopping on Main Street!

Now, on to our featured destinations!

2 free day trips from greenville, sc when i wander

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Cedar Falls Park: A Natural Playground Day Trip from Greenville

(Address: 201 Cedar Falls Road, Fountain Inn, SC 29644; Hours: 9AM to DUSK)

Just a short drive from the hustle and bustle of Greenville, Cedar Falls Park is a splendid day trip that features an expanse of natural beauty. Insider tip: the best times to visit are early morning or late afternoon, when the sun shines perfectly on the falls, creating a flawless visual.

Cedar Falls Park has a long history that dates back to the nineteenth century. In fact, the remains of the historic dam you’ll see once powered a sawmill, a textile mill, and a cotton gin. The dam was a crucial element of South Carolina’s early industrial development.

Check out more to do in Greenville.

Near Cedar Falls, you can also visit the Happy Cow Creamery for a guided farm tour, explore the history at the Fountain Inn Museum, or enjoy a self-guided walk around the Fountain Inn Nature Trail.

For family-friendly dining, try J Peters Grill & Bar in Fountain Inn, known for its relaxed atmosphere and varied menu. If you’re planning an overnight stay, Hampton Inn Simpsonville is a popular choice with families for its comfortable rooms and free breakfast.

Symmes Chapel AKA The Pretty Place

Address: 100 YMCA Camp Rd, Cleveland, SC 29635

Our second stop is the mesmerizing Symmes Chapel, part of the YMCA Camp Greenville. Open from sunrise to sunset (except during private events), this chapel offers a view so spectacular it’s almost surreal. Insider tip: For an especially memorable visit, coordinate your trip with the wildflower bloom in the spring or the stunning autumn foliage.

The chapel’s simple design allows nature to take center stage. Mr. Fred W. Symmes, the chapel’s namesake, donated the chapel in the early 1940s as a venue for outdoor religious devotion. It has since become a beloved place, attracting visitors from all across the country with its jaw-dropping vistas.

The popularity of the spot may make getting a clear shot tricky, but believe me, the view is worth the patience. To capture the magic, I recommend planning your visit around sunrise or sunset – a quick Google search will show you some jaw-dropping photos from those times.

Around Symmes Chapel, don’t miss the opportunity to take a hike in Jones Gap State Park, visit the historical Poinsett Bridge, or immerse yourself in nature at the Caesars Head State Park.

For a delicious family-friendly meal after a long day of exploration, stop by Aunt Sue’s Country Corner which offers homestyle cooking in a cozy setting. If you’re looking to stay overnight, The Orchard Inn in nearby Saluda offers family-friendly rooms and a welcoming atmosphere.

Check out places to eat in nearby Asheville.

Kid-Friendly Hiking Activity

Finally, to make your hiking outings more interesting for your under-12s, make it a scavenger hunt. Create a list of items they’re likely to encounter along the journey – a bird’s nest, a red leaf, a strangely shaped rock, a spider web, a pine cone – and see who can find the most of them. This easy game will keep kids entertained while also encouraging them to engage more deeply with the natural world around them.

And there you have it: two fantastic free day trips from Greenville, SC, as well as ten additional great free activities in the city’s vicinity! You don’t have to go far or spend a lot of money to experience the natural beauty of the Carolinas. So put on your hiking boots, fill up the gas tank, and set out on your next trip. 

Don’t forget to share your experience in the comments below – I’d love to hear about your journey! And hit the share button to let your friends in on these hidden gems. Until next time, keep wandering!

Happy Wandering!

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  1. 2
    Gervin Khan

    Stunning, is the world best to describe this place. Everywhere you look is so mesmerizing, as it your eyes will never get enough of what this place is to offer.

  2. 7

    The picture of the cross overlooking the mountains really got me. So beautiful! I can imagine that once the trees green up it is even more beautiful. I’ve heard SC is gorgeous.

    • 8
      Portia O'Laughlin

      I’ve seen photos of it sunrise and it is glorious! Just amazing. Probably worth a trip during every season and time of day.

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