Visiting or moving to Greenville, SC, and want to know more about its history and lovely downtown? Or maybe you just want to learn more about this wonderful city you call home? We’ve got just the tour for you. And it’s family-friendly! Thanks to World Explorers for inviting us to review their downtown Greenville tour.
I’ve lived in Greenville eight years and I’m still learning so much about our beautiful city, its history, and its landmarks. Learning about Greenville never gets old, especially when you get to tour downtown with an expert from World Explorers like we did. The tour is especially geared towards families so don’t be afraid to bring all the kids because there are a lot of treats along the way for them.
Before I tell you about our neat experience, let me say that I wish this tour was around when I first considered moving to Greenville. I had come twice to check out the city and was kind of bumbling around and just trying to figure things out on my own. This tour would have been amazingly helpful – and fun – to do because not only are you walking along a downtown that has been nationally recognized because of its beauty and businesses, but also because you get to take a couple of hours and just experience the heart of Greenville, ask questions not only to your guide but to the local businesses you visit, and learn about what makes the city so special.
About World Explorers
World Explorers focuses on early childhood education through their preschool, summer, and school break camps, after-school childcare, drop-off childcare, and tours of Greenville. The Greenville location of World Explorers, which was founded in 2003 by Kisha Edwards-Gandsy and Keyanna Murrill, opened in 2020.
They teach kids to find similarities in who each of us are instead of focusing on our differences and encourage learning about different cultures and traditions through play. Their office is right on Main Street in downtown Greenville, which is also where they have a room for drop-in childcare on select Friday nights. Drop off your kids and go have dinner or see a show within steps of where your kids are being taken care of!
World Explorers works on establishing excellent community relationships as well. You may have seen their fun table at the iMAGINE Festival in downtown Greenville during the spring. You got to make paper hats at their table! They are at similar events throughout the year and it’s through the downtown Greenville tour that they also work on community outreach and engagement. I really love seeing those kinds of relationships where our local businesses support each other.
About the World Explorer Downtown Greenville Tour
The downtown Greenville tour is led by Jonthan Kilpatrick, the Director of Community Engagement at World Explorers, and takes about 2.5 hours more or less, depending on how long you stop at each place. Jonathan has a background in theater and performing, which makes him the perfect person to lead the tour. And, he’s passionate about Greenville, its history, and the businesses you visit on the tour.
The tour is a walking tour and you don’t walk very far, maybe 10 blocks total as you go up Main Street and then back to the office if you like. Anyone can do it, locals or visitors, and it is all-inclusive, so if you have a wheelchair-bound member of the family, they won’t have any issues.
To start, kids get a passport book of local businesses that they can stamp when they visit, a scavenger hunt for M. Judson bookstore, a picture of a bee for the visit to the Savannah Bee Company, and pencils and temporary tattoos. Adults also get a bunch of coupons to most of the places that you’ll visit on the tour plus some other goodies.
The max number of people for the tour is 10, including adults and children, since you’ll be going to some smaller places and it’s just easier for everyone to hear what Jonathan is saying in a smaller group.
Let’s Start Touring
The first stop on your tour will be right next door to the World Explorers office where there’s a statue of Vardry McBee, one of the founders of Greenville. You’ll hear all about how our beautiful city came to be and what part McBee played in it. After that, you’ll walk across the street to the statue of Joel Roberts Poinsett after whom the poinsettia plant was named. Ah, spoiler alert, sorry! Jonathan will give you some more details on who he is and why he’s sitting outside M. Judson Booksellers, your next stop on the tour.
M. Judson Booksellers
M. Judson Booksellers is a downtown gem of a store. Not only do they have amazing books, a beautiful kids’ space, and a coffee shop with pastries, but you can also find cooking utensils, hand towels with phrases that are hilarious on them, and cute souvenir items. I love, love this place, and was so happy we stopped there. The kids can start on their scavenger hunt tour here or come back and do it another time. You’ll want to go back. Promise.
Next, you’ll head past the statue replica of a boar from Florence, Italy that supposedly brings you good luck if you do something specific there, which I’m not telling you because I don’t want to spoil the fun. Pro tip: have some coins on you.
After obtaining luck from the boar, you’ll learn about two kids from Sterling High School whose statues are directly on Main Street and were involved in a sit-in protest during segregation. Then you’ll head to an underground coffee shop and over to another of my favorites, Mast General.
I am a big fan of hiking and camping so I can easily spend hours (and too much money) at Mast General but in this case, while we did walk through the store and see all the cool, local apparel and hats, it was the Candy barrels that Jonathan made a beeline for, much to the delight of my eight-year-old daughter whose eyes bulged when viewing the barrels of candy. Take a bathroom break here since it’s the only stop that has public restrooms.
Kids may be in for a little treat here. Pro tip: have your kids walk to your right after you leave Mast General so you can block them from seeing the amazing toy display at OP Taylor’s next door to Mast General. Tell them you can go back after the tour ends. It’s a beautiful toy store and one that my family really does enjoy visiting.
Savannah Bee Company
Next, you get to learn all about bees and honey at the Savannah Bee Company. This place is really neat. They have everything you could think of as it relates to honey and bees: a big video screen of a bee hive in action, all kinds of honey, beeswax candles, beeswax lip gloss, books about bees, a display about the lifecycle of bees, honey pastries, honey tea, and even samples of their honey. The store clerk we talked to was just a wealth of knowledge and it was a lot of fun to peruse the store and taste some of the honey samples. Kids can also fill out their anatomy of a bee sheet here if they want.
After the Savannah Bee Company, you’ll go to another of my favorite shops on Main Street, the Spice & Tea Exchange. This place is super cool because you can buy all kinds of loose tea (the Coconut Oolong is my favorite), spices, sugars, BBQ rubs, and marinades. I let my daughter smell some of my favorite teas and enjoy the pumpkin spice aromas throughout the shop. And I absolutely bought some tea while there because it’s amazing.
Your last top on the tour is a sweet one: Kilwins in NOMA Square, where the Hyatt hotel is located. Now, Kilwins will release you of any self-control you possessed up until this point in your tour. Kilwins has chocolate truffles, ice cream, homemade fudge, chocolate-covered strawberries, chocolate-covered orange peels, truffles, macaroons covered in chocolate, and massive peanut cups covered in both white and milk chocolate. Need I go on? OK. They also have caramel apples, chocolate-covered pretzels, pralines, and cakes. I think you get the point.
We indulged in some fudge samples, which were amazing, and got to see the chocolate being tempered for later coverage of strawberries. They were also finishing up some caramel drizzle on the apples. So tempting.
And that is where your tour ends, friends, right at Kilwins where you can lose all your self-control. If you like, you can walk back to the office with Jonathan or just meander down Main Street on your own.
Booking Your Tour
Downtown Greenville tours are Saturdays from 10 am – 12:30 pm and you meet up at the World Explorers office at the historic Liberty Building at 132 S. Main Street. Public parking garages are nearby and you can park for free on weekends at the Richardson Street Garage (66 Richardson Street, Greenville).
Tickets are $60/adult and $25/kids up to age 16. You can purchase online directly from World Explorers.
I’d really recommend this tour for anyone considering moving to Greenville as well as those that want to learn more about Greenville and its history. You’ll learn a lot, even if you have lived here for many years! My eight-year-old daughter really enjoyed it and ended up asking me to see a photo of the kids from Sterling High School who stood up against segregation. She also wants to go back to Mast General and Kilwins so we’ll be planning another trip downtown for sure.
135 S. Main Street, Greenville