Are you looking for gardens to explore around Spartanburg? Whether you are looking for gardens to explore by yourself or gardens to visit with kids, we have you covered. Local mom, Kristen, has put together this list of beautiful gardens near Spartanburg that are perfect for families.
Gardens are a wonderful way to enjoy nature and spend time outdoors. My kids love gardens–hunting for rocks, examining leaves and searching for insects and other wildlife. We are lucky to live near so many beautiful and diverse gardens. Here is a list of some of the best gardens and arboretums in Spartanburg and around the Upstate.
Gardens Near Spartanburg
Hatcher Botanical Garden and Woodland Preserve is free to the public and a perfect spot to spend the day with your kids. With both paved and unpaved paths, wildflowers, waterfalls, ponds, observation decks and several lovely places to picnic, Hatcher Gardens has a little bit of everything. The trails are easy, each being about .25 miles. Within their 10 acres you can find a butterfly garden, a medicinal garden, a native plant garden, and a hope and healing garden. They also offer group tours and educational programs. Hatcher Garden also has fun activities throughout the year including seasonal plant sales, and workshops.
Spartanburg also has several arboretums that are free and open to the public. The spring flowers are stunning and the fall colors are also amazing.
Spartanburg Community College Arboretum
Spartanburg Community College Arboretum has several unique gardens with trees, shrubs and perennials. There is also an Outdoor Train Garden with a scale model train. The garden is used as an educational arena for the college’s horticulture students.
Susan Jacobs Arboretum
The Susan Jacobs Arboretum, at the center of the University of South Carolina Upstate campus, is 12 acres of walkways and indigenous foliage. There is also a large amphitheater, a creek and bog garden.
The entire campus of Wofford College is considered a designated arboretum with more than 4,000 trees over 150 acres. There are three different tours of the arboretum and the college provides guides at the start of each trail.
The Milliken Arboretum, located at the headquarters of Milliken & Company, is a nationally recognized arboretum. Within the 600 acres are more than 3,000 trees, many of them rare to South Carolina. There are several ponds, decorative fountains, trails and open green spaces. And, yes, it is open to the public!
Not really a garden, but a lovely outdoor space, Morgan Square in downtown Spartanburg has several grassy areas, a bell tower, fountains, statues and brick pathways lined with a variety of plants and flowers. The square hosts several community events including Music on Main in the summer months, Jazz on the Square every Friday in April, May, September and October, and Skating on the Square November through January.
Gardens in Downtown Greenville
The most popular garden in downtown Greenville is at the scenic and award-winning Falls Park on the Reedy. With beautiful flowerbeds, grassy knolls and waterfalls, it makes a great day trip from Spartanburg. The 32-acre park is actually home to several beautiful public gardens all along the Reedy River and Vardry Creek.
Two of my family’s favorite spots in Falls Park are The Carolina Foothills Garden Club Sanctuary and Pedrick’s Garden at Falls Park.
Pedrick’s Garden is a sunflower-themed garden featuring a fountain and raised flower beds in the shapes of sunflower petals. The two-acre garden can be found behind the West End Market along Vardry Creek, (the parking lot behind Mellow Mushroom). Cross the Botanical Bridge at Pedrick’s Garden and visit the shady and serene Carolina Foothills Garden Club Sanctuary. (This route involves uneven stone steps. If you need a flatter, or stroller-friendly path, the sanctuary can be reached by following a path just behind the amphitheater stage in Falls Park.) This is a quiet, peaceful spot with old stone walls, a narrow waterfall, and a gentle creek.
Frances Beattie Rockgarden
Just behind Mary’s Restaurant at Falls Cottage on Main Street is the Frances Beattie Rockgarden. Downstream of the falls is Old Mill Garden. This lovely, landscaped area with an old stone wall and arbor, is a popular wedding spot.
The Children’s Garden
The Children’s Garden at Linky Stone Park is another favorite garden in downtown Greenville. My son loves the Storybook Garden featuring a gingerbread house and bear statues, and the Rainbow Garden. There is also an Alphabet Garden, a Five Senses Garden, which includes musical instruments for sound and herbs for the smell, and a History Garden. I love that it’s so shady and there are plenty of places to sit.
There is construction happening around the garden, and often there is no parking right there. However, it is easily walkable from Main Street and there is a parking deck nearby on River Street.
Rose Society and Sue Simpson Gardens
Two smaller gardens near downtown are located at 200 and 300 East Camperdown Way: The Greenville Rose Society Garden and The Sue Simpson Garden. Both are very pretty gardens, and Sue Simpson has plenty of shade and paths, but they aren’t places I’d take small children. There is not much for them to see or do there and there is no street parking. I could only find parking in the surrounding businesses.
Gardens around Greenville
Rock Quarry Garden
Rock Quarry Garden was built on the site of a pre-Civil War era granite quarry and is a popular area for wedding and family photoshoots. With waterfalls, flower beds, grassy hills and a stone bridge over a rocky stream, it is a gorgeous place to take family photos or have a picnic. Located in Cleveland Park in Greenville, at the corner of McDaniel and Sherwood Street, the garden is easily accessible from the Swamp Rabbit Trail.
Roper Mountain Science Center (temporarily closed due to Covid-19)
The Butterfly Garden at Roper Mountain Science Center is lush with flowers that attract butterflies. The garden is made up of host plants, such as Echinacea and Aster, and nectar plants like violets, hollyhock, and snapdragons. Several species of butterfly can be spotted in the garden including Monarchs, Tiger Swallowtail and Red Admirals. Stone and dirt paths, benches and statues complete this pretty area.
The Butterfly Garden is a certified National Wildlife Federation Schoolyard Habitat. Volunteers and Master Gardeners are available the second Saturday of the month, March through November to answer questions.
RMSC also has a Herb and Heritage Garden at the Living History Farm. Visitors can see vegetables and herbs that were commonly grown in the 1800s, as well as composting bins and plants used in fiber dyeing. As with the Butterfly Garden, Master Gardners are on hand the second Saturday of the month.
YMCA Children’s Garden
The YMCA Children’s Garden is located at the Caine Halter YMCA and is adjacent to the playground. It features a dry stream bed, picnic tables, concrete play area, a rain garden, and beautiful landscaping. You must be YMCA members to visit the garden and playground area. Membership information can be found here.
Another spot worth checking out in Greenville is the Kilgore-Lewis House. My kids and I love wandering around the gardens at Kilgore-Lewis House. There’s something old fashioned and whimsical about this place–and my son is positive fairies live there. With both natural and landscaped areas, grassy meadows, a pond, a creek, and some picturesque bridges make for a beautiful place to walk around and enjoy nature. The gardens are considered a certified backyard habitat and there is plenty of wildlife to be seen, including chipmunks, squirrels and lots of birds.
Both the house and garden are free, and docents are available for tours.
Gardens at Furman University (temporarily closed to guests due to Covid-19)
Janie Earle Furman Rose Garden
The Janie Earle Furman Rose Garden features more than 700 rose bushes, brick pathways, a fountain, and a 19th-century Florentine gazebo. This beautiful spot is a popular place for photos. It can also be rented for small, standing-only weddings. The rose garden is just off the trail that circles the lake, and close to the bookstore.
Japanese Garden and Place of Peace
Further along the lake trail is the Japanese Garden and Place of Peace. The garden has a pond with lily pads and koi fish, bamboo, uncut bonsais, Japanese Maple trees, and a Chinese Evergreen Oak. The Place of Peace, a traditional Japanese temple, is across the street from the garden and up a flight of steps.
Susan Thomson Shi Garden
While you’re there, be sure to check out the Susan Thomson Shi Garden, further around the lake just past the Bell Tower. It’s a sort of wild patch with flowers such as coneflowers and goldenrod.
Rock and Botanical Garden
Outside of the Townes Science Center, you can find a Rock and Botanical Garden, a greenhouse and the Fiber/Dye Garden which grows cotton and lax, and 15 plants used to produce dyes. The plants are used in a variety of science courses.
Travel a little further for these gardens
South Carolina Botanical Gardens
The South Carolina Botanical Gardens in Clemson is completely worth the drive! While the main exhibits are the Heritage Garden and the Children’s Garden, there are 295 acres of natural landscapes, nature trails, ponds, and even a red caboose. My kids love it there, and I see something new every time.
This is a wonderful place to visit again and again. Plus there are educational programs for kids and adults, and events happening all year long.
North Carolina Arboretum
The North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville has garden exhibits, hiking and biking trails, educational programs and a cafe and gift shop. Some notable exhibits are the garden-scale model train that runs Saturdays and Sundays, a Stream Garden, a Quilt Garden,
Asheville Botanical Gardens
Asheville Botanical Gardens are free, public gardens with a focus on plants native to Southern Appalachia. The garden’s 10 acres include walking trails, streams, bridges, meadows and woodland areas.
If you’re looking for a garden that’s a little different, check out Bountiful Cities in Asheville. This group maintains three edible gardens, as well as two more partner gardens around town.
Do you know of a garden that we should add to our list? Share it in the comments!