15 Free Things to Do in Greenville, NC

Free Things to Do in Greenville, NC
Popova Valeriya / shutterstock.com

Known as the Emerald City, Greenville is a thriving hub of recreation, medicine, and education.

It has a perfect balance of residential hospitality and business metropolis—an ideal city for travelers with varying preferences.

Music, arts, and fine dining are Greenville's most prominent assets and part of the reason why many people flock to the city.

Within Pitt County, it's one of the most populous cities, too!

But before it embraced modernity and became a popular travel destination, the city was famous for its tobacco industry.

Back in the late 1800s, Greenville—which was once named Martinsborough—saw success in the tobacco business, making way for new industries to flood in and for the erection of many mansions.

After the Great Depression, the continual rise in prosperity came in the form of the university and, with it, a variety of recreational opportunities.

Below are the 15 free things to do in Greenville, North Carolina!

View the Public Art Sculptures and Murals All over Greenville

Rabbit sculpture at Greenville
Carrie A Hanrahan / Shutterstock.com

Greenville's public art collection is one that has gone down and will continue to go down in history.

From sculptures and murals to other art installations, the city can take you on an art spree unlike any other community within North Carolina.

Spearheaded by Emerge Gallery & Art Center, these exhibitions aim to beautify and connect the environment with the community.

On 4th Street, see murals of bubbles in vibrant colors called Parking Deck Mural.

Coo at the squirrel paintings on the Secret Squirrels murals on South Jarvis Street, South Evans Street, and Dickinson Avenue.

Within Uptown Greenville, the Piano Project stands out with its unique interpretation of art within the performing arts field.

There's more to see and discover in the public art collection!

Play with Your Dogs at Greenville’s Off-Leash Dog Park

Worried that your furry pet may not have as much fun when you travel?

At Greenville, you don't have to!

The Off-Leash Dog Park on North Ashe Street is your dog's perfect recreation spot.

Within its sandy and grassy fenced field, your dogs have a lot of space to explore, run, and even play with other dogs without having to wear a leash.

The quiet park also has benches for you to relax on while you keep your eyes on your pet.

You don't have to worry about not having enough time either because the Off-Leash Dog Park is open from sunrise to sunset.

Honor the African-American Community with a Visit to Sycamore Hill Gateway Plaza

Spend a day of remembrance and reflection when you visit Sycamore Hill Gateway Plaza.

Part of Town Common, this plaza's design sought inspiration from the walls and glass windows of the Sycamore Hill Missionary Baptist Church.

Before its destruction in the 1960s, this area, often called "Downtown" Greenville, was home to a lively African-American community.

Though the Sycamore Hill Missionary Baptist Church has relocated to Hooker Road, this plaza is an emblem of recollection of the close-knit community that once lived there.

Now, as you wander around the plaza, you'll see traces of spirituality and history within the granite monuments and walls erected like an unfinished church.

Sycamore Hill Gateway Plaza is on West 1st Street.

Watch the Town Common Pedestrian Bridge Light up in Beautiful Colors

One of the hidden gems of Greenville is the Town Common Pedestrian Bridge.

Situated within Town Common and connecting the public plaza to the rest of the Greenville community, this bridge stands out as an elaborate white concrete structure.

But what really makes this bridge a favorite spot for travelers and locals is its lighting system.

Depending on certain months and dates, it comes to life with a variety of colors that looks even more magnificent at night.

This is also the venue for Greenville's Bites on the Bridge, where many come to dine and listen to live music.

Let your mind relax as you walk across Town Common Pedestrian Bridge on East 1st Street.

Play a Few Round of Games at Alice F. Keene District Park

Within County Home Road, Alice F. Keene Park is a powerhouse of sport and playground fun.

This park is a direct result of the continued efforts of volunteers and community organizations to make a free-access park for Greenville.

Home to both informal and organized activities, this park features a playground and paved trails that extend to over a mile.

Within the lawn and its specialized sports courts, you can have fun playing with loved ones through impromptu games.

Take your snack time to the picnic shelters for a bit more privacy.

Alice F. Keene Park welcomes pets, so the fun is for everyone!

Explore the Amenities and Structures at Town Common

Dubbed "Central Park," Town Common boasts an outdoor recreation adventure for the whole family.

Situated on East 1st Street, this place offers many amenities, from open arenas and esplanades to historic sundials.

Its 21-acre property features picturesque walkways that connect it to Tar River Greenway.

On top of that, there's a large amphitheater known for being the go-to venue for many Greenville community events, both free and paid.

Its most common use is for the Sunday in the Park concert series that you can join for free!

Included in the park's facilities are a multifaceted playground and the Millennium Sundial.

Everywhere you go in Town Common, you are in for a treat!

Have Fun with the Whole Family at Freeboot Friday

Aerial view of Freeboot Friday
COGpio, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of Greenville's fun festivals is its annual Freeboot Friday event.

This alive-at-five event happens throughout September and October, just in time for football season.

This is why this event is also usually treated as a pep rally for the football home games hosted by East Carolina University.

Some of the activities you can expect include inflatables for kids and live music and entertainment.

Be sure to bring the whole family to Five Points Plaza on Evans Street for Freeboot Friday.

