World Explorers Downtown Greenville, SC Tour for Families
Visiting or moving to Greenville, SC and want to learn more about the history and beautiful downtown? Or do you simply want to learn more about this wonderful city that you call home? We have just the tour for you. And it’s family friendly! Many thanks to World Explorers for inviting us to review their tour of downtown Greenville.
I’ve lived in Greenville for eight years and I’m still learning so much about our beautiful city, its history and its sights. There’s never a dull moment learning about Greenville, especially when you take a tour with a downtown expert world explorer as we. The tour is particularly geared towards families, so don’t be afraid to bring all the children, as there will be plenty of treats for them along the way.
Before I tell you about our lovely experience, let me say that I wish this tour had been there when I first considered moving to Greenville. I’d come twice to see the city and kind of stumbled around trying to figure things out on my own. This tour would have been incredibly helpful — and entertaining — not only because you’re walking through a downtown area that’s nationally recognized for its beauty and shops, but because you’re taking a few hours to simply experience the heart of Greenville As well as asking your guide, you’ll ask questions of the local businesses you visit, and you’ll learn what makes the city so special.
About world explorers
World Explorers focuses on early childhood education through their preschool, summer and school vacation camps, after school childcare, childcare and tours of Greenville. Founded in 2003 by Kisha Edwards-Gandsy and Keyanna Murrill, World Explorers’ Greenville location opened in 2020.
They teach children to find similarities in who each of us is rather than focus on our differences and encourage them to learn about different cultures and traditions through play. Their office is located just off Main Street in downtown Greenville, where they also have a child care room on select Friday nights. Bring your kids over and have dinner or see a show just a few steps from where your kids are being cared for!
World Explorers also works to build excellent community relationships. You may have seen their fun table at the iMAGINE Festival in downtown Greenville this spring. You have to make paper hats at their table! They participate in similar events throughout the year, and through touring downtown Greenville, they also work on outreach and community engagement. I really love seeing these types of relationships where our local businesses support each other.
About the World Explorer Downtown Greenville Tour
The tour of downtown Greenville is led by Jonathan Kilpatrick, Director of Community Engagement at World Explorers, and lasts approximately 2.5 hours, more or less depending on how long you stop at each location. Jonathan has a theater and performing background 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 if you walk up Main Street and then back to the office if you wish. Anyone can do it, locals or visitors, and it’s all-inclusive. So if you have a wheelchair bound family member they will not have any problems.
Kids start out with a local business passbook to stamp when they visit, a scavenger hunt for the M. Judson bookstore, a picture of a bee to visit the Savannah Bee Company, and pencils and temporary tattoos. Adults also get a bunch of coupons for most of the places you visit on the tour, as well as some other goodies.
The maximum number of participants for the tour is 10 including adults and children as you are going to some smaller locations and it is easier for everyone to hear what Jonathan is saying in a smaller group.
Let’s start the tour
The first stop on your tour is right next to the World Explorers office, which features a statue of Vardry McBee, one of Greenville’s founders. You’ll learn all about how our beautiful city came to be and what role McBee played in it. After that, walk across the street to the statue of Joel Roberts Poinsett, after whom the poinsettia plant is named. Ah, spoiler alert, sorry! Jonathan will give you some more details about who he is and why he is sitting in front of M. Judson Booksellers, your next stop on the tour.
M. Judson Bookseller
M. Judson Bookseller is a downtown gem. Not only do they have great books, a nice children’s area, and a cafe with pastries, but you can also find cooking utensils, towels with fun sayings, and cute souvenir items. Love love this place and was so happy we stopped there. Here the kids can start their scavenger hunt or come back another time. you want to go back Promise.
Next, you’ll pass the statue replica of a boar from Florence, Italy, which is said to bring you good luck if you do something specific there, which I won’t tell you because I don’t want to spoil the fun. Pro tip: carry some coins with you.
After getting lucky from the boar, learn about two Sterling High School kids whose statues are just off Main Street and who were involved in a sit-in protest during segregation. Then head to an underground cafe and another one of my favorites, Mast General.
I’m 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 walking through the store and seeing all the cool, local clothing and hats, it was the candy kegs, which Jonathan made a beeline for, much to the delight of my eight-year-old daughter, whose eyes popped as she gazed at the candy kegs. Take a toilet break here as it is the only stop with public toilets.
Children can have a little joy here. Pro tip: Have your kids go to your right after exiting Mast General so you can block them from seeing the amazing toy display at OP Taylor next to Mast General. Tell them you can come back after the tour ends. It’s a beautiful toy store that my family really enjoys visiting.
Savannah Bee Company
Next, learn all about bees and honey at the Savannah Bee Company. This place is really neat. They have everything you can imagine related to honey and bees: a big video screen of a beehive in action, all kinds of honey, beeswax candles, beeswax lip gloss, books about bees, an exhibition about the life cycle of bees, honey biscuits, honey tea and even samples of their honey. The sales lady we spoke to was just a wealth of knowledge and was a lot of fun browsing the shop and sampling some of the honey samples. Kids can also fill in their anatomy of a bee leaf here if they want.
After the Savannah Bee Company, visit another of my favorite Main Street stores, the Spice & Tea Exchange. This place is super cool because you can buy all kinds of loose tea (coconut oolong is my favorite), spices, sugar, BBQ rubs and marinades. I let my daughter smell some of my favorite teas and enjoy the pumpkin spice flavors throughout the store. And I absolutely bought some tea there because it’s amazing.
Her final top on the tour is a cute one: Kilwins in NOMA Square, where the Hyatt Hotel is located. Now Kilwins will liberate you from any self-control you have possessed up to this point in your tour. Kilwins has chocolate truffles, ice cream, homemade fudge, chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate covered orange peels, truffles, chocolate covered macaroons, and giant peanut cups covered in white and milk chocolate. Do I have to keep going? OK. They also have caramel apples, chocolate covered pretzels, pralines and cakes. I think you get the point.
We treated ourselves to some fudge samples which were amazing and got to see the chocolate being tempered for later strawberry covering. They also finished off some caramel drizzle on the apples. So tempting.
And that’s where your tour ends, friends, right at Kilwins, where you can lose all your self-control. If you wish, you can walk back to the office with Jonathan or just stroll down Main Street by yourself.
Book your tour
Tours to downtown Greenville run on Saturdays from 10:00am to 12:30pm and meet at the World Explorers office in the historic Liberty Building at 132 S. Main Street. Publicity parking garage are nearby and you can park for free at the Richardson Street Garage (66 Richardson Street, Greenville) on weekends.
Tickets are $60/adult and $25/children 16 and under. You can buy them online direct from World Explorers.
I highly recommend this tour to anyone considering moving to Greenville as well as those who want to learn more about Greenville and its history. You will learn a lot even if you have lived here for many years! My 8 year old daughter really enjoyed it and ended up asking me to see a photo of the kids at Sterling High School speaking out against segregation. She also wants to return to Mast General and Kilwins so we’re definitely planning another trip downtown.
135 S. Main Street, Greenville