Just about halfway between the exciting bustle of Raleigh and the vast beauty of the North Carolina coastline lies the city of Greenville, the hub of Pitt County. As part of the wider tidewater and coastal plain region of North Carolina, Greenville is known as the Emerald City, and for a good reason.
This place is a gem! It offers a diverse population and is considered the region’s educational, economic, and cultural hub. Perhaps surprisingly, to some, Greenville has plenty of exciting hotspots to enjoy, and there is a wide variety of them too. It’s the densest city in North Carolina, so it has many social attractions and quieter areas where nature lovers can come to get away from it all.
Greenville’s residents already know what their city has to offer. It’s why so many others decide to come here for a short visit or a complete vacation. With the presence of nearby Eastern Carolina University, the easy access to the Tar River, the connection to multiple major highways, and the myriad shopping options, this hospitable city attracts many visitors each year.
Vacationers won’t want to waste one day of their trip taking in the sights and sounds of Greenville, so we’ve compiled 20 of the most exciting things to do while on vacation here. Read on and start to plan your itinerary!
Table of Contents:
- 1. Tour the campus at East Carolina University
- 2. See a Division 1 College Football Game at Bagwell Field at Dowley-Ficken Stadium
- 3. Shop for a unique souvenir at The Venue
- 4. Enjoy the Natural Beauty of the Tar River with Knee-Deep Adventures
- 5. Take in a Performance at the Whirligig Stage
- 6. Sink a few putts at Captain Jack’s Mini Golf
- 8. Step back in time with the Eastern Carolina Village and Farm Museum
- 9. Take part in a local tradition at Piratefest
- 10. Shop til you drop at Greenville Mall
- 11. Throw a few sharp objects at Stumpy’s Hatchet House
- 12. Observe some masterpieces in the Greenville Museum of Art
- 13. Gain some excellent height at the Air U Indoor Trampoline Center
- 14. See a free show with the Sunday in the Park Summer Concert Series
- 15. Bowl a few strikes at East Carolina Lanes
- 16. Learn about the world at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
- 17. Sip on a craft beer at Uptown Brewing Company
- 18. Relax for a while at River Park North
- 19. Get into the holiday spirit with the Festival of Trees
- 20. Pull off some incredible stunts at the Extreme Park at Jaycee Park
1. Tour the campus at East Carolina University
While East Carolina University (ECU) is lesser-known than some other schools in the state, it’s still the 4th largest university in the UNC system. ECU is worth checking out for its well-maintained campus alone, especially for visitors who appreciate historic academic architecture and a clean atmosphere.
The school’s founders vowed over a century ago to provide top-quality education for the region. It has lived up to that promise ever since. The school educates more than 28,000 students from every county in North Carolina and offers a full slate of majors.
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2. See a Division 1 College Football Game at Bagwell Field at Dowley-Ficken Stadium
ECU’s 50,000-seat stadium opened in the 1960s and is a top venue to catch a division 1 college football game. The talented ECU Pirates play their games here on Saturdays during the fall, injecting excitement and pride into the region. Sports fans from all walks of life will love the atmosphere, the concessions, and the always-lovable mascot, PeeDee the Pirate. Go, Pirates!
3. Shop for a unique souvenir at The Venue
The Venue is a quaint, independently-owned, and operated vintage shop that sells all types of restored antiques. The owner started the business as a hobby in 2008, restoring old items for resale. The community quickly recognized the talent and the business soon became one of the most popular stores in all of Greenville.
While locals can rent furniture and other accouterments for events such as weddings, visitors can purchase all kinds of repurposed treasures to take home from their trip. The Venue is open four days per week and offers custom painting, upholstery, embroidered items, and much more. Come in for a one-of-a-kind souvenir. You never know what you’ll find.
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4. Enjoy the Natural Beauty of the Tar River with Knee-Deep Adventures
The Tar River is one of Greenville’s most sought-after outdoor attractions. It’s 215 miles long and runs directly alongside the city. Hundreds of years ago, it was a major naval route. Today it is a beautifully-preserved haven, home to many animals such as deer, coyotes, beavers, foxes, turkeys, and bird life of all different types.
Knee Deep specializes in water rentals like kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards. Their experts on staff know the best routes down the river for taking in the scenery on a paddling journey. They rent out equipment to individuals or groups and offer guided tours for the more inexperienced river explorers.
5. Take in a Performance at the Whirligig Stage
The theater has been growing in Greenville in recent years thanks to local artists like the ones at the Whirligig. This community theater puts on top-notch shows! Their motto is “Revel, Revolve, and Reveal.”
They’ve been living up to that since 2016. The actors put on performances starring and aimed at children and adults. As a result, the whole family can join together to gain new perspectives on the world while experiencing the artistic performance of community actors. The theater is a perfect way to spend the night of your vacation.
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6. Sink a few putts at Captain Jack’s Mini Golf
Captain Jack’s is no ordinary miniature golf course. It’s an entire 18-hole course built indoors for a climate-controlled comfortable environment. The plus side of the indoor course is that they can be open every day, rain or shine.
The pirate-themed decor makes for a fun atmosphere, too! While you’re there, check out their full concession stand with pizza, salads, drinks, and snacks. As a bonus, they provide free popcorn with every game.
7. Get in touch with your spiritual side at Sojourner Whole Earth Divisions
This store isn’t for everyone, but it’s a one-of-a-kind experience. Here you can purchase all kinds of products related to the mystical side of life, like crystals, organic herbs and teas, tarot cards, books, jewelry, and many more unique products.