Bike around Nature at South Tar River Greenway

At South Tar River Greenway, you can practice and flaunt your biking skills while in the midst of nature.

Through a wooded route that spans over three miles, this greenway contains historic markers to guide you along the way.

Its northern trailhead is at Town Common on East 1st Street, and it offers only a few road crossings for your deep dive into the woodlands.

Will you be adding South Tar River Greenway to your must-visit list?

Unleash Your Inner Pirate at the PirateFest Parade

When in Greenville, don't miss out on the famous PirateFest.

This annual festival started in 2007 when the city celebrated its centennial anniversary.

It was a grand idea, too, as ECU's mascot is a pirate.

Greenville's surrounding community also has a history of pirate lore.

Hosted every April, many visit the city to see the costumes and watch performances.

Included in PirateFest's program is a parade that starts at Town Common and ends at Evans Street.

Children will marvel at the mermaids and their glittering tails on 1st Street.

Extreme adventure lovers, meanwhile, can catch the Saturday BMX stunt shows.

Don't forget to fit in PirateFest on your Greenville schedule!

Admire the Arrays of Trees at the St. Francis Festival of Trees

See the tree collection at the St. Francis Festival of Trees during the holiday season.

This event has become a holiday tradition for the people of Greenville because of the dedication of the Family Support Network of Eastern North Carolina.

Meet differently decorated trees and lighting decorations lining the entranceways of hotels.

It's a fun celebration for you and your kids!

Come and be part of the St. Francis Festival of Trees from November to December in multiple locations in Downtown Greenville.

Marvel at the Exhibits at the Greenville Museum of Art

Greenville's art culture is more prominent at the Greenville Museum of Art.

Established in 1935 along with the formation of the Women’s Club Arts Festival, this museum has always been a formidable force that made the art scene in the city as bright and famous as it is now.

Showcasing permanent exhibitions that bring to light various art forms, it offers free admission for everyone.

While some limited and special exhibitions may come with a fee, almost all of the museum's art displays are free.

Get lost in the pottery designs presented at North Carolina Pottery Displays.

Enjoy a nostalgic trip when you walk by the halls of the Kenneth Noland Gallery, which pays tribute to Black Mountain College.

Head to South Evans Street to get your healthy dose of artistic inspiration at the Greenville Museum of Art.

Admire Nature's Beauty at The Pitt County Arboretum

Located within Government Circle, The Pitt County Arboretum is a favorite among gardeners and nature lovers.

Established in 1988, this public arboretum gathers diverse seasonal and common flowers and plants for everyone to admire.

Standing at seven acres, it has special garden sections, including the Wildflower Garden and the Herb Garden.

As their names suggest, both gardens feature a colorful collection of blooms with a promising garden layout.

The 2007 Children's Garden is also an idyllic spot to relax and spot some butterflies and bees around the bushes and shrubs.

There's also a Walking Garden for those who prefer a bit more activity in their flower-viewing experience.

While you don't have to pay admission fees, The Pitt County Arboretum accepts donations.

Dance to Classic and Modern Music at Greenville Grooves Music Festival

When it comes to music and performances, joining the Greenville Grooves Music Festival is a must.

Not only is it a festival celebrating the music of every genre, but it's also a historical celebration of African-American Music Appreciation Month.

Starting in 1979, this nationwide month-long celebration became possible because of President Jimmy Carter.

To honor that, Greenville has come up with a unique twist to the celebration with a free music show for locals and tourists alike.

The mainstay ECU professor Carroll Dashiell comes with a guest performer every year.

Dance along to R&B classics and contemporary music with loved ones and friends at the festival!

Catch Greenville Grooves Music Festival in Town Common on East 1st Street.

Other Things to Do Nearby

If you've pored over the list of free activities above and want to know what more you can do outside the city, keep reading.

Go on a Romantic Walk Down the Promenade at Washington Waterfront Docks

Aerial view of Washington Waterfront Docks
Kyle J Little / Shutterstock.com

Washington Waterfront Docks is a romantic getaway site near Greenville.

Its well-designed walkway is perfect for casual strolls alone or with a loved one.

The restaurants lining the marina also host live music some nights, creating a serene backdrop to your meditative walks.

Wait for sunset and watch the skyline turn orange and red.

Washington Waterfront Docks on West Stewart Parkway is near Harding Square Garden, too, so you have more sights to explore.

Only a 29-minute drive from Greenville, this scenic spot in Washington is also a common stop for migratory birds.

Browse through the Historical Exhibits at the May Museum

In need of a history excursion that doesn't stray far from Greenville?

Check out May Museum!

May Museum is an 1870s-periodic home that offers a closer look into the heritage of Farmville and Pitt County.

Housing exhibits and artifacts of the yesteryears, it showcases the county's culture from colonial times until now.

May Museum also has a stunning collection of native quilts from the 19th and 20th centuries.

From Greenville, you only need to drive 22 minutes to South Main Street in Farmville.

Final Thoughts

With Greenville's astounding display of public gardens, parks, and art, it's easily a worthwhile trip for the whole family.

The best part is you remain within budget while exploring the city!

Refer to these free things to do in Greenville, North Carolina, to maximize your trip!

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