Tucked in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Spartanburg SC is a hidden gem. Although less well known than Columbia or Myrtle Beach, it has hotels, event venues, historical sites, art and culture fit to rival its flashier sister cities. In fact, Spartanburg’s downtown was named the second best cultural district in the state! Conveniently located at the intersection of two major interstates and within easy drives of not one, but three international airports, Spartanburg has everything you could ask for in a vacation destination.
Thanks to the area’s thriving economy and strong job market, downtown Spartanburg is a hub for culture, art and opportunity. Its walkable design makes getting around easy, and its charm makes every visit a delight. As if that weren’t enough, the city is a foodie’s Mecca, complete with local distilleries, breweries, wine bars and superb dining options for every budget and taste.
Shopping, Staying and Dining
There’s plenty of room to argue that shopping and dining deserve to be considered proper things to do in Spartanburg, SC, rather than being counted as afterthoughts. Whether you’re delighted by the city’s thoughtful farm-to-table restaurants, its lux blend of international flavors and fusions, or good old-fashioned Southern comfort food, Spartanburg takes its dining seriously and invites you to do the same.
Gorgeous little breweries, wine bars, coffee shops tucked all over the city invite you slow down and savor between meals, too. Go by yourself for an afternoon with your sketchbook or a favorite novel, or go with friends to make new memories. No matter how you indulge, you’ll find Southern hospitality makes everything better.
Shopping, too, qualifies as a worthy pursuit in a city that’s home to a plethora of unique shops. Perhaps the most famous is Vintage Warehouse Spartanburg. Since 2014, this massive venue has provided shopping enthusiasts with over 30,000 square feet of buyers’ bliss. More than 50 artisans provide handcrafted, upcycled and one-of-a-kind items for sale in categories ranging from gifts to clothing, accessories, home decor and furniture.
Freestyle Fridays and other events provide visitors with chances to get their hands dirty and engage in a little creative work themselves. Just plan ahead. The Warehouse’s is closed Mondays and only open until 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Sunday hours are limited to 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., so visits are best planned into your itinerary rather than left to chance to ensure you have enough time to properly enjoy the bounty on offer.
Parks and Gardens
South Carolina’s mild climate allows Spartanburg parks and gardens to remain open year round. Individual sites may vary their hours by season, but visitors can count on enjoying beautiful tours and outdoor activities regardless of when they visit.
At the top of the list for every garden lover should be Hatcher Garden. A Botanical Garden and Woodland Preserve, Hatcher is open 365 days a year from dawn until dusk and is free to the public. Considered one of the ten best botanical gardens in the state and the second most popular attraction in Spartanburg SC, the garden features more than 10,000 individual trees and shrubs and more than 30 different species of woodland flowers. Nearly 43,000 visitors pass through its gates annually to explore its “rooms” and sections, which include the:
- Altrusa Native Plant Garden.
- Conifer Collection.
- Butterfly Garden.
- Therapeutic Garden of Hope and Healing.
- Josephine Hatcher Woodland Garden.
- Robert Lawrence Odom Hosta Friendship Garden.
- Thomas W. Bartram Trail.
- Walter Soderberg Ericaceous Garden.
- Water Wise Demonstration Garden.
Visitors should keep in mind when planning their visits that the following things are prohibited in the Garden:
- Picking flowers or plants
- Bicycles, skateboards and scooters
For visitors looking for a more casual outdoor experience, Cleveland Park provides multi-purpose green space. For more than 100 years the centrally located park has been a community favorite. Outfitted with picnic shelters and tables, an amphitheater, outdoor fitness equipment, playgrounds, restrooms and trails, the lake-side park is beautiful and practical. Regular upgrades kept the space impeccably maintained and ideal for gatherings of every style and size. There is no charge to use the park and only modest fees for using designated event spaces and facilities. The park is open during daylight hours and pets are welcome.
The Piedmont Interstate Fair, also referred to as the Spartanburg Fair, runs for a week in early October each year. A local tradition, it has an abundance of exhibits, livestock, rides, food stalls and free concerts. Favorites include:
- Dinosaur shows.
- A petting zoos and pony rides.
- Clown and balloon shows.
- Laser tag.
- Helicopter rides.
- Wrestling shows.
- A car show.
- Kids shows.
- Animal exhibits.
Ticket prices vary, with standard adult tickets costing $10 apiece and Mega Passes going for $20. Discounted tickets are available for children, seniors and veterans. Alternatively, visitors can purchase “admission only” tickets for half price and purchase tickets for rides separately, starting at $1.50 per ride ticket. For the best prices, buy your tickets in advance!
Spartanburg SC has a rich cultural arts district, lush with galleries, studios, theaters, museums and concert venues. Monthly “art walks” bring local and visiting art lovers together to enjoy the latest in the city’s colorful cultural displays and activities.
A key stop on these walks is the Spartanburg Museum. Primarily focused on modern visual arts, the museum is relatively small in size but well-known for its vibrant and engaging collections and events. More than 150 artists from 21 countries are represented in the works regularly on display, and thee museum charges no admission fees to view and engage with the art.
Events are frequent, well-attended and typically hands-on. Many are family appropriate and inexpensive, making the museum a great place to pass a rainy afternoon while traveling, whether on is alone, with friends or with children. Look for Family Fundays on the second Sunday of each month, in particular. Finally, be sure to check the museum’s schedule to see if your visit aligns with any planned art parties or movie showings!