The owners have worked hard to create a fully-inclusive, spiritual haven open to all types of people from all walks of life. They even perform services like palm reading and tarot drawings.
8. Step back in time with the Eastern Carolina Village and Farm Museum
This museum’s mission is to preserve and interpret the architectural and agricultural life in Pitt County from 1840-1940. The compound is a preserved small village with actual structures from the period, frozen in time as an educational monument to history.
The museum serves the community by hosting private events like weddings, field trips, and photo shoots. Still, visitors will find the quaint village a lovely little getaway from the bustle of modern life.
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9. Take part in a local tradition at Piratefest
Pirates famously operated for many years off the coast of North Carolina. The most famous of them all was Blackbeard! Every spring, the residents of Greenville get together across eight city blocks along the Tar River to celebrate their pirate heritage.
Anyone visiting in April won’t be able to miss the festivities. The festival features lots of the usual live music, food, and art sales. But the big attraction is all the pirate-themed fun. There are sword fighting contests, many costumed actors, and an entire pirate encampment. ARRRRGH!
10. Shop til you drop at Greenville Mall
What better way to spend a vacation day than going on a total shopping spree? You’ll find over 60 businesses at the Greenville Mall, including stores, restaurants, and kiosks. The stores here run constant sales and keep up a fantastic atmosphere; there’s always something to buy at the mall. Just be careful, or your luggage will be too heavy to bring home!
11. Throw a few sharp objects at Stumpy’s Hatchet House
With all the axe-throwing facilities that have cropped up in recent years, it’s surprising to learn that Stumpy’s was the first in all of the United States! If the thought of tossing around dangerous tools sounds unsafe, don’t worry. The staff at Stumpy’s teaches everyone the proper techniques, and all are required to wear crucial protective gear. It’s an excellent way to get together with friends or learn a new skill to brag about when you return home. Hopefully you can hit the target!
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12. Observe some masterpieces in the Greenville Museum of Art
Art lovers rejoice! The Greenville Museum of Art is a beautiful facility whose curators have the mission of uniting the community through the visual arts. This museum is active in community and youth outreach, keeping Greenville’s artistic tradition alive for the younger generation. Admission is always free, and they run special events and exhibits constantly. The Greenville Museum holds the finest and most vast collection in the whole county.
13. Gain some excellent height at the Air U Indoor Trampoline Center
You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy the thrill of a good trampoline bounce. With over 10,000 square feet of trampolines and multiple foam pits, Air U will satisfy anyone’s itch to soar through the air. Stop in for an afternoon of jumping or book a room in advance for a private party. Also, don’t forget to check out the small arcade while you’re here.
14. See a free show with the Sunday in the Park Summer Concert Series
Suppose you’re enjoying your visit to Greenville during the summer months. In that case, you won’t want to miss one of the city’s most cherished traditions. Every Sunday in June, July, and August since 1973, the town commons has hosted free concerts. The show typically goes on at about 6:30. This is a terrific way to end the weekend and prepare for the week ahead.
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15. Bowl a few strikes at East Carolina Lanes
Bowling is one of America’s favorite pastimes. People can enjoy hours of fun on the lanes at East Carolina Lanes or take a few shots at the facility’s arcade games. They also have a sports bar where you can watch a sporting event on the big screen with a full menu and a great selection of specialty drinks. Be sure to look out for their special deal nights, which run most weeks. They enhance the experience.
16. Learn about the world at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
This museum is one of two facilities run by A Time for Science. The Greenville location opened in 2021, so the facility is ultra modern and has some beautiful educational exhibits. Visitors are always encouraged to follow the organization’s motto, “experiencing nature, doing science, having fun.”
17. Sip on a craft beer at Uptown Brewing Company
This brewpub is named for the famous Uptown area and has been called “your friendly neighborhood brewery.” With over a dozen in-house beers on tap, people come here to unwind after a long day of work or enjoy the freedom of the weekend off. People on vacation will also love to spend a few hours here, relaxing with a cold local brew.
18. Relax for a while at River Park North
For those who like to take some time to slow down on vacation, take a trip to River Park North, a 324-acre nature park with plenty to do. The activities here include boating, fishing, hiking, and recreational sports. The park also has plenty of amenities to keep everyone comfortable, including rental boats, an observation deck, picnic shelters, and a sand volleyball court.
19. Get into the holiday spirit with the Festival of Trees
This festival is only available for people who take their trip to Greenville over the holiday season. Each year, the local Family Support Network sponsors this local-favorite event where hundreds of trees are decorated and lit up for the enjoyment of all who love to celebrate. Families and children are especially encouraged to experience the magic or take a photo with Santa Claus.
20. Pull off some incredible stunts at the Extreme Park at Jaycee Park
One of Greenville’s lesser-known nicknames is “Pro-town USA,” for a good reason. The skate park area of Jaycee Park has been the training ground for more X-Games medalists than any other training facility in the world! From beginners to professionals, the place is excellent for anyone who wants to work on their BMX biking skills while also having a great time.
Greenville may not be the first city that most Americans think of when they think about North Carolina, but it is undoubtedly an exciting place to visit. There’s so much diversity in the attractions and available activities that people of all ages can come here to enjoy a few days or even an extended stay. With everything Greenville has to offer, people would be remiss to leave it off their list of possible destinations.
